2018 Year in Review

Another year gone, in a blink of the eye. How fast time goes by. It was another busy year for the Porters.

Ken Darlene Sox and Hanna July 2018

Last year I reported that, five years after ground breaking, the house was essentially finished. So we spent 2018 sitting on the front porch enjoying the view. Ha Ha, that’s a good one. While we did spend a bit more time enjoying the view, we did get a whole lot of work done as well. It’s been especially wonderful not to be living in a construction zone, no more sawdust or tools in the house. And it’s been nice to get Ken going on some of my ‘Honey-Do’ list projects.

Kayaking on the lake. Photo by Maxime

One of Ken’s projects was an entertainment unit for the TV room upstairs. We were using an old bedroom dresser, but he built a fantastic one using leftovers from the other construction projects. It looks great and adds more storage (you never can have enough storage, lol).


July 23, 2018 view of lake side landscaping

We also worked on outdoor landscaping. We finished the terraced bed and paths on the lake side, which will be planted with strawberries and herbs in the spring. We cleaned up the bed in the middle of the driveway turnaround and we finally leveled the huge pile of top soil from the house excavation, which will be made into another flower/shrub bed in the spring.

Green house and expanded garden area

The garden expansion was completed in 2017, so 2018 was the first year with the larger garden. Part of the new garden area is taken up by a 12’ by 16’ foot greenhouse Ken built this spring. The greenhouse and expanded garden area will enable us to extend the growing season and grow more, moving us closer to self-sufficiency.



Canned goods

We harvested, ate or preserved almost everything the garden produced this year filling our larder with lots of fresh, frozen, dried and canned goods. Now that all the hard work is done, we get to enjoy using that produce all winter – frozen raspberries, saskatoon and sea buckthorn berries, canned grape and cranberry juice, dried apples and gogi berries. Frozen string beans, corn, snap peas, red peppers and leeks; dried zucchini slices (excellent in stir fries!), herbs and greens (for smoothies). Canned tomatoes, salsa and pickles. And I still have my own onions, garlic, winter squash, pumpkin, carrots, beets and potatoes.

Shelling Beans

We experimented with a few new items this year, with mixed success – dry beans, popping corn and sweet potatoes. The popping corn and lentils will not be repeated next year. Did you know that each little lentil grows in its own pod!!! Until we figure out an easy way to shell, we will not be growing our own lentils. We will; however, grow more dry beans and chickpeas and give growing sweet potato in the greenhouse another go.

Dutch Kiss

We did some traveling this year as well. In January, I spent three weeks in BC visiting the kids and grandkids. In February, Ken was off to Mexico for two weeks in the sun. In May, both of us enjoyed a K.Porter Travel group excursion to Amsterdam and England.

Matt, Nora, Kelsey and Jacob Oct 2018 


In October, we travelled to BC to spend Thanksgiving in Kamloops at Kelsey, Matt, Jacob and Nora’s house. Christopher, Emily and Astrid travelled down as well, so it was a fun time with three toddlers.

Astrid, Emily and Christopher October 2018

The big pile of leaves in the front yard made the best playground. We also celebrated Jacob’s third birthday while Astrid was there. Then we travelled to Vancouver to spend a few days at Astrid’s place.





The Grandkids – Katie, Nora, Jacob, Astrid, Tyler

The kids all visited us at the Ponderosa this year, as well, in August. Everyone, except Matt who could not get holidays, was out. This big ol’ house sure came in handy with everyone visiting; our three kids – Kerry, Christopher and Kelsey; two of the

Katie, Tyler, Astrid and Jacob driving Gigi’s tractor

spouses – Emily and Megan; all five grandchildren – Katie (10), Tyler(9), Jacob (3), Astrid (2) and Nora (1); and two of Kelsey’s school friends – Miranda and Jen. It was a lot of fun and I hope we get to repeat it again next year.

Lucas planting tomatoes

We had a few more Workawayers (travelers that work for room and board) at our place this year. Lucas, from Belgium, was with us for seven weeks this spring to house/dog/cat sit while we went to Amsterdam and England. He stayed after we got home to help put up the greenhouse and plant the garden.



Maxime (with Sox), Sandra and Emilie

Sandra, Maxime and Emilie from France were with us for the month of July and helped out with the garden and landscaping.




Vanessa making German Seed Bread

Vanessa ,from Germany, was here for three weeks in September and helped with the garden.







Heather and her ukelele

And Heather, from the UK was here in October to housesit and take care of Hanna and Sox while we went to BC.

We enjoyed our time with these stellar young folk, who we like to think of as our rental kids. I love the exchange of ideas, and I hope they learned as much from us as we learned from them. They certainly inspired me to work towards living the vegan philosophy more fully.

Best news for Ken was that he got back into playing slo-pitch this year with a team out of Brandon. He played a few tournaments with them and looks forward to playing more next year. Both of us took up Pickleball this year as well. It’s a great sport. We really enjoyed the camaraderie and exercise.

Dr. Esseltyn at VegFest

I am still hosting plant-based cooking classes in Winnipeg, so if you are looking for some good plant-based recipes, check out Ponderosacooks.wordpress.com. To keep up with what’s happening in the plant-based revolution, I attended several on-line forums, a talk in Winnipeg by Dr. Michael Greger, and volunteered at Winnipeg VegFest where I got to meet Dr. Caldwell Esseltyn and his wife Ann.

Along with others in my meditation group, I volunteered at Siloam Mission and made two of the biggest pots of Red Lentil Carrot and Coconut Soup you ever saw – enough for 600 people. As well, I stay busy volunteering at the town perogie bees and working with the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Museum.


The latest news at the Ponderosa is that we have a new boarder for the winter. My sister Sheryl’s kitten Booksey is staying with us. Hanna is now six and Sox is five, so it’s been a while since we had a youngster around and we are having fun watching his antics. All three animals are getting along nicely.



As you can see, life on the Ponderosa is never dull. We enjoy our twice daily walks through the bush with Hanna (and sometimes Sox as well); growing, harvesting and preserving our own food; cooking delicious vegan meals; building things, spending time with the kids and grandkids; and, helping others out. Life is good and we are grateful.

The moon and Mars over the Ponderosa – July 2018. Photo by Maxime

From our house to yours, we wish you Happy Holidays and all the very best to you and your family in 2019.


About Darlene & Ken

Experiencing life off the grid, building a home, and trying to live sustainably.
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