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Showing posts from November, 2019

Winter Project List

In the past we've always done an annual goal list. I  post it on January 1st  and wrap up the year with a review post on how well we met those goals. This year, we seem to have fallen into a different pattern. Maybe it's because Dan is retired now, or maybe it reflects a shift in the kinds of project we do. Mostly, I think it's because our lives are more in sync with the seasons; everything seems to revolve around that. Everything we do fits into the pattern of  the agrarian cycle I've blogged about. Spring: March, April, May - season of planting Summer: June, July, August - season of growing Autumn: September, October, November - season to harvest Winter: December, January, February - season of the hearth This year we've started doing quarterly project lists instead of an annual one. The other day, we got out our notebook and made a winter project list. Here's what's on it. Solar porch project build battery box install batteries connect batteries move freez

A Day for Giving Thanks

"Thanksgiving" Norman Rockwell 1919 "God grant that the spirit of gratefulness again became a national trait—that in between year-long demonstrations of unrest and complaint, we might be treated to occasional demonstrations of thankfulness." Eric Sloane "Mother and Son Peeling Potatoes" Norman Rockwell 1945 "Thanksgiving is nothing if not a glad and reverent lifting of the heart to God in honor and praise for His goodness." Robert Casper Lintner "Ye Glutton" Norman Rockwell 1923 "You say, 'If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.' You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled." Charles Haddon Spurgeon "Cousin Reginald Catches the Thanksgiving Turkey" Norman Rockwell 1917 "We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.&

Burying the Solar Cable

Last time, I showed you how Dan wired the solar panels.  The next step was running the cables which will connect the panels to the charge controller (which will connect to the batteries). For that we needed multi-stranded copper wire cables with solar connectors on the ends. We needed two, one for positive and one for negative. Solar cables . More at Amazon. Before I could buy them, I needed to know the correct size. Size depends on panel array voltage, amperage, distance from the batteries, and acceptable voltage loss (typically 3-5%). I ran our numbers through several online calculators and the results were all the same – size 12 American Wire Gauge (AWG).  Even so, larger cable would further minimize power loss, so I bought 10 AWG, which is the next larger size. If we had to go a farther distance, we would have used 8 AWG. The cable comes in pairs, one black and one red. Since the connectors are already attached, it was just a matter of burying them. Of course, Dan had help. Snooper

Wiring the Solar Panels

Last month we got the solar panels up. Image from " The Solar Panels Are Up " The next step was to research the best way to connect them and what we'd need to do it. Image from " The Solar Panels Are Up " Each panel has a pair of wires (technically cables) with connectors. Back of solar panel. One of the cables is positive, the other is negative. We had two options for connecting our three panels: in either series or parallel. There are advantages and disadvantage to each. Series wiring connects negative to positive and positive to negative. This is the easiest configuration because it only requires plugging one panel into the next. It's a good choice for longer runs of cable and can use smaller gauge (less expensive) cable. This set-up multiplies the panels' voltages. Its disadvantage is that all panels must be in full sun. Even partial shade means no electricity. Or, if one panel isn't working properly none of them work, just like a string of Chris

Freeze-Dried Leaves for Goats

Last post (" Change of Seasons "), I showed you about our fall color and early glimpse of winter. Here's what a sudden drop in temperature into the low 20s does to the leaves still on the trees. Pecan leaves from the half-dozen or so pecan trees in the barnyard.  It shocks the trees into dropping them in a crunchy green blanket covering both barn roofs and barnyard. Ellie and River The're crunchy because they've been freeze-dried by the sudden cold. The goats really like them. Miracle Daisy Miracle, Nova, and River (on the stump) This doesn't happen every year, but when it does I collect as many bagfuls as I can. I store the bags in the hayloft and add the leaves to their hay from time to time. Goats love variety and these make nice treats during winter when everything is bare. The ones in the barnyard are pecan leaves, but they also like oak, sweet gum, and poplar. Maple leaves aren't as popular. River The pecans are usually our last trees to lose their l

Change of Seasons

Autumn is officially here. After a several scattered frosts earlier in the month, I finally lost the summer garden to Jack Frost last weekend. Fortunately, I heeded of the weather warnings and gathered in the last of the tomatoes and peppers still on the vines. The leaves have been changing too. Our color is never very spectacular because of the kinds of trees we have. Reds and yellows from the sweet gums. More sweet gum. Mostly we have silver maples, which turn an unspectacular yellow. However, I get a few red maple leaves here and there. More maples Most of our oaks turn brown, but this one is red! Dark red from the dogwoods. The brightest red is the fire bush in our front yard. The yellow is from Tulip poplars, which have lost their leaves. By the end of the month, all leaves will have fallen to the ground. Autumn may be short for us, however. My telltale sign isn't caterpillars, it's this particular cat choosing to sleep indoors at night! Meowy In the summer she only comes

Observation on the Time Change

So here we are, one week after they've changed from daylight savings back to standard time. That the whole time change business is a nuisance doesn't need to be said - we all know that. The critters especially don't care what the clock says. They "know" when it's time to eat! My observation is that I seem to have "more" time now that we've gone back to standard. Maybe it's my inner clock still being attuned to daylight savings numbers, but it seems when I think it's time to go in or time for chores, I still have another hour of project time available. So while my days are actually shorter, they seem longer. Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that? How does the time change feel to you? Observation on the Time Change   © Nov 2019 by  Leigh  at  http://www.5acresandadream.com

Modest Success in Controlling Wiregrass

In my last blog post, 5 Principles of Soil Health: In the Garden , I mentioned some success in my ongoing battle with wiregrass. If you've read my blog for any length of time, you've likely heard me rant, whine , rage , complain about this problem. It's "real" name is Bermuda grass. Cynodon dactylon . Indeterminate. Spreads by seed and stolen. It's a popular lawn and pasture grass in my part of the country. It's ubiquitous—there's nowhere that it isn't—because it's heat and drought resistant, plus tolerates heavy traffic and mowing (or grazing). But it has a dark side: it's highly invasive and quickly becomes an extremely tenacious weed. It has a number of other names, but earned this nickname because it's tough as wire when you're trying to pull it out. It's also impossible to get rid of. Even the "experts" admit that and at some point the southern gardener simply has to accept it as a fact of life and learn to live