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DayCreek Journal

May 23 , 2004

Minnesotan Responsible for Toad Strangler

AS Wire—SE Minnesota. Local residents use to blame themselves for causing rain by washing their car, but now they have someone else to blame; namely Alan Stankevitz. Stankevitz just completed digging the third and final trench for his solar electric project when the skies opened up. Local reports of four inches or more have been reported and Stankevitz claims to be responsible. "It's just the way it is. I have this ability to dig a hole and I'll be darned if it don't rain until it fills it up. We've sure had some toad stranglers over the past few days." Stankevitz said. Stankevitz also claims to have power to control Chicago Cubs baseball games. "Every time I listen or watch a Cubs game, they lose! It never fails."

Although local farmers were initially pleased with Alan's trench work, they are now ready to file a petition to have him close up the trenches before their crops wash down the Root River. Stankevitz says that he hopes to fill the trenches over the next few weeks as soon as his solar electric system has been approved by the local electrical inspector. We can only hope! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I never realized what power I had to control the weather. Of course I am being facetious, but sometimes it sure feels that way. After completing the third trench on Thursday, it's been raining ever since. There's been a few dry hours, but not many. We are quite fortunate that we missed the six to eight inches that fell just south of here in northern Iowa. There has been flooding and mud slides along the bluffs of the Mississippi that has closed quite a few roads. It's a real mess down there in Iowa.

All of this rain has of course has slowed down progress on the installation of the solar panels, but progress has been made. Digging the trenches were not fun. Every few feet I ran into large rocks. Thankfully, most of them were sandstone and I was able to break them apart by chiseling at them with a pry bar and pick axe. Nonetheless, they made a laborious process more laborious. I could have rented a trenching machine, but I don't think it would have been much better with so many darn rocks. It was good exercise and there's nothing like manual labor to help sweat off all of Jo's chocolate Kaluha brownies.

Here's a view of the (2) Xantrex, Suntie inverters. Hopefully, they'll be producing power sometime in the near future.

Today it rained in the morning (what else is new?) and part of the afternoon, but in between the raindrops, Tom and I were were able to pull the wires from the house to the inverters and from the inverters to the solar panels. It was definitely a two-man task and it took a lot of pulling and pushing, (and lubricating of the wires) but the wires have been pulled thanks to Tom's help. All in all, about 1,000 feet of wire was pulled and luckily, the wire lengths were measured correctly—there's nothing worse than running short of wire in the middle of a pull.

This for sure is a big load off of my mind. Now I can concentrate on doing the hook-up work at my leisure during the few dry hours between toad stranglers.

Speaking of those toad stranglers, tomorrow the weather looks to take a break before the next round of rain Monday night. If the weather forecast holds up, I hope to get most of the system wired. Depending upon the electrical inspector's schedule, I hope to have the system inspected sometime this week. Once it is inspected, I will then make a phone call to our local utility and schedule the installation of the digital bi-directional meter and sign the contract.

There's still plenty of things to go wrong (Murphy's Law), so I don't want to make any promises as to when we might be generating clean, renewable energy, but it shouldn't be too much longer.

This will be my second year to give a workshop on the building of our 16-sided, double-wall cordwood house at the MREA fair. Unless plans change, the workshop will be Friday, June 18th at 4:00 (Green Flag Tent). I will be discussing various unique aspects of our cordwood house and how it has evolved over time. Hope to see you there!

If you would like to learn more about the MREA's fair, please visit their web site at


A Ruby Throated Hummingbird stops by for a drink.