October 30, 2012
Well we weathered the storm here on the homestead. Like most places on the east coast it rained and the wind blew. Lucky for us no trees were blown down and no flooding to speak of. Around 4a.m. in the morning is started snowing and it has continued all day. The ground temp never got quite cold enough to freeze so the snow never accumulated more than an inch.
But, there was enough snow to cover the solar panels. A couple of years ago, we got a extendable squeegee and it worked just fine for the chore. We have also been working a lot on the sap evaporator. We built a heavy duty stand to hold the raw sap, plumbed the 100 gallon tank to the evaporator flue pan and will be putting up the smoke stack and flashing as soon as the weather gets better.
May 17, 2012
We had a wonderful visit today with one of our readers, Luann Barbagallo, who stopped by to pick up two pints of syrup and to see just what PHF was all about.
Luann and her family are starting their own homestead in a nearby county. I’m not sure what pearls of wisdom we had to offer as Luann has twenty years of gardening, canning and raising milk goats under her belt. That experience will go a long way in starting a homestead. I hope to keep in touch Luann, you never know, we may need some milk goat advice when we finally get to that stage.
We showed her how the off grid system worked and then took a tour of the farm, stopping by to see the princess piggies. The girls were on their best behavior and allowed Luann to view the pig palace set up. She was interested to see what methods we use to raise our pigs since she and her husband will be purchasing their own feeder pigs in just a few days.
We showed her the smoke house where we smoked eight hams last fall, because if your going to raise pigs you have to have a smoke house. She whole heartedly agreed.
In the past few years we have come to know several homesteading families and one of the nice things about it is that we all share ideas. Everyone has abilities that can help another. We are all folks who choose to live a simpler lifestyle, who choose to leave the whirlwind world of consumerism and depend on our own ingenuity to provide for ourselves.
It was a great experience to meet someone from our blog family of readers. Luann, thank you so much for stopping by, we thoroughly enjoyed your visit. Wish you lived a little bit closer. You and your husband are always welcome.
May 16, 2012
Great day to use the Solar Cooker.
February 23, 2012
Last night Sonny and I dropped off fifty- five gallons of sap to TwoLynn’s Farm. That combined with the thirteen gallons we dropped off the other day gives us sixty-eight gallons. We poured them into the evaporator and Lynn will begin to process them today. So we will get a little over a gallon of syrup, but remember Lynn and Sandy will get half of that for their services. Boiling down the maple sap takes hours and requires constant observation, feeding the fire and monitoring the temperature. Excellent maple syrup can’t be rushed.
The temps didn’t drop enough last night to cause the sap to go back down into the tree roots which has made the sap slow to flow today. I am hoping to get at least one five gallon bucket filled or possibly one and half. Nature has its own plan and way of doing things. We all just have to stand by and patiently wait.
Sonny wants to tap more trees, but the sun is already starting to slip down behind the hills by the time he gets home from work. Hopefully he will get a chance to do that this weekend. Maybe he can tap a few Saturday morning before we head off to a pruning class we signed up for. We are going to learn how to prune fruit trees and berry bushes. Should be fun. The class will be held at a nearby farm so I will try to get a few pics and let you all know what we learned.
I know I promised that Sonny would do a blog on the solar hot water heater install but he has been spread pretty thin. We did have a small mishap when he first turned it on. There is antifreeze (non-toxic) that flows through lines attached to the solar panel. When he turned on the pump for the heater and when the very very hot fliud hit the pressure relief valve all the antifreeze blew out and ran down the roof into our rain water barrel. I am not really sure what went wrong, but sometimes good ‘ol Murphy likes to throw his law at us. As a matter of fact he often sends his brother Mayhem over to check in on us. The only problem is Mayhem leaves his gremlin children behind and we end up with a mess. Maybe they turned on a valve or something, but anyway we’ve ordered another batch of antifreeze from the company and it should arrive sometime tomorrow. I have no doubt that Sonny will have it reinstalled and working in no time. Thats if he has time and the gremlin children get lost in the woods.
December 24, 2011
SEASONS GREETINGS FROM POT HOLE FARM!
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a New Year that brings you much happiness and health. For all of you out there dreaming of living off grid or just living a more sustainable life we hope that our blog will be of help to you in the coming year. Sonny will be giving more updates on the solar hot water heater installation and you can still refer back to previous blogs on our solar panel installation and other learning experiences we have had with starting a farm. I have no doubt that there will be plenty of humor in our future as well. There always is no matter what we are doing. So enjoy life, keep things simple, love and take care of your family and be prepared for whatever the future might sling our way.
December 22, 2011
Well today with the help of John we started phase 1 of the Solar Hot Water project. A couple of months ago I ordered everything for the project from the Alt-E Store and have just been waiting for the time to get started. We finally have enough firewood to get us through the winter so now it was time to get moving on the other projects.
Lucky for us each of the two hot water panels weighed only about 100 pounds each. We were able to move the Kubota RTV up near the mud room roof and get each panel in the bed, leaned up on the rain gutter. We then climbed on the roof and lifted each up. Next we secured four mounts per panel and used roofing tar to ensure no leaking from the roof.
Soon we will get started on Phase 2. This will be fitting the 3/4 copper pipe from the panels to the holding tank and on the the existing gas hot water heater.
December 1, 2011
I was beginning to think the sun had abandoned us. After days of battleship grey skies dropping rain and forecasters who gave unkept promises of sunshine, my mood was turning as fowl the weather. Seeing the sun shine from a clear blue sky was the perfect tonic to cure my soggy attitude.
The solar panels sucked up the sunny rays as well and it was nice to be able to vacuum and run the washer without turning on the generator. Even the animals felt better. The chickens puttered around the yard stretching their wings and basking in the warm sunlight. A dust bath would have been the icing on the cake for them, but unfortunately the ground is still saturated and only good for a mud bath. I guess we can’t be too greedy and should be thankful for what we have.
Roo Roo has been festively dressed up for the holidays and stanchly stands at the driveway entrance ready to welcome all visitors who find their way to our door. We’ll soon have Christmas treats to offer while they warm up with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate by the wood stove.
All decked out for Christmas.
Clarissa and I will be making a trip to Delaware this weekend to make Christmas cookies with the women of my family. Its a family tradition that has been going on since I was little girl and believe me that has been a long time. There have been a few years lately where the weather has interfered and we were unable to go. The guys plan to hold down the fort here at the farm and will anxiously await our return in a car leadened down with tins of homemade cookies. I fully expect to see them waiting on the porch with wide grins and coffee cups in hand as we come up the driveway.
Sunshine and the expectation of holiday cookies…. the very thing to raise the spirits of gloomy grump.