Monday, December 29, 2008

Update on wind damage etc

We had some neighbours over for supper on Saturday. They are going to Florida for a trip in a week and had asked Freda a while ago if we could dog-sit their little schnauzer named Max. Max gets along famously with Tawny and Taz - it is actually quite comical to watch. When they were over they mentioned this and e had forgotten. Actually, one of the grandparents had wanted to watch Max and Freda thought that was the new arrangement. Because of this oversight, Madelaine stuck notes up all over the house to remind us about Max. We have left them up because it is so comical!

We lost a piece of fascia in yesterday's high winds, but Freda found it today when she took the dogs out for a play. It is a little bit bent but is not damaged too much. I will straighten it out and put it up today. The weather is pretty nice today, -2C and no wind. It was quite tricking lifting the ladder up in yesterday's high winds.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A crazy weather day

Dec 28, 2008

This morning came in with Calgary like Chinook weather. The warm front that started coming in yesterday had settled in overnight and the day dawned with +11C. It was a beautiful morning for a walk.

Of course this meant that most of the snow had melted already.

Dec 28, 2008 pano

Most of the snow on the hill had melted. The lake iscovered with water. The dogs wanted to run down to the lake so we kept them on the leash for the whole walk.

After we got back, I checked the weather channel to see if it was going to stay mild all day. The forecast was that it would drop to -3C overnight, and there was a Wind Warning:


I highlighted the interesting parts of the warning.

We had lunch and then went out. We saw lots of branches down all over the place. The wind was incredibly strong - it blew the Christmas tree lights out of the tree.

When we got back, we looked to see what had happened to our house because of the wind. We saw that we lost a piece of fascia and another piece was flapping, some of the soffit had come loose and was bent over but still there, and some shingles were flapping in the breeze. Fortunately I had a tube of black gooey stuff for repairing roofs and so I went up on the roof and glued down the flapping shingles, and put a nail in a couple of them for good measure. After that, I moved the ladder over and put a couple of screws in the bottom end of the fascia so it stopped flapping. The wind was so strong that it almost blew me off the roof, and the ladder wasn't quite long enough to reach to do any more so I left it for tomorrow, when hopefully the wind will be non-existent.

We got off easy - our neighbour lost a section of his roof about 10' long and 6' wide.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing day barking

December 26, 2008

On our walk this afternoon, Taz smelled some kind of critter up this tree and took on the classic "I found it!" coonhound pose, accompanied with barking, of course. Tawny was doing her classic activity of liberating sticks from captivity by those awful tree creatures. :)

We also saw the remains of a large dead bird on our walk - we believe it was a wild turkey. The dogs were quite interested in all the smells, of course. Don't click on this photo to see a large version if you don't want to see Mother Nature's work.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day - pano

Christmas Day 2008 panorama

On Christmas Eve, we had rain, quite heavy at times, and it melted quite a bit of snow. We can now see the grass appearing, and in places the ground is bare of snow. Christmas Day came with a bright cheery sun and nice temperate normal day.

In this photo, you can see that the guys who like ice fishing have been down to the lake and have already been doing some of that - you can see a few holes and disturbed areas on the ice in the middle of the photo by the shore of the lake.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My favourite Christmas ornaments

A collage of my favourite Christmas ornaments

Clockwise from top left:
  • ornament representing a gift of a goat to a developing country, courtesy of my sister Mary
  • hand carved ornament by Bob Miller, the other side of the scarf says "Peace on Earth"
  • ornament representing gift of medical supplies, courtesy of my sister Mary
  • ornament representing gift of classroom supplies, courtesy of my sister Mary

Sunday, December 21, 2008


December 21st, 2008

A snowstorm with lots of snow and blowing snow. This was taken from the front door. The autostitch software didn't get the vertical bits correct for the column on the left or the wall on the right.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Santa comes to visit

December 7, 2008

Taz and Tawny getting their photo taken with Santa. Tawny was very good. Taz was kind of howling - we think he thought we were going to leave him with Santa. Very funny doggies, but they were pretty good.

This was a fundraiser for BARK - the dog rescue outfit that we adopted Taz from.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pano - Monday Dec 15, 2008

Pano - Monday Dec 15, 2008

We had heavy rain and +10C temps on Monday morning. As a result most of the snow disappeared and we could see lots of puddles on the lake.

Pano - Monday Dec 15, 2008

The sunset was just gorgeous on Monday. When we took the dogs for a walk in the evening, the stupid critters ran out onto the ice. We were very concerned they would fall through, but thankfully they didn't. We kept them on the leash after that.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Insulation, part III.

This is a photo of the torn vapour barrier after it was repaired.

This is a photo of the attic hatch in the spare bedroom, after the area beyond the hatch had been filled with blown-in insulation.

This photo shows the blown-in insulation as it is partially done. On the right side of the photo, you can see that the insulation has been brought up the level of the plywood baffle.

This photo is looking across the top of the master bedroom area, you can see the baffle between the garage and the house section at the very front of the photo. The new level of the insulation is even with the top of the baffles.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Increasing attic hatch insulation

The attic hatches are a piece of particle board with an 8" thick piece of styrofoam insulation glued to it. Since the insulation in the attic was being increased, the insulation on the attic hatch needed to be increased so the hatch wasn't a weak area, from an insulation perspective. Here the 8" thick piece of insulation is being used as a pattern, and is sitting on top of a 1 1/2" thick piece of styrofoam.

I cut out two pieces of 1 1/2" thick styrofoam (using the 8" thick piece as a pattern), for a thickness of 3 inches. I took a thin piece of fiberboard, and fastened two 2x4 pieces on the sides (to help hold the fiberboard down on top of the attic hatch). I took two pieces of 1x4 and fastened the styrofoam to the fiberboard using 4" screws to go through the fiberboard, the styrofoam, and then into the 1x4s. For the top, I took some more styrofoam and fitted it between the 2x4s and had a few other scrap 1x4 pieces to hold those together. This photo was taken when the pieces were being test fitted.

Here the pieces were all assembled.

Here the extra hatch insulation has been placed on top of the bedroom attic hatch. It fits like a glove (perfectly). So the attic hatch now has 12 1/2" of styrofoam insulation above it. I believe this white styrofoam (technically: expanded polystyrene foam) is about R-4 per inch, so that makes it about R-50, so that should be good.

Pano-Dec 11, 2008

Pano - December 11, 2008

After a 30 cm snowstorm.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Adding a light in the garage

The garage needed a light over the stairs into the house. The time to add a light was before the insulation was put in, and this was relatively straight forward.

This is after the box was installed but before the light was attached.

A thick plastic bag was put over the electrical box and taped to reseal the vapour barrier.

This is the light after the power was switched on and you can see that it works!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Attic insulation - before

So I went up into the attic to check out the insulation status. This was because the energy audit we paid for said our attic insulation was only R-35. Charles and the insulation contractor said that it was R-40 (I had asked for R-50 or better but Charles said a good vapour barrier made anything more than R-40 a waste of money). Well, I didn't buy it then and I don't buy it know.

We bought a bunch of cellulose blow-in insulation a while ago. This is what the coverage chart from Home Depot says in terms of "blown inches" (after installation) and "settled inches" (after cellulose has had a chance to settle down):

R-32 9.4 8.4
R-40 11.8 10.5

With that information in the back of your mind, here are the photos.

This photo is above the closet by the great room, and shows a large hole (I could put my hand through it) where the electricians roughly made a hole for the wire. You can also see condensation in there because the cold air can enter the space and condense the warm inside air against the cold plastic. You can also see there is absolutely no insulation against that plastic....

This photo is looking south along the front wall of the house. You can see the soffits on the right, and in the center you can see the top of the wall. The solid plywood wind barrier should have been in line with the outside of the outside wall, or right above the 2x12 (which is a bit weathered, beside the new looking 1x4 strapping).

For this photo, you need to know that the solid plywood wind barrier is 1 foot tall (almost everywhere). You can also see the trussesin this photo, which are made of 2x4 and 2x3. If R-40 of insulation was installed according to the table form Home Depot, then only 1 1/2" of plywood should be showing - and clearly there is a lot more visible....

I said the wood barrier is 1' tall almost everywhere. In this location, it is only 11" tall. Not such a big deal, but the insulation on the other side is about 3" - 3 1/2" below the top of the wood, which means that there is 7 1/2" - 8" of insulation. According to the Home Depot table, that makes it less than R-28...

Losers and liars.... that describes the builder and the insulation contractor...

Friday, December 05, 2008

Anyone want deer for dinner?

Dec 5, 2008 - by D.J.W.

This photo was taken by our neighbour. He watch three coyotes brush wolves chase a deer onto the lake, where it broke through the ice and was trapped, and then they killed it. The carcass of the deer has not yet been finished off, and the crows etc have also been enjoying the fruits of the coyotes brush wolves' labour.

Mother Nature at work...

Update Jan 1/09: these were not coyotes but are what are locally known as brush wolves - they are larger than coyotes and smaller than the classic wolf.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Trust me on this, you DO NOT want to fall through the ice

Yes, on Sunday Freda fell through the ice when she took the dogs out for a walk by herself. She was rescued because a girl at our neighbours house happened to look through the window and see her. She lived to tell the tale, and I will tell the story later.

Freda lost one mitten when she fell in, and it marks the place where she fell in -- this photo shows that location. It was quite far out from shore, as you can see. Freda was only out there because she was trying to rescue Tawny who fell through the ice when she took off to chase birds.

Taz and our first snowfall.

It's been a while since I posted some photos of the dogs, so I thought would do just that, and this time I would give Taz some air time of his own, instead of having to play second fiddle to Tawny all the time.

All dogs love to chew things. A smart owner gives their dog something that they can chew instead of the dog finding some chewable things on his own (i.e. shoes). Tawny loves to the Cheweez (an Alpo product - strips of rawhide sprayed with a tasty enzyme that aids digestion) which we give one after each meal. Taz likes those but abosultely loves to chew the rawhide bones. (Tawny will chew them for a bit and then loses interest, until you smear it with peanut butter. haha) This is a photo of Taz in deep concentration with a new 'bone'. He often likes to carry a bone along on our walks, but then usually drops it at some place when he gets a good sniff up his nose. Amazingly, he can usually find it when we say 'go get your bone' but sometimes he is unable to. Gven the snow is now here, I don't like him to take the bone along on the walks, so he will have something to chew on afterwards.

Despite being a dog with an apparently ferocious bark, he does like to snuggle and get all tucked in.

Our first serious snowfalll of the season started on Monday night. This photo was taken on Tuesday morning. It actually got above 0C by Tuesday afternoon (+0.4C according to the weather man), and the snow was very wet and almost like rain.

This photo was taken on Wednesday morning. Still snowing, and not much different from Tuesday morning, except it looks like the lake is starting to open up again...

We are supposed to get above zero temperatures by the end of the week, so this snow may not last. I think we received about 15cm so far, but very very wet and heavy...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mother Nature can be cruel (follow-up to deer)

Deer story - the preamble...

I was reviewing some other photos that I took of the deer on Sunday morning. I think this photo tells the tale quite well and explains how the deer broke his right front leg and ended up where he did - I have written my speculation onto the photo. The ice on the east side of the lake (bottom of photo) had been forming for several days, and is relatively thick. However, the rest of the lake was open, perhaps due to the constant wind we had been experiencing, until Sunday. The wind died down overnight on Saturday and there was a film of ice on the lake. At the bottom right of this photo, you can see a relatively large area where the thin ice had been disturbed. From that place, you can see a clearly visible trail across to where the deer is laying down, where the ice has been broken and has refrozen.

My guess is that the deer was crossing the lake, fell through the ice and broke his leg at that time, thrashed around in the water for a while trying to get out. Since the deer had only one good front leg (conjecture) it was unable to get out of the water so decided to swim across the lake. When it got across the lake, it was confronted by the coyote brush wolf and was trapped. You already know the rest of the story.

I saw this part of a wing this morning when I was taking the dogs for a walk. Obviously some predator had enjoyed lunch, no doubt to this bird's great dismay.

But that's Mother Nature - some animals are food for others.

Update (Jan 1/09): The animal was a brush wolf, not a coyote. At least, that is what it is known as locally.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The saga of the young deer


Freda woke me up to "come and see the two wolves". Looking through the binoculars I could only see one on the opposite side of the lake. I said where is the other one and Freda said it is swimming toward the shore. As we watched, it got to the shore and stood up - then we realized that it was a deer. The deer saw the predator at the same time and froze there. As we looked at the situation through the binoculars, we realized that the wolf was not a full-size wolf after all, but was a coyote brush wolf. A coyote brush wolf is unlikely to be able to deliver a killing blow by itself, and a healthy deer could likely get away from a single coyote brush wolf but not if it is cornered against a partially frozen lake.


We watched the coyote brush wolf coming and going, trotting off into the woods for a few minutes and then reappearing, but never really getting closer than 10 or 15 feet to the deer. We didn't know why the deer didn't get up and run when the coyote brush wolf went away. You can see that the deer had to break the layer of ice on the lake as it swam (see swath of broken ice running horizontally across the bottom of the photo), so we thought that perhaps the deer was exhausted and perhaps even frozen to the ice. Although deer are food for predators like coyotes and wolves, Freda and I thought it needed to have a sporting chance to be able to get away from the coyote brush wolf, so we decided to walk around the lake with the dogs (on leash, of course, when we got to the lake because we didn't want them to go through the ice!). We figured that our presence, along with the dogs, would scare the coyote brush wolf away to let the deer have a chance to live another day.

About 10:30am
As we got near the deer, on the other side of the lake, we could see that it wasn't moving. We couldn't figure out why it didn't run, unless it was frozen to the ice (which does happen).

Strangely, we were able to get quite close to the deer. I showed this photo to a few people who hunt deer and the consensus seemed to be that this was a young male deer, about a year old. You can see that it is growing some horns, but they are just spikes, so it definitely is a young deer.

Freda went off with Tawny and Taz so the two dogs wouldn't frighten the deer too much. As I got even closer to the deer, it got up very clumsily and lurched off trailing drops of blood, with its right front leg just kind of dangling. The leg was very clearly broken and completely. I wasn't ready with the camera so wasn't able to get a photo of the deer. The above photo is of the spot where the deer was laying in the water. You can see the blood had been pooling in the water. I think it is quite unlikely that the deer was able to swim across the lake with a broken leg, given the thickness of the ice on the lake (1-2 inches thick in most places). We think that perhaps the coyote brush wolf was able to somehow attack the deer when we were not watching it or else perhaps the deer slipped on the ice and somehow fell and broke its leg that way.

In any case, it is now more than 12 hours since we last saw the terrified deer clumsily crashing its way through the thick underbrush, and it is more likely than not that the deer is now in deer heaven. We hope that whatever predator did catch it in the end (because it would have been an easy catch) was able to put it out of its misery quickly.

Update Jan 1/09: these were not coyotes but are what are locally known as brush wolves - they are larger than coyotes and smaller than the classic wolf.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nov 20th - ice starting to form on the lake

Nov 20, 2008 - pano
In this panorama, taken from our porch, you can see that we have just had a skiff of snow. It has been unseasonably cold for several days and ice is starting to form on the lake. The normal high for this time of the year is +3C but it has been below 0C since the weekend. We also have a new snowplow contractor this year, and you can see that they have located a yellow box filled with grit for icy road conditions at the right side of the photo (by the road, of course!).

More from Nov 14th

Nov 14th - pano
This panorama is taken from the bench at the lookout. What a beautiful day!

Of course, Taz and Tawny take every opportunity to fill up on dog salad - or long grass. They seem to eat it as an aid to digestion - for roughage since it is not digested. Taz loves it more than Tawny and we have noticed that he has more digestive issues.
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Nov 14th - pano and dogs at play

The weather has been extremely mild lately. I don't think I have worn shorts for as long as this in any previous year. This photo shows proof that I was wearing shorts on Nov 14th. Hard to believe!

Nov 14th - pano.
At the far left is our neighbours' house, still under construction. Then just to the right of that you can see our other neighbours. The tree with the broken branch approximately marks the left side of our property. Taz is just to the right of Tawny (who is easy to see because of her light colour), in the tall grass just left of the mowed area. I started mowing part of this area this year because we had the lawn tractor and it made it easy to do so.

Taz loves running around outside with his rawhide bone. He usually drops it someplace of course. When he does, and he comes back empty handed (so to speak) you say to him, "Go get your bone," and 95% of the time he will run off and come back with it. It really is uncanny how he seems to remember exactly where he dropped it, considering how short an attention span he has...

Tawny, of course, loves playing catch. Here she is showing off her acrobatic skills with a Frisbee. We had two other fabric frisbees which have been lost in the tall grasses somewhere (how annoying!). At least they were well worn so it is not such a great loss.
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