Feeding the Hungry Jars and Critters

This morning I had to laugh. I fixed breakfast, then when Vince left for work, I fed the dogs, which means putting Rita out to eat. The minute she’s done eating, she wants to come back in but I leave her out til I get done with the chickens. That gives her time to do her “bizness” but she’s ready to come back in the minute she’s finished eating.

Rita Wanting In

Rita Wanting In

As soon as it was light enough to see where I was walking, I went out to take care of the chickens and make sure their feed and water was good enough to get them through the day. Next, check on Boots, clean out the litter box and make sure he has food and fresh water.

Then, I came back inside, showered and began feeding the stuff in jars!

Things to Feed

Things to Feed

Left side, front and back – two jars of sourdough, different varieties.

Middle front is the kefir that I strained out. Middle back is the new milk added to the kefir grains to ferment today.

Right front is water kefir to go into the fridge for second ferment. I’ve added raw sugar so that’s why it’s that color. Right back is fresh water kefir that will brew for the next couple of days.

Kefir Grains

Kefir Grains

These are the water kefir grains. Like the milk kefir grains, they will grow so I’m going to weight them with each new addition and see how much and how quickly they grow.

All the critters are fed. All the jars are fed. I can knit for a few minutes before it’s time to begin working on lunch for Vince! There surely are a lot of things to feed around here!

The Fall Garden

It’s time to get the Fall garden planting finished. There’s still half the garlic left to plant but since I have to position each seed with the right end up, I have to do a lot of squatting and my foot is still too sore to do all that.  I was able to finish up the seeds that I can just drop in the holes!

Garden Corner

Garden Corner

In this spot, there’s carrots, spinach, lettuce, radicchio, cabbage and radishes.

I had about given up on trying to mark what’s planted where. When I used those white plastic markers, the sun was so hard on them that they would get so brittle and even a water hose bumping them would cause them to shatter. I tried writing on wooden craft sticks and the sun didn’t run them but they still got tromped on broken or the weeds grew over them and I couldn’t even find them.

Then I thought . . rocks! We have a lot of leftover rocks from when they built our house and the rocks from the other house the former owns built got dumped on our land so we have those. I took a Sharpie and wrote on the rocks and we’ll see how that works.

Marking the Garden

Marking the Garden

We’ll see how that works out. It’s kinda hard to lose a rock that size and hopefully the weeds won’t completely cover it up. If the Sharpie begins to fade, before it gets completely impossible to read, I can go over it again with the marker, if needed.

Once I get the rest of the garlic planted, I should have room to plant beets and onions. Some time during the winter, we’ll clean out the rest of what’s left in there and do another planting in late January or early February. Some days I feel really lucky that we can garden all year here and some days, I wish I had a break from it all!

 

Solar Update

We’ve had the solar panels for 5-1/2 months now. We knew we wouldn’t be able to produce enough power during the summer months without having to purchase power during the day, and we purchase all our night power and the a/c runs a lot at night but we’re thrilled with the numbers, now that the worst of summer is behind us.

Solar Power Produced

Solar Power Produced

This shows that we’ve produced a total of 7904 kWh since the system was turned on  May 1. That’s 1437 kWh per month. Going into this, we knew that our monthly average kWh usage is 1,400 kWh per month. That’s average for the year, and we use literally half as many kWh in the winter as we use in the summer. Some of our colder months, we use as little as 700 kWh and during the heat of the summer, we use as many as 2,200. Vince did so much research and calculating and we wanted to size our system to produce about 1,400 kWh per month during our peak solar months. I think he did a pretty good job! For us, there was no real reason to put in a larger system than we need because (1) we’re supposed to be a “net user” with our power company (meaning at the end of a year, we should have used more than we sent back . . which I’m not sure is going to happen); and (2) oversizing the system would just have cost us more and not given us much in return.

Power Purchased

Power Purchased

In those 5-1/2 months, we’ve purchased 5,097 kWh from the power company. We have to buy power when any of the following occur:

  1. It’s dark or cloudy and we’re not producing power;
  2. We’re using more power than we’re producing.
Power Sent Back

Power Sent Back

We’ve sent back 4,186 kWh to the power company and they credit our bill each month for what we send back.

In summary, we’ve produced 7,904 kWh, of which 4,186 was excess and sold to the power company. This means we used 3,718 kWh of our own power, plus the 5,097 kWh that we purchased from the power company, for a total of 8,805 kWh, or an average 1,602 kWh per month.

The solar panels are producing exactly what we expected them to produce and our power bills are exactly what we thought they would be. Until the battery or other storage technology improves, and the price comes down, which may or may not happen during our lifetime, we’re stuck purchasing power at night but until about June, we should be able to produce and send back enough so that we don’t pay anything to the electric company.

We’re so happy with the solar panels! It was a good investment and should pay for itself in about 8 years . . as we had calculated. Solar panels won’t work for everyone but here, where there’s so much sun, and we had the perfect set up for it, we felt we had to try it and are glad we did.