Washbin pond

Wash bin Pond

I had always wanted some sort of water feature in my backyard.  I came upon this washbin and containers and decided that this was the time.  I wanted one where the little containers poured into the big container.  Just had to figure out how to do that.

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Eureka!  I figured it out!  I used some 90 degree brackets for this.  However I didn’t want them at 90 degrees.  Out came the blow torch. I heated them up and slowly bent them with pliers until they were at the angles I wanted.  Note the lack of level on the camera shot.  It’s hard to hold a camera, blow torch and pliers at the same time!IMG_5548

This is where they sat on the bottom oval container.  IMG_5549

Screwed in. I have a habit of using what I have a home. Also I’m broke and thus didn’t want to spend money so thus boom random bolts and nuts used! IMG_5551

Final placement for oval container number one. It is on an incline, I promise!  Also looks like I have mastered gravity.IMG_5552

 

Number two attached.  Still looks like I can control gravity.  In fact.  Lets say that.  I control gravity.IMG_5558

I covered the bolt heads with silicone to help seal it.  I did the top and bottom just to be sure.  Waited a good 24 hours for it all to dry.IMG_5559

Dry run before everything is added.  I found a simple nozzle from Home Depot for the fountain part at the top. I also picked up a very small pump from Canadian tire similar to this one at Amazon. However after researching a bit I wish I had gone for this solar fountain pump. Oh well. I ended up installing a electrical outlet back up behind that log in the top right for this project.  Luckily I figure I can use it for the lights on my tree as well.  So I guess it’s not all bad.IMG_5565

Here it is all done in all it’s glory. I put a piece of limestone in the bottom for extra weight just in case.  It also helps hold the pump down. A couple plants for oxygenation purposes and three goldfish that all look differently so that Damian can name them and tell which is which.  Apparently this is something the pet store hears often.
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Here is one of the yet to be named goldfish poking his head out from under the rock where he likes to hide.  I will update and let you know the names when they occur. I know you’re on the edge of your seat awaiting.IMG_5569

Backpacking the Elk Trail at Prince Albert National Park

Backpacking the Elk Trail at Prince Albert National Park

I had some time this last week to go on a solo backpacking trip. I’ve done a ton of solo hikes before but never anything over night so this would be a new experience.  Initially the plan was to do Grey Owls Trail in Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan, however once I got up there I discovered that the road to the trail head had been washed out and the nearest place to park was about 40 km away.  I was disappointed to say the least.  I moped around the townsite of Waskesui for about an hour trying to decide what I wanted to do.  The park office had suggested another trail on the south end of the park so I decided that would be the route I took.  Originally I was expecting about 12 km hiking with my full pack to a site, then 15 to Grey Owl’s and back to campsite with a smaller one.  Easy peezy.  This new hike was described as 13 km to the campsite but I didn’t think that extra kilometre was that bad.  After notifying the proper people of my change in plans I set out to the trail head of the Elk Trail


This is the Elk Trail that I hiked.  I GPS’d it myself.  Strangely enough my GPS said it was a 15km hike into the site and the park said 13km.  Someone is lying.  I believe the GPS more.  I started in the southeast corner of this map and trudged north west passed Sandy Lake and onward to Fish Lake for the night.
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It was a trip of firsts.  My first overnight solo, my first backpacking trip in years and years, and my first night sleeping in a hammock out in the woods. I wasn’t sure about the hammock yet as I had never done it before so I actually brought a tent with me as well.  Once I got to the site I setup my hammock and took a nap.  When I woke up a very fit lady in her 60’s or so showed up at set this up.  I didn’t feel like being shown up so hammock it is!

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I didn’t take any pictures of my hammock setup for some reason.  However here is one I sent to make people at home feel jealous of my relaxing outdoors.  It’s my beautiful feet.  In the end I did have a tarp strung up over top of me in case of rain.  It was a good sleep.  The hammock is a double so I could cocoon myself into it to fend off scary mosquitoes.  IMG_20160607_142758

I learned a lesson about backpacking on this trip.  Since I am usually doing canoe trips I hadn’t backpacked in a long time. On a canoe trip I can take a lot more stuff.  Unfortunately I packed like I was doing a canoe trip, which meant I took way way too much.  I was pretty tired when I made it to the site.  The trip out was even worse.  It took me just over three hours to get in and five hours to hike out.  At the end I was taking a break every twenty minutes.  It was rough.

The trail was pretty good.  It wasn’t a lot of ups and downs.  They apparently don’t maintain it but it looked pretty maintained. It would be a good trip via snowshoe in the winter as well methinks.  Here is a couple pictures from the trail.

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Here is one from one of my frequent breaks on the way out.  I was tired.  And sore.IMG_5531

This is a panoramic view of the campsite.  Mind the mess on the tables.    IMG_20160607_154452_panorama

The park office told me the trail and campground weren’t maintained.  They had a brand new outhouse stocked with toilet paper.  Also if you look closely you can see the wood is also neatly stacked.  Pretty nice for “not maintained”

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These are some shots from my site the night.  The lake seemed to be rather high.  I’m not sure if it was due to high water levels in general or beaver activity.  It ruined all opportunity to fish though and I wasn’t happy with that.  Also the lake was filled with leaches which also isn’t fun.
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The next morning I took this one.

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Overall I’d probably do the trail again at a later time.  I still want to get back to do Grey Owl’s again.  Hopefully the road will be open again soon.

Update on strawberry and potato planters

Update on potato and strawberry planters

If you look back in time at my previous posts, I have created a stand up strawberry planter and a stand up potato planter. I thought I’d post an update after stuff grew on them!

 

Here is the strawberry planter with genuine strawberries in them!  Well actually there is no strawberries yet but they’re growing.

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Here is the stand up potato planter.  It’s got plants growing out of the top and the sides cause that’s the way potatoes roll.

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Rhubarb Ginger Jam

Ginger Rhubarb Jam

I have a mutant Rhubarb plant in my backyard.  It’s only the beginning of June and I have had to cut it back four times already!  I have been able to pawn off a lot on my retired mother who in turn supplies the family and neighbourhood with rhubarb crips and pies.  This time however I have taken it upon myself to make rhubarb jam.  I like a good jam.  Occasionally a jelly.  But I’m really a jam guy.IMG_20160612_125113

I cut my mutant rhubarb plant (I call him Stan) today.  This was the haul I got today.   Probably cut less than a quarter of it down.  I used an Odouls can for scale.  I did let my mother steal more from today’s haul.

The Recipe:

8 cups rhubarb all chopped up into bits and pieces

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup shredded ginger

Lemon zest

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Here is the Rhubarb all chopped up and measured out.IMG_5541

I zested the lemon with a cheese grater because I am resourceful and responsible.  I then cut the lemon and squeezed it to juice up the mix.

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A nice shot of all the mix together. Sugar, lemon, rhubarb, ginger all together on the stove ready to heat up on the stove in medium heat.

I have at this point also got the big pot boiling with the jars that are sterilizing.

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I also took a quick snack of rhubarb and sugar.  Well maybe a couple.  This may be a reason why losing weight isn’t happening…

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I also made a batch with added strawberries as a side project.  I hope it goes well.    I only used four cups of rhubarb and one cup of sugar for this batch.

I proceeded to fill jars, then set them gently in the boiling water pot and boiled for a whopping ten minutes.  Then removed, set on the racks and waiting for the lids to pop.  All jars successfully made the lovely popping sound.

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In total I got five jars of the Rhubarb Ginger Jam and two of the Strawberry Ginger Rhubarb.  Once I eat them  I will let you know how tasty they are and you can salivate at my descriptions and fume with jealousy.

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I even made the most hip jam labels imaginable.

Open Letter to Governments

Dear Municipal, Provincial, and Federal, Governments,

 

After the event last night, I felt that I must write something about the conduct of our government.  This isn’t just about #elbowgate which trended directly after incident.  I am proud to be Canadian.  Canada is Open Letter to Governments traditionally, polite, kind, and reserved.  I have not seen this lately.    This open letter is about how the government acts as a whole.  All governments, municipal, provincial and federal.

After watching the video, I noted that the NDP MP’s were blocking the Conservative whip from getting through to delay to vote.  Then the Prime Minister angrily walks across the floor to grab the whip from the group and pull him out, accidently elbowing a female NDP MP in the process.  Keyword here is accidentally.  What the Prime Minister did is unacceptable, he should in no way have grabbed the whip physically and moved him.  However, at the same time it’s also unacceptable for the NDP MP’s to be trying to block another person physically.  They should equally be ashamed of their actions.  The video didn’t portray upstanding professionals, it portrayed childish behaviour on all parts.  The opposition parties continued to attack the Prime Minister on his behaviour during his apology without acknowledging their actions as well were not becoming of professionals. Unfortunately, a historic apology was made the same morning as the incident that was overshadowed by an event blown out of proportion.

The rise in attack ads seems to be very prominent as of late as well.  I have three children. How do I explain to them that making fun of others or straight out insulting people is unacceptable when the leaders of our country are doing it on a regular basis?  I would love if one of these parties would come and explain why this is acceptable behaviour to my children.  How do they explain it to their own children that they can go to work, insult people and act unprofessional?

I have thought about taking my kids to go see a debate live.  However, I don’t know if I would like to expose them to this behaviour that I see exhibited regularly by our members of government.  I have heard of teachers that have quit taking classes to see debates because of this behaviour as well.  My parents raised me to be respectful and generous to others. Didn’t yours?  This should be a wake up call for governments that how they behave isn’t appropriate, but instead they are too involved with yelling, insulting and being rude to anyone that doesn’t agree with them.

I’m not picking sides or a preference for an individual party in this letter. I am directing this at all politicians.  You are not just the leaders of our country, you are the inspiration for a lot of young people.  Please learn from your mistakes.  Act your age.  Be role models. You are the face of Canada.  You were voted in to represent all of us.  Act appropriately.

 

Sincerely

Matthew Thompson

Stand Up Strawberry Planter

Stand Up Strawberry Planter

Keeping in tune with the “I have very little space in my tiny yard and thus I have to build my garden up” routine, I decided to build a stand up strawberry planter. I started with some fence boards I picked up from my trusty home depot.  Yes they’re pressure treated.

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I wanted more of a crown thing at the top so I cut it pointy.  I used a mitre saw for this at 45 degree angles in case you’re wondering.

 

Standup Strawberry planter

I then cut holes all the way up and down the boards, leaving about an inch and a half on the edges.  Note the lady bug visitor I had. I couldn’t get him/her to fly away or crawl off for a while.  But here is your lady bug interlude.

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Finished boards ready for staining.  Aren’t they exciting looking?IMG_5378

I have a brown and red theme in my back yard.  Note the birdhouse is alternating of those colours.  The birds told me this is their favourite colour scheme.  I assure you I speak bird. IMG_5379

Once dried I laid them down and spread out some fancy landscape cloth.  I stapled them to one end to start with.IMG_5380

 

I measured the total amount of interior space needed and cut the fabric.IMG_5381

Not only did I staple the fabric in but I also included some pieces of wood to help screw the boards together.
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Finished product.  To install I dug a hole and put it in. Then filled up the top with dirt.  Once I pick up some strawberry plants I’ll show a couple shots of it in action.  The fabric allows me to just cut a hole and input the plant. Easy peezy.    IMG_5383

I’m hoping I can make jam later on in the year.

Update on strawberry and potato planters

Update on the strawberry planter with actual strawberries!

 

Stand Up Potato Planter

Stand Up Potato Planter

Spring has come early here in Saskatchewan. I’ve been steadily scouring the internet for ideas on what to do with my garden this fall.  Upon encountering several posts on stand up potato planters I decided to try my hand at one since I have limited space in my teeny yard.   This is the area I choose to set it up. Right smack dab between my rhubarb leaf bird bath and my trellis that grows beans and tomatoes.

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I am a big believer in reusing things I have.  For instance I do a lot with pallets and thus I had some spears leftover that I didn’t know what to do with.  Hammered into the ground they became an excellent frame.

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I acquired some chicken wire with one inch spacing.  I actually didn’t have this laying around but I found some other uses for it later on so I figured it would be useful to have.  I wrapped it around the frame and connected it with zipties that I got for xmas from Santa.  I’m not sure why I got zipties but I did, and they came in useful today.

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Most sites I read used hair as a layer on the outside to hold in the dirt in the middle.  I didn’t have any on hand so I used leftover grass and other plant material I had around my backyard, including a cut up Christmas tree that I used in another post.  I felt this would sufficiently hold the dirt in the middle.  I used seed potatoes in the middle. Four per row.
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My helper today.  He was really good at filling the middle with dirt.IMG_5362

Once I got to the top of the first row of chicken wire I added a second.  I used the zip ties again and zipped it all together.  Then continued layering of dirt, potatoes, dirt, potatoes and so on.IMG_5366

Here is another overview of the project.IMG_5358

Once I reached my desired height of about one metre I zipped the top all down to hold it in.IMG_5367

Final product.  I’ll take some pictures when it sprouts to show you all.IMG_5369                IMG_5370

Update: There is plants on the potato planter!

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More planting!

I had lots of room on my grow table still and dirt and more coffee grounds etc available. I also wanted more tomatoes so I decided it was time to plant some more since it was still -5 outside.
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The two white containers are for wildflowers.  They will look all pretty.  My fiance will like them. She likes that stuff.  I’m more of a “Can I eat it?!?” kind of guy. The individual ones will be for two varieties of tomatoes.  Little cherry ones and huge ones.  The big brown pot is for broccoli.  I’ve never planted broccoli before so this will be an adventure!  Damian was really into it so I decided why not.

 




 

I used my classic Epsom salt, coffee grounds, and eggshell soil mixture.  Hasn’t let me down yet!

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My little helper aiding in the brocoli plantations.  He was super pumped to do this which is awesome.  Hopefully they work out!

 

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The Great Tree Toppling

I had a Elm tree that had died on my property.  Unfortunatly it was about a metre and a half away from my house and the next door neighbours. Thus it needed to be toppled.  After numerous conversations with the City and the Ministry of the Environment to find out the correct procedures to disposal of a elm tree to fight the evil Elm Beetle, we set to work.

This had been on the agenda for approximately two years now.  My buddy Wes and I had joint bought a pole saw in anticipation of this endeavor and were very excited to do this.  We trimmed off a lot of the larger top branches before we toppled the beast.  Notice we cut a triangle out of the one side to aid in toppling in the correct direction.  With a check to make sure my house insurance was up to date, Wes and Jordan  pulled as hard as their little bodies could on the ropes while I did the final cuts.  Here is a video taken by my lovely fiance of the tree actually falling.

And here is me standing on the fallen beast looking all manly and such. I am cursing myself for not wearing plaid.

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We had chain saw issues at the end and me being amazing cut the final bit with a hand saw.  Look! I even wore a safety face shield!

It took 7 trips with a truck to get it all out to the disposal site. Here is the final pile with bonus Wes before it got burned and buried.

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It was an adventure. Now my living room is much brighter and I don’t have to worry about a dead tree falling on my house.

Thank you to Heather Wes, Tara, Amanda, My father (Happy Birthday), Russ, Paul and Jordan for their help on this!

Hiking Aboot

Hiking throughout Saskatchewan

Hey there!  Been a bit.  I’ve been busy with school, a random ArcGIS contract (yes I do that too) and a minor surgery..  It’s okay. I’m fine.  I know you were incredibly concerned.  I will take as many get well gifts as your wanting to give though!

Do you write? Take photos? I discovered this really neat contest that may be up your alley.  Check it out!

World Around The Campfire Contest

I’ve finally done it and joined the twitter.  You can find me @NomaddadMatt.





There has been a lot of hiking as of late.

This is a poor quality photo of me at Sask Landing Provincial Park.  Note the Saskatchewan: Home of the Sasquatch Tshirt

Nice day.  However right after I took this I ended up running the rest of the trail as a blizzard moved in.  I did have a coat. It’s behind the camera.  If you turn around you can see it.IMG_5343

Then I went to Black Strap Provincial Park.  It was a balmy -20 with the windchill this day.   A little chilly.  But I made it.IMG_20160319_102414

Then the last park I was able to hike was the trails at Echo Valley Provincial Park!  I have camped here probably close to 4o times and for some reasons have never actually hiked the trails.  This first shot is a view of Pasqua Lake from the top of the valley.

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We enjoyed a hot lunch of spicy bacon macaroni and cheese on my Biolite Campstove. This is the first time I’ve ever used it!  It’s a pretty neat debris burner.  The orange part is a fan that pushes air to the fire.  It also has a USB charger that you can charge devices with. However I think it takes a long long time to changeIMG_20160329_115235

I’ll end with a panorama of  Pasqua and Echo Lakes with the bridge in between.

Here is a link to the Biolite stuff on Amazon. They have a lot of different stuff you can do with it. I’d recommend it for day hikes as you don’t need to carry fuel with you.