Winter Sunset


Winter sunsets are arriving early this time of year. This image is taken across a field in Red Deer County. If you look closely you can see the Rockies in the distance; it is amazing how far you can see across the prairies on a clear day.

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Winter Cabin Visit

Today I am sharing a few more images from our February visit to our cabin. I am focusing on the beautiful rural scenery rather the disaster happening inside the actual cabin. Blue sky and snow make for stunning images.

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Trees in the cabin’s backyard.

Winter roads.

Winter roads.

Footprints and trees.

Footprints and trees.

Blue sky and leafless trees.

Blue sky and leafless trees.

The last picture is one of my favorites. It sums up why it is so great sneaking away to this part of the world.

blog lake isle_3902 aPhotography by Debra Hunter.
www.debra-hunter.com

 

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Water Pumps, Frogs and Memories of May 2013

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At the cabin October 2014.

 

So I have been watching the stats for my blog over the last 12 hours and noticed significant interest in our water situation. I even noticed a few people looking back to a cabin post from May 2013 where we were talking about setting up the water system for the season.

It was really fun to re-read the post and step back in time, so this post is going to be a little reminiscing and a little bit of comparison.

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The water pump.

 

As I re-read that post from over a year ago I was thinking, I bet most people on municipal water have no idea what a water pump looks like for a cabin. So I thought I would share a picture. Luckily  on October 4th I had taken a picture of the pump .

The pump sits in the pump house, a tiny room connected to our cabin yet accessed from the outside. The pump sits on a metal grate so if there is ever any leakage the water goes down into a pit below. The incoming water comes from an external 1250 gallon tank through the water line you see on the right. The water then goes through the pump and goes into the cabin through the water line on top. A little different to just turning on the tap for municipal water.

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The external water tank.

 

I would like to thank whoever was reading that post for reminding me of it. I was really fun re-reading it and having the chance to think about cabin life and how it changes from year to year. The post from May 2013 discusses my husband hooking up the pump and fixing 4 leaks. As I look at the picture of our pump it tells the story. Look at how overdone the clamping is on our pump on the top section. Three clamps. This is the story of that weekend. That weekend while he re-hooked up the pump after winter, he would hook up the pump and it would leak at that junction. He would re-hook it up and another leak. Did it again at another angle and the pressure popped the tubing from the fixture. So after four attempts he said “forget the one clamp system”, clamped a longer section with multiple clamps and he never had a problem again. I am sure anyone who has ever set up one of these pumps is laughing at the number of clamps, our “security measure”, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

view from the club house

May 2013

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May 2014 – no water in the back field

 

The picture above is also from that blog post of May 2013. This is the area behind the cabin beyond our fence. Our yard is raised about 2-3 feet from the area at the back that becomes wet in the spring. Looking at that picture I started to think about how the various years are different at the cabin. Actually the first thing I thought was “this year we had no frogs in our yard”. When we first owned our cabin we had tons of frogs in the spring; the kids would chase them, and hold them, and there were really big ones living in our wood shed. I am not sure if we even saw one on our property this year, quite sad really. I know we saw frogs in ponds at the Wagner Natural Area west of Edmonton, and frogs in Gaetz Lake in Red Deer (Alberta, Canada), but none at the cabin.

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Frog in Gaetz Lake, Red Deer, Alberta. May 13 2014.

 

I mentioned this to my husband as I re-read that blog post and then another thing hit me, the post talks about the septic holding tank, that is buried deep in the ground,  filling with groundwater in the spring. This is a real “thing” in our area. I remember many years ago, going through many of pump outs in the season. Once my husband asked the pump out company if it was normal, and they laughed and said it is happening to everyone and that they couldn’t keep up with the work load. This evening, after reading the post I turned to my husband and said “How many pump outs did we have this year?”. He wasn’t sure so we went back through our cheque book. In our true geeky style we decided to look back over a few years. In 2011 we had three pump outs. In 2012 we had four pump outs. We can’t find the 2013 cheque book at the moment, obviously in a “safe place” or filed with my business receipts. In 2014 we only had ONE pump out.

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Cabin marigolds 2013.

 

I knew the pump out bills were way down, and that I had to water the flowers a lot more, and that we had no frogs, but it is really quite surprising when you put it all together. The question is, was it a “dry year” or is it actually “climate change”? It is a little surprising to compare the years, to see the flowers struggle more for water and to see the frogs disappear, but when you realize the groundwater issue (even for a tank buried so deeply) has also disappeared that is interesting and worrying.

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I truly  thank he person that brought my long ago blog post back to my attention. I love looking back but I am also now thinking to the spring. I wonder if we will have frogs…..I certainly hope so……..but the trend isn’t looking so good.

empty road

Springtime at the Cabin

Amazingly spring has finally arrived after many, many, many months of winter and snow. It’s fabulous to be out and about shooting in the sunshine. ( Of course I don’t have a lot of choice thanks to a “little” water damage and the following insurance claim, but rumour has it I’ll hopefully be back to some studio shooting in about 2 weeks, but be prepared for a lot of location posts in the meantime….anyways, moan over and back to the post!) Our cabin, and its surrounding area, gives us the opportunity to experience rural life and all its joys and quirks.

view from the club house

Springtime at the cabin is wet….very wet. The image above is taken from our children’s club house at the back of the property. Our lot sits two to three feet higher than the adjacent land, and in the spring we joke about having a lakefront property (without “lakefront” taxes!) as the lot behind us fills with water, right to the fenceline. With the springtime “water feature” we also are treated to a lot of wildlife including birds, deer and frogs….lots of very, very loud frogs. The frogs are so loud this time of year that you can hear them croaking away while inside the cabin with all the doors and windows shut, and this goes on all day and night. We often go out at night just to listen to the show of frogs croaking, birds tweeting and coyotes howling in the distance; it is quite the experience.

spring sunset

While the wildlife is an upside to the wet conditions, the downside is also that there is a lot of ground water and groundwater fills up our septic holding tank overly fast. We are on a septic holding tank, rather than a field, as we are about 100 meters from the lake, so it is a pump-out system (fascinating dinner time conversation! LOL!) This time of year it can mean pump out after pump out. We suspect a crack in the tank, we also suspect if we dig down to repair it we will be opening an ugly “can of worms”, so we’ve decided to take the sensible approach and ignore the situation and pump it out more often.

As if water to the fenceline and groundwater weren’t enough, we also have water hookups to deal with in the spring. We are on a water haul system so springtime means getting our huge tank filled up and then hooking up the pump system. Some years everything goes together well and others…..well it doesn’t. This year there were no fewer than 4 leaks for my husband to solve, but he did it. He may have been soaking wet from head to toe by the end of the experience, and there may have been one significant water explosion, but he did it. Running water a fabulous thing.

first flower of springWith such a long winter it is taking a little while for things to start growing at the cabin. We’ve been raking leaves, planting bulbs and plotting where to build grow boxes and plant more trees. We are always planting trees or building decks it seems. The one little flower in the picture above was the only thing in bloom on our whole property. One tiny little flower. Hopefully this coming weekend we will see a few more signs of growth.

bird on lake isleThe lake has finally thawed a bit in spots. The birds are happily splashing around and making a lot of noise. Our lake is a pretty quiet lake so we tend to get a lot of birds; they nest among the tall grass along the edge plus there are many tiny islands that are perfect for our feathered friends. On years when the lake is high, little channels are created through the tall grass areas where the birds live. The water is usually just deep enough to gently float a canoe or kayak through the channels; here we like to sit quietly and watch the birds from just a few feet away.

birds on lake isle

Springtime at the cabin is filled with days spent outside exploring and doing projects, food cooked on the barbecue, and evenings in front of the fire……..plus a whole lot of water and mud!

Barrhead, Alberta (April 2013)

barrhead elevators Sometimes a little iffy weather does you a favor. We were hanging out at the cabin this weekend, Saturday morning gave us summery clear skies, but by the afternoon the wind arrived with a vengeance. We decided that if we were going to watch the wind blow we might as well go for a drive along the country roads surrounding our place. We didn’t really set out with a plan, and we saw a lot of cool stuff, but one thing we really didn’t focus on was the gas gauge. Now luckily we glanced down before it “dinged”, took a look at the GPS to figure out exactly where we were, and decided we definitely needed to pop into the closest town which just happened to be Barrhead.

I was thrilled to come across the grain elevators in the town. Grain elevators are sadly disappearing from the prairie landscape, so when I come across an elevator I always stop to shoot a few frames. It was well worth braving the gale force winds and driving rain to get the shot. After a quick fill up with gas we were back on our way to our cozy cabin.