June 2018


"There's gold in them waters"

Panning for gold.

When I was in BC for work last spring I tried panning for gold in Fort Steele. I actually found a gold flake!  The water was ice cold. My rubber boots were not insulated and my hands were bare but I persevered! Lol

I have to go back to Cranbrook for work later this summer and I hope to have a chance to try panning again. 

A gold panning kit can be picked up for $30 - $50. I also bought a sluice to try out.  The sluice allows you to process alot more sand & gravel samples from the river,  faster and with less effort.  :-)

I figuure a few good size nuggets could be traded in for that Kioti tractor. 😉

Gold panning kit

River Sluice (48" long)


Hive check

It's been about 4 weeks since we got our bees and about 3 weeks since we checked inside.  It is due for another inspection.  The check up should happen on a nice sunny day between 10am-5pm or so.  During this time most of the bees will be out foraging. If it is raining do not go into the hive.  Bees don't like rain and they will all be in the hive.... all 60,000 and not happy because it's raining and you're getting them wet! You also do not want any water in the hive. 

The picture shows the three different bees you would find in the hive. There should only be one queen and the rest of them should be drones and worker bees. Hopefully this time I will spot the queen or see some evidence that the hive is growing.  


Honey bees

What to look for

Long term vegetable storage

Having a root cellar is a must if you are homesteading. It is really the only way to store some fruits and vegetables for months, ideally from fall harvest to the next harvest. 

Some people have root cellars in the basement of their house while others have them built outside into the side of a hill. 

If neither is an option then you can bury a container that is water proof. People have successfully used an old freezer as a root cellar.  (Pictured below :)

Be sure to have the refrigerant properly removed prior to burying the freezer. 

Another important thing to do before burying the freezer is to install two vents into the side of it. Airflow is crucial to maintain a proper humidity level. If there is no airflow the food will spoil quickly.

When burying the freezer make sure the top is a few inches above the ground. This will ensure water won't get in though the lid seal. 

What vegetables can be stored in the root cellar? Root vegetables can! Vegetables such as potatoes, turnip, yams, carrots, parsnip. Another common food  to store in root cellars are apples. 

We will be using either an old freezer or possibly a fish tote.  

Fish totes are very common here in Nova Scotia. I just have to check on the price. 

Recycle a freezer into a root cellar

Fish tote

New Batteries

I have been trying to decide on what type of batteries I would buy this fall. There are several options. The most cost effective is flooded lead acid batteries. It is old technology but they work. There are many different brands, one of the best being Rolls which are made here in Nova Scotia. Flooded batteries, although they are cost effective, require regular maintenance. This would mean checking the specific gravity and adding distilled water every 4-6 weeks.  


Another option is AGM batteries. These are lead acid as well but they are sealed. They don't require any maintenance but are considerably more expensive. About 50% more actually. 


A third option although expensive are Iron Edison batteries. They have a much longer service life compared to lead acid batteries. They are maintenance free but the electrolyte needs to be changed out at year 7. Apparenlty they have a 25-30 year life expectancy!

There are a few other technologies avilable, one being Aquion which are salt water batteries and also Lithium Ion batteries such as what LG and Tesla have available. 

Decisions decisions...

Duck outing...

Duck adventure

We bought a small inflatable pool  for the ducks. We set it up in the living room and  transferred the ducks to it. At first they seemed a little nervous but later got used to it. They stayed in the pool for 1/2 hr or so then got transferred back to their freshly cleaned  tote. If the weather is cooperative tomorrow we will bring the pool outside and give them some fresh air. They will have to stay in the house for another few weeks before they can be permanent residents of the duck pen.  They have to stay above 75F still. At night it has been been dropping down to 60F which is too cold for the little ones. 

Priorities... Lawn vs Vegetable Garden

I read an article the other day and people's comments.    One person had a very good point. It had to do with people not having enough money to pay their bills.  It went on to say that people spend all kinds of money, time and effort on landscaping their yards and lawn maintenance rather than having a vegetable garden. 

Imagine if most homes had a small garden. They would have fresh and healthier food to eat and at the same time save money on their grocery bill. They could also potentially see savings by not having to do lawn care and landscaping where the garden is. 

Parents could also be teaching their children how to garden... and of course how you weed it. 😎  Real life skills!

Four baby ducks!

Inside the duck tote

In the duck tote there is a water dispenser (red base), a food dispenser (green base), and a special infrared brooding heater at the far end. We place 3 hot water bottles on the end closest in the picture and cover with a thin towel. 

There is about 2" of wood shavings under everything. This helps keep things dry and smelling better :-)

The heater is by Brinsea EgoGlow and is from the UK.  It uses 20W of power rather than the 150-250W heat lamp most people use. For us the 150W light on continuous is not an option. This calculates to 3600 Wh of energy per day which is 3x as much as an energy efficient refrigerator,  like we have, would use. 



That was easy!

We decided to order 4 chords of firewood this year. My back has been pretty sore the past 6-7 weeks and cutting and splitting all that wood probably wouldn't have made it any better. 


I plan on cutting wood this fall for next year.  We burned about 4 chords this past winter. A bush chord is $220 delivered.  It measures 8'x4'x4' or  128 cubic ft. 


The wood we got delivered is drying out nicely in the sun and wind. I will have to move it and stack it closer to the house later this fall. 

Things we take for granted.

We bought a 12V water pump that is used in RVs (travel trailers) to pressurize the water system. The pump was about $100 I think and does the job well. 

We now have water!


We needed a storage tank at the sleep camp for the water system. 

I decided to use a IBC tote. 

A fellow about 45 min away sells these totes for $120.  They are "food grade".  They have been used once before. This particular tote had a label on it which read "runway de-icer"!

Upon investigating further the company uses propylene-glycol which is food grade and non toxic.  Apparently  icecream 🍦 which is one of my favourite things, has propylene glycol in it. (Ethylene-glycol however is similar but highly toxic and is better known as automotive antifreeze.)

I stopped at a do-it-yourself car wash and filled up the tote to about 1/3 with water. I drove home with the water swishing around inside the tote. When I arrived at home i drained the water on a sandy/gravel part of the driveway. I filled it back up to about 1/3 and repeated the process. Swish swish swish and drain. I did it again with a little bit of bleach. I then offloaded the tote and set it into place. 

IBC tote in place

Bathroom at sleep camping

Sleep camp finishing

We had guests come up from Arizona. I really wanted the sleep camp done for them.

The bathrooms had no sink and water system yet. The sitting room had no wall or ceiling coverings yet either. It was time to get working. 

Duck duty!

Every 4-5 hours is a planned visit with the ducks. This is when we change the hot water bottles and make sure their food and water dispensers are topped up. I said  "planned visit" as they also get visits from us when we need to use the washroom. Their tote is on a table in the bathroom/laundry room. Every few hours it seems, someone is talking to the ducks in baby language. 

Added a bay window :-)

New duck tote

The baby ducks are just over 2 weeks old. They are so cute. They are also eating and drinking machines. I would say they're at least  2.5 times in size compared to when we got them. 

As a result they have outgrown their tote in both floor space and height. I tried to find a larger tote that was clear but couldn't seem to locate one. I bought the largest tote I could find and cut a window in it for them. 

I cut a clear piece of plastic from the lid of the original tote and cut a section out of the side of the new tote. (I used tin snips to cut the plastic.)

I then drilled a few 1/8th inch holes around the edge of the clear plastic patch through the side of the new tote. I then riveted the two pieces together. 



Watermelon... my favourite

Watermelon and Canteloupe

I tried to get at least a dozen cantaloupe seeds to germinate with no success. One sprouted but doesn't seem to be doing well. (The tomatoes, peppers, celery, and broccoli all are growing well and were all started from seed indoors. )

I went to a local commercial greenhouse to see if they had any melons. Sure enough they had two watermelon and several cantaloupe plants left. So I bought them. I was a little dissappointed when the cantaloupes didn't work out after several attempts. It was good to find some seedling just waiting to get transplanted!

2,347 bees on this frame...

Hive inspection

About a week after setting up the new hive you should inspect it to see how things are going. 

Everything seems to look okay. I didn't see the queen but that is common.  There was fresh honey and some capped honey on the frames. I didn't notice any brood however.  Brood is larvae that undergoes a metamorphosis and becomes a bee! I will have to check for that over the next few days. 

There are 3 types of bees in the hive. There is one queen and the rest are either drones or worker bees. The worker bees are female and have many duties from feeding the young to guarding the hive. They also gather pollen and nectar and bring it back to the hive to store and convert to honey. The worker bees also produce Royal Jelly which is a high protein food that they feed the the larvae for 3 days.  If the hive wants to create  a new queen they will continue to feed one Royal Jelly for several additional days. The larvae that are capped for 14 days will emerge as drones and the ones capped for 12 days will become worker bees. 

The taters are doing well

Certified Seed Potatoes

Preparing the potatoes to plant

We purchased some certified seed potatoes from a local commercial greenhouse. We then cut the potatoes up so they were about 1.5"x1.5" in size. You also have to make sure each piece has a "eye". After cutting them up you should let them dry out overnight. Just spread them out somewhere but not in direct sunlight. I then sprinkled a little bit of garden sulfur on them. This

will prevent insects from eating the pieces after they are planted.

Expect 10 pounds of potatoes for each pound of seed potatoe planted.  

Shade cloth

Greenhouse was too hot!

It hasn't been super warm but we had a few days in the low 80s (F) and the temperature in the greenhouse was well over 100F.

I bought some shade cloth from Home Hardware and draped it over the roof. This really seems to help. I will be rigging it up so that it can be removed and installed quickly and easily.  

The greenhouse is getting greener

Spinach, tomatoes and herbs.

4 new baby Khaki Campbell Ducks