Thursday, July 30, 2020

What a Difference a Year Makes in a Garden

My float garden in 2007.
My floating garden was built by our good friend John in 2003 and has served us well.

Last summer John replaced the cedar siding around the four raised beds and the walkway so I missed out on a whole growing season.

At the end of summer I left the beds cleared except for a perennial herbs. What a difference a year makes.

New cedar boards outside and in.

We visited the cabin in December and January between our Snowbird RV Adventures to California and Arizona. Then, like people around the world, we sheltered in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. At first, we chose our condo in Bellingham. In July it was time to come home to BC even with a strict 14-day quarantine.

My float garden on Powell Lake, BC, during a typical summer..

We found lots of things to do to get our float cabin home back in shape. One of them was my float garden. While we were away it was taken over by flowers, herbs and weeds gone wild.

Here's what I found when we finally got home in July, everything gone wild.

On the north side of the float garden the mint that used to be in a pot took over the front bed. The other north bed sported weeds including fireweed that must have been beautiful while blooming.

All four raised beds were totally covered with plants already going to seed.

The beds on the south side included more weeds in the front section, and a full bed of chamomile going to seed in the rear. I must have dumped soil that container with seeds for this prolific flowers. At least I love the smell and enjoy a cup of chamomile tea on winter evenings.

Over the years my garden has been highlighted in the media.
In time it will be back in shape food eough for sharing.

One bed cleared and ready for future planting.

Click here to read more about float gardening.

Do you garden in raised beds? What are some of your favourite crops? -- Margy

Visit Letting Go of the Bay Leaf for more Mosaic Monday.

For homesteading, homemaking, DIY and self-sustaining posts visit Farm Fresh Tuesdays at The Self Sufficient HomeAcre.

Hop over to the Simple Life Mom and see great ideas for homesteading and simple living.

Want more ideas? Try The Green Acre Homestead's Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

FREE E-Book: "Up the Lake" by Wayne Lutz

The book that started it all!

Up the Lake
Coastal BC Stories


Head up Powell Lake to experience life in an off the grid float cabin, take a boat to world famous Desolation Sound, ride a quad into the back country and fly overhead for a unique view of this incredible place. Read Up the Lake by Wayne J. Lutz and see how much fun it can be.

Print for $9.95
Kindle for Free
E-Book for Free
(prices may vary in Canada)

for more information and 
additional titles in the Coastal BC Stories series.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Coastal BC Birds: Barn Swallows Return

The nest above and plastic below.
When we arrived home at the float cabin, we were pleased to see a pair of Barn Swallows had returned this year to build a nest.

We weren't totally happy with the location outside our front door and under the porch roof, but we didn't want to disturb the the breeding pair and their recent hatchlings.

To make cleanup easier, I put plastic on the deck under the nest. Since it's right next to our picnic table, I wash it off a few times each day.

Three chicks are growing quickly.
The parents are used to our presence, so we can still eat outdoors and sit in the shade of our porch.

Last year's attempt had a disastrous end. After a week of building, the nest fell and the pair disappeared. I don't know if this is the same pair, but I hope so.

Barn Swallows build mud nests in some locations, but here it's a mixture of mud and grass.

A precarious spot for next building.

It seems they pick the most precarious spots to build their nests. This one has only a one and three-quarter inch lower support. At least the area is wide and has a substantial support on one side.

Mom and Dad both feed the chicks from dawn to dusk.

Somehow Barn Swallows are able to concoct a substance sticky enough to hold everything together, most of the time. Unfortunately, we've had a few fall over the years.

Sitting on the nest to protect the growing chicks.

Squirrels are known to attack swallow nests. A gray squirrel tried to do this week. One parent sat on the nest to protect the babies. The other chased the squirrel away until I got out the door to give him a hand.

A high flying swallow.
Based on the size of the chicks, we guess they hatched just before we arrived on July 15. One featherless baby fell out of the nest the next day. Now there are three hungry kids driving both of their parents ragged all day long bringing a steady stream of bugs.

We enjoy watching them grow and someday soon they will take to the skies like their acrobatic parents. -- Margy

Posting to Sky Watch Friday. Go to the Sky Watch Friday website and you'll see sky photos from all over the world!

Stop by and take a look at a meme called All Seasons, Wordless Wednesday by Natasha, and a Wednesday linkup My Corner of the World at Photographing New Zealand.

Thanks for visiting my post this week. I'm linking up with Camera Critters and Saturday's Critters. Check them out for more great animal pictures.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Goin' home, I'm goin' home

Our Powell Lake float cabin home.
As the Mick Jagger and Rolling Stones lyrics go:
I'm goin' home, I'm goin' home
I'm goin' home, I'm goin' home
I'm goin' home, bome, bome ...
Home, bome, bome ...
Back home,
Yes, I am.

Wednesday Wayne and I drove to the Pacific Highway border crossing in Blaine. Because we became Canadian citizens in 2018 and Powell River, BC, is our home, we were allowed to cross the closed US/Canada border. It's closed to all non-essential travel for citizens from the US and other countries until July 31 and a Canadian quarantine requirement is extended until August 31.

BC Ferries recommended that everyone remain in their vehicles.

Rules are in flux right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so check before you go with the Canadian Border Service Agency and US Customs and Border Protection.

Back in our Hewscraft finally heading up the lake.

We'd hoped to wait until the quarantine requirement was lifted, but decided it was best to go now while there was still some summer left to enjoy our float cabin home up the lake. And there couldn't be a better place to isolate ourselves for the required 14-day period and beyond.

First Narrows on Powell Lake means we are almost home.

The border crossing was smooth and our BC Ferries connections worked perfectly even without reservations. We left the Bellingham condo at 8:12 am after loading the last of the groceries and arrived at our cabin deck at 6:15 pm. That's a little longer than normal to make the 260 kilometre (162 mile) trip because we built in extra time for border paperwork and early ferry terminal arrivals.

There's no place like home!

Living through the COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on everyone worldwide. Wayne and I hope you and your family are doing as well as possible during these difficult times. -- Margy

Posting to Sky Watch Friday. Go to the Sky Watch Friday website and you'll see sky photos from all over the world!

Stop by and take a look at a meme called All Seasons.

And a Wednesday linkup My Corner of the World at Photographing New Zealand.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

#ThrowbackThursday: A Perfect Day Up the Lake

Recently, someone asked me to describe my perfect day. Here it is. I wake to twinkling reflections of sunlight on the ceiling of the loft bedroom in our float cabin on Powell Lake in British Columbia. The sun rises over Goat Island and the rays bounce off the water.

I brew coffee laced with cream to enjoy on the front deck, watching work boats head up the lake. When summer crowds are gone, we get to have our little piece of paradise all to ourselves. Even in fall when there’s a chill in the air, golden maple leaves shine with a radiant glow.

After breakfast, I work in my floating garden. I grow tomatoes, onions, beets, lettuce, spinach, carrots, kale, chard and herbs. I also grow a wide variety of things in pots on the deck. Just a little weeding and feeding keeps everything in top shape. I pick some fresh veggies to clean and chill for dinner.

While I'm gardening, Wayne often uses his chainsaw to cut wood for our winter woodpile. Wood floats right up to our deck begging to be added to our supply. When he's done I use my log splitter to make stove-size pieces, and the fruits of our labor stack up fast.

Lunch is a quick snack so I can get ready for work. At least that's what I call it. In the summer I like to read on the deck while soaking up the rays. Living in the north makes taking advantage of the sun important. From October to May there aren't many days to see, let alone soak up its rays.

Just before sunset we get our poles and climb in the tin boat. We troll out into First Narrows and over to the waterfall. If we're lucky we catch a trout. And lucky for him, we catch and release. If we aren't lucky, we still catch a beautiful sunset over the Bunster Hills.

Dinnertime is my favourite. Wayne is the cook and BBQ is his specialty. We start with our garden fresh salad then have our meat right from the grill, maybe accompanied by an ear of corn wrapped in foil. After a meal like that I don't mind washing the dishes.

While summer is my favorite time of year, I've been known to wish for cool evenings. That's because I love a fire in my wood-burning stove. It's so efficient at heating our cabin that it really needs to be a cool evening, or we have to open the sliding glass doors. If the loft gets hot, it’s hard to sleep.

Some people might not think that my perfect day is all that exciting, but sharing it with Wayne in this wonderful place makes it so. If we need a little more excitement, we take our quads out to ride logging roads into some of the most beautiful country in the world, or take our sailboat out for a spin around the lake. Or we can take our Bayliner out on the chuck (ocean), kayak in protected bays and inlets, or hike the Sunshine Coast Trail.

We both worked long and hard at busy city-folk careers as educators. We still work long and hard, but at enjoying our off-the-grid lifestyle. Want to read more?

Go to and look at Wayne’s books in the Coastal BC Stories series. Our perfect days just keep on coming. -- Margy

Saturday, June 20, 2020

"Off the Grid: Getting Started" by Wayne J. Lutz

This is the newest and thirteenth title in the Coastal BC Stories series. Unlike previous books about adventures and life in a float cabin home, this book is a how-to guide for people interested in moving out of the city and off the grid.

Wayne J. Lutz

From the author of the Coastal BC Stories series, Off the Grid: Getting Started provides more detail about what it's like to live off the grid. What are the essentials you’ll need and how do you get started? This practical how-to guide considers all aspects of remote living and moving off the grid, including site selection and the creation of your own utilities. Investment and ongoing costs of backwoods living are evaluated based on a  building-block approach. This book is designed for those who seek an evaluation of basic remote lifestyles and how to make it happen. If you've ever dreamed of living away from town in an off-the-grid home, you'll enjoy reading Off the Grid: Getting Started.

Smashwords ebooks for $4.99

Click here if you need a Kindle or Kindle App.
Also available from additional online vendors.

Or go to for more ordering information. -- Margy

Thursday, June 18, 2020

#ThrowbackThursday: Two Decades of Float Cabin Maintenance and Improvements

Our cabin at the wall of Hole in the Wall.
You've just seen our float cabin inside and out. This post shares what it has taken to maintain and make improvements over the years to make our off-the-grid cabin a home.

Our float cabin at Hole in the Wall on Powell Lake, BC, was built in 1997 by our good friend John. He has an extraordinary talent for lashing together cedar log floats and building cabins from the waterline up.

We purchased the cabin in 2001, and with John's expert help we've maintained and improved it. He's a Jack of all trades who never ceases to amaze us.

John and our Cabin #3, the third one he built.

Here are some of the projects I've written about since I began blogging in 2006. Follow the links to see the stories.

Floating woodshed in 2007.
Repairing our log boom in 2008.
Adding barrels for extra flotation in 2008 and 2015.
Woodstove blow back solution in 2009.

Wind generator in 2009.
Bathroom and porch addition in 2011.
Indoor plumbing in 2011.
A new coat and colour of paint in 2011.

New propane stove and refrigerator in 2011.
Custom shelves made by John in 2012.
Upgraded ceiling insulation in 2014.
Pine paneling in 2014.

Making a new anchor in 2015.
Float log burning (carefully) for dry rot in 2015.
Solar system upgrades in 2015.
Enlarging our protective log boom in 2016.

A new front deck in 2017.
Xplornet satellite Internet in 2017.
Float cabin anchor repair in 2017.
Renewed floating garden in 2019.

The most recent project was replacing the main deck. John did the whole project for us. He arranged for old growth cedar boards to be cut to specification. The largest load went up on our barge.

The side and front deck.

Main cabin cedar deck replaced in 2020 - Part 1.
Main cabin cedar deck replaced in 2020 - Part 2.

In writing this post, I was amazed at how many projects we completed with John's help over the last two decades. And there's one more big one to come. Once the weather clears, John will repaint the exterior. We like the current pale yellow with forest green trim, so that's what he will use.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I'll get back to you. -- Margy