Easy Fix

Last spring, when we were heading home from Arizona, I started getting a warning light in the bus. The overdrive light started flashing somewhere between California and Oregon and the transmission wasn’t shifting properly. It wouldn’t shift back into overdrive unless I turned it off and on manually and it was surging in and out of overdrive when going about 50 km/h.

I googled what that meant and fount it could mean a few different things from a clogged up transmission filter to a bad speed sensor to bearing problems. Repairs ranged from a fluid change to a rebuild, depending on the actual issue.

I started with a transmission fluid and filter change. I figured this was my cheapest and hopefully easiest fix. Not the problem, but after the long trip I didn’t think it was a bad thing to do anyway.

Just before we left Grande Prairie I had a friend with a code reader diagnose the bus and it narrowed it down to the speed sensor. He told me the sensor was most likely on the torque converter and I would probably need to drop the transmission to find it (worst case). I kind of left it at that until this spring when I started doing some more research.

Google told me that the sensor was either on the top of the tranny or on the differential (not inside). As the weather was getting better and I wanted to see which sensor I needed as there were a few different options. I pulled the console in the bus and there was the sensor right on top. The odd thing was that there was no wires running from it. The plug had fallen off somehow and was dangling right beside it.

Fingers crossed I plugged it back in and took it for a test drive. No light, normal shifting…no problem! Needless to say I was pretty pumped. A rebuild would have run me into the thousands and a sensor was a couple hundred, so to save all of that is always awesome.

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Is it Spring yet?

We appear to be at the end of “third winter” here in Saskatchewan.  It seemed as though spring may never come, but the forecast is worthy of some optimisim as we are approaching above freezing temperatures in the next couple of weeks.

The pregnancy is approaching 30 weeks now and Laurel is doing well, considering.  She has had gestational diabetes with the last few pregnancies and has to monitor her blood sugars closely.  We are seeing three doctors with this one.

We had a family friend make a gender reveal cake for us.

The renovation project is progressing slowly but surely.  The house had a flood last year so the basement needed to be emptied and redone.  The drywall was cut back 2 feet from the floor, the furnace and hot water tank needed to be replaced and the whole house needed to be freshened up as it was heavily smoked in for many years.

The original layout for the basement was a single bedroom, bathroom and a large open area.  We enlarged the bedroom window to legal egress size and added another in the open area so as to add a second bedroom.  The bathroom is being reconfigured to make it flow better and soon we should have new carpet and paint.  I’ve learned some new skills working with Laurel’s uncle including drywall and plumbing.

Upstairs we painted and pulled all the carpets.  Laurel and I found some hardwood floors on sale for a really good price and hopefully we will get them installed soon.  The doors will all be replaced as well as the windows.

We are missing life on the road, however.  We reflect fondly on our trip last year and the friends that we made.  The itch to get moving is still there and we constantly talk about where we should go and looking at different travel trailers.  We hope that travel will once again be a big part of our lives sooner than later.

Hope you all have a great spring!!

And Then This Happened…

So we’ve been busy packing and loading and cleaning….all things that seem really tedious and never ending when you are moving. Fortunately we got rid of most of our stuff last year, but it is amazing how that little bit that’s left can multiply.

To make matters more interesting, we got some sort of stomach bug on Saturday night/Sunday. Our plan was to be on the road Sunday afternoon, but I was too sick to do much if anything. We managed to finish loading the horse trailer as our friend Nancy was still planning to go ahead.

Plus we had a winter storm.

At least a foot of snow fell on top of some freezing rain that fell the night before. Awesome (with as much sarcasm as I can muster)! We plowed ahead (oun intended) and by noon on Monday we were all feeling better and ready to hit the road.

We drove as a convoy, myself and five kids in the bus and Laurel and a co-pilot in the truck. Our oldest went with our stuff the day before and was in Moose Jaw by the time we left our former home. The roads were crap for the first 200 kilometres, several cars and big trucks in the ditch, so we were moving slow.

We spent the night at a hotel in Stony Plain and were back on the road by 8:30 the next morning. The roads were bare and dry and we were able to go the speed limit for the rest of the trip. We arrived in Moose Jaw just as the sun was setting.

It was a long couple of days, but we made it safe and sound, just in time for winter!

Long Time No Update Big Changes

What can I say?  Time flies and things tend to get away from me from time to time.  The seasons have changed rather rapidly here in northern Alberta.  Our summer was cool and wet and fall never really happened.  The garden (and the gardens of most people I’ve talked to) did not produce much.  One or two potatoes per hill, itty bitty little carrots and so on.  We did get a pile of tiny tomatoes, however.

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The egg production is in full gear.  We are getting from seven to nine eggs per day and they are delicious.  I have a couple customers at work already for the extra eggs.

Now for the big change. We sold our house. We were beginning to think nothing was going to happen until next spring, then suddenly we are a week away from moving out! The buyers requested a quick possession, and since we had hardly anything in the house anyway we agreed. (We got rid of most of our stuff last fall before travelling.)

We are heading for Moose Jaw for the next little bit. This gives us some time to regroup, pay down some debt and make a plan. We are sad to be saying goodbye to our acreage, but we are certain there are better things ahead.

Needless to say things have been and will be busy for the next little while. Posts will be whenever I get a chance until things settle down, but we are looking forward to sharing more with all of you as things progress.

Have a wonderful day!

And then there were 10 (chickens that is…not kids)

Downsized the flock of chickens last week. We had 15 roosters to our 10 hens and that was going to be an issue sooner than later. The boys were becoming more and more aggressive so we had to do something.  I put an ad on Kijiji and a few days later someone came and bought all 13 I had advertised.

We kept back 2 roosters to guard the flock and possibly make more chicks in the future.  Two days later both roosters disappeared.  We assumed they wandered into the woods (as they often would) and possibly got lost as they were seen throughout the day.  I hoped they would turn up at 9 pm when they put themselves away in the chick shaw.

The next day, when they still failed to show up we started to search for signs in the woods and neighbouring field.  All we found was a pile of feathers deep in the trees.  My guess is it was a weasel.  The dog is pretty good to keep the larger predators off the property and because the roosters like the woods they made themselves targets.  Fortunately the hens like to stay close to the house and we’ve not lost any (yet).

Things are much quieter, as the boys were getting pretty loud and I miss my buddy.  There was one rooster (one of the ones we kept) that would come over to see me whenever I was outside.  He would follow me around and chatter at me as I worked in the yard.  He would also stand up on the deck outside the door and crow.

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Hopefully we start getting some eggs soon.  I should start happening any time now.  The tomatoes are getting large and the potatoes will be ready for harvest soon.  The corn is over 6′ tall now and we have a monster sunflower that is at least 15 feet tall!

Have a great day!

A Leap of Faith

After months and months of back and forth, we finally decided to list our property. It was a difficult decision and one that we agonized over for quite some time. Ultimately we miss life on the road and being all together as a family.

The kids have all asked me at some point about when we are moving back into the camper and why I keep leaving everyday. I also miss the freedom we had to go where we wanted when we wanted.

We are also attracted to the minimalist lifestyle. We both have a history of maximist tendencies (me more so than Laurel) and the liberty that comes from not having materialistic attachments is awesome. I still have some progress to make in this area, but it gets easier over time.

At the same time having a home base to come back to is nice. As much as I’m itching to travel, I know it is just as important to stop for a while and unwind, re-evaluate and relax.

So now we wait and see. Our realtor was pretty optimistic we could sell fairly quickly, but these things are never certain.

Moving right along

The summer is passing quickly here in The north. It’s hard to believe that we are already half way through July and I’m not even half way through all the projects I wanted to do. Such is life I suppose.

We are having some transmission issues with the bus, added onto some electrical problems to solve. It sounds like a filter or solenoid needs to be replaced. Fingers crossed it’s not a rebuild or replacement issue.

The strawberries we planted are producing nicely. There are multiple berries on each plant and the kids check them every day for ripe ones. A couple squash plants survived the frost and are about to flower, as are the tomatoes.

The chickens are free ranging and are quite amusing. They come running when they see me and follow me around the yard. They seem to really like watermelon rinds and leave nothing but the outer skin behind. We definitely have more roosters than hens, will have to do something about that sooner than later.

Abigayle has fully recovered from her surgery and is back to her dancing and chatting. She recently lost her first two teeth…in the same evening.

It is stunning how fast they grow and change. One always thinks they have lots of time to do things and be present, but it goes so quickly.

Hope you all are having a great summer!!

Raising the Roof

I’m a couple of days behind in my posts.  This was from three days ago.

Another cool and windy day here. At least it’s not raining. We had the chicks out in the morning for a bit when it looked like it was going to be sunny. It wasn’t long before the clouds rolled in and the chicks were piling up trying to stay warm.  We ran an extension cord and the brooder light out to the chickshaw to warm them up.  By lunch we decided to just put them back in the shed.

We were working on making some portable fencing using the hog fence and some posts. We cut the hog fence into 6 foot sections and attached them to the post on one end. We made hooks on the other and they simply hook on the opposite side of the post.  The idea is that we can set up the fence where we want the chickens to work and move them everyday.  Almost free range.

After lunch we tackled finishing the roof for the chickshaw. We picked up the wood the day before from Home Depot.  It took us 2 or three hours to coble this together and it is heavy!  I think the designer used plastic sheets for the roof, all we had laying around was metal.  When the roof is lifted the whole thing tips backwards.

So we added some training wheels to keep it from going too far back.  I still have to cut the extra tin off to finish, but the battery for my sawsall is pretty weak and I can only go a couple feet at a time before charging.

Just need to put the handle on for pulling and it’s finished!!

Working Hard and Hardly Working. Slowly Building our Hobby Farm

Today was a beautiful sunny day!

We woke up early, and had an early breakfast, thanks to our lovely 13yr old who baked us muffins and made us coffee. Then we proceeded on with our outside errands.

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First we had to let the chickens out, and set them up for the day!  They were happy out on the grass.  We had them set up around our lilac bush, which has an ant hill under it and dandylions, and thistle.  Lots of work for them to do.

We wanted to transplant our tomatoes before the temp was to hot.  We decided to put them in the raised beds behind the house.  Until now we hadn’t planted anything here, just lots weeding.

Here are our tomatoes! Hope they survive and thrive.

We finished up around 11:00 and realized we needed to run some errands in town, added to the list buying some more mulch and soil. Being that it was already 11:00 we went inside to prepare lunch for the children. We were pleasantly surprised by the hard work our children did with out being asked they had tidied and cleaned up almost every room of the house.

Children are such a blessing I forgot to get a picture of that, but oh my what a happy mommy was I… I can’t even express how blessed I am and was.

The girls put out the seed bombs we had made a couple weeks ago.  No idea if they will work or not, but a good place to test them out.

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Seed bombs made from shredded paper and wild flower seeds.

We came home from town with six new strawberry plants, a Mrs. Honeyberry bush (to compliment the Mr. Honeyberry we bought a couple summers ago), a Lavender bush and some marigold flowers.  Apparently lavender and marigolds repel mosquitoes, so here’s hoping.

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Mrs. Honeyberry next to Mr. Honeyberry.

 

We made a new strawberry patch out of one of the garden beds by raking up a mound and covering it with landscape fabric.  We spaced them out and hope to soon have a good sized patch.  Titus was really involved in this process, shovelling dirt onto the fabric for us to keep it from blowing away.

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A very productive day today.

Counting Sheep

Spring has finally sprung and yesterday I had a new experience. I helped a local farmer with shearing sheep. My lovely wife and I have been discussing lately about the prospect of acquiring some sheep and I got to get up close and personal with some.

My job was to stand in the pen with the sheep and bring them one by one to the guy running the shears. Basically, all I had to do was get one by one of their rear ankles and drag them backwards out of the pen. Pretty easy task.

There were about 45 sheep in all and it took about 4 hours to get them all shorn. I really enjoyed it. The farmer and his wife treated us to lunch afterwards and I enjoyed getting to know them over a cup of coffee.

We are starting our own little farm with some chickens. They are arriving in mid May and we are busy getting things ready. Our kids are very excited about this and are counting the days.

We are enjoying the spring weather and seeing our yard slowly emerging from the snow. It won’t be long and we can plant our garden.