Monday, 18 August 2014

An eggcellent mystery

Some weeks here, life will throw mysteries at you. I’m sure it is some sort of test, well, maybe it is anyway?

For three days this week, my emails simply disappeared. Who knows where they went in the meantime? Your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps they had a quick holiday in Cairns, Queensland, which is many thousands of miles north of here, just to soak up some warm rays and catch some surf? I trust they were careful of both the jellyfish and salt water crocodiles whilst they were off enjoying themselves? Eventually however, the problem was corrected – with a bit of technical assistance – and the emails all reluctantly worked their way back down south to the cool climate mountain range here. I hope they’re not disappointed with the winter weather here compared to up north?

That wasn’t the biggest mystery I had to deal with this week though. 

Yesterday, the fourteen chickens produced nine eggs. However, one of the eggs was the size of a quail egg:
Yesterday's eggs with a small mystery egg at the front
Mystery egg with a more normal sized egg as a comparison
When a chicken produces her first egg of the season, it is often slightly weird and I believe that this maybe is the case here – hopefully anyway. On the other hand I hope that it is not some mystery quail which has somehow snuck her way into the chicken enclosure as that would be a bit strange and also very hard to explain

As the daylight hours lengthen at the farm here following the winter solstice (June 21st here), the chickens start to produce eggs again. Sometimes, the first egg of the season has a slightly soft shell and when you pick it up you accidentally put your finger through that egg shell and the contents spill everywhere. On the other hand this is great news for the dogs as they love eating eggs and any excuse will do for them. However, I have never before seen such an undersized egg before.

The life cycle of a chicken at the farm here involves moulting (losing) some of their feathers during the heat of summer. Chickens feathers are the equivalent of a human wearing a thick woolly jumper, so on a hot summers day where the temperature is in excess of 40 degrees Celsius (104F) recorded in the shade, the chickens have to moult feathers so as to lower their body temperatures. Eventually, the autumn weather arrives, the air temperature cools down, the daylight hours shorten and the chickens decide to regrow their feathers. Unfortunately for humans, chickens can’t regrow feathers and lay eggs at the same time. Therefore, egg production declines and almost ceases during the late autumn to early winter.

It is interesting to note that commercial producers of eggs get around this natural life cycle by leaving the chickens under artificial lights, often in an enclosed barn. The chickens in those conditions possibly don’t have a clue as to what is going on and continually lay eggs. However, this process also strips the birds of calcium and they live a short life of often less than two years. In comparison some of the chickens here are four years old and they still lay very well.

The exception to the above natural life cycle of chickens moulting during summer are: silkie chickens, as they seem to operate on a completely different life cycle altogether. A silkie chicken will lay about 80 eggs per year, but because they do not appear to moult during summer, they lay eggs during the cooler months of autumn and winter. The other advantage of silkie chickens is that they generally have very pleasant personalities and are quite happy to act maternally to many of the other chickens here. Unusually, silkie chickens are not even at the bottom of the pecking order as they appear to have a no-nonsense attitude with the rest of the chickens.

On the negative side, Silkie chickens don’t produce a lot of eggs during a year. However, fresh eggs when there are no other eggs is alright by me.

In other farm news, the blackberry enclosure received a few more posts this week. I also installed the metal gate for the blackberry enclosure on the corner post. This metal gate was originally a security door which I purchased second hand from some dude in Melbourne. The security door had a bronze perforated sheet (mesh) which was used to make an excellent bushfire screen over one of the windows on the shed here. However, I was left with this heavy duty steel security door frame which I didn’t have a clue what to do with. 

With a little bit of imagination, the security door frame has this week been cut smaller so that it is a useful gate for the blackberry enclosure. During the week, I also welded a latch onto that steel gate frame. 

However, nothing is ever simple and after I attached the steel gate to the timber post for the new blackberry enclosure, I realised that the entrance wouldn’t be wide enough so as to able to easily move the wheelbarrow into the blackberry enclosure. This was because the corner angle was less than 90 degrees.

After a bit of thought, I moved the entrance to the blackberry enclosure and installed two new posts:
New timber posts with steel gate on the blackberry enclosure
The local engineer turned up to assess the blackberry enclosure building works and found that all was to their satisfaction:
Kookaburra assessing the engineering for the timber posts
It was slightly drier this week at the farm, so the excavations for the new water tank site continued. Actually it was good to take a break from the excavations over the past few weeks as the plans for this area have morphed into something very exciting! The change in plans, are the result of a few good ideas thrown around over the weekend. The ideas were not obvious even the week before. Hopefully a new water tank should appear here over the next week or two before the winter rains start to die back (there is a bit of a lead time between the act of ordering the water tank to the delivery of the tank to the shop).
Excavations continue for the new water tank site
The excavated soil has been used to build up the new garden beds just below the water tank excavation site:
Excavated soil is used to build new garden beds
Also, this week the first signs of spring can be seen here as both an almond and a clump of jonquil bulbs have produced the first spring flowers:

Almond - Johnston prolific now in bloom

Jonquil bulbs now in bloom

I went a bit crazy with the video camera here this week and produced two videos! What’s going on?

The first video continues to look at the water systems at the farm here and this video shows the house water system:

The second video is much more fun because one evening when I was out supervising the chickens free ranging through the winter orchard I decided to go wildlife spotting. The wildlife put on quite the show that night too. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do (watch for the kangaroo with the joey in her pouch):

The farm is in a thick cloud right now and it has been raining for most of the afternoon. The temperature outside here at about 8pm is 6.0 degrees Celsius (42.8 F) and so far this year there has been 542.2mm (21.3 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week’s total of 534mm (21.0 inches).


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I hadn't heard of crop bound chickens before and looked it up. Not good, but you don't look a free chicken in the beak...

The reinforcing is a constant issue here too. The cheeky rosella's (a local parrot) got into the enclosure when the chickens were out free ranging one night, but then couldn't get out again. What a hassle.

Hey, abandoned orchard. I'm seeing apple cider, scrumpy and apple cider vinegar in your future! hehe! It is good to hear that the deer don't break branches. The wallabies will happily break the top of a fruit tree right off and then discard the largely uneaten branch.

I hope that next time Big Foot makes an appearance, you have a camera handy. Those howls would well and truly get your attention.

Twice over the past week I have heard blood curdling screams coming from the forest here. I think it is a sugar glider of some sort - which is a possum which can fly / glide. There are many different species.

PS: Conscription happened here too and there are plenty of people that have dropped off the radar over here too - for all sorts of reasons. Historically it was more common though.

Hi Klark,

I hadn't heard of that before. I used actual ginger root, which is grown Down Under in the warmer climates up on the north east coast. I'll let you know how it goes when it finally matures.

Thanks for the link, I'll check it out. The photos look awesome!

Well done with the wood splitting. The wood gets to heat you several times around: felling, cutting, stacking, splitting and hauling. Good stuff.



Damo said...

I was on Maria Island over the weekend (east coast of Tasmania) and most of the jonquils were already blooming. Maybe they are warmer (being next to the ocean) then your's?

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Hope you enjoyed Maria Island? I went there years ago.

Yeah, you are spot on. The east coast of Tasmania is warmer than here.

Plus the farm is at 700m above sea level so for every 100m you climb in altitude, it's sort of like shifting the climate 1 degree latitude south.

The climate here at 37 degrees south is closer to the bottom of Tasmania which is about 44 degrees south.

Tasmania is awesome, I've really enjoyed visiting it over the years. Almost moved down there years ago.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Eggs can by a mystery! So, none of your hens are first time layers? I've read the first run of eggs can be quit small. Mamma Brahma who was done in by the coyotes almost always laid very wrinkled eggs. Thick shells but with a surface that looked like a walnut.

My crop bound Barnevelder hen was one out of seven. She was the only one to get crop bound. Which reminds me, it's time to dose her with bacon grease, again. I think it's helping. She's still laying.

Just goes to show that even within a small flock, hens can be very individual. Now, the egg question I've always wondered about pertains to double yolkers. Not that I've had any. If a fertile, double yolk egg runs to fruition, do you get twin chicks? I've never seen a definitive answer. Another (cue up Leonard Nimoy) MYSTERY OF THE UNIVERSE! Right up there with missing e-mails and where missing socks go. The socks sometimes end up in my cats food dish. I've taken to hiding them at night :-).

I see by the calendar that we're at about 14 hours of daylight. Time to think about putting the light / heat lamp in my hen house. I have it on a timer and run it on the before dawn end of the day. The coldest time of the night, here.

Last year, really my first for chickens, I didn't "get with the program." The chickens molted something awful. No eggs for over 2 months. Once I got the light going, they came out of molt pretty quickly. Yes, that can be hard on them, but I feed them yogurt mixed in with crushed eggshells and crumble. About every other day.

I have a big bowl of oatmeal with lots of fruit every other day. The chickens get the apple peel and some banana skin. I also include a side of crumble with yogurt and crushed egg shell. It is funny how a chick will grab a piece of apple and run off into the brush to eat it in splendid solitude.

On blackberries. We have a magazine here called "Countryside and Small Stock Journal." It's almost like the old Mother Earth News before it got all Yupped out. I inherited a subscription from Brother Bob the Bachelor Farmer. It's so useful, I think I'll subscribe myself when his subscription runs out.

Any-who. There was an article about using plastic to sterilize the soil. I guess, down to about 6". You clear and wet down the area you want to nuke. Put down two layers of clear (clear heats up more) plastic (6 ml or less) with an air gap between. Leave it on for 6 to 8 weeks. Kills just about everything with no chemicals or poisons.

Sure, it kills all the good microbes, too. But a good mulch and compost and they'll come back. I have this plot next to my back deck that I wanted to put in vegis, but can't seem to get rid of the blackberries no matter how much a slash. I'm going to give the plastic a try to see if I can really knock them back. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Putting on our detective hats :-)

The first time layers this year are two Araucana chickens - which lay blue eggs. So we can eliminate them (not eliminate like the Terminator, but from the egg mystery).

I was wondering whether it was from "Frizz" the frizzle Isa Brown who had something strange happen to her leg a week or so back, but now seems to have made a full recovery.

It is rare for chickens to recover from serious injury or sickness from my experience. The chickens here sometimes get a minor cold - usually in early winter. You can see them occasionally sneezing, but they recover completely. Some breeds with short legs seem to be more prone to leg scale/mites, so I'm treating those chickens with petroleum jelly once every two months or so. They know who they are! I actually wouldn’t purchase that particular breed again.

Yeah, the eggs are just like fingerprints in that they are unique to the individual chicken. How did you use the bacon grease on the Barnevelder?

Missing emails and socks! hehe! Did you check behind the sofa? hehe!

14 hours. Hmm, the sun rises here at about 7am and sets at about 5.45pm now, so we're rapidly catching up. What sort of daylight hours do you get during February?

Your chickens lead a charmed life! I buy a big box of seconds apples every month and cut some up for them every day. They love apples. This winter, I've also tried warm milk and oats on cold mornings and this seems to bring them back on the lay earlier by a couple of weeks, plus they seem hardier to the cold this year.

Yoghurt and oats would be awesome for them. A mate of mine cooks the eggs in the oven and then crushes them up to add back to their feed. I however feed the egg shells to the worms, but bring in 20kg (40 pound) bags of oyster grit - which is a waste product every six months or so. The beaches here often have cuttlefish which is the hard bit of a squid. The chickens really enjoy them.

Yeah, that would work for sure. Plus you are right about restarting the bacteria and fungi too.

Tell ya a funny story that the plumber who worked on the house here told me. When he moved into his house - on acreage, his wife used lots and lots of bleach when they moved in which effectively killed all of the biological activity in his sewerage system. The whole system packed it in.

He told me the trick to getting it started again was to add compost (dynamic lifter - industrial chook poo pellets sold to gardeners) to the system and it sprang into life. Nature is quite hardy!



Stacey Armstrong said...

Good Morning Chris.

I am wondering if you do any extra filtering or treating of your water for drinking, brewing or laundry?

You have touched on some of your fire protection measures already but I am wondering about the "nitrogen fixing trees" along the west side of your farm plan. How do they help?

I could read or chat about chickens all day long. I am glad Frizz made a full recovery. Chickens are very serious about food and social standing, I find. Do you have a rooster? We have a lot of brown crickets around at this time of year and there is often equal competition between one of our cats and our chickens over crickets. Very entertaining to watch.

The harvest is in full swing around here. I managed to grow my own jalapeños for the zucchini salsa we make. Chop, chop.


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Well, the guy that told me about the bacon grease said the chicken would love it. Just gobble it up. She must be a very contrary chicken. I either hold her down or corner her in a nest box and rub her beak in it. She just nibbles at it, but gets some down. Holding her down also gives me a chance to gently massage her crop. She seems to like that.

Daylight hours in February? Between 9 1/2 and 10.

Hmmm. I'll have to try that yogurt and oats.

I generally zap my egg shells in the microwave. Minute and a half, or so. Some go into my worm box. That things been perking along for several years, now.

Yeah, I'm on a septic tank, too. One of my worst nightmares is the tank will have to be pumped, sooner or later. Gosh knows what the previous tenants put down the thing. I'm VERY careful. Maybe it gets a little bleach from the one white load of laundry I do, a month, but that's about it. Most of the cleaning I do, I use white vinegar.

If I have to scour something, I use Bon Ami. As the can says, 5 simple ingredients. Limestone, felspar, biodegradable cleaning agents (from coconut and corn), soda ash and baking soda. Hmmm. I wonder if it has any uses in the garden?

Once a month it gets a dose of something called "Tri-Zyme Septic Tank Activator." "Made in the N.W.!" Contains: Cereal Grain Stabilizers; Activated Organic Solids." I dose it on the 15th of every month, just so I can remember the date. It smells rather nice. Kind of grain / yeasty. So I just keep my fingers crossed that I won't have to deal with it, in my lifetime :-).

Well, time to make my oatmeal. With the first blackberries of the year. The girls will get their fruit and yogurt, today. No eggs for me. I'm trying to put together a dozen to gift a friend I see in town, every other week. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Stacey,

What a great question about the water filtering, I'm really pleased that you asked it!

The only filter in the system is the stainless steel mesh on top of each water tank. The mesh stops solids - mainly leaves - from entering the water tank, but it also stops insects and other animals from getting into the tank too.

The water at the taps here is: clear; free of odor; and has no taste at all.

I did an experiment a long time ago, and filled up two water bottles and left them for a few weeks. One had town water, whilst the other had the water from the tap here. After a few weeks, the bottle with the town water had a noticeable odor and a slimy film on the inside of the bottle, whilst the tank water had no odor, no film or taste.

My partner has a science degree in applied microbiology so we were a bit worried about the water too! The conclusion from the experiment is that town water has much higher biological activity – which is not necessarily something that you want in your water.

Nowadays, I can taste many of the chemicals in town water.

If I had major industry nearby though, I'd add a charcoal filter to the system. Otherwise it is completely unnecessary.

After the Black Saturday bushfires in Feb 09 - when things settled down a bit - I went up to the affected areas to have a good look at what worked and what didn't in terms of vegetation. This issue impacts me every summer, so I’m unsure, but am learning.

Vegetation can make a big difference in a wildfire, although it is an unmentionable topic Down Under. I had also volunteered as a firefighter in the local fire brigade for a few years too, so got to see firsthand as well as hear all of the stories.

Broad leaf species such as Oaks tend to survive fire quite well and in some cases can actually reduce the impact of a fire. However, the species I use here is Blackwood (acacia melanoxylon) which is a broad leaf wattle which can grow to become an over story tree. Plus the timber is a very desirable furniture grade timber. Oaks are very slow growing here, although there are quite a few very old specimens in the area.

The reason that the Blackwood’s were planted at that location is because in thick stands, the edges burn, however, the thick stand significantly reduces the impact of the fire. I saw it first hand, as well as heard anecdotal accounts during the severe wildfires.

Well done with the chillies! Yum! All the best with your harvest.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

hehe! Yeah, those chickens can be very picky when they want to be.

I let the girls out for about an hour and a half this evening and they ransacked the driveway four times! I wasn’t quite able to supervise them properly and I'll tell ya what, I was reasonably grumpy by the fourth time. Composted woody mulch is like some sort of chicken magnet... If only I could somehow harness that energy.

It is interesting that the more chickens are handled the more relaxed they become.

Yeah, I'd bet that they'd really enjoy yoghurt too. I feed that to the dogs, but never considered giving it to the chickens before? Do you make your own yoghurt? I do here, but purchase the starter culture - which I stretch out to three times longer than they recommend. We'll have to shake Joel down for his yoghurt making secrets one of these days. hehe! I’m unsure as to how to start the initial culture.

That is a good idea with the microwave oven and the egg shells, I'd never thought about that.

haha! That is the reason why I installed the worm farm system here. Pumping a septic out is just another ongoing cost, which is why they're cheap in the first place. I try to ensure that each waste produce here becomes an input for another system on the farm. Haven’t quite got my head around plastics, glass and small metals yet though. On a serious note, you could - if ever required to - add your manures (nitrogen) to a high carbon (i.e. branches, sticks, leaves etc) mix and you'll eventually end up with quality soil depending on the soil temperature.

The additive is probably a good idea to the septic system, but the biology wouldn't change too much over time, it just depends on how much anti-bacterial agents you put into it. I probably wouldn’t worry about it unless it overflows into your vegetable garden or chicken area. Do you ever notice any smell from your system? Nature can handle it.

I scare visitors by getting them to look into the worm farm as it smells sort of earthy, but otherwise reasonably inoffensive.

I hope that your egg gifts are well received.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Overnight low here was 46F. Forecast for the next week is clear, with highs in the 70s. Yup. We are slipping into fall.

No, I don't make my own yogurt. Have thought about it a few times, but since I don't have a source of milk .... I get a pretty good deal on plane, non-fat with live critters in it.

Nope. Septic system doesn't smell. But it's true. The grass DOES grow greener over the septic tank :-).

My worm box is small 1 1/2 feet by 2 feet. A foot deep. An old plastic tote box with lid. I have it up on blocks with a slight slant to a drain hole. Holes I drilled in the lid and I leave it a little "ajar". I use the castings in a spot kind of way. Mix it in with potting soil. I collect the "worm juice" and use that here and there. Threw some of the castings in my new asparagus trench. There was a clematis that appeared to have died. I talked to it (can't hurt) and watered it a few times with diluted worm juice and it came back! It's just really useful stuff. It has never smelled like anything but rich loam.

Oh, the eggs are well received. I'm thinking of making a trip in the late spring to visit friends in Idaho (quit a trip for me) and my egg gifted friend has offered to take care of my animals. He was raised on a farm so he knows his way around animals. Offered to pay him, but he wouldn't hear of it. Lew

Morgenfrue said...

Hi Chris, interesting about the water tanks, do you have problems with contamination when there are fires? From smoke and ash. I have never heard of anyone doing rain catchment here in DK, we have fairly reliable year-round precipitation here, although this summer was warmer and drier than usual. When I moved here from California I was SHOCKED by people putting barbecue grills down on grass in parks, but the grass just scorches a little instead of burning. I wonder if people will start saving water if we keep having drier summers...

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Autumn is a great time. Over here the old hill station gardens put on a good show with all of the old deciduous trees turning all sorts of colours. Plus you can start to work outside again during the middle of the day. 70'F is a really nice temperature. Do you get cold nights?

It made it to 70'F (21'C) here today which was the warmest day since May, although the wood heater is now going strongly at about 8.30pm (baking some biscuits – I think you call them cookies - and soon a pizza, yum pizza!). I've ordered the new water tank now, so today was spent digging and moving more clay. There is a week or two lead time on the tank, so who knows when it will be available for pick up.

Incidentally, thanks for sending me some sun today!

You are lucky to have a good source of milk. It costs me AU$3.85 / litre (2.1 pints) for organic full cream milk, although I have a regular order with the local general store. I've recently started scraping the cream out of the containers to feed to the dogs and it is good stuff.

Yeah, that is too funny. A mate of mine's parents live just south of here and they have a septic system and oh boy, does the grass grow greener on the other side of the outlet or what? The kangaroos, wallabies and wombats appreciate the green grass over the leach fields for the worm farm during the height of summer here too. In the past year, I started leaving bowls of water out for them.

A guy I know further north than here and much hotter and drier, leaves a bath tub full of water for the wallabies during summer and they will actually jump into it just to cool off.

Yeah worm tea is good stuff and your worm farm sounds about perfect. Too many people forget to harvest the tea and the poor worms drown, which is why they sometimes smell bad. During wet weather here the worms slime up onto the veranda. The ones that forget to work their way back into the garden the next day are eaten by the native birds as an easy snack.

That is the sign of a good friend. Nice work.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Morgenfrue,

No, I haven't noticed any contamination. However, the smoke from the Black Saturday bushfires during February 2009 worked their way over to New Zealand. Mind you, the fires covered 450,000ha (1.1m acres).

The house that I rented at the time whilst I was building this place ended up with scorch marks on one of the external timber doors. That door was in need of a good coat of paint though, which didn't help. The thing is, I was no-where near the fires, but ash was raining down everywhere. There was even some in the orchard. A volcanic eruption is probably a good comparison.

What is interesting about your comment is that when people end up with a lot of tannins (from lots of eucalyptus leaves in the rain water collection area on a roof), they can add wood ash into the water tank to increase the ph and neutralise the taste.

The house has a flue for the wood fire and I've never noticed that any ash or contaminants settle on the roof and collect into the water tanks.

Mind you, I haven't yet seen a really big fire work its way through here, so I'll let you know what happens after that time. It’ll happen sooner or later. If nothing else the recovery phase should be interesting. I'm watching the recovery phase happen to the south of me now.

haha! Yeah, the barbeque thing would be a criminal offence here during high summer too, so I understand completely. Oh yeah, I get that.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; You wondered how much we pay for electricity, over here. I looked at my last bill. 0.05356 per kilowatt hour. That's just the cake. Plenty of frosting on top of that. There's a basic charge of .55 cents per day. A State Privilege Tax of 2.14% and a State Excise Tax of 3.8734%. Our local utility usually bills at 2 months at a time. But for some reason, the last billing cycle was 51 days. I used 1,348 kilowatts during that time. $106.28. The last bill was almost double that, probably because I was using a red heat lamp for the chicks.
And, the billing cycle was longer. There's a business rate that's a lot steeper.

I'm pretty careful with my electrical use in the winter. This year my January / February bill was $220. I heat mainly with propane (last year, $745) and a little electric heat back up.

Here, we have what's called a Public Utility District. Probably cheaper than if it was privately owned. Here's an explanation of what a PUD, is.

Of interest is that when I lived in Centralia, the city had it's own electric utility. Involving a canal and small dam. It used to provide all the electricity for the city. But, it was built long ago and now provides 30 some percent. The city council has periods of madness where they talk about selling it off. When I lived there, any time I ran across a city official, I made it clear that I thought it was a bad idea. Now that I don't live there, they can go hang :-). Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis. That makes sense, thanks for the info. As a comparison to here there are different tariffs but people pay about AU$0.28 per kWh, plus there is an additional flat supply charge. I reckon your bill would probably be about 4 to 5 times higher here. Mind you, we pay the equivalent of about US$6/gallon for fuel which doesn't help either and a lot of Oil gets used indirectly in coal fired electricity generation.

However, most electricity in this corner of the country is sourced from brown coal which has a lower net energy than for black coal which is mostly exported to Asian markets. Not that there is much black coal in this corner of the continent though.

haha! I can only report that in this state most of the generators and electrical distribution networks have been sold off by state governments since the serious recession here during the early 1990’s. My only advice: Run Lew, run! Good onya for letting the local politicians know what the feeling on the ground is.

In a strange turn of events, politicians here appear to have been pointing the finger at grid connected solar electric installations for rising electricity prices. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the real culprit is under investment in the distribution network and rising demand for electricity. Many years ago, I read an article which suggested that every air conditioner installed into a household incurred a cost of about AU$6,000 to the distribution network. My contacts in the renewable energy community tell me that new solar grid connected installations are now only paid about AU$0.08 per kWh exported from a grid connected solar installation.

I always reckon that if you give a person a KPI (key performance indicator) they'll try to game it. So now, the grid connect solar energy people are trying to utilise their solar generation during the day rather than sending it to the grid.

Additionally some of those people are in the early days of installing small off grid electric systems. The systems work by using the solar to firstly charge the lithium batteries. Then the excess solar is sold to the grid. Then at night they have a few circuits in their households which are powered by the off grid lithium batteries and a separate inverter.

Apparently it is beginning to make financial sense here. However, it relies on really high tech lithium batteries - rather than the old school lead acid batteries which I use here. No one really knows how long all of this stuff will last. I’m watching closely to see how it all goes.

Yikes! I just re-read all that and hopefully it isn't what I call TMI (too much information)! Hopefully, I didn’t send you off to sleep. Hehe! The general conclusion to be gained is that energy is cheap in the US.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Energy is cheap in THIS part of the U.S.. Most of ours comes from hydro power. Damns that were built a long time ago and have been costed out, a long time ago.

But, there are also other local sources of energy. Just recently, a natural gas fired electrical plant was built here. And, for 50 years we had a coal fired plant with it's own coal field, right next door. I worked out there as a security guard for about a year. About 8 years ago, the coal part was shut down and now the coal comes in on trains from Wyoming. That was a BIG hit to the local economy. About 800 laid off. The coal fired plant is under immense pressure from environmentalists. Even though the plant has jumped through all kinds of hoops to become more "clean." I think that's why the coal plant was shut. Cleaner coal from Wyoming. Or, maybe just cheaper. Scrubbers. Whatever. I think our coal plants days are numbered. When it closes, we'll take another huge economic hit.

Also a little disturbing is the breaching of the hydro dams. One in Washington State and one in Oregon. Old, small units. The usual rational is to protect salmon runs. When I was a kid, we visited some of the dams on the Columbia River. Those have "fish ladders" so the salmon can get around the dams. Fun to watch them jump up the "ladders" and there was usually a window in an underground bunker where you could see the big brutes swim by.

The smaller dams never had fish ladders put in. And now, it is not cost effective to do so.

No, not "too much information." Very interesting and informative. When I started looking at solar power, really early on, the first lightbulb (so to speak :-) that went on was that I could just forget solar for heating or air conditioning. Unless you had a field of panels and huge multiples of batteries. Of course, I don't have A/C in either the house or my little old truck. Heat really isn't a problem here, except very rarely. As far as I am concerned. Lew