October 27, 2008

Road Repairs

Friday October 24th, 2008 - Sunday October 26th, 2008
We went up early in the afternoon so that we could get a headstart on the weekend. We had planned on doing nothing but enjoying our time together in the woods, and only doing projects if we felt like it. Curtis and Jordana were at BrownTown and we hadn't seen them since the wedding. On Friday night, the stars shone so brightly, and it is really incredible how you can look anywhere in the woods and see them now that the leaves have all fallen. There were big gusts of wind, and we knew that it was going to rain, but at least the weather held out for us. On Saturday Jared went into town so I went to BrownTown for a visit. It was a cold, rainy day, and there was nothing to do except sit inside and chit chat with the newlyweds over a beer. When Jared came back, we all hung out for a few hours, then it was back to Rock Pile Ridge for us. The Browners decided they were going to pack it up and go back home that afternoon.

Jared and I felt that we just had to do something about the pathway to BrownTown, which was totally flooded from all the rain. The water that comes down from the road actually splits off into 3 rivers and floods the path to the point where you can't hop over it. Jared dug a trench across the path to direct the water into one spot, and I worked on making it drain quickly off the path and into the wet area between the properties. Hearing the trickle of little waterfalls was very nice, and I was wishing that the water flowed closer to our cabin. Later in the afternoon we decided to do some road repairs. Water constantly runs over the road at the same spot because it is a low point, and there is possibly a spring somewhere that drains into it as well (it runs even during the winter). There was a huge puddle, but after working on it for a while we managed to increase the flow down into the woods and the puddle drained substantially, even with the downpour we were having. It was a lot of fun doing road repairs. We really need to get a culvert in that spot, and find the spring so we can tap into it and redirect it.

The weather cleared again in the evening and we saw a beautiful sunset. Then the stars came out and if the wind wasn't so cold it would have been a perfect night. Jared said the wind sounds like winter, and he is right because it sounds so different when the wind brushes leaves than when it scrapes against bare branches. We had to keep a huge bonfire going to keep warm, and once again we had the tunes going. Whenever the fire burned down, we would get more sticks from the woods to break up and toss in. When we were coming back from one of these trips, my flashlight caught the fox sitting on a rock. He was just sitting there listening to the music. It was funny because we had on The Doors, Light My Fire and Blacky was loving it. I thought that the last time he had come around we were also listening to The Doors. We are going to do an experiment to see if Blacky really likes that band or if it's just a coincidence.

On Sunday while Jared packed up our stuff and did some work on the cabin, I went back down to the road for some more puddle destroying. I got side-tracked and began looking for the spring. All I managed to do was find a lot of wet spots in the woods and maybe drain some puddles out of the forest. It started to rain again and I gave up the mud puddles to go back to camp. Jared took a picture of the road for an after shot before we left. I guess we made some difference.

The Leaves Fall

Saturday October 18th, 2008 - Sunday October 19th, 2008

I had to work so Jared decided to go up north by himself to do some odd jobs. I think he just likes being there and will go any chance he gets. I sent him up with some hostas given to me by a friend and some bulbs to plant for me as well. I think he spent more time playing with Blue Jays than working, but that's okay with me. When he came home and I saw the pictures I was so sad that the leaves have all fallen off the trees now. Our cabin, which used to be somewhat secluded, is now naked to the road - a reminder that we need to plant more evergreens for privacy.

Thanksgiving Weekend

Sunday October 12th, 2008 - Monday October 13th, 2008

The Browntown people got hitched on Saturday October 11th, 2008! The next day, Jared and I went to Rock Pile Ridge to celebrate Thanksgiving together. I was eager to see all the work Jared had done the following weekend by himself, and excited to stay in our little cabin again. Saturday night we were sitting at a roaring campfire, listening to music, when we had a visitor. It was Blacky, and he seemed to be digging the tunes as well. He was sitting on a log but when we went over to check him out he turned around and went over to my stump planter, which he sniffed, and then went for a stroll down our future bike path. He was checking out my garden, then something totally funny happened. He had a sneezing fit. The poor fox just sat there and sneezed about 30 times while we laughed and took pictures of him. Then when he was done, he went down the path, checked out the area under the bird feeders, then disappeared into the dark forest. Jared said that everytime he plays music the fox comes around. Maybe he gets curious about the music, or maybe he just likes to chill with the tunes. Either way, I love when he comes around.

Jared had worked hard insulating the cabin. He managed to get the walls and the ceiling done, and just needed some help putting up the vapour barrier on the remaining walls. Our cabin has great accoustics now, and it is super cozy. We didn't use the typical pink insulation, but the green kind instead. My dad says that mice don't like to chew it because there are bits of stone mixed in it that hurts their teeth. So hopefully if we ever have mice in our cabin they won't destroy our insulation. Jared also worked for a bit on the roof to finish it.

Jared also had seen a couple of Blue Jays hanging out in our campsite the following weekend, so we put out some peanuts and sure enough a pair of Jays came and got them, but unfortunately our squirrel is smarter and faster, and got more peanuts than the Blue Jays did. We even watched as the squirrel scared the Blue Jay away from the peanuts! It didn't matter though, because the Blue Jays were smart enough to figure out that the feeders have food in them too. It was funny to watch them on the feeder, especially one of them that couldn't quite keep his balance and had to keep flapping his wings to stay on the feeder. There is nothing more beautiful that the indigo of a Blue Jay against a golden backdrop. They provided us with great entertainment while we ate croissants and drank tea on our deck on Sunday morning. There was also a couple of chipmunks hanging around, scrounging for seeds the birds dropped and begging for peanuts. Our chipmunks are smart! They don't bother trying to shove whole peanuts in their pouch but remove them from the shell first. That way they can carry way more.

We had really great weather, and the forest looked like it was made of glowing gold. The trees had all changed and it was a little sad to know that soon our forest would be full of snow and sticks, with nothing but the birds to provide some colour. I soaked it all in, took a ton of pictures and took advantage of the beautiful autumn weather. I fixed up the pathway from camp to the cabin by bordering it with another log we had. Then I planted 5 Burning Bushes along the edge, and these will someday be a natural hedge that will turn ruby red in the fall. I also planted some bulbs, mainly grape hyacinths. Even though it is only autumn, I can't wait for spring to arrive so I can see all the flowers blooming. The show is going to be bigger and better than it was this year.

October 26, 2008

Autumn at the Ridge

Saturday September 27th, 2008 - Sunday September 28th, 2008

This was by far the best fall colours we have ever seen. I'm not sure if the cool, wet summer had anything to do with it, but the reds and oranges this year were super intense. The drive up was absolutely beautiful, and I couldn't stop commenting about the beauty of the trees around every turn.

This weekend we worked on the floor, and actually finished it. Saturday we only got one small section done, but it was enough for us to sleep on for our first night in the cabin. It was warm so we didn't need a heater, but I was so used to sleeping in a tent that all the new sounds were very strange, but once I fell asleep I was out for the night. The next day we set out to finish the floor. Once we got into a rhythm together, Jared and I were like an assembly line. He nailed down 2x2 strips on our subfloor while I measured and cut the foam insulation. When the piece was ready to install, I applied some liquid ant bait to the subfloor and Jared put glue on the insulation. After all the pieces were shoved into place, I used expanding foam to seal all the little holes and cracks. It turned out really well. I was very impressed with my cutting skills, but the floor wasn't complete yet. We got the vapour barrier down and stapled it nice and tight before Jared cut the plywood for the floor. Only after he screwed it down did we finally feel like we had a finished floor. It looked so great and we were joking that we had a nice hardwood floor.

Our squirrel got on the bird feeder again, and this time I took a video of him running upside-down on the string towards the tree when I startled him. It was so funny to see a squirrel doing that I didn't even mind him eating all the bird food. I guess we will need to come up with a solution to stop him from getting to the feeder, or else invest in a squirrel-proof feeder. My garden is still doing great, and my blue corydalis was even blooming. It's so pretty, but it's supposed to bloom in the spring so I guess the nice warm, sunny days have confused it.

Jared and I ended the weekend with a special trip on our way home to the Haliburton look-out. Jared had gone there last year, but it was my first time and I was blown away not only by the view but also the colours of the trees. I think that we picked the perfect weekend to go there, and I think we will probably make the trip every year.

October 3, 2008

Honeymoon in the Woods

Our honeymoon began on September 7th and ended on September 14th. Our plan was to go to Rock Pile Ridge on September 8th for our honeymoon and work on our cabin, hopefully finishing the shell so that we could ditch the tent and have a place to stay in the winter. We accomplished this goal, but unfortunately didn't get to sleep in our cabin during our stay there. We had a mix of sun and rain during the week, but the rain didn't ruin our plans because it pretty much rained only in the mornings or evenings, and we didn't have any major downpours. As a wedding present, Jared bought us a red Watson canoe - a real beauty. We named her the Basshole, and took her out every evening to different lakes for some fishing.

September 8th, 2008
We arrived at Rock Pile Ridge late in the afternoon, and decided to just spend the rest of the day hanging out. We had about 5 chipmunks hanging around, one of which is Chippylongstockings, who now has a crooked tail. She had a small chipmunk, Baby Chippy, hanging out with her as well. There was still seed in the feeders, and the chickadees were making a lot of noise. We took the canoe down to the Irondale River and went upstream until we found a huge tree blocking our path. So we turned around and went downstream quite a ways until we hit a beaver dam blocking our passage. It was a lot of fun and very peaceful, except for the grouse we startled. We had a visitor that night at our campsite, running through my gardens, sneaking around our feet and exploring our barbeque. It was a little mouse, Mighty Mouse, and it certainly wasn't afraid of us. We shone the flashlight on it, and it just kept looking at us like we should give it a piece of cheese or something. It hung around with us the next night as well and then disappeared.

September 9th, 2008
In the morning, Jared showed me something on the rock where I had left some peanuts the other day for the chipmunks. It was fox poo. Blacky had come into our campsite at night while we were sleeping in our tent and had eaten the peanuts, then left us something in return. Ick! It was full of undigested berries. When we finally got to work, the first thing we did was start to put up the plywood so that we could stiffen up the frame of the cabin. We started on the side that faces the road, and boxed in the two corners. It was kind of sad to see the forest disappearing behind the panels but exciting to see the start of a room. We were off to a bit of a slow start because of the weather, and Jared had to go into town every day to get supplies. I decided that while Jared worked on stuff that didn't require my help I would work on my trellis here and there. I think it still needs some final touches, but it's turned out to look pretty neat.

Late in the afternoon we decided it was time to go for another canoe trip. There is a lake we pass by to go into Wilberforce, and Jared told me it was connected to another lake by a river. So we went blindly down the river, hit some rapids that scraped our canoe badly, then got stuck in some huge logs. It turns out the logs were put in the river to create waterfalls by some guy that owns a log cabin. We were trying to portage around the obstacles and he came out of his house and was very rude to us. I guess he doesn't know that he's not allowed to change the course of a river... so we had to backtrack along the road to the truck, got in, and drove to the lake we were trying to get to in the first place. It was a beautiful evening, and we saw a beaver in the lake but other than that we had the place to ourselves. The fishing was really great too. We caught some nice Smallmouth Bass and fished until the sun went down.

September 10th, 2008
While Jared worked on our cabin in the early afternoon, Blacky came up our path from The Rock and sat on a boulder. I didn't have my camera handy or I would have gotten an incredible picture. He just sat there, checking us out and seeing what we were doing. Then when he had seen enough he hopped down and trotted off into the woods. I love having a resident fox, especially one that is so beautiful.

Our fishing trip for the evening was supposed to be to Clement Lake. We drove around looking for the boat launch, but finally gave up and went to a tiny little lake called Cockle Lake which is just beside the road. This was my favourite lake of the week, and it was so quiet. There was one house at one end, and another at the other end. It was also full of fish that jumped so high and so often we were constantly asking one another "did you see that". I caught the first fish on my first cast. This lake is full of huge Rock Bass, and Jared was amazed with their size. There was also Perch and Smallmouth Bass in the lake as well. We decided to keep one of the Rock Bass I caught for dinner since Jared never ate one before, and he also caught a nice Perch as well which we kept. The fog was coming out on the lake and it was getting cold by the time we decided we had enough fun for the day. When we got back to camp, I gutted the fish and stuffed them with lemon and onion (that was all we had) and we wrapped them in foil and stuck them on the barbeque for about 10 minutes each side. They were so yummy, and I think Jared enjoyed eating the Rock Bass.

September 11th, 2008
We started working on the framing for the old window my parents gave us. Jared created the beam while I worked on the small wall section to go beneath the window. Then we lifted it in place and put in some screws, and we had a window to look out of. This is going to be our kitchen window, and it will have a great view of the sloping hillside into the valley once we remove some damaged trees. After we got the window in we put up some more plywood and finished the walls, leaving openings for two doors. It was starting to look like a cabin finally! Jared found another fox poo - this time on our steps. It had the remains of two mice and a bird. It's interesting how the stuff that the fox eats doesn't really get digested. I knew there was two mice because I counted at least 6 paws, and the birds inards were still recognizable. Now we know what happened to Mighty Mouse.


Jared found the boat launch for Cockle Lake while he was out getting supplies in the morning, and since it was supposed to have great fishing we decided to go there that evening. I had a bad feeling about it right away because it is surrounded by cottages, and I thought that it had probably been all fished out. I think I was right, because hours went by without either of us catching anything, and we were using worms with spinner baits which never fail anywhere else. Just when I was about to give up completely I caught a tiny little fish. Maybe I should have been excited to finally catch something but after all that time it was such a disappointment. That broke the bad luck for us, and we both caught some more itty bitty fish that weren't even worth the worms they were snacking on. The highlight of the fishing trip was seeing two blue herons fly right near us towards the bay. I vowed I would never fish at Cockle Lake again, but Jared will probably give it another try. At least we got some nice photos of the lake...

September 12th, 2008
Today was the day that we got our temporary roof up. We used a 4x4 to raise one side of the roof and we are going to keep it like this for the winter. Next year we will build a proper roof with a steep pitch that will cover our future deck as well. But in the meantime this will be good enough. It rained a lot and we took quite a few breaks from work. Jared was brave enough to be the one to climb on top of the roof to nail everything down. I handed stuff up to him and crossed my fingers that he wouldn't fall off. At one point he convinced me to climb up the ladder and peak out over the roof to see the view, and it was pretty damn high! I asked him to take a picture of our campsite for me, and it looks amazing from up there. We had a family of woodpeckers hanging around on the dead tree in our campsite. I know we have to cut down the tree, and I feel bad that I will be taking away a favourite perch and food source from those birds.

September 13th, 2008 We decided to go home because we figured we would need at least a day to get ourselves ready for the work week, especially since we had taken 2 weeks off work. Jared had to build a couple of temporary doors for the cabin so that we could lock it up while we were gone. He did a pretty good job, and even made cool handles out of some sticks. Since our roof is just plywood, he threw a tarp over it to keep the rain off and give it a little bit of protection. I am really proud of all the work we accomplished, and although I had wished that our last night at the property was spent in the cabin, I was still looking forward to the next time we would come up and stay in it for sure. It's funny to have a cabin now after 3 years of sleeping in a tent. When you go inside, it echoes and it is so different. It's our first house, and I love it.

We had about 6 woodpeckers in the campsite today. They were all hanging out around our clearing, most of them perching on the dead tree. They were acting strange, more like flycatchers than woodpeckers. They would fly out and grab a bug and go back to the tree to eat it, then do it again. We watched them for a long time and figured they were going after these tiny flies that were all over the place.

I went around and took pictures of the flowers in my gardens. My white Liatris was in full bloom, as was my Sedum and Turtlehead. My perennial Geranium in the campsite was about to open one final bloom, and the bees were so busy the whole week, especially in the parking area where the Goldenrod is blooming. Usually the day we leave I don't want to go, but this time I think I was looking forward to sleeping in a comfy bed and having a nice hot shower that I didn't mind so much. We still have a lot of work to do on our cabin, but we got a lot accomplished and still had time to enjoy ourselves on our honeymoon. I couldn't have imagined a better honeymoon ever... except for maybe a shower, and warmer temperatures, and someone else building our cabin while we sipped beer and watched the birds flying by.