March 13 , 2004
In Like a Lion...
March is always an unpredictable weather month around these parts and you never know what your going to get. This year so far it has been fairly wet with almost daily Alberta Clipper systems skirting the area. One day the temperatures are in the 40's and the next day it's back to the low 30's. I'm sure the farmers are quite pleased with the increase in precipitation, but now I wonder when will it dry out a bit? Everything is quite a slushy mess including our gravel road. Or is it mud road?
Days are scheduled around the weather and whenever the weather looks half-way reasonable, there are plenty of outside chores to do. Most of my time has been spent cutting firewood for next winter. There's a few more trees that will have to come down just to be sure that no trees could ever possibly fall on the solar electric panels to be located directly behind the existing solar heating collectors.
Did you catch that? It appears more likely than ever that the 4kW solar array will be going up this spring! There still are a few t's to cross and i's to dot, but it looks like the system will get installed.
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome was attempting to find an insurance company that was willing to include our local cooperative on our home owner's policy. After attempting this with 10 different insurance agencies it became apparent that this was not going to happen. This issue was explained to our local utility's CEO and I'm happy to report that the CEO agreed that for a residential service this was overkill. Instead, a certificate of liability insurance will be sent to the utility showing proof of coverage. I must say that I am quite pleased with the cooperation that I am now getting from our local cooperative. They didn't have to bend their rule regarding this and I am very thankful that they did.
The necessary paperwork for the rebate program should be on its way to the twin cities no later than next week's end and I plan to make a trip to our local utility to go over the technical details with their engineers. The installation of this system will slow down progress on the house, but it's an opportunity that just can't be passed up. The rebate will pay close to $8,000 towards the purchase of the system.
Speaking of the system, it will be grid-intertie only. Batteries adds complexity and lowers the system efficiency, so for the time being the system will use the grid as its battery. I have also chosen the Xantrex Suntie inverter over the SMA Sunnyboy due to the flexibility with using different panels. I already have some 100 watt panels that I would like to use with this system. This will bring the total input wattage up to about 4,300 watts and the output wattage to about 3,500 watts per hour.
Yucky Weather Work
When the weather is ugly outside, I've been busy building the door frame for our front door and making bottle ends for the interior walls. Jo and I are still discussing what our front door will look like (or not) and once I convince her of my idea, I will share with you the plans for the door.
I've also been experimenting with different methods of cleaning up the interior cordwood walls. When the walls were built, mortar was splattered on the log ends and some of the log ends were water stained. So far, the best approach to cleaning of the log ends has been to use a palm sander. It only takes about an hour or so to do one wall and afterwards the wall looks great and a little brighter too.
So how's the car?
The car has not been totally consumed (yet) but it is still dead. Next question.
So how are the eagles?
There have been hundreds (if not more) bald eagles in the La Crosse area as of late. You can't go by the Mississippi River without seeing these spectacular birds. They like to stand on the ice flows and from a distance you'd swear there were a bunch of ice fisherman out on the ice. (The only thing that is missing is their little huts, a six-pack of beer and their Green Bay Packer attire.)
So last Saturday I went on a mission to photograph the ice fishermen. I decided to head on over to Pettibone Park which is just west of downtown La Crosse. I figured that maybe I might be able to spot a few of them out on the ice. I drove about 100 yards inside the park when something caught my eye to my left. To my astonishment was an bald eagle perched in a tree no more than 75 feet from me and no more than 20 feet off the ground. It was just sitting there all by its lonesome. I s-l-o-w-l-y got my camera, lowered the window and started shooting photograph after photograph. The bird didn't seemed alarmed by my presence and never flinched other than rotating his/her head around to check me out. After about 10 minutes, I decided to leave the bird in peace and went onwards.