Fall 2018 Nova Scotia Off Grid Homestead Building Update

So!… Some might surmise we spent summer swimming, snorkeling; surely somewhat slouched semi-supine sipping sweet seven eleven slurpees by the seashore. Seriously? No way! We have been maxed out since we last wrote. Where do I even begin? Let’s give you the fall 2018 Nova Scotia off grid homestead building update.

Finished Exterior

Finished Exterior

Orchard and Garden

You know we planted the orchard and garden this past spring and most things did pretty well. We lost a couple orchard trees and plants but the majority are doing quite well. The everbearing varieties of strawberries, much to our surprise, gave us lots of berries and they’ve taken over the berry patch. I would normally pinch runners off and control them, but there’s another patch I want to establish so next spring, I’ll dig and transplant runners with the result being we’ll have 2 large beds going. That should be at least 150 plants.

Mid Summer Garden

Mid Summer Garden

The garden did pretty well but there were some disappointments too. It was obvious the soil is in need of some serious help with nutrients. But we have more than enough produce to get us through the year. We had a serious drought mid-summer and we thought the potatoes would be small but we harvested several hundred pounds of reasonable sized taters. The drought ended in the fall and now we are in a pattern with more clouds than sun and periodic rains.

Cold temperatures have shown up early this year which makes us all the more grateful for the unusually warm fall we had last year. Hard to believe we were doing the second concrete pour last October. I had an inkling things would be on the cool side this year when I checked the weather back in northern Saskatchewan and in early September they were getting way below normal temperatures and snow.

Vinyl Flooring

We laid three rolls of vinyl flooring down and wouldn’t you know it, the company cut the last roll 8 inches short.

Floor Prepping Amid Chaos

Floor Prepping Amid Chaos

But you would need to look hard to find the seams and that funky joint. It turned out well. Once the floor was down, I was able to install a proper tiled hearth under the cook stove.

Laying Vinyl Floor

Laying Vinyl Floor

With the vinyl floor down, I was able to proceed to building all the room partitions. One of the benefits of the roof trusses is they can span the entire 36 foot width of the house without any supports. With the whole building essentially an open space, it was an easy (well not that easy) matter of moving box after box of stuff from one side of the house to the other side to create an open lane to work. The flooring was 12 foot width so as long as I had 13 feet of clear width the length of the  house, it was enough room to lay some vinyl flooring.

I have to say, we are so tired of lugging boxes. We’ve been lugging boxes for two years. The following has been the sojourn of all our boxes of worldly possessions. Pack up our belongings and stack the boxes at our last home at Hockley Lake. Haul each box out of the house to the beach, load on to the plane, off load the plane into Saskatchewan storage, out of Saskatchewan storage to the moving truck, into Nova Scotia storage, out of Nova Scotia storage to our sea can, out of the sea can into the house and then around and around in the house. But at least each box is close to it’s final destination and in fact, we have unpacked many boxes of kitchen and office stuff.

Once the partitions were in, I was able to install drywall on the ceiling. That was a prerequisite for blowing in our insulation. We chose blown in cellulose.

Partitions and Drywall

Partitions and Drywall

Blown In Cellulose Insulation

We ordered 120 bags of cellulose insulation. The truck arrived with our insulation and blower. When the truck doors opened, I only saw 20 bags of insulation. I know we’re in the tropics compared to where we used to live but still, 20 bags won’t cut it. We must have 120. So the nice delivery man makes a call and makes it clear, we are way short of what was ordered. No problem, the rest will be delivered the next day.

Cellulose Insulation in Attic

Cellulose Insulation in Attic

Three pallets of insulation were delivered promptly the next morning. We took a tally of all and we got 115 bags total. We were still short 5. Now I’m contemplating sending a calculator back to the warehouse or making the drive to give a quick math counting lesson. Since we were only 5 bags short, I did the only sensible thing and ordered 20 extra bags. So we ended up with a total of 140 bags of insulation blown in.

That was a miserable job for us both and took two days. Both of us wore full face respirators. We looked like we were ready for a chemical spill, nuclear blast or hazardous waste disaster. Johanna fed the machine while I was up in the attic. The hip roof all the way around with trusses gave me very little room to move around the attic especially the closer I got to the eaves. It’s a good thing I am still semi agile because I contorted my body into shapes I thought were long ago impossible so I could squeeze through narrow passages. But it’s done and we are warm.

Although I had the roof water tight by late spring, I still had more screws to install along with ridge and hip caps. That is complete. Then we started on metal exterior siding on the house.

Metal Exterior

I had the mental image of easily slapping up sheets of metal and inside of a day, a side would be done. In reality, it didn’t work out that way. I’ll have a post specifically addressing how we did our siding but suffice it to say, it was a desperate struggle between man and metal. Very few pieces lent themselves to just getting installed. The majority of pieces needed to be precision cut to fit around doors and windows. Since the metal was installed in one continuous sheet, many sheets had cuts for upstairs windows as well as basement windows or vents or some other pipe. It was a great day when the exterior was finished!

We’ve been using a long ramp made up of 2 X 10’s to get into the house since last spring. More than once I’ve slid on it and one time, my feet went out from under me and I landed on my back on the ground. I’m pleased to say we now have a proper landing with a set of steps to get in the house. Much safer!

We’ve picked up the odd job this summer for some income since the money tree has had a serious drought. That has taken us away from the homestead at times. One job was right up my alley. Clearing trees for a power line right of way for a homeowner. The trees had grown up literally feet from the power line. Every tree had to be cut with precision or I’d look kind of stupid with a tree hung up on the power line and my hair straight out and smoking. But every tree came down where it needed to. That was fun and something different.

We’ve made some progress on Johanna’s kitchen. All the upper cabinets are hung and many of the base cabinets are in as well. They actually fared quite well considering the beating they took during the move from Saskatchewan to Nova Scotia.

Johanna's Kitchen

Johanna’s Kitchen

The excavator was back to do the final grading around the house. Everything needs to settle now. The mud around here is brutal. One definitely needs boots. I went out to clear the solar panels of some snow recently and had trouble moving. Every step was boot sucking mud.

Working In The Woods

I’ve done a lot of work in the woods. We have no idea yet on the amount of firewood we will burn each year so we try to gather a good quantity with a fudge factor. Judging by the amount of wood we are burning, we might be cutting it close. Time will tell.

I’ve also been hard at work thinning the woodlot. I don’t know if I’ll live long enough but we’d like to create a model forest and park like setting with nature trails for us as well as future generations. Ultimately we’d like to keep the property as one whole ocean front parcel as a legacy to our off grid way of life, accessible to the public long after we are gone. That’s the plan for now.

Forest is a Dense Jungle

Forest is a Dense Jungle

Properly Thinned Forest

Properly Thinned Forest

Some warm day this spring I’ll set up the camera and make a video of my forestry work. I’m taking a jungle of trees that is a struggle to push through and spacing the trees roughly every 5 – 6 feet. It’s time consuming, physically demanding work but the results are certainly satisfying.

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

Ron and Johanna

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10 Responses to Fall 2018 Nova Scotia Off Grid Homestead Building Update

  1. Bebe says:

    So much work for two people. I’m glad I found your blog, it is so interesting. Have a safe and great New Year,

    • Ron & Johanna Melchiore says:

      Hello Bebe. It is daunting at times and I find myself lying awake in the middle of the night on occasion bogged down with the thought there is so much left to do. But we just keep plugging. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas/ Holidays and a good 2019 New Year. Ron

  2. grandma says:

    Here, just south of Truro, we heat our split entry using between 6 and 7 cords of wood….just a quesstimate, as you know how the fall has been so far. Keep on keepin’ on…

    • Ron & Johanna Melchiore says:

      Hello Grandma. Thank you for commenting. We have a large pile of firewood and it should be plenty for us but we are the type that generally have 3-5 years worth of firewood cut and ready to go. Having enough for one year is out of our comfort zone. Since this is our first year in the house it’s still unknown what quantity of wood we will go through in a year. But it’s safe to say we have 6 cords at least. And I can whack some dead standing trees in a hurry if need be. Looks like a messy night heading our way. Have a good night! Ron

  3. Ester Baker-Duggan says:

    It’s coming along nicely Ron and Johanna. House is looking great and you had wonderful gardens (due to much hard work) considering the not great soil we deal with. All the best from your neighbors the Duggans.

    • Ron & Johanna Melchiore says:

      Hi Ester. Thanks for the nice comments. Things have certainly improved a lot since your visit. You won’t recognize the place the next time. 🙂 I’m sure we’ll see you shortly. Take good care and enjoy the pitter patter of more rain. Grrrr We could use a sunny day! Ron

  4. Peg and Dave says:

    Wonderful to hear from you again. I admire your perseverance. Leaving a legacy is a great idea.

    • Ron & Johanna Melchiore says:

      Hi Dave and Peg. I hope we can pull it off and create this legacy. On another note, it looks promising that I will have a library gig next year in Bucks County. I will certainly let you know well in advance and maybe you will be able to attend. Have a terrific Christmas and a good 2019! Thanks for commenting. All the best to you both, Ron

  5. Patti McCurdy says:

    Once again a very interesting post! Makes my mind wander… A true adventure story. But oh, did my imagination start to soar over that 19 acres!! if only…..
    Anxiously await your next post. (Bucks County Pennsylvania?….await that news )

    • Ron & Johanna Melchiore says:

      Hi Patti. Good to hear from you. It was a tough decision between the 2 properties. Tat property had a lot going for it. Wild, bold ocean on one side and yet a protected deep water cove to drive a boat right up on shore. But we’re very happy where we are as well. I’ll drop you a note back via email in regards to PA.

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