Zone 1 - The Wood Burning Stove
|The fall colors surround us.|
I started thinking about how we use the wide variety of wood choices we now have. We have learned that the lumber ends are great for quickly heating up the room as they burn hotter than the firewood. So, if we come home to a cold house because it was 80 degrees out when we left but quickly dropped to below 60 when the sun went down, then we start the fire out with lumber. Or, if we come home or wake up and the fire is almost out, throwing lumber on the remaining embers is much more likely to bring the fire back to life than adding regular firewood.
Once the fire is going nicely, there is little need to add lumber, but that may change as the temperatures continue to drop as winter approaches. But, we still have other options as to the size of firewood logs we add to the fire. For a warm, comfy fire with great ambiance, I use several pieces that have been split smaller or that are from limbs that were only a couple inches in diameter and did not need split. However, when banking the stove for the night, one big log is best, one that fills the wood stove and will slowly burn/smolder through the night.All of these options assure that for each need, we have fire wood that is Just Right!
Zone 2 - Shower Version 3.0
This set up is even more elaborate than the tank sprayer Alan painstakingly attached to the tub enclosure. The parts include an inline water heater that operates on propane, a water pump that operates on 12V, a switch that has been wired into the house's 12V solar system, a bottle of water and several hoses in various colors. The orange hose takes water from the holding container up to the pump. The green hose then carries the water from the pump up to the water heater where it is heated 'on the fly' then travels through white hose to the sprayer which has an on.off valve. The new system allows you to control both the pressure and the temperature, assuring each shower is Just Right!
Zone 3 - Pressure Canning
|The jars are in the canner|
|Steam coming from the vent indicated|
air is being purged from the canner
|After 10 minutes of purging, add the pressure regulator|
and the pressure rises to the Goldilocks Zone.
|Ground beef (left), pork (center) |
and BBQ pork (right)
Again everything canned well and I was anxious to try some of my creations. So, the following day I opened the sliced BBQ pork and heated it for sandwiches. The only problem I discovered was that due to the 75 minutes of pressure cooking, my beautiful thin slices had turned into pulled pork. Despite that, Alan and I both agreed it was delicious. What's getting canned next? Ham was on sale and it is sitting in my fridge for tomorrow's project. Having meat available for meals whenever we need it is Just Right!
Zone 4 - Our Solar System
As the sun drops lower and lower in the autumn sky, more and more shadows are falling on our solar panels from tall trees to the south of our deck. When we first completed our solar panel array in late summer, I had reported our charge controller had readings of over 6 amps coming in on a clear, sunny afternoon. As the sun's path dips lower and lower these past few weeks, we have not seen any readings higher than three amps. We have been planning to have several trees taken down to open up our southern exposure, but had not found anyone with experience to take them down yet. (Remember what happened when Alan took down a tree when we put up our first panels?)
So, now that the sun has dropped out of our solar panel Goldilocks Zone and our incoming power was too low, we had to tweak the system a bit. Our solar panels rest on the deck and the top edges lean against the house so that the face the sky at an angle. The panels also come with supporting legs as they are designed to be free standing, we just found it more convenient to brace them against the house. Yesterday, we pulled the tops of the panels forward, away from the house and deployed the support legs so that the panels now stand more upright which means their 'faces' are directed to a lower point in the sky (remember the problem is the sun is not going as high in the sky now). This has got us back into the Goldilocks Zone. Even though the trees are still between the panels and the sun through part of this lower path across the sky, we were still able to get a reading of 6.0 amps coming in yesterday afternoon. So, we now have a 'summer' and 'winter' setting for our solar panels, each Just Right for the season.
And, even more good news. One of our neighbors is selling their trees to a logging company, and the owner of the tree company saw us outside today and stopped to asked if we would be interested in selling any trees on our property. We asked if it would be worth his time to take down the six trees that we had decided needed to be removed to improve our solar system. He first said he would just take them down and leave them laying there for $100 to cover his gas and time as they were not extremely large trees and would not net much lumber (and they are oaks, not walnut which pays a premium around here). He then asked about trees behind the house and I explained that we actually owned the property across the road, not behind the house and we were still waiting for the survey results to make sure exactly where our property lines were. At that point he asked how far to the south we owned, he probably wanted to make sure we were not asking him to take down our neighbor's trees that were blocking sun from our solar panels, so we showed him the pink ribbon the surveyors had placed some distance away to mark that property line. At that point, the logger said that instead of charging us to take down the 6 trees, he would do it for the lumber out of the three largest ones. This revised price was Just Right!
|Our new southern exposure is|
Zone 5 - Outdoor Temperatures
Oh, and reason number two for the location of the outdoor fireplace, we have not yet repaired the rotting deck, and it is getting worse. And, to quote Goldilocks, most of the deck wood is "too soft", just ask Alan: