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Showing posts from January, 2020

Dehydrated Refrigerator Pickles

I never like opening the last jar of anything. My goal is to keep my pantry stocked sufficiently enough, so that I start each preservation season with at least a small surplus from a previous year. It doesn't always work out that way, however, and recently I ran out of pickles. That meant it was time to try a recipe from a book I reviewed a while back, Prepper's Dyhydrator Handbook.

Dehydrated Refrigerator Pickles
1 cup vinegar (I used distilled white)1 cup water1½ tbsp pickling or canning salt1 clove garlic, crushed¼ tsp dill seed⅛ tsp crushed red pepper flakes 1½ cups dried cucumber slices
To Make
In a saucepan mix water, vinegar, and salt. Bring to a boil.In a pint canning jar put the remaining ingredients.

Cover with boiled brine, leaving ½-inch headspace.

Refrigerate 24 hours before serving.

Ready to eat. How'd they turn out?

Well, they didn't look like "real" pickle slices. The recipe seemed to indicate that they'd plump up nicely overnight, but …

Solar Power Day

After all the excitement, anticipation, and build-up, solar power day was exceedingly uneventful. Switching our deep freezer from the grid to our solar electric system was just a matter of closing a circuit breaker, moving the plug from one socket to another, and turning on the inverter.

We checked the freezer light—all systems go. Now we monitor.

There are two things we're keeping an eye on. One is how many amp-hours our freezer will use during a 24-hour cycle. We have 705 amp-hours stored in our battery bank, so we need to know how long the bank alone can keep the freezer running during a string of sunless days. The charge controller keeps track of this, so I must become familiar with the 100-page section in the manual dealing with reading the summary screens.

The other thing to monitor is the battery State of Charge (SoC). This is the percentage of energy still available in the battery bank. SOC varies by battery, so the exact numbers must be obtained from the manufacturer. Obviou…

Around The Homestead

A (mostly) photo update of projects and happenings on the homestead.


Cold and rainy! Water buckets have been frozen so every morning we heat water before going out to do chores. Then we break the ice off the surface and top of with hot water. Everybody likes warm water on a cold day and it keeps the buckets from refreezing too quickly.

In spite of the cold our daffodils have started to bloom.

This new bout of rain is supposed to warm things up, however. No complaints about that!


Yesterday we moved the freezer from the pantry to the back porch! All that's left to get it on solar is to hook up the inverter and plug it in. That will probably be my next blog post. Dan put it on 2x4s to distribute the weight on the porch floor, but I'm also glad for the air circulation underneath. I gave it a good cleaning when we moved it and the bottom was mildewy. Better air circulation will help with that. I'm also going to repaint the top.

It's gotten pretty rusty over the yea…

Solar Project: Finishing Up Odds and Ends

Last week we had lovely weather and a break from the rain. We took advantage of it to put some finishing touches on our solar project.

First was to add an exhaust fan to the battery box to vent heat and hydrogen gas (a by-product of the batteries when they charge). A lot of people seem to like the Zephyr Power Vent, which can be installed as part of a vent pipe. It uses 3 watts of power and moves air at 6 CFM. It would be handy if one was venting from a basement, say, to the outside, but our battery box is already outside. Plus, it's pricey, about $110.

Instead, we got a DC cooling fan which Dan installed in the back side of the battery box. It uses 2.1 watts and pushes air at 43.6 CFM. It was $12.

The fan connects to the charge controller, which will regulate it.

Dan's roof design for the box allows air in under the roof eaves, but he also added air intake holes on both ends of the box.

To monitor temperature inside the box, we added a Remote Temperature Sensor.

This also connects …

And the Next Project Is.....

We're almost ready to hook up the solar! First, we were waiting on a temperature sensor for the charge controller and a vent fan for the battery box, then came days of almost nonstop rain. However, Dan can't sit still, so he had to find something to do. After finally finishing the back corner of the house, he was in the mood to keep working on the house, so he set his sights on the front bedroom windows.

He replaced the other bedroom windows (on the left) in 2013!

Good grief, has it really been that long??? It's not like we haven't worked on the house between then and now. After we remodeled that bedroom we installed the new siding, rebuilt the front porchreplaced the living room windows, then the dining room windows, re-sided the front gable ends, replaced the front windows in the sun room, replaced the front window to the room we're working on now, re-sided the back gable end, and reroofed the pantry.

He started by pulling off the trim inside to see what he could …

The Garden in January

Winter is a slow time in the garden, and the seasonal change of pace is nice. I've got a few things growing, and am harvesting lettuce and collard greens. On nice days, I work on jobs from our winter project list.
dig two more swale bedscover and mulch main aislesdo something with that weedy corner!
Progress on these is slow going because we've had a lot of rain. Except for a few cold snaps, it's mostly been mild, with highs in the mid-40s and 50sF. But we've had cold, biting wind, which takes the enjoyment out of an otherwise nice day.

Of my list, the first new swale bed is about dug out and ready to fill with logs, branches, sticks, wood chips, compost, and soil.

I've made a start on mulching the wheelbarrow aisles too. Here's how it looked before:

Here's my progress so far...

I use several layers of heavy-duty cardboard on the bottom and a thick wood chip mulch on top of that. I prefer to do this when the soil is wet from rain. The cardboard and wood chips wi…