Wednesday, 7 February 2018


We watched the sunrise toady, standing together, facing east.
But we were inside the boiler room, and looking at the digital display off of the solar array.
Outside the thermometer is down to -35, and the sky is clear.

The digits flip from volts to amps to Kws. The numbers keep on ticking up. 
We can picture the brightness trimming the horizon, and spilling over to illuminate the bluffs.  
The frozen crystalline world sparkles golden in the first light.

The numbers tick up faster and faster as the earth spins the sun into full view, 
the light activates the cells in the panels and they feed their charge into shared wires, 
that amalgamate at the combiner box and shunt the current through a tech cable across the yard, 
and into the house where 140V is changed to 60V to feed the battery bank.


 From the batteries, the power in inverted to 120 V for use around the house.
We can live the high life now:
we can surf the web, listen to music, light up our life, vacuum, 
even run power saws all off of the passive power of the sun. 

There are more than 5 hours of direct sunlight, during this time the batteries can take in more power than they would if we had our 2000 watt generator running for that whole time.

Warm light pours in through the windows. 

Still, we go out every day to get some actual solar rays on a narrow strip of exposed skin. 

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Kids in the Yard

Lilia is here peeking into the maternity ward: 
our first tame animals have been born here on the McQuesten Ridge. 

Just after the crowds of Easter pulled out, Clarabella, our shy sister dairy goat, gave birth to two dainty kids: Easter and Bunny.

A few days later, our old Mama goat kided two boys, birch and Mossy, who came out bigger and and stronger than their counterparts.


In the frozen darkness of January Rachelle and Margaret Atsin came to stay with us.

The plan was for them to keep the girls and I company while Berwyn was on ranger patrol. 
Four months later and they are still here much of the time. 

  We've fixed up a yurt for them and set it just down-ridge from the house. 
They've fallen into the rhythm of family and the forest farm.
(One year ago, at the turn of 2016, Rachelle posted on facebook that she dreamed of raising her daughter in a yurt on a farm in the Yukon.)

And for myself, she has been the best medicine for my isolation.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Non-attached Love

It is precious rare to gaze at the wild and have it gaze right back at you. 

In July we found three kestrel chicks trapped in a bucket on an abandoned farm. 

They could not tell us how they got there or why there were no adults around to care for them.

We brought them home in a box and tried to provide for them.

We fed them with road kill grouse and rabbit, until they regained their strength and their feathers gleamed.

Within days they were flying short distances, landing awkwardly on whatever was in their path. With a little practice, they gained finesse and would fly from treetop to rooftop, one after the next.

Still they returned to eat scraps of meat we left out for them.

Selwyn took this photo, it is clear that the infatuation was unidirectional. 
Eventually, the three flew off and didn't return. 
We still think of them fondly and hope against all odds that they survived.

(Joe Bishop too the rest of the photos) 

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The living is easy

For one brief moment of transition, the living is easy.
The snow has lost its legs before its time;
 it is collapsing under our steps.
I am grieving the passing of this winter,
mourning it as I would the premature death of a weak child.
It was beautiful.
We managed to finish the wash house...
...that we began three years ago.
In the mild dark days,
we planed, routered and sanded the boards made from trees cut on this very site.
 A building is new as long as you are still heating it with its own offcuts.

Now our baths are roof-melt and rainwater.
No longer do we have to melt buckets of snow and strain out the spruce needles.
Winter is officially past.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

The age of Capricorn

Our farm has it's first overwintering stock: a mother dairy goat and her daughter.
Sooty and little Willow arrived in early July.
Sooty has been giving us about a litre of milk every day; taken together that is almost 150L so far.
 It has been wonderful to have.

The price paid is the time and tremendous effort spent creating a suitable home for them.
I am so thankful for all of the farm helpers who shared this workload with us!

We built our first log building, a snug little barn that opens into a sunny yard.
Nearby we put up a hay shed and filled it with hay.
The forest we had logged for timber is now enclosed in fenced pastures.
Here we can let the goats free to browse in the summer months.
This summer we let the goats free to forage the wild salad of their choice every day.
We walk together at the pace of a nibbling goat, in a connect-the-dots pattern from plant to plant.
Before goats,
I thought that this old growth boreal forest had not much nutrition to offer
except to squirrels and spruce grouse.
But Sooty and Willow showed me otherwise.
They found dozens of species that they relished, and they chose new favourites as the seasons turned.
Even with pastures, I am sure we will continue to wander after our goats into the woods.


Sunday, 14 June 2015

The life of Riely

The sap was boiled down about a month ago.
Syrup bottled and the stacks are dwindling.
Thanks to the good folk in these pictures the season came off
with out more than the necessary trouble.
If making birch syrup could go this smooth every spring we would have no more worries.

Akane cleaned her tank each morning before breakfast without complaint.
Antoine wrapped in tubes.

 Tanja pouring hot concentrate.
Nico's done so much more than aupair.
I only wish I had a picture of him collecting his sap buckets with his face decorated like this.
and we all came out smiling.


Since the sap run was early and the crew stuck around we've been able to take off a big bite
and chew it.
There is new fence for new pigs and new chickens and new goats.
There 13 rounds on a goat barn.

My friend told me that I am living the life of Riliey, and it looks like I can't disagree at the moment.