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The AikiHomestead

Our Lifestyle Blog as We Create a Homestead in Northern Ontario

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Foiling the Squirrels!

March 09, 2023

Young boy with a pail of birdseed.Young boy hanging a birdfeeder in winter.Squirrel sitting on a bird feeder.So all winter we've been having a playful battle with the three local squirrels. It's escalated quite a bit of late - I had rigged up a complicated line of really thin twine and clothespegs and pail lids with holes drilled in them, and still the squirrels managed to somehow leap, twist and cling on to get to our feeder.

Here's Kenny refilling after one of my earlier attempts to simply hang the feeder lower on a narrow piece of string.

The pictures are worth a thousand (impolite?) words.


Creaky Stairs

January 03, 2023

Underneath view of a stair with galvanised bracket.So I have been noticing that the stairs to the office have been getting a little creaky over the past year or two or three.

Upon closer examination underneath, I could see that several of the screws had loosened to such a degree that the bugle portion of the head was clearly visible.

I assumed that they had just pulled out, and that perhaps tightening them with the screwdriver would help. Unfortunately, as I started to twist them, they simply spun in place.
Several screw heads missing the screw thread.Backing them out, I realised that they had actually broken off! That's not good!

As I proceeded along, I determined that a surprising number of them had actually suffered this fate. I removed them and replaced them with new screws - thank goodness I had put redundant screws in each stair on both sides when originally assembling them.

This seems to indicate that standard flooring screws don't possess a huge amount of shear strength. I'm fairly certain that between snugging down the old screws and replacing the broken ones, all should be fine for years to come, but this will have me mindful of checking for loose ones on a regular basis going forward.

On the plus side, now only one stair creaks again - just enough to give me an early warning signal that Kenny is up each morning and coming down to apply his backside to the woodstove again.


Repairing the Washing Machine

January 04, 2023

Thermometer showing -5 indoor temperature.After returning from a wonderful visit with my family down south it was time to bring the cabin back up to speed. While Donna and Kenny caught up a little bit longer with my in-laws in the city, I came out to the cabin and lit a fire - the inside temperature was a nice and cool -5.4 while outside it was a mild -8.0.

As is often the case, there were knock on consequences of us leaving things while it was so cold. This year it was the bathroom tap that froze up, so we didn't have running water in the bathroom until two days later. Also, the washing machine solenoid also seemed to freeze up, and also take on damage, as even after a day or two, it still wasn't actuating.

As regular readers may know,
this has happened before - that time around I cleverly swapped the electrical and plumbing connections from the cold water solenoid to the hot water one and all was well for three more years! (less a day if you look at the dates of the posts carefully).

I figured that the solenoid was shot, so I started pricing out a whole new washing machine. Returning to where I had purchased this machine originally, I found that they sold very few machines, but hundreds of spare parts! This was interesting to me, and I thought perhaps I could find a matching solenoid/valve setup that could be used.

After that thought was planted, I decided that maybe I could just take apart the one I had and see what there was to see.
Hose hanging in washing machine.In the meantime, I had already put an in-line valve in the hose to the machine, so we used that to manually fill the machine and just keep an eye on the level so it didn't overflow.
Washing machine with rear panel removed.It didn't take long to break it all down again, and when I saw how simple it all was, I decided to see if a refurb would be beneficial.
Valve parts soaking in vinegar.Dismantled washing machine valve assembly.Washing machine with rear panel removed, but partially reassembled.I took apart all the easily moveable parts and dropped them into a small plastic tub of vinegar to soak for an hour or two first thing in the morning. Then I returned and swiped them all out with some cotton tipped swabs.
Water running inside washing machine.Upon re-assembly, I connected the water and switched on the machine - WOOT! IT'S ALIVE!

We had water, and I'm currently running the second load through it.

Chalk this one up in the win column!


  • Hana (2023-01-05)