Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A revolution in home electricity?

Storing home-generated electricity has been a cobbled-together hack for decades.  It involves stringing together a group of golf cart batteries, usually, along with maintaining the cantankerous things.  We haven't done this yet, because we can't generate electricity, but it looms ahead when we'll be able to.

But now, things might change.  Tesla Motors will sell a big home battery this fall, it seems, based on the technology they developed to hold their cars' charges.

It might work like this:
“We are trying to figure out what would be a cool stationary (battery) pack,” Forbes had quoted Musk as saying at the time. “Some will be like the Model S pack: something flat, 5 inches off the wall, wall mounted, with a beautiful cover, an integrated bi-directional inverter, and plug and play.”
If that works, and if it's affordable, unlike the Tesla, the battery is something for us to look into once we can make progress generating our own electricity.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

In the snow days

Now the snows are deep.  Accumulations come and we don't measure them, since their additions are minor in comparison to the drifts.

So we return to hauling in wood over snow.  Well, through trenches we've worn in the snow over the past few months,  Here's a sample load of wood piled into a big sled:

Note the pile on the upper left.  That was buried completely under snow.  I had to dig out the tarp, using a shovel for digging earth to break up ice which froze the tarp's edges to the ground.  The wood was secure under all that.

We also take advantage of the new, snow-made landscape to go snowshoeing.  Ceredwyn and I stomped into the woods across the lane.  Hestia came with us.  Snowshoeing is excellent exercise, working leg and hip muscles in unusual ways.  Extra muscle work is required when the dog decides to rest on my shoe.


Alternatively Hestia plunges ahead into the snow on her own, breaking trail like a submarine.


We worked our way deep into the woods, carving out a trail on the path supposedly leading to the next town.  Two days we've done this, pushing further the second time.  We'll see how far we get.

Meanwhile another storm is due to arrive, layering more snow onto the drift-made contours.

All of this is temporary, we know, due to melt into air - literally - once spring starts appearing.  But the snow feels all to real and durable for now.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Snow cat

It is February and the snow just keeps coming.

This doesn't stop two of our cats from patrolling outside. Every morning Hunter and Spider insist on being let outside to bravely stalk the drifts.
 Then they need to be let back in:

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Winter gets serious

It's January and winter isn't playing around any more. I made a little story about this called No More Mrs. Nice Winter.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Snowed on, locked down, raiding electrons and getting zotted: a week of storms

Readers and other audiences often express curiosity about my family's homesteading life.  So I thought I'd share a story of that experience in extremity.  I also want to get it down while it's still fresh in memory.

Last Tuesday a stormstorm hit Vermont.  That's nothing out of the ordinary, of course.  But this one had an unusual bite to it.  Temperatures hovered around 25-33 F for two days, meaning snow fell with sleet.  The stuff attached itself to trees, melted a little, then froze into massive, heavy weights.  A second wave followed on Wednesday, piling on top of the first.

Our trees - remember Vermont is very forested - bent, then bowed, sometimes arcing down to the ground. trees bent under snow in our driveway Some limbs and entire trees were too weak to bear the burden, and snapped clean off.  For days we heard muffled CRACKs from the woods, and glimpsed boughs topple down through other trees and ground cover, slapping down into snow drifts.

Some of those arboreal missiles hit power lines. tree on line More than a few, actually.  More than 100,000 Vermonters were out of power over this week.  Our largest electrical utility, Green Mountain Power, fielded hundreds of repair crews drawn from many states and Canada.  Frustratingly, these snow-and-ice-bound trees sometimes took down lines days after the storm.  New outages appeared as old ones were fixed: one step forward, two steps back at the worst.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

First snowstorm of the season

After receiving several visits from the snow gods, we finally saw a decent snowstorm today.  A noreaster ladled about seven inches of wet, white stuff through the afternoon.

I (Bryan) had the superbly bad timing of choosing this day to drive our daughter to New Hampshire and back for a medical appointment.  The roads were sometimes thick with snow, sometimes crunchy, and usually slippery.
Looking out at central Vermont, somewhere between Randolph and Hancock.

Back home, chunks of snow keep sliding off the roof to land on the ground with loud WHOMPFs.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014