Saturday, 28 October 2017

11:28 – Barbara gets home tomorrow.

It was 42.7F (6C) when I took Colin out at 0625, heavily overcast. I fed him breakfast. His usual, dog food with canned pumpkin on it. He ate the pumpkin, but wouldn’t touch the dog food. This is the third or fourth time he’s refused to eat his dog food since Barbara has been gone. He always eats it, eventually, but I think he’s showing his displeasure.

Afterwards, even though he hadn’t eaten, he whined insistently until I finally gave up at about 0830 and took him out. He promptly disappeared and was missing for 20 minutes. I called him repeatedly and activated his shock collar, but with no result. I was just about to go driving around looking for him. As I walked up the front porch stairs, I heard a jingling. It was his collar making the noise as he trotted across the yard toward me.

The raccoons showed up again last night. It was about 2000, and full dark. Colin was lying at the front door, looking out through the glass storm door, when he let out a yelp that turned into a howl and then maniacal barking. I ran over to the front door and flipped on some of the outside lights, which revealed two raccoons trying to vacuum all the sunflower seeds out of the feeder. They just stared at me. I didn’t have my pistol in hand, and the angles weren’t right for safe discharge anyway, so I bellowed at the raccoons. They took off running down toward the south tree line.

I turned around and went back in the house to get my .45 and big flashlight. Colin was obviously raring to go, so I let him out. He charged down toward the tree line and paused just short of it to sniff. Apparently the two of them had split up there, or perhaps made a jump for refuge in one of the huge pines. I shined my light up around in the trees looking for eyes, but didn’t spot any. (Not that I’d have fired at that angle even if I had seen a target.)

A clarification. When I mentioned that our stock of new, unused quart wide-mouth canning jars is now 144, sufficient to can roughly 288 pounds of meat, at least one reader thought I intended to rush out and buy 288 pounds of dark-meat chicken and sausage.

Not at all. Those jars are in reserve. At any given time, our big vertical freezer out in the garage may have anything from maybe 50 to 150+ pounds of meat and fish in it, not to mention anything from 50 to 100+ pounds of butter, and other relatively high value frozen foods.

We have very, very few power failures here, and the ones we do have tend to last only a few minutes. If we have a power failure that looks like it may last a few days or so, we can fire up the generator as needed to keep the stuff frozen. But if we have a power failure that looks to be long-term, we’d start pulling out meat and canning it.

With Barbara gone, I’ve been spending some time in the evening watching Youtube videos. There are a boatload of prepping and homesteading channels, and I’ve been sampling many of them. They’re pretty much on a bell curve, with a few that are excellent, a few more that are truly terrible, and the vast majority in the middle.

One of those in the middle is run by a guy who calls himself preppernurse1. He’s in the Rochester, NY area and lives off-grid. He posts videos very frequently, sometimes more than one a day.

He seems obsessed with his PV solar installation. He started two years ago with six 250W (or 280W?) panels and added three or four more last year. He often reports how many kW-hrs he collected the previous day, and the biggest number I remember him reporting was about 2.8 kW-hrs. That’s about what his array should produce gross with just a little over one hour of full sunlight. I don’t know what the average sunny hours per day are in his locale, but surely that figure must be at least 2.5 to 3 hours per day. Sure, there are losses in transmission, inversion, and so on, but his net figure is pathetic.

I see two big problems with his setup:

1. His original six panels are simply leaning against a crude wooden framework, I’d guess at about a 75-degree angle. Almost vertical, in other words. The panels he added later are similarly held in a crude framework, but those are oriented almost horizontally. Neither is at anything close to an optimum compromise angle.

2. His PV panel array appears to be a long way from the charge controllers and battery bank. I mean, a LONG way. And from the one quick glimpse of the cables he’s using to link the panels to the charge controllers, they’re not very thick. If my panel outputs were even 10 feet (3 meters) from my charge controller inputs, I’d want to be using #00 if not #000 copper to link them. At a guess, he may have a 50-foot separation spanned by maybe #12 cables. Voltage drop on a low-voltage DC line is pretty hideous, so just this one factor may be losing him a large percentage of the power his panels produce.

I thought about emailing him, but he has thousands of subscribers, so surely at least one of them has already done so?