All posts by Harvest Happy

I'm a Canadian woman living in an off-grid tiny house on a small organic orchard farm in Nova Scotia, always aspiring to a "better"- more conscious, ecological, and organic- life. I blog to keep my family and friends up to date; to share things I've learned and discovered with difficulty so that hopefully, it will help others who internet research to proceed with less difficulty; to maintain a practice of writing; and to create an illustrated journal of the arc of my life. I try to post every second day. I write about my garden, my travels, Iceland, my chickens, dog, bees and other pets, books I read, and stuff that I build and make. Sometimes I swear.

Wine racks

Well, there it is, done.


“Oh, I can knock this together in a couple hours” … HA!  As usual, yeah right.  Just like the “easy” bookshelves, seems these little storage devices take longer to make than I think, every time.  Miles of ripping.  100s of brad nails.  In this case, it also took much more lumber than I thought, considering it’s mostly air.

But, mission accomplished.  Plenty of space for all our homemade wine, several batches at a time.  Since it did turn out to be a mission, I thought it was worth taking a “well, there it is, done” picture.

Hmmm.  I just noticed:  kitchen=shop.  Yep, nothing’s changed since I was 21.


Here’s something that doesn’t happen everyday:  I found a long-dead mouse in the blade housing of my table saw.  Hmmm, why won’t my blade wind down all the way?

I was groping around in there trying to clean out the sawdust and somehow I knew exactly what I was touching the moment my fingers came in contact with this sort of … soft thing, with some give in it.  I clenched my teeth on the revulsion and fished it out, because I had to.  Ew ew ew ewewewewEW!  I cannot scald the feel of desiccated mouse off my fingertips!


Today the world is a lake.  The low-lying garden is a swamp, and Mucky picks his way around the paddock on high ground so he doesn’t get his ankles wet.  It’s raining with vigour, and I’m delighted to have wakened early and have nothing I have to do for a few hours, so I can huddle back in bed and read and write and listen to the escalating then subsiding waves of rain – through the window, pounding on the roofs of other outbuildings.

The only thing that disappoints me about Roxul is that it insulates sound so well that it blocks out rain.  The sound of rain on the roof is one of my favourite things.  Now it has to rain hard enough for me to hear it through the windows before I even know it’s raining.

Adventures in home wine bottling

It was a big day.  Just two days back from Cuba and two major list items checked off already.

We heaved the monstrously heavy “big stove” into the barn from the house: it is a more appropriate size for the space, and it can keep up with the current air loss, so tonight was the first time the barn has really seen room temperature in the winter.  Aka, the first time I walked about the barn dressed normally for indoor conditions.

I hooked up the propane cookstove, which effectively completes a functioning kitchen, although I am not posting a picture of it.  It is a kitchen which will never be featured in Better Homes and Gardens, despite delightful and fashionable key lime countertop.  I’m surprisingly excited about having an oven and stove, considering how little I believe I enjoy cooking.  I had a very festive grilled cheese sandwich to celebrate.  Yesterday when I had a disappointing “raw” cheese sandwich, I felt very motivated to finally get that propane stove working.

And I bottled wine.  Little-known potentialities of amateur wine bottling events include:  hosing the room down with a siphon gone wild, attempting to fill a bottle that was already full (causing wine geyser), and “sprinting” with wine wet feet down the (laminate floor) hall for another empty bottle when I came up one short.  Continue reading Adventures in home wine bottling

Book Love II- Book Shelves


I made bookshelves!  Windows be damned!  I know whats important.  Four of my window openings are covered with poly and the wood to build the windows with is sitting there, but the project most compelling to me is the creation of bookshelves.  Building bookshelves has felt so vitally urgent that it supercedes heat.  Hmmm.  Irrational, I know.

They took most of a day, surprisingly, and I had barely enough wood to complete them, but delightfully, all 13 boxes of books that have been languishing around miserably fit on the two new bookshelves.  I can’t really adequately convey my rapture at this.  All my books!  All safe and displayed on shelves!  Neat and tidy and esthetically pleasing!  Continue reading Book Love II- Book Shelves

Book Love I – Library

I love books.  I love books with a deep irrational passion.  I love touching them, smelling them, organizing them, being surrounded by them, and even reading them.  I enjoy shopping for them, reviewing them, even considering reading them and deciding against it.

My mom taught me to read very early (four), and I’ve been borrowing books from the library by the boxful ever since.  I read so much, all the time, and my brother did the same.  Since neither of us thought eating was worth putting a book down for, my dad eventually invented the Bookhug to serve our needs.  Among other things, once he got going.

It’s an incredible pleasure to work at the library now.  Just to be surrounded by books is enough, but in some small way to perform book husbandry is another level.  Continue reading Book Love I – Library

Wait, those aren’t horses!

What a rare and precious day- to be finished all my have-to-dos by the still sunlit hour of five pm!  I’m just after commenting on how on my very best productive days at full output without hitches, the best I can ever do is to get everything on the list done.  There’s rarely anything left over for spontaneity.  And today, there is!  A whole evening for writing in front of the fire and sewing with new fabric.

2010- a tough act to follow.

 Iceland's tallest free drop waterfall or something. Just another Foss;)

This year has been so exceptionally full I can hardly believe it’s all true.  I can’t believe we managed to do it all.  I can’t believe one year could hold so much.

In January, in the dead cold of winter, my brother and I made the funnest, fullest, best cross-Canada road trip ever, with a housecat.  A photo essay on Canada’s big roadside things spontaneously happened, and we sort of accidentally followed the Olympic flame -we saw it on the run four times.  We laced up skates at random outdoor rinks all the way across, to pass the puck hundreds of meters in Sudbury, glide around at night in Portage la Prairie’s magic festival of lights, and play pickup in Whistler.  We played pond hockey on Lake Louise!  We visited Drumheller and Moose Jaw’s tunnels.

The two of us (plus the cat) spent February living in a camper in Whistler and volunteering at the Athlete’s Village and Olympic park.  We partied and worked and watched dozens of events live including the opening ceremonies rehearsal, and celebrated the Men’s Gold with hundreds of friends and Blue Rodeo in Whistler’s Square.   I hugged Jon Montgomery and got mistaken for Julia Mancuso (because if I were a model and A list downhiller, I’d definitely be standing in line to buy red mittens the day after winning a silver medal.  But thanks anyways, guy in line with me whom I could not convince I wasn’t her.  Wrong hair colour, even).

I squeezed in a bit of work, caught UFC 113 live in Montreal, rode the train across Canada, visited Saltspring, bought a house with Mogi and a farm in Nova Scotia, went vegetarian,  hitchhiked a satisfying amount, lived most of the winter in a camper, learned to skate ski, renovated a barn, got my first grey hair, joined the local volunteer fire dept and library, took First Responder and Bellyfit instructor training, did a workshop about finding life purpose, read some 60 books, fell in love a couple times, started running my truck on biodiesel, built a respectable sized garden, worked and danced at Shambhala, went camping and hiking a bunch, and slept the night of my birthday on a raft in the middle of a lake.

Oh yeah, we also went to Iceland for  a month.  We walked across lava fields and glaciers and fjords and fault lines and steam fissures; we crawled in caves and slept under northern lights and on mountaintops; got beaten by sun and wind and rain and slept outside 21 nights straight.  Almost every day held something I never thought I’d do or see.

There are many big checkmarks off the life list in this year, many firsts, and many not minor accomplishments, too.  The garden.  The electrical in the barn.  Many exclamation marks in 2010.  There was a lot of hard loss and sadness this year,  and too many funerals.  Two friends and two pets died this year, two in unexpected tragedies.

Iceland was the trip of a lifetime.  Oh wait, so was our Canada road trip.  And the Olympics- that was an experience of a lifetime too.

What I did in this one year – I would feel lucky to have done so much in a whole life.  Incidentally, if I were to die any day, I wouldn’t be sorry.  I’ve done enough to be proud of and the width and breadth I’ve already fit into the first third or so of my life is remarkable.  I am so grateful for the chance that has allowed me all of it.

So to finish off this epic year of extraordinary proportions appropriately, I’m flying to Cuba on New Years Eve.  Hell yeah.

How the hell will next year compete?  I don’t know, but I’m starting 2011 in the air.

I am so glad I have friends who can appreciate this.

This is my good side – awwww.
This is the other side – hmmmm.


What can I say?  The only tape that came quickly to hand was Tuck.

I’ve always wanted to be one of those mall kiosk gift wrappers that leisurely pull out the long curly ribbons on the scissors’ edge.  I’m a wizard with curly ribbons.

I think this masterpiece could be my “in” to a new career.

Definitely one of the funnest gifts I’ve ever wrapped – all the while anticipating the peals of giggling – at the pink, the Tuck tape, the skillful wrapping job….