1. ....A Spider
When we first moved to our property I was a bit paranoid about brown recluse spiders. I fear spiders in general, and the horror stories I have heard from people that have suffered through brown recluse bites made me very cautious when we first moved into the house. We bug bombed the house and also regularly applied 'spider spray' around the baseboards and window sills. And for a year we saw no brown recluse.
|The site of the bite.|
|The spider bite on my temple caused|
severely swollen lymph nodes .
When I arrived at the ENT, he took one look at the spot on my temple and said it was a brown recluse bite. He put me on strong antibiotics and within a few days I started feeling better as the venom worked its way out of my system. Needless to say, I am once again paranoid about brown recluse spiders.
2. ....A Couple Horses
On a happier note, we did have a couple more friendly visitors one evening this past month. We got home after dark one night and discovered two horses in our yard. They were right next to our deck eating grass that had sprouted up from seeds the birds had knocked out of their feeders. These were probably two of the horses that had came out of the woods next to the houses and visited last year as you may recall from a previous post. I tried to entice the horses to stay the night by tossing carrots from the deck, but they moseyed on down the road, back toward their pasture. I guess this is an annual adventure for them.
3. ....Another Solar Panel
|This is the first of the two Grape solar |
panels now installed.
4. ....A New Neighbor?
|A new neighbor came to borrow a cup of wi-fi.|
He told us he was currently staying at the hunting cabin which is the next 'residence' north of us on our road. When we bought our property we had done some research and discovered that at one point two brothers split a 40 acre lot to create our 20 acres and the 20 acres north of us. One of the brothers built the house on our property while the other brother built the cabin to the north. He helped build our house (his uncle's at the time) and he had lived in the cabin on the property next door. He also said he was hoping to buy back the cabin which his father had sold quite some time ago. He told us the current owner said he could stay there while he, the owner, decided if he wanted to sell the property.
Well, we saw our new neighbor every few days for about the next month as he came and left from the cabin. We never heard from him on how the possible purchase of the property was going, but late one night there was a lot of yelling and commotion down the road at his place. We could not hear much of what was going on, but it did not sound good. Alan sat out on the deck in the dark with our shotgun in his lap for a couple of hours. The next day he stopped by to ask if we had heard the ruckus. He said some other neighbors had stopped by yelling, asking what he was doing on the property. We never found out if he actually had permission to stay on the property, but we stopped seeing him a few days after that and the owners came and locked the gate on the driveway.
5. ....New Shelves For My Canning Jars
I have been doing a lot of canning this fall and all my canned goods have taken over various storage areas around the house, both in the kitchen and in our guest room. I was working on some planes to build some sturdy canning shelves (remember my sturdy wood thingies from an earlier post?). Well, I am pleased to say I now have two very sturdy shelves for my canning jars and I did not have to engineer them from various scrap items.
6. ....A New Refrigerator
|The 'old' propane fridge.|
During some research time, Alan discovered information about using a chest freezer as a refrigerator. This seemed like a good off-grid solution because the freezer would be well insulated to hold its temperature and would run infrequently enough that we could power it through an inverter connected to our bank of batteries. Thus, we would have a solar powered refrigerator and would no longer need a supply of propane for refrigeration.
|Our new fridge, powered by our solar system.|
Note the clock in the upper right corner of the photo,
it is timing the actual 'run time'.
(1) We would need more solar power being generated to add in the refrigerator. This was solved with #3 above.
(2) Chest freezers are not designed to be able to be set to temperatures above freezing. This was solved by adding in a brewer's thermostat which would control the power cycling.
(3) The freezer needed to run off the inverter (120 not 12 volt). This would mean the inverter would have to be on 24/7 to be ready for the fridge whenever it periodically starts up, which would be very inefficient. The solution was finding an inverter that remains off, but checks every few seconds to see if there is something demanding power (ie., the fridge), in which case it turns itself on.
With the new inverter and the added thermostat we now have a larger fridge that runs off our solar system. When we first set it up, we also installed a small clock in line with the fridge. This way, the clock only ran when the fridge was running so we could determine how much time the fridge was actually pulling power. At 8 AM we set the clock for 12:00. Throughout the day, we could check the clock to see how much time had elapsed on it, which was 3-4 minutes each hour. At 8 AM the next day the clock (and fridge) had run only about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
7. ....A Family Celebration
Once again we went back 'on-grid' for our annual Turkey Palooza - a fun, crazy time with family the week of Thanksgiving. I did enjoy taking some of my home canned meats and vegetables to include in some of our meals.
|Thanksgiving Dinner with the family.|
8. ....My Parents
|My parents experiencing our off-grid life.|
We moved their daily Yatzee game in front of the fire.
9. ....A Winter Storm
I had told my parents that the average temperature for this time of year is in the 50s during the day and the 30s at night. Well, for the first two days we were in the high 60s, the next day was in the 50s and then we were hit by a winter storm. Freezing rain covered everything in ice, followed by sleet and 5 inches of snow. Normally all of this would have melted within a day, but we have been hit with another weather fluke and temperatures have not been above freezing for 6 days. As I am writing this we have been house bound for six days, schools have been closed since last Thursday and I just heard they are closed again tomorrow (Wednesday) so they will have been closed for an entire week.
|Pumping water from the extra storage tank after|
we shut off the gravity feed tank to the bathroom.
We had conveniently placed this extra water under
the storage room window!
Realizing that while the winter storm has thrown many people for a loop with the loss of 'modern conveniences', our off-grid life was barely impacted and this reinforces that we are reaching the goals we are striving for in self-reliant living.