A Summer Full of Fun in Muskoka

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There no place like Muskoka in the Summertime for lots to do. Whether it is a whole family fun day or fun for just the grown-ups on a balmy Muskoka evening you will not lack for choices.

MUSIC

If an evening of music overlooking the water is pulling at you heart strings you will want to make Wednesday evenings In Huntsville or Sunday evenings at the Gravenhurst Gull Lake Rotary Park a weekly destination.

 

Every Wednesday – July and August 7- 8pm
Concerts on the Dock series (including perennial favourites, the Northern Lights Steel Orchestra)
Town Dock, Huntsville                                                                                                                                        Admission: suggested donation of a toonie (goes directly to the performer)

Every Sunday – July and August 7:30  – 8:30 pm                                                                                 Music on the Barge offers a wide variety of musical programming from Country and Bluegrass to the Big Band era, tribute bands and Rock & Roll.                                                                                                                    Gull Lake Rotary Park, Gravenhurst                                                                                                                        Admission is by a free-will offering. All donations go toward the Music on the Barge programming.

Every Thursday – July to Sep 5   &:00 – 8:30 pm                                                                                      Off the Water – Bandshell Concert Series featuring local live music- a different group of musicians take the stage each week.                                                                                                                                          Memorial Park, Bracebridge                                                                                                                                          Admission: free. Bring a lawn chair or your favourite blanket for comfortable seating, and enjoy the show!

Aug 2-4
Sawdust City Music Festival
Gravenhurst
Admission: Ticket prices available on the website; some shows are free

Jazz fest you say. Yes, indeed Muskoka has a Jazz fest!

August 24
Inaugural Muskoka Jazz Festival
James Bartleman Island, Port Carling
Admission: Ticket prices available on the website

FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD

From the north to south there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy amazing food treats this summer.

July 12-14
Huntsville Ribfest
River Mill Park, Huntsville
Admission: $3 (10 and under free)

July 13, 10am-12pm
Butter Tart Festival
Muskoka Lakes Museum, Port Carling
Admission: $2

July 26-28
Muskoka Ribfest and the Muskoka In-Water Boat and Cottage Show
Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst
Admission: free

August 3
Session Muskoka Craft Beer Festival
Annie Williams Park, Bracebridge
Admission: $30 in advance or $40 at the gate; must be legal drinking age

September 14
Macaroni Festival and Busker Fest
Downtown Huntsville
Admission: free

August 10
Muskoka Veg Fest
River Mill Park, Huntsville
Admission: free

ARTS AND CRAFTS

For lookers and buyers alike, there will be something for everyone at these summer shows. Looking for a gift for a fried, early Christmas or simply to spoil yourself Muskoka is the home of many fine artisans and the talent on display will be sure to impress.

July 19-21
Muskoka Arts and Crafts Summer Show
Annie Williams Memorial Park, Bracebridge
Admission: by donation

July 20-Aug 11
The Artful Garden (this is The Artful Garden’s final year)
1016 Partridge Lane, Bracebridge
Admission: by donation

July 27
Nuit Blanche North
Downtown Huntsville
Admission: free

August 10-11
Baysville Arts and Craft Festival
Baysville
Admission: by donation

August 16-18
Dockside Festival of the Arts
Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst
Admission: by donation

August 17-18
Artists of Limberlost Open Studio Weekend
Limberlost Road, Huntsville
Admission: free

ACTIVITIES AND FUN!

From power tools to yoga, street dancing to fireworks there is sure to be something to please the whole family here.

July 12-14
35th annual Muskoka Pioneer Power Show
J.D. Lang Activity Park (Fairgrounds), Bracebridge
Admission: $5 (Kids 12 and under free when accompanied by an adult)

July 19, 6 pm-midnight
Midnight Madness and Street Dance (there’s a beer garden, too)
Downtown Huntsville
Admission: free

July 19-21
Muskoka Yoga Festival and 10k Forest Run
Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve, Huntsville
Admission: see the website for pricing

July 19-28
Muskoka Pride Festival
Various activities across Muskoka – see website for details
Admission: free

July 20-21
Dog Fest Muskoka
Bracebridge Fairgrounds
Admission: $5 (under 13 free)

July 20, 3 pm
Algonquin Outfitters Paddle on Comedy Festival
Town Dock/Muskoka River, Huntsville
Tickets: suggested donation $15 (cash only)
Canoe rentals available at Algonquin Outfitters

July 24
Everything Anne of Green Gables Day
Bala Museum
Admission: $5.99/person or $19.99/family of fourbalasmuseum.com

July 27
Baysville Walkabout Festival
Baysville
Admission: by donation

August 3
Midnight Madness
Downtown Bracebridge
Admission: free

August 3, 9 pm
Civic Holiday fireworks
Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst
Admission: free

August 10
Love Fest Street Festival
Dorset
Admission: by donation

This long list of things to do and see in and around Muskoka is part of the many things that make this area a wonderful place to live! Call me if you would like help   find your perfect little spot here in paradise!

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Muskoka Invasive Plant Management

Giant HogweedNo, I have not gone crazy, I don’t want to build a wall or cause panic, but we are being invaded here in beautiful Muskoka, by a series of invasive and noxious plants. If we ignore them, they will do permanent damage to our beautiful home, but the good news is we can all help eradicate them before they get a permanent foothold here.

Starting this month, the district of Muskoka will start a program of treating the roadside verges with herbicides wherever they find any of these plants. You can help by contacting them and letting them know if you see plants of this type growing. So, what are the plants, how do I recognize them and who do I contact?

Giant Hog Weed.  This one may be the easiest to recognize as you drive around Muskoka and certainly poses the most “danger to humans” as its sap can cause burns to the skin.

According to the District of Muskoka’s website

Giant Hogweed has two major negative impacts. Firstly, due to its invasive nature, it poses a threat to native biodiversity. Secondly, Giant Hogweed is a public health hazard. It produces a noxious sap that sensitizes the skin to ultraviolet light. This is known as photosensitivity, which can result in severe and painful burning and blistering. It is important to avoid any skin contact with this plant.

  • The plant can grow from 2.5 to 4 metres high (8 – 14 feet).
  • The saw-toothed leaves are deeply lobed and can grow to 1 metre (3 feet) across.
  • The stems are hollow with dark reddish-purple splotches and coarse white hair.
  • The watery sap produced by the leaves and stems contains a chemical that causes skin to become highly sensitive to the sun.
  • Small white flowers are clustered in an umbrella-shaped head that can grow larger than 30 centimeters (1 foot) in diameter.
  • The seeds are oval and flat.
  • It can be found along: roadsides, vacant lots and stream banks.

Getting rid of this plant if you have located it on your own property is not recommended. The District of Muskoka suggests calling in a professional weed control company to handle both the removal and disposal of this noxious plant. Remember if you do attempt this by yourself you cannot put it out for garbage collection. The plant waste must be disposed of properly. Read the specific instructions on the District of Muskoka website.

Japanese Knot Weed.  While it is not as simple to identify as Giant Hog Weed this plant also has distinctive characteristics.

According to the District of Muskoka’s website

The stalks grow straight up and can reach as high as 3 metres. The stems appear to be round and reddish-purple in colour. Large, heart-shaped leaves form in a zigzag pattern along the hollow stem. Flowers are cream-coloured that grow vertically from the stem in clusters.

  • Japanese Knot Weed has a strong root system and can spread about 10 metres from the parent stem.
  • It has the ability to grow through concrete and asphalt.
  • This fast-growing invasive species is known to change river flows, interrupting spawning beds, it rips through roadways and even threatens foundations of homes.
  • Knot Weed commonly grows in gardens, along roadsides and near old buildings or former building sites.

Unfortunately, getting rid of this plant is very difficult. While digging and cutting knotweed is a solution, this method can break up the rhizomes, creating more growing ends. To control the spread of Japanese knotweed in gardens and residential properties, stems must be cut down several times throughout the growing season to deplete the root system.  Cut the base of the stalk just before flowering once the plant reaches a height of 5 to 6 feet. This usually occurs around mid to late June in Muskoka. Subsequent cuttings may occur around early August and again in early September. Persistent cutting may be combined with other options such as digging out roots and laying down tarp material for several years in order to successfully control this species.

Invasive Phragmites (European Common Reed). This last plant of concern is perhaps the most difficult to identify as it looks very similar to natural local reed varieties.

According to the district of Muskoka’s web site

Invasive Phragmites:

  • grows in stands that can be extremely dense with as many as 200 stems per square metre
  • can grow so densely that it crowds out other species
  • can reach heights of up to 5 metres (15 feet)
  • has stems that are tan or beige in colour with blue-green leaves and large, dense seed heads.
  • Invasive Phragmites uptake nutrients from their environment and out-compete native plants such as cattails and willows; they result in loss of habitat for other plants and animal/aquatic life and further jeopardize species at risk.
  • Inhibit agricultural drainage ditches and cause flooding.
  • their dead stalks resist decay, filling in open ponds and creating dead zones unusable for wildlife
  • Once their seeds colonize an area, they spread quickly with seeds and rhizomes (horizontal plant stems growing underground).

Native Phragmites:

  • grows in stands that are usually not as dense as the invasive plant
  • well-established stands are frequently mixed with other plants
  • usually has more reddish-brown stems, yellow-green leaves and smaller, sparser seed heads.

 

It is very important to remember that invasive Plant Species cannot be collected at the curb, due to the possibility of seed spread during transportation.  Any mature invasive plants with seeds should be carefully bagged in a sealed household sized garbage bag and loaded into your vehicle (covered with a tarp or canopy), and disposed of at the Rosewarne Landfill in Bracebridge.  The district of Muskoka cannot accept invasive plant waste at Transfer Stations as the seeds could become airborne and spread throughout our area. Be sure to inform the Guard upon entering that you have invasive plants (and not simply yard waste), to ensure that your Invasive Weeds are disposed of in the proper location.

Keeping Muskoka beautiful and free from these invasive plants is a mission we should all undertake. It not only enhances our wonderful environment but will help to keep our property values strong. Real Estate is not just the bricks and mortar it is “location, location, location” so let’s all work together to keep our location spectacular!

Planting a Vegetable Garden at your Muskoka Home

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We all know that fresh produce is the best kind and locally grown is a wonderful way to get it. How local do you want? How about home grown! Planting and growing your own vegetables is good for your body and your mind.  It will not only provide great fresh food for your family but while working in your garden you get exercise and reduce stress.

If you are new to vegetable gardening, it’s not difficult. Here are a few important things you should consider.  A little planning before you start to dig will save frustration and give you a better chance of success.

The right location

A good vegetable garden should be in a spot that gets plenty of sun, about six to eight hours each day. To figure out the sunny spot watch the sun and shade patterns in your yard on a bright day. This will guide you to the best location. The sun is highest in the sky in late June, so early in the year, like now, the days might be a bit shadier. Choose a level place as gardening on a hill is much more challenging, however if you need to, you can create terraces.

Size matters

Do not be too ambitious your first year. Keep your small garden as it will be easier to manage. You can always make it bigger next year. A 10’ x 10’ space can produce a good amount of fresh and tasty produce if it is well managed. Rows can be anywhere from 2’ to 4’ feet wide.  Remember that wide rows will need to have paths on both sides.

Prepare your soil

The earth you plant in is undoubtedly the most important ingredient in successful vegetable garden.  You should till or break up the top soil (your existing soil) at least eight inches deep, if not more. Once you have this layer all well cleared of weeds and aerated it is time to fortify it.  Get some compost  (the District of Muskoka offers it free each year) or you can buy it from a garden supply centre. You can also use a manure or a similar soil amendment with organic matter also available from your local landscape or garden centre. Mix thoroughly with your existing soil at a bout a 40% compost to 60% soil ratio. If you are building raised beds, you may need to buy some additional topsoil.

Choosing what to plant

The region of Ontario has a comparatively short growing season. You can plant cool weather veggies such as peas, spinach, broccoli and kale starting in late April or early May. Start lettuce in early to mid May. Warm weather plants like tomatoes, beans, peppers and squash can be planted in June. Though seeds are the most economical way to plant, for tomatoes, peppers and broccoli, it is best to buy small sets of seedlings from a garden centre.

For a small garden plot, choose compact varieties of plants. Bush beans and peas will be a better choice than vines. Some vegetable varieties are ready for harvest faster than others; pick the quick growing varieties if you can. You should be able to plant a second round of cool season vegetables in August.

After planting

Moisture is the key. A good mulch layer and water are the final ingredients. The mulch helps to keep the soil moist while adding organic matter to your soil over time. Seeds will need frequent water and moist soil to germinate. You can cut back on watering frequency as plants get larger, however water thoroughly so that more than the surface layer of soil gets wet.

The planting dates suggested here are approximate and a long Muskoka winter followed by a very wet early spring will require oblivious adjustments. A surprise late frost or an early summer can change things too for better or for worse! That is part of the fun of vegetable gardening. Don’t loose heart as when one crop has a bad year, another may do well. You never know exactly what to expect, but with good soil, water and some determination, you’ll be enjoying fresh vegetables grown at your Muskoka home throughout the summer.

Green Spring Cleaning Your Muskoka Home

Sprin Clean GreenAfter enduring an extra long winter it’s finally time to fling open the windows of your Muskoka home and let in the fresh spring air . It is also time to tackle the dreaded spring cleaning. Conventional cleaning products can be more dangerous than the dirt they’re intended to clean so what are your options? The way we clean (with lots of disposable paper towels) isn’t always earth-friendly either. However, there are many available alternatives that can help you make your home squeaky clean—and green too!

Green Cleaning Products

The last thing you want to do is dump toxic chemicals into our beautiful environment as you clean. These days, you don’t have to make a special trip to a speciality store to seek out environmentally friendly cleaning products. Green Works products available in many stores including Walmart and the Green line from Independent Grocers are just a couple of the many products available that both protect the environment and work as well as the more traditional brands.  Or, if you’re up for a DIY challenge, you can make your own natural homemade cleaners yourself. It’s easier than you might think! The basic supplies you’ll need to make your own green cleaners include:

Distilled white vinegar (sold in most supermarkets)

Baking soda

Olive oil

Borax (sold in a box in the laundry aisle)

Liquid castile soap (a natural soap base made from saponified organic oils of coconut and sunflower. found in most health foods stores)

Essential oils (super concentrated natural plant oils found in health foods stores, usually in the cosmetics section)

Microfiber cleaning cloths

Newspaper

Here are a few basic “recipes” and techniques to get you started:

Glass: Mix 1/4 cup vinegar with one quart of water in a spray bottle. Spray on glass and wipe clean with old newspaper or a lint-free cloth.

Countertops and bathroom tile: Mix two parts vinegar and one-part baking soda with four parts water. Apply with a sponge, scour and wipe away.

Floors: Mix four cups of white distilled vinegar with about a gallon of hot water. If desired, add a few drops of pure peppermint or lemon oil for a pleasant scent. After damp mopping the floors, the smell of vinegar will dissipate quickly, leaving behind only the scent of the oil.

Wood furniture: Mix equal parts lemon juice and olive and oil. Apply a small amount to a cloth and rub onto the furniture in long, even strokes.

Toilet bowl cleaner: Sprinkle a toilet brush with baking soda and scrub away! Occasionally disinfect your toilet by scrubbing with borax instead. Wipe the outside of the toilet with straight vinegar.

Disinfectant: Mix two teaspoons borax, four tablespoons vinegar, three cups hot water and 1/4 teaspoon liquid castile soap. Wipe on with dampened cloth or use a spray bottle. Wipe clean.

Mold and mildew: Wipe with straight vinegar.

Air freshener: Sprinkle essential oil on a cotton ball and stash it in a corner of the room. If you have kids, make sure it’s out of their reach, as essential oils are very strong and could irritate their skin. Lavender is a relaxing scent that is great for bedrooms, while cinnamon, clove and citrus oils are great for the rest of the house. You can stash a few in the car, too—try peppermint, which may help you stay alert.

Green Cleaning Tips

Hang dry your laundry. Drying your clothes in an electric or gas dryer isn’t just hard on your clothes, but it’s also hard on the environment. Don’t stop with natural laundry detergent—to truly stay green, install a clothesline in your backyard. If space (or aesthetics) is an issue, look for a retractable clothesline, which takes up almost no space when not in use. Weather permitting, line-dry your clothes outside to reduce pollution, while also cutting your energy bill, getting more exercise, enjoying the fresh air and extending the life of your clothes. Plus, they’ll smell like a clean breeze (the real kind, not the chemical kind).

  • Add a little greenery. Install a living air filter—houseplants! Some of the most efficient air-cleaning houseplants include spider plants, English ivy, rubber plants and peace lilies. You’ll need 15 to 18 medium-size (six- to eight-inch diameter container) houseplants for the average 1,800-square-foot house. If that sounds like a lot, place a few plants in the room where you spend the most time.
  • De-clutter your wardrobe. Donate gently worn items to charity, where they’ll get a second life, and donate torn and stained items (if they’re made of an absorbent fabric) to your rag collection, where they’ll replace wasteful paper towels. And as you’re packing up your winter sweaters, replace stinky mothballs with a natural and better-smelling version: Stuff a lonely unpaired sock with cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and whole cloves and tie it at the end.
  • Paint your walls green. If spring cleaning at your house involves a fresh coat of paint, consider the VOC content when choosing your paint. VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds, are chemicals that form vapors at room temperature. Some VOCs, like the ones in many paints, contribute to smog and indoor air pollution, and can cause a host of short- and long-term health problems. The good news is that many paint manufacturers have started making low- or no-VOC paints. The bad news is that many of those manufacturers have simply substituted VOCs with other non-VOC (yet still toxic) chemicals. For truly eco-conscious safe paint, check out these products: Homestead House Paint Co., Benjamin Moore Natura and Sherwin Williams Harmony.
  • Swap out your Swiffer. Instead of continually buying expensive single-use mop pads, invest in a reusable mop or cloth head. There are many brands available and Walmart even has some that will fit over an existing Swiffer type mop. These mop heads can be washed in your washing machine, hung dry and used again and again—well worth their moderate price tag.
  • Stop using paper towels. Save trees, cash and landfill waste when you buy specially-made, washable cleaning and dusting cloths, available in all types of fabrics, from cotton to microfiber. Better yet, use what you already have and give an old piece of cloth (stained towels, ratty sheets and pillowcases, too-small t-shirts, etc.) a new life. Simply cut or tear your old item into smaller squares (if you want to get fancy, finish the edges with a sewing machine), and voila! Pop them in the washing machine with your laundry to clean and use them again and again.

Cleaning up your Muskoka home for spring doesn’t have to be dirty work. By implementing some of these ideas and products, you will benefit your body, your home and the planet. Many of these changes are small ones, but their impact on your health and the environment can really add up over time.

 

Buying a Muskoka Fixer-Upper Home Yes or No?

Have you been thinking about buying a Muskoka home to fix up and live in? There is a certain romance to the thought of taking on a home that needs a lot of work and making it yours with your own blood, sweat and tears.  Maybe you’re on the other side and thoughts of Tom Hanks and Shelly Long throwing their money into a “money pit” have you saying “No way, not for me!”.

A traditional fixer-upper is a property that will require significant renovations, reconstruction or redesign to be habitable or saleable at market value. They typically list and sell below the market value of homes of equal size and vintage in similar neighbourhoods.

So, you need to ask yourself if a fixer-upper is a bargain brimming with potential OR should it be avoided like the plague? The answer to this perplexing question will depend on several factors, including you!

One of the best reasons to buy a fixer-up home or cottage is for the location &/or lot. If you are determined to live in a particular part of Muskoka it may mean you have to “snap up” what is available and then fix up the home or cottage to suit your needs.  If the size and structure of the property are right for you, it likely makes more sense to renovate as opposed to a complete demolition and rebuild which can be more time-consuming and in most cases more expensive.

Renovating a fixer-upper is expensive, and you can’t often finance a renovation.  Typically it is not a project for a first-time buyer as usually all available funds are directed to the actual purchase.  Remember that a fixer-upper is a large project, not the usual renovation projects most of us plan to do over time after we move into new home.  So, to tackle a fixer-upper you need to have some capital tucked away to fund the project. Typically, it is a second or third-time home buyer who has a little DIY experience who takes on a fixer-upper home.

A buyer for a fixer-upper is sometimes someone looking for their “forever home” or they may be an investor seeking poorly-maintained properties to fix and flip. In both cases they have usually had several home purchase experiences under their belts and can rely on this to help them through tackling a large project like this.

As a buyer you need to consider your time, money and knowledge when taking on a fixer-upper. Will the time and money involved in fixing up a home or cottage be worth it in the end? If your full-time job is contracting, will the time spent on your own project be as valuable in the end as working on paid contracts?

Be prepared for surprises.  Buyers for this type of property often don’t spend money on a Home Inspection. Without a thorough inspection of the property you could miss costly remediation issues like mold, asbestos, or faulty foundations.

Also be sure to include time for due diligence to explore municipal regulations, zoning and permitting.  And, allow adequate time to carefully cost out the renovation – small things add up. Doing so could save a lot of heart ache or even financial loss.

A final consideration is whether you will need to hire a project manager or do it alone.  Will you hire a contractor for the entire project, or manage contractors and trades for the different jobs yourself? Hiring trades for everything can be a challenge to coordinate if you’ve never done it before especially if you don’t know the local trades people.  And remember, the good ones are often booked several months out.

As a local Realtor with many years of experience I am happy to help you find a perfect project home or cottage.  And, if you have your heart set on a “fixer- upper” with my contacts in the region I may be able to suggest trades people you will need to be successful in your venture.

Why I love being a Muskoka Realtor in the Winter

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Fire and Ice festival – Picture from Discover Muskoka

Being an active Muskoka Realtor I get to see this beautiful region in all the seasons. Yes, there are times I am more happy to live here than others. The -35oC  mornings in January do take my breath away and not always because of the spectacular scenery!

However, being a devotee of fresh-air and out-door fun, I know Muskoka in winter can be a blast too. That’s why I am never surprised to be selling recreational homes and cottages ALL year round. Muskoka is not just a summer destination any more.

Here are a few things I know my friends and family enjoy and are definitely part of the draw for my buyers.

Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
One of the most amazing ways to enjoy the majestic Muskoka winter landscape is to bundle up in your warmest clothes and snap into your cross-country skis or snowshoes. There are numerous trails to choose from giving you easy access to nature and a great cardiovascular workout too. Favourite locations are Algonquin and Arrowhead Provincial Parks and also the Frost Centre Ski and Snowshoe Trails  which offers ample space for an outdoor adventure, with nine track-set ski loops of varying difficulty, plus nearly 40 kilometers of back-country hiking trails through the Muskoka winter wonderland. If you want to try out these activities but do not have equipment you can rent from several places including Algonquin Outfitters and Muskoka Outfitters.

Snowmobiling
If you are a fan of something faster, snowmobiling is an exhilarating way to experience the Muskoka winter. Yes, it is noisier than skiing or hiking, but it also allows you to cover a lot more territory. The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs manages a 1,200-kilometer network of tracks, stretching across the Muskoka winter landscape. Remember to ride in Ontario you must have a valid driver’s license and purchase a trail permit, but you need not own your own sled. Rentals are available you can find out more by visiting the OFSC’s website.

Skiing
Muskoka isn’t exactly known for its mountainous terrain, but there are enough peaks and valleys here to take advantage of our beautiful Muskoka winter. In Huntsville, the Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area features  downhill runs and  a snowboard terrain park with options for most skill levels and a ski shop and rentals available on site.

Dog-sledding
In Muskoka you say? Yes, you don’t need to travel to the Arctic Circle to experience the thrill of dog-sledding. North Ridge Ranch in Huntsville offers visitors the opportunity to “mush!” with a team of 60 beautiful Alaskan huskies. Take a short 1 hour run or a half day tour with a hot chocolate break in the middle. You will be given the opportunity to meet the dogs and take some lovely pictures too!

Ice Fishing
The region’s most popular on-water activity in summer may be boating but in the winter the fish win for sure. Once the lakes have frozen over there are many locations you can simply cut a hole and bring your pole to have hours of fun. In the Huntsville area, Hooked Young provides all-inclusive ice fishing experiences in mobile shacks or in a large cabin with cooking facilities and a washroom. Knowledgeable guides take you to where the fish are, maximizing your chances to hook a lake trout, northern pike or pickerel, while enjoying the company of fellow anglers.

Taking a Spa Day
A day out in our dry crisp Muskoka can take a toll on your body. Fortunately, Muskoka is home to several wonderful spas. Among the most luxurious is the Spa at the Rosseau, which offers facials, body treatments, couples packages and more in a calming space overlooking its namesake lake. Elsewhere, Touch SpaThe Amba Spa and Spa Taboo feature equally diverse treatment packages – perfect for a little skin and muscle rejuvenation after a day or two of outdoor fun and exercise.

Bracebridge Fire & Ice Festival                                                                                        Whether you are shopping for a Muskoka property or not, be sure to take in the Fire & Ice Festival in Bracebridge on January 26, 2019. With fireworks, fire pits, a legendary downtown tube run, interactive ice displays, a skating trail in Memorial Park, Lumberjack Show, wood carving, Birds of Prey interactive show & more – there is something for everyone.

I love being a Muskoka Realtor as much as I love simply being a Muskoka resident in the stunning winter we get to enjoy. If you are thinking that you would love being here as much as I do, then take a look at my listings and let me find you a perfect Muskoka home or get-away.

Tips and Tricks for the Muskoka Home Owner Snowbird to Prepare for Departure!

Palm Tree Matalach FLIf you are a Muskoka snowbird heading to the sunny south for the winter, here are some important things you can do to help protect your vacant home. Taking these steps can help protect your home from winter damage drawing the attention of those who would seek to steal things or damage your home while you are away for an extended period of time.

Make Your Home Appear as Though It Is Continuously Occupied

  • Forward your mail, stop newspaper delivery, and ask a friend or relative to collect flyers or other items that may be left at your door or on your driveway.
  • Arrange for someone to remove snow after storms.
  • Install motion-sensitive exterior lights and put interior lights on timers and set them to come on at varying times to discourage prowlers.

Take Steps to Protect Your Home from Thieves

  • Confirm that your alarm systems are in working order and have been activated.
  • Secure external doors and windows with deadbolt locks, security-type hinges and sturdy door frames that cannot be spread apart. Install slide locks or other equivalent security locks on sliding glass doors or French doors.
  • Store valuables that you are not taking with you in a safe deposit box or other secure offsite location.
  • Do not post your vacation or travel plans on social media sites, as potential thieves can use that information to learn that your house is vacant.

Protect Your Pipes to Avoid Water Damage by Turning Off Your Water Supply

  • If a pipe bursts or leaks while you are away, it could cause significant damage. Consider completely turning off the water supply if no one will be in the home for an extended period of time. REMEMBER, if your home is protected by a fire sprinkler system, do not turn off the water to this system.
  • Drain your pipes of all water by opening the faucets and flush your toilet to clear the water from the tank and bowl, then consider pouring antifreeze in toilet tanks and bowls to prevent any remaining water from freezing. Do not use auto antifreeze, rather use non-toxic antifreeze rated for plumbing systems.
  • To help confirm that the pipes have been drained, consider having a plumber blow compressed air through the pipes.

Keep Your Home and Plumbing Warm if Your Water Supply Stays On

  • If you decide against draining your water pipes, keep the furnace running to help ensure the home stays warm and the pipes do not freeze.
  • Set the temperature at 10°C or higher to help keep the interior of the floor and wall cavities where the water piping is likely located above freezing temperatures. Keeping room and cabinet doors open also helps the heat circulate and warm the areas where pipes are located.
  • Shut off the water to washing machines and dishwashers where possible, to avoid any leaks or broken hoses while you are away.
  • Turn off the heat source and water supply to hot water heaters (if separate from your boiler).
  • Shut off and drain outdoor water faucets to prevent freezing damage.
  • If you have water treatment systems don’t forget they need to be winterized too. YouTube has lots of videos on how to do this or call a local expert if you need help.
  • Consider having a water flow sensor and low temperature sensor installed on your main water supply pipe and hooked into a constantly monitored alarm system or your smart phone.

Perform Routine Maintenance Before You Leave

  • Have your heating system inspected and serviced before winter. Have your fuel tanks filled before you leave and ask someone to check on heat and fuel levels regularly while you are gone.
  • Have your roof inspected before you leave and clean your gutters to help prevent ice from building up.
  • Remove dead trees or large overhanging limbs that could damage your house.
  • Unplug all unnecessary appliances before you leave.
  • If you have a landline phone make sure you can retrieve messages from the answering machine or voicemail so it does not indicate FULL or unattended when someone calls.

Make Your Home Unattractive to Pests

  • Clean your home thoroughly to help discourage new “residents” from moving in.
  • Clean, defrost and unplug refrigerators and freezers, wiping them dry and leaving doors propped open to prevent mildew. Also clean the oven.
  • Inspect your home for openings that animals could use to enter. For example, make sure your fireplace flue is closed, as bats, birds and squirrels are known to get inside this way.
  • Check weather-stripping, insulation and exterior doors and windows to ensure no major deficiencies are present. Water and insects can enter through these openings.
  • Chimneys should be inspected by a chimney service and, if necessary, cleaned to ensure that they are free from obstructions such as nesting birds. Install chimney guard screen-caps to help prevent any infestation.

Be Ready for Emergencies

  • Notify the police department that the property will be vacant and provide emergency notification numbers.
  • Install smoke detectors on at least every floor (preferably tied to a constantly monitored fire alarm system so the fire department will automatically be notified in case of alarm) and confirm that the sensors and system are tested regularly.
  • Ask a trusted friend, neighbor or relative to keep an eye on your home and be available in emergency situations. Give them access to your home so they can regularly monitor heating, electrical and water systems. This may be a requirement of your insurance and a minimum frequency of visits may be stipulated to prevent voiding your policy. Make sure you understand the requirements of your insurer.
  • Have them also check the roof for ice dams and inspect for leaks inside. Make sure they have your contact information and a list of local contractors they can reach if repairs or service are needed.

 

As your Muskoka Realtor I am always happy to help you find the resources you need to get your self ready for your winter away.