Christmas Update on Our Nova Scotia Homestead

With the approach of Christmas and Holidays, I figured I’d give everybody a quick update and then resume normal posts after the first of the year. Here’s our Christmas update on our Nova Scotia homestead.

Somewhat Precise Homebuilders Sign

Somewhat Precise Homebuilders Sign

We made a valiant effort but fell short of being able to get into the house by Christmas. Although the weather had been warmer than normal, that warmth came with copious quantities of rain. Several 2 inch drenchings in December and then the cold finally arrived.

Temperatures have gone down to about 10F (-12C) and highs are in the teens and 20’s Fahrenheit. This has definitely slowed us down. Cold temperatures in conjunction with the shortest days of the year and our progress is painfully slow.

Solar Array Mount and House in Background

Solar Array Mount and House in Background

Speaking of painfully slow, the proprietor (yours truly) of “Somewhat Precise Homebuilders” was wrestling with a solar array mount while standing on top of a frozen pile of dirt on Tuesday. The pile was starting to melt as we were having a warm day and it was raining. The slippery goo was too much and he lost his footing, bounced off a boulder that was frozen at the bottom of the mound and really did a number on his ribs. A heavy coat and clothes likely prevented more serious damage. The proprietor is a hurting unit but will eventually recover.

The tent is somewhat comfy if sitting around in hats and coat with a wool blanket over our legs can be considered comfy. The objective is to keep the tent above 40 F (5C) morning, noon and night. Sometimes we can get it up to purgatory temperature of 55 F (12C) or 60 F if the temp outside is above freezing.

Our Tent Stove

Our Tent Stove

The roof is sheathed and getting close to being watertight. Part of the delay in getting into the house is I’m spending a great deal of time overbuilding. What I mean by that is on the roof, for example, one set of hurricane straps wasn’t enough for me. I installed a set on the interior as well as the exterior of our trusses to the top plate. It’s overkill, but we will sleep soundly regardless of wind.

Roof Trusses Installed

Roof Trusses Installed

Additionally, it wasn’t enough just to screw our roof sheathing down to the trusses. I glued it down, screwed and then nailed it. These extra steps take considerable time on a normal day but with the cold temperatures, it takes even longer. However… Bring on the wind! We will scoff and jeer even if “Really Honking” winds arrive. (Won’t we be embarrassed if the roof floats out to sea at the first sign of a gentle breeze!)

By comparison, when I was doing temporary camp work back in Saskatchewan, there was a time or two when we were doing construction at close to -40F. That was brutal. Fortunately this cold we are facing now isn’t so bad once my system kicks into gear

I can go out and start to work and my body is warm from layering on clothes but my hands start to freeze. Even with gloves on, my hands can get downright cold. Each morning it takes a little time for me to keep warming them and then finally my body figures out the hands need to stay warm and I’m fine after that. I can generally work without gloves at that point. My body adapts.

We are in need of sun and solar power. The countless cloudy days combined with a partial array are creating a power shortage for us. So while the excavator was here back filling about 2 weeks ago, I decided to have him dig the 6 foot deep holes for the sonetubes. These sonetubes are heavy cardboard and are a temporary form for the concrete. We spent all afternoon digging and arranging 8 tubes spaced 4 feet apart and 6 feet down. They were all set. And then the rains came that night.

The next day, the area was under water, the tubes were full of water and the cardboard was deforming and turning to goo. Ruined just like that! One step forward, two steps in reverse. So we had to have the excavator back and we planted plastic sonetubes. And wouldn’t you know it, it rained again that night and all the tubes flooded. I’ve pumped them out and now need to keep them from freezing until I can get a decent stretch of weather to mix concrete.

Muddy Boots at the Solar Array Mount

Muddy Boots at the Solar Array Mount

Johanna’s most prized possession finally arrived. The truck arrived to deliver her stove and the driver asked if I had a machine to get the stove off the truck. I said no but we’ll manage to get it off. He said there’s no way we can get that stove off without a machine. It’s 400 pounds!

Needless to say, we got it off although it was a struggle. I was mentally prepared with a game plan and then the stove arrived on a pallet that wasn’t oriented the way I was expecting. Out the window went plans A, B and C. We used mechanical advantage (rollers and levers) and as a last resort, brute force. We improvised and got it done regardless.

All our windows and doors are here. I can’t wait to start installing them. Even though the ceiling is wide open without vapor barrier and insulation, just stopping the wind from blowing through the open windows and doors will make a big difference in interior temperature.

The septic system is in. It is a standard septic tank with leach field but with our composting toilet, it will simply be a gray water septic system.

So there you have it. Close but no cigar. Hopefully by the next time I update everyone, we will be in the house. Johanna and I wish everybody a Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays and let’s hope 2018 is a good year for us all!

Until next time, keep the dream alive! We wish you a great day!

Ron and Johanna

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8 Responses to Christmas Update on Our Nova Scotia Homestead

  1. J.David Cox says:

    I always like hearing from you, RM. But I AM starting to wonder…….what’s with you and your attraction for harsh environments? Sal and I went out today to pick some bananas but got sidetracked by the ten pounds quails pecking at our feet. We eventually gathered it all up with a few wild avocadoes and a bucket of strawberries and went home for dinner. Sun shining. Ya want I should find you some acreage out our way?

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      Gee whiz David. Harsh environment? We’re in the tropics compared to northern Saskatchewan. I just sent Johanna out to pick some fresh corn from the garden. We have a variety that loves sub freezing temperatures and needs alternating periods of rain and snow to really prosper. Ummm, can’t you smell that kernel boiling on the stove?

      I don’t know my friend. Bananas ??? I didn’t just fall off the avocados truck. Sounds like you and Sal skipped town. Take good care David! Ron

  2. Greg Wright says:

    You always get more than you bargain for in the fall in Canada. Bit of a mixed bag of weather to be sure. I live in Ontario and 9 times out of 10 you get one mild fall with not that much rain. Good luck and keep on keep’n on ! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours.

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      Good Morning Greg,

      Thanks for taking some time to comment. You’re right on the weather. We were able to get a lot done while the temperatures were moderate but I always feared that would come at a price. It’s pretty cold here now and it looks like we have the potential for a major coastal storm on Christmas day. We’ll take it as it comes and “keep on keep’n on” 🙂 You can count on it!

      All the best to you and your family. You have a Merry Christmas and a safe, happy New Year.. Ron

  3. Bebe says:

    I really like to hear from you. It makes me feel good. I love Canada, people are great. My hope for you and your is smooth sailing from now on. Have a Merry Christmas and lots of hope and cheer next year.

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      We like hearing from you as well Bebe. Thanks for the support you have given us this year.I hope the sailing gets a little smoother but right now, it’s still tough going. Cold and a couple winter storms on the way. But you know we’ll be fine. All the best to you and your family. Have a Merry Christmas and a healthy 2018. Ron

  4. Patti McCurdy says:

    Ron don’t know how I missed this when you posted. Sorry about your fall But looks like things are coming along, and love the extra sturdiness you’re implementing I doubt the roof will take off in the first breeze lol. Happy New Year to you and Joanna!!

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      Hi Patti. Yeah, I went down hard with my arms over my head so I was completely unprotected. The roof withstood hurricane force winds recently so I have great confidence a breeze won’t faze it. 🙂

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