Sunday, December 21, 2014

Shower power

It’s been a long time coming – for the first time in sixteen and a half years, I have an indoor shower again and it ain’t a beauty. But it works. I haven’t been posting anything about the still ongoing renovations because I want to surprise my boyfriend, but the shower in its current incarnation is of such ugliness that I think it prudent to give him a chance to get used to its eye damaging glory.
If you wonder how we managed to stay clean all these years without a shower – well, we didn’t. Come spring we simply crack off the crust of grime by flexing our muscles; hence the term “spring breakup”. Okay, that’s a lie. What we have had so far are a sauna, the kitchen sink and wash cloths, plus a bathtub by the lake where the water gets heated by building a fire underneath. The bathtub is very romantic but somewhat tedious and slow to operate, and nothing we’ve felt inclined to use in the winter (in the summer it takes about half an hour to forty-five minutes for the water to get to a temperature that won’t give you hypothermia).

We also have a shower set up outside, in a tiny greenhouse-like shack that’s remarkably free of mosquitoes in the summer and fun to use. It features a simple bucket system: heat up water on the stove, fill into bucket, lift bucket onto shelf and stand under it. I used the same system for our new indoor shower (WARNING – eye damage may result from the hideous mail-order shower curtain and the OSB walls further down).

Now that our cabin is so big, we could have a water tank upstairs and a gravity-fed running water system, but I feel that’s too much trouble just for having water come out of a spout. It would mean having to pump water up into a tank and having to drain the water system or risk frozen pipes if we wanted to go anywhere in the winter. Life is so much easier with buckets.
We’re slop bucket people. Our kitchen sink drains into a bucket, circumventing the problem of frozen drains and a steady draft of frigid air in the winter. I’ve implemented the same system in the shower – my boyfriend had the idea to use a small box instead of a bucket so the tub wouldn’t sit so high. Works great!
The tub to stand in is a regular metal laundry sink, so it’s not what you’d call spacious but with the two small board extensions along the sides, it works to a usable size. I inherited it from a friend who left the north, while the curtain rod is part of a tent frame that was given to us by another friend.

The OSB walls are terribly ugly, especially with the plastic sheeting over top, but that’s just a temporary solution.
I hadn’t been able to make up my mind what to make the walls out of, waffling between painted OSB (still ugly) or stone and concrete siding like I have used in my studio around the stove (but won’t the water soak through?).

I settled for the stone and concrete, but only a few weeks ago. Since the flat rocks and sand for mixing the concrete are currently under snow and/or water, putting up the rocks over the OSB will have to wait until late spring. And hopefully I can find a cheap but more aesthetically pleasing shower curtain next year!

Friday, November 21, 2014

He made it

Mission accomplished – the dog was saved, and we’re back home.

Sunday morning brought an email from the pilot, letting me know that she was on her way. I had cranked up the heat in the cabin to 25°C, moved the most important items that shouldn’t freeze into our small root cellar, most of the electronics upstairs where I covered them with sleeping bags, stacked wood inside for quickly heating up the cabin upon our return, packed a few things for the dogs and myself – and went outside to listen for the heavy whup-whup-whup of rotor blades.
When the helicopter landed, the pilot didn’t shut down, and while the old dog who had been in a chopper before tried to climb in, my sick boy was rather terrified. I eventually carried him over to the machine and lifted him inside, and flying through a small hole in the fog blanket we were finally on our way to the village where a friend was already waiting for us in her van for the two-hour drive to Whitehorse.
An x-ray at the vet’s showed a huge mass in the dog’s guts, effectively sealing off his stomach from the intestines. From then on, it was a waiting game – because his vital signs were still good, the vet opted for IV fluids, enemas and laxatives instead of an operation. We left him in excellent care at Alpine Vet Services for the night and tried to make the most of being stuck in the city: soaking in a bath tub (my friend also lives off-grid), eating fresh food and just hanging out together.
By the next day, only some of the impacted mass had left the dog’s bowels (mostly soil as well as moose poop) and he was doomed to another day and night of ceaseless attention to his rear end, while my friend, my old dog and I resigned ourselves to being stuck in town. I was allowed to visit the poor poop eater, who looked scared and stressed, but finally relaxed a bit after inhaling my smell as I gave him a good long ear rub.
On Tuesday morning, I called the clinic again.
“I have good news”, said the vet. “The best news, actually: he pooped!”
Rarely has such an expensive pile of poop been greeted with such jubilation. I was ecstatic that he was well again and couldn’t wait to pick him up and go home. Because it was already afternoon by the time we made it back to the village, I spent the night at my friend’s and witnessed the most amazing transformation of my old dog, who was inspired to trot around at a fast clip and even lift his leg again for peeing because he wanted to show her dog who was boss! I guess I should take him out more often.
Wednesday dawned warm and cloudy, and after loading the dogs into the helicopter, the pilot flew us back through the mountains to our lake and home, sweet home. As I hunched down low over my cardboard boxes of fresh groceries and frozen moose meat in our meadow, the Jet Ranger lifted up into the air and grew smaller and smaller until utter silence fell, shrinking me back into place.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


It’s still dark. The low grey blanket of fog that’s been hanging over the lake for days blends into the darker grey of the lake, while I sit here waiting. I have a sick dog with an intestinal obstruction, and had hoped to fly him out to the vet yesterday, but there was no helicopter to be had in the closest village until today – weather permitting. If they can’t fly, we’re stuck.
We’re all exhausted: the younger dog from the pain, vomiting and trying in vain to squeeze out whatever is stuck in his bowels; me from trying to soothe him and organize the trip out; and the old dog from observing it all.
The dogs are asleep again, their breaths mingling with the ticking of the clock and crackling of the fire. There is nothing to do now but wait.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Off-gridding woe

This is the time of year when things tend to go wrong; or maybe it’s just more noticeable because replacing broken equipment or seeking medical attention need to be either postponed until late January or early February when the lakes are safely frozen – unless it’s important enough to spend over $700.- for helicopter transportation (and that’s just for one flight).
our 85W solar panel
I hope we got our late season problems out of the way early this year by having to replace half of our solar power system. Depending on your own alternative energy system may have a ring of freedom and sustainability to it, but in reality you just accumulate highly toxic batteries and an expensive collection of components made from non-renewable resources. And the more components something has, the more can go wrong. Especially when you help problems along through poor decision-making.
When the two deep cycle batteries that store our energy wouldn’t charge fully anymore, we were annoyed – the solar charge controller that monitors the batteries’ state of charge and regulates how much juice comes into the batteries from the solar panel (you don’t want to overcharge them) told a sad tale of rapidly dropping voltage. We had expected to get more than a measly three years of usage out of the batteries which had cost over $500.-, but what could we do? Not much other than buy new batteries – of course the warranty on these guys had just expired.
That was back in August, and I was planing boards when my partner set up the new batteries – different ones, because we wanted something that hopefully lasted longer than three years. He came out and asked me if the old batteries had been two 6 Volt or two 12 Volt.
“Six Volt”, I said. Of course. The ones before them had also been 6 Volt batteries, which we hook up to effectively become one powerful 12 Volt battery. “Doesn’t it say anything on the label?”
“No. Are you sure?” He looked confused and nervous.
“Yeah.” I shrugged and continued planing, only to be interrupted minutes later by my now decidedly pale-faced partner.
“I think I screwed up the batteries”, he said. “There was a huge spark when I connected them. It partly melted the battery poles.”
My knees went weak (all that money! It didn’t even occur to me at the time that the batteries could have exploded). I followed him into the cabin and stared in disbelief at the battery poles. “The cable goes on the positive pole first. Did you …?”
“That’s what I did.” He swallowed, tried again – and it sparked.
We used the f-word in unison, stared at the by now not so new-looking batteries, then at each other. Then at the two old batteries.
“I think”, said my partner hoarsely, “the old ones are 12V.”
I cast a doubtful look at them and scoured my brain (I had bought them, after all), but my memory chose to say nothing. In order to connect two or more 12V batteries and not add up their voltage as you’d want with two 6V batteries, they are hooked up differently (in parallel instead of in series). By now, we were both so rattled nothing seemed to make sense anymore. I hunted up an ancient catalogue from an alternative energy supply store and as we looked at the diagrams quickly realized that we had shorted our brand-new batteries, and that the old ones had indeed been two 12Vs.
After our mistreatment, the two new 6V batteries had only the same poor capacity as the two old batteries and it became obvious that we needed to replace them again. Which we did a few weeks later – but the story doesn’t end there.
The newest batteries
As we hooked up (correctly!!!) the replacement 6V batteries, the solar charge controller displayed their voltage as 11.8V. How could that be when they had had 12.4V the day before at the store? An unpalatable realization dawned on us: the solar charge controller was shot. We checked the batteries with two other volt meters and found our suspicion confirmed.
The new solar charge controller
This was in September and the time to quickly replace things was running out, unless we wanted to do extra town trips. But since I now had the expediter and one last delivery of goods scheduled for mid-October, I simply had a new solar charge controller sent to them and asked to please put it on the plane. The only problem for the meantime was that because of the malfunctioning charge controller, not much charge came to the batteries from the solar panel and we never knew exactly how full the batteries were (our two other volt meters gave only a ballpark measure). For batteries to last, it’s important to not draw them down too low, to fully charge but not overcharge them. Charging them with the generator was a guessing game until…
…until our 1,000W Yamaha generator which had been acting up occasionally broke down completely. It still ran but produced no power. It was late September by now and though we felt sick at the thought of yet another large expense, it was extremely lucky that the generator died when it did. I fired off another email to my expediter to please pick up a new generator – we now went with the 2,000W Honda, a model that has an excellent reputation for reliability and longevity among off-gridders.

Oh yeah, and since the malfunctioning solar charge controller kicked off this sequence of events, we’ve also realized now that our old batteries didn’t need replacing yet. We’re using them to power our three LED lights now and want to set them up as extras next summer, so we can switch the charge from the solar panel between the two sets of batteries when one set is fully charged.
All this expense and trouble to run a satellite internet modem, laptop and three LEDs!
And here ends my tale of off-gridding woe. Lessons learned:
– Double-check on how to hook up batteries before doing so, and not after the fact
– Invest in a second volt meter that shows the exact voltage
– Always look on the bright side of life!
For those of you interested in off-gridding or proper battery maintenance – I’ve found this webpage to be one of the most straight-forward and easiest to understand.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Stupid things done under the midnight sun

I was stupid, but also lucky (not an uncommon combination for me).
Because my old dog doesn’t go pee on his own anymore (he just stands around in front of the door, wondering why he’s out there), I need to accompany him – and that’s what I did yesterday morning when it was still dark. My headlamp carved out a feeble tunnel of light over the path that leads to our meadow, and while the oldie tagged along behind me, our younger dog bounded ahead with what seemed like inordinate excitement. But since he lives his entire life in a perpetual state of inordinate excitement, I paid no attention – stupid.
We had barely walked away from the cabin and past our porch when a loud roar exploded from the underbrush to my right. Bear, was my first thought, and I immediately turned heel, put the old dog on a leash and dragged him with me (he’s become prone to just stopping in his tracks and musing “now what was that?”, going through thirteen and a half years of memories at his leisure while danger and/or my frustration escalates), and called back the younger dog. Within a minute we were back inside where I replayed the roar and wondered why that had been the only sound – strange for a bear. No branches cracking, no huffing. Nothing.
I grabbed the battery-powered floodlight and shone it at the bushes, but the light just reflected maddeningly on all the branches without revealing what was hidden behind them. Should I go out again and check? But if I find a sudden tragic end out there, the dogs will face a slow, even more tragic one inside the cabin. Caution prevailed, dawn broke and I could finally make out an animal silhouette in between the willows just off the path: a moose. No, two silhouettes: a cow (cow on this blog is always shorthand for female moose) and a calf.
Of course, a moose! Stupid, stupid. It’s been my worry to bump into one on these piddle expeditions in the darkness, and now I actually did – and in hindsight recognized that very scary roar as that of a moose warning off an attacker. I’ve heard it once when a bear tried to kill a small calf, and another time when a cow went through my laundry line, found herself straddled by a pair of jeans and successfully intimidated the rest of the laundry with her roar into staying put.
I’m sure the cow yesterday morning was miffed that after years of always being allowed the right of way here I suddenly had the temerity to walk right up to her – she and her calf must have been just metres off the path. Luckily she didn’t feel the need to drive home her feelings with her hooves.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Racing against time

If you guessed that this blog has been quiet because we’ve been trying desperately to get most of our work on the cabin done before snow – you’re right! And if you guessed that we might have had some problems with our power supply – you’re also right. But I’ll let you know about our misadventures with off-grid electricity another time.

Here’s the latest from the snowy wilderness cabin remodelling front. We broke through the wall of our cabin into the addition in three places (two of the new openings combined into a large doorway into the new kitchen).

Because our log home is post-and-beam (also called pièce en pièce), uprights posts carry the structural building load while horizontal filler logs largely serve as just that: fillers. They do add stability to the posts, but it’s easy to cut new doorways into such a building. Of course we’re saving all the sections we’ve cut out (potential future use is for a winter garden or mud shack/sheltered entrance).
So you can fully appreciate how our cabin is morphing from cluttered impromptu bush shack to wilderness luxury abode, this is was our kitchen looked like for almost ten years:

And – tadaaa – this is what we’ve got now:

My partner, who usually ends up doing all the cooking while I do the eating, felt inspired to bake bagels for the first time in ten years – for that alone it was worth the work!

We used to have a wood cookstove on the stone floor but have decommissioned it for the time being because we don’t have a large enough wood stove to heat our now rather large cabin with (26’x24’, plus half an upper storey). For now, we’ll be using two wood stoves and we took the legs off this one and set it right on the stone floor to combat the problem of cold feet in the wintertime – a common thing in many cabins. Because heat rises and the firebox of most stoves is situated somewhere around knee level, it means that without a fan you’re always toasty from the knees up while your toes are fighting frostbite. This can be easily fixed without a fan by removing the stove legs and having the stove sit on a heatproof surface.

The bedroom is also more or less done, but the to-do list remains crowded: a bench and table, closet, bathroom and library are still on the agenda. By now our work gets increasingly hampered by rain and snow (we still have to plane and sand the boards we milled, not to mention cut them to size).
Boating season is pretty much over.

Over the next few days, we’ll carry our kayaks and canoe up to our shed where they can spend the winter protected from snow and moose (who’ve been known to inadvertently breaking the odd boat by stepping on it in the winter).
Some poplars are still clinging stubbornly to their leaves, but about 90% of the deciduous trees and shrubs are already bare and flocks of songbirds, loons, swans and geese have already come through on their way south.
I love this time of year when the land empties, tilting noticeably away from the sun and letting our summer light and animals spill back down south.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Moose hunt

We’ve had the first dusting of snow on the mountains. The land is ablaze in colour, thousands of miniature suns glowing from the poplars while the fireweed has turned a bloody red.

As green leaves become more sparse out in the woods our garden becomes irresistible to moose. After some kohlrabi and broccoli passed the taste test of a cow and calf, we built a “scaremoose” out of old clothing and a balloon we found entangled in a tree last winter. Unsure if the crazed grin of Winnie the Pooh would really keep the moose away, we’ve taken to covering our crops with tarps overnight – and I’m happy to report that we haven’t lost a single veggie ever since (we moose-proofed the garden about three weeks ago) even though the cow and calf still hung around our place for a while.

With the garden secured, we found that the patch of knee-high grass and dandelions I fondly call “my lawn” in front of the cabin attracted a porcupine. She sedately mowed down the last green fireweed and all juicy leaves she could find, clutching new fodder for an investigative sniff in her front paw. It appears that porcupines are very discerning eaters.

I was overjoyed to have acquired such a cute bio-dynamic lawnmower, though we’ve had to keep a close eye on the dogs to avoid prickly encounters. The porcupine isn’t very shy at all and the other day sat right on the ramp we have instead of stairs leading up to our front door, contentedly munching on a wild rose.
The first time showed up though (I have no clue if she’s female, she just looks very pretty and feminine, I find), she was uneasy about our presence and took refuge in the crawl space underneath our cabin. We had to get her out of there because it’s where the dogs have their “office”, their cool and shady hangout on hot days, and where the internet cables run out to the satellite dish. Porcupines sometimes enjoy nibbling on things such as plywood and cables, so out she had to go. I ended up worming my way into to the crawl space, armed with a rake, to shoo her out and could eventually persuade her that this was not a cozy place for her. It seems as if she’s harboured no hard feelings.

The day we finally got around to go moose hunting was rather gloomy. When we got to the place where we wanted we were happy to see two cows feeding in the area. It really helps putting bulls at ease when they can smell and hear a cow and aren’t just responding to a call of what must to them seem like an invisible cow.
Even before we called, a young bull showed up who immediately honed in on us once we called. He swam towards us and my partner was able to drop him with a single shot when the moose was already close. I loathe this part of the hunt, the actual killing, but because everything went so incredibly fast, the death of the little bull was somewhat easier to stomach. I apologized to the moose as I always do, as if that would make any difference to him who’d have loved to keep on living, and within two and a half hours we were already home again with the meat. We always try for a small moose, a yearling or two-year old because not only is the amount of meat perfect for us and the quarters easy to handle, but the meat is the best quality. Older, larger moose often have large bruises from fighting once they’re fully in the rut and their meat can be less tender.
We hung the quarters and meat from chest, neck, ribs and back on our porch and started a smudge fire when it got so warm one day that the flies came out.

Another advantage of getting a small moose who is not fully in the rut is the excellent liver (which becomes inedible in rutting moose). Moose liver is very mild-tasting and can be prepared just like calf liver. We find it freezes well when vaccuum packed. My partner will take most of the meat out to the closest village where we keep a freezer. Throughout the year, whoever of us goes into town (usually him every 4 to 6 weeks) brings a few packages of meat back in.
We also can meat to have on hand during the months of freeze-up and breakup when we can’t get out, but it using the freezer in town gives us the chance to also eat steaks and overall a much greater variety of meals which also taste better. Canning invariably renders meat stringy, soft and somewhat dry. Moose tongue is very tasty when boiled for about three hours with peppercorns, cloves and bay leaves.
This moose had a fair amount of fat, so we rendered a lot of it. Rendered moose fat is fairly good for frying meat and can also be used to make tallow candles. It does have a distinct flavour, though.

But cutting up, grinding and packaging the meat is the most time-intensive task of it all, especially with a little hand grinder. Processing the meat usually takes us anywhere from four to seven days, depending on the size of the animal. Not only te cutting and grinding takes time, but also cleaning the grinder multiple times each day, and repeatedly washing all the pots, cutting boards and knives. Needless to say, all that washing means a number of extra trips with water buckets from the lake to the cabin.

With the moose hunt thankfully over and out of the way now we can focus on our remaining carpentry projects while winter slowly tightens its noose. In that regard this moose is not only a gift of meat for us, but of time as well.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Ikea move over

We’ve actually managed to make steady progress on the new kitchen and bedroom. I wanted to post about it more often but I rarely take pictures while working on something (my sincerest admiration to all the folks who post whole tutorials!), and I also have a hunch that not too many people are desperate for regular news about the evolution of our kitchen cabinets.
Anyway, the poplars we scavenged have not only made pretty boards, I’ve managed to turn them into furniture we like. I first wanted the counter to run in a simple L-shape, dodging the thorny issue of compound angles that would creep up if I made the corner more user-friendly; which I ended up doing though as you can see.

If any budding home builder or cabinet maker is reading this, I only have one piece of advice: learn how to use a carpenter square! Despite having built two round cabins, one hexagonal studio and a couple of rectangular buildings, I’ve never managed to learn how to calculate compound angles. Since my partner suffers from similar ignorance, I had to build the corner cabinet with my usual method of eyeballing things, measuring not only twice, but three times, cutting once and measuring and cutting again, laying lumber out on the floor and marking cuts, and using paper dummies (yay for paper dummies!).
This goes to prove, however, that carpentry at a fairly rudimentary level is definitely not rocket science and absolutely anyone can do it. If we manage to build things, so can you. Honestly.
After looking at a book about concrete kitchen counters I really wanted our new kitchen to have one. It’s amazing how beautiful these can turn out with the use of pigments, inlays and different trowelling and finishing techniques. A wooden counter top is what we currently have, and it ain’t pretty – there are burn marks from hot pots on it and because we had to build it out of three boards that inevitably shrunk somewhat, there are cracks that probably harbour all sorts of interesting life forms. So all in all, a concrete counter top seems to be better suited to our household.

We used grey Portland cement and dark grey sand from the beach. Using two sheets of 3/4” plywood as a base (the book recommends cement backer board but I wasn’t too sure we’d be able to cut it without messing it up), I cut up some old hardware cloth from our duck enclosure for reinforcement. I put down half of the concrete, then lowered the wire mesh into it and put the remaining concrete on top. My mix (1 part cement, 2 parts sand, 1/2 part water) was a lot stiffer than shown in the book, I realized when I tried to trowel it smooth. I mixed small handfuls with different amounts of pigment and added them here and there to end up with a mottled colour.

Trowelling is the trickiest part, I found. With the first counter section, I eventually forgot about checking for level, so it developed low spot in the middle. Trowelling with a larger tool would probably make it easier; I used a hand-sized mortar trowel which is all we have. After three days, the moulds along the edges can be removed and the edges smoothed and rounded with an axe file. This worked really well. A slurry of cement, water (or even better: cement bonding adhesive or white glue) and pigment then gets rubbed into whatever little holes and dents have popped up. The following day it’s time to sand the surface to a nice smooth finish. I had no idea you can sand concrete, but: you can! With regular sandpaper for wood.

So this is where things are at right now:

In the meantime my boyfriend has been working on the bed frame and closet. It’s all starting to look rather luxurious by our standards (which have so far revolved around open shelves and plastic boxes). Maybe we’re getting old.

Since we’ll have to cram in time for hunting, meat processing (hopefully), berry picking and preserving as well as the garden harvest, it seems likely that we’ll get this finished at the very last moment as usual – just as the snow starts to not only fly, but stay (usually the end of October). Last night the sky was green with northern lights.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Soft-footing it

Out in the woods, baby grouse explode from the ground like so many winged dumplings while their mother flutters into the opposite direction, clucking excitedly. The small oval hoof prints of moose calves are etched into the ground and three piles of warm scat that get increasingly smaller tell me into which direction a black bear has wandered off not too long ago while relieving himself.

Fur on fir: grizzly hair on a fir tree.

I’ve been padding through the forest on soft feet for the past two months, having traded in my worn out pair of hiking boots for homemade moccasins. It’s not that I try to be quiet and unobtrusive – quite the opposite, I always holler nonsense like “Yolla-da-schnoozle, moosel” in regular intervals to avoid surprise encounters with bears and moose. Wildlife doesn’t appreciate the feeling that somebody has snuck up on them (which is what a predator would to), and making noise broadcasts to all those critters out there that I’m not after their little ones or their own skin. It gives them a chance to quietly melt into the understory and greatly reduces the potential for conflict.
No, my moccasins have nothing to do with wanting to walk more noiselessly. After reading a book on barefoot walking that a friend of mine had written and collecting an impressive array of wild rose thorns, juniper needles and slivers in my feet last year when trying it out, I decided that some sort of light and supple shoe was necessary out here. Also I didn’t want to have to focus on where to set down my feet, something that was mentioned by barefoot walkers in the book as a great benefit – getting more in tune with the earth and all that. But I need to be in tune with the moose, bears and grouse out there, not the thorns in my feet instead.
Walking barefoot supposedly has all kinds of benefits. Since the human skeleton evolved without accounting for shoes with built-up heels, padded soles and constricted toe space, wearing shoes apparently puts a strain not only on the feet but knees, hips and the spine as well, forcing the body to adapt to those unnatural things strapped to our feet. From reading about ultralight hiking, I was also aware of how much difference it’s supposed to make not to be wearing a pound of leather, gore-tex and rubber on each foot which has to be lifted hundreds of times a day.
So instead of forking out a lot of money for new hiking boots this year, I glued a crepe waffle sole (Halford Hide & Leather in Edmonton sells them as well as all kinds of leather) underneath a pair of moccasins I made a few years ago to see if I can save myself some money and body strain.
My verdict after two months of walking in moccasins:
While it hasn’t helped with the occasional backache, I love that my feet and legs don’t tire nearly as easily as with hiking boots. Even when it’s hot (not really an issue this summer), my feet don’t get sweaty. Scrambling uphill and downhill over rocks, I am a lot more surefooted in the moccasins because my feet can grip the ground and my ankles can bend better.
On the downside, wherever the ground is moist I get wet feet because I chose not to treat the leather. But contrary to hiking boots, a soaked moccasin will be completely dry again 24 hours later. I did find the moccasins less comfortable than regular shoes when I was walking on asphalt on my town trip in June – I really noticed how hard and unyielding a surface that is. And while cold seeps through the very thin crepe sole, I found that wearing the moccasins inside a pair of sandals solved that problem.
So yay for homemade moccasins and money saved! Moccasins are pretty easy to sew, by the way. I just got a pattern and the materials, and without ever having sewn anything before managed to make not only one pair, but close to a dozen over the past years – including mukluks which are a knee-high winter version. One of the myriad of things I love about wilderness life is that you tend to try things out you might not otherwise. Out here, it’s a lot easier and faster to just do it yourself rather than buy it.