Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Inbuilt cupboards and compost heaps

We haven't any cupboards in the house, just been using some old shelving.  So we decided to investigate getting some, eventually decided to get a local builder do some in-built cupboards from river red gum planking.  We sanded and stined the wood ourselves and he did the building.  I know my limits when it comes to construction, I can do a bush shed but not somethign like a cupboard.
Stained River red gum - awaiting the builder

Speaking of building, I did finish off the compost bins but Toni now wants a forth one ! DOH.... I will have to go on the scrounge more old roofing iron.

Monday, August 30, 2010

New Baby chickens

"Arnie" the Rooster
The chirping and cheepign of three new baby chickens hearelded the forst births from our nrecently acquired rooster (Arnie)

He went to work almost immediately on his harem and we now have 3 new chicks from a broody ISA Brown hen.  They arrived 21 days after being laid.  We unfortunately lost a 4th egg, "Mum" kicked the egg out about a day or so before it hatched.  Upon opening the egg, we found a fully developed dead fetus.

We plan to keep the females for laying eggs and any Males will be killed and eaten when they first start to crow.  We also can;t keep any males of course as they will only fight amongst themselves.

 Here are the little fella's in action !

Mum and babies are doing well !

Friday, August 6, 2010

Solar Upgrade

We had a old 12V solar system when we moved in, the only way you could realistically use it with refrigeration was if you had a gas fridge. So we had to either upgrade the solar or get a gas fridge, the latter didn't appeal, we would be using more gas (above cooking requirements) for ever ! and no, we don't have a generator for a backup, if we get lots of rainy days, we simply cut way back on all optional power uses (ie no computer etc)

The old 12V system had 15x70 W panels (1kW), a 1000W inverter, with 2 x 830Ahr batteries (cough !) for storage.
Old panels

Old batteries

We managed to sell the above system to a local who wants to put a small system on a cabin he owns.
The new 48V system has 12 x 170W panels (2kW), with a 5000W inverter and 8 x 1050AHr batteries for storage. That's a 100% increase in generation capacity, a 400% increase in battery storage and the batteries themselves are 20% higher in capacity. Remembering, we have decided NOT to go with a generator backup, which nearly everyone seems to do (seems odd to me that people have a too small a solar system and run the "gennie" often, capital outlay I guess ) and ouch, aren't those batteries expensive, to all those observing the "high" cost of mains electricity. It would have cost me about the same to get the mains connected as the solar install. We had to get the house completely re-wired as well, it was a real mishmash of 12V and unsafe 240V.

New panels, shed with electronics (inverter, regulator etc) and battery storage

New batteries in shed (awaiting steel frame door)

The batteries are very heavy, each 6V battery weighs 143 kg, are 1050 Ahrs  and there are 8 of them.

The bigger inverter lets me run power tools to do chores; like drill holes in the self harvested logs for the stirrup mounts to repair rotting logs in the chicken run, use the microwave instead of the gas oven/cooktop to reheat things, use an electric toaster instead of the gas griller, electric kettle instead of a stove top gas kettle etc etc, the power is of no extra cost.

The new system has been running for 3 weeks, hell we listen to the radio now (we don't have a tellie) :)
So we are self sufficient in power, water (which is pumped via an electric pump from our solar system in the day to a tank on the hill) , heating, more and more self sufficient with veggies, any roosters we breed will be killed for meat, and maybe rabbits next year (legal down here) for meat, albeit Toni is thinking of guinea pigs as they are VERY low maintenance, can run around in the enclosed orchard and can be eaten, Peruvians love 'em apparently ! Me, I am not so sure but will try most things once.
and for something completely different, a pic of the eggs I collected when I was taking pics of the new solar panels :)

It's been a big move from city living in tropical North Qld, to rural living in northern NSW. Here's a pic of our little cottage, looking back across the Dam
That's the "office" at the upstairs loft window