September 24, 2000
in the Holes
Like most projects for this house, building the frame support for the solar panels has become quite an arduous task. A total of 28 post holes needed to be dug and were accomplished using an auger attached to a tractor. Even with the tractor, it was pretty much a two man job. It just so happened that Tom gave a call (at the right time) to see if I needed any help. I thought for sure that when I mentioned the words POST HOLE, Tom might run in the other direction, but nevertheless he arrived to help as planned. This was quite an interesting experience trying to use an awkward tractor on a hill with bad brakes. At least the holes came out round.
I debated using concrete piers vs. "poles in the holes" and finally decided to use the "poles in the holes" concept for greater lateral support. Even though the solar panels are heavy, they also become great sails in a strong wind. I felt that using concrete piers with a bracket attached to the 4" x 4" post would be a weak link, so in the ground the posts must go.
This last week (before the rains), I started plumbing in the posts. This in itself has turned out to be quite a task. Besides being plumb, the posts have to be perfectly square with each other. And, the holes needed to be cleaned out and shaved a bit to fit the posts. So far, I only have 6 out of the 14 posts on the first frame completed, but the others should go quicker. But, the weather is now becoming a factor in the progress. It's been cold and rainy the past few days now, so I am working on other things instead. Because of the weather, and slow progress, I have moved back the date of the solar panel raising party to October 14th. Any volunteers?
Besides the solar frames, other projects are getting completed too. Last spring I purchased a wood stove that will be our supplemental heating supply. I had to wait until the floor was poured to install it, so it finally got done a week ago. I thought about having the chimney installed by the stove dealership, but they wanted way too much money. I was able to cut my cost in half by installing it myself. This also included a custom flashing installed by the roofers who put on our roof. Not a bad deal if I say so myself.
And finally, another year has brought another Applefest to the nearby town of La Crescent. La Crescent boasts that they are the "Apple Capital" of Minnesota. A fact that I will not challenge. (I don't want apples thrown at me by the fine residents of La Crescent.)
For the past three years, Applefest has given us an excuse to invite our friends up for the weekend. Besides the activities in town, we had a beautiful night for sitting under the stars and roasting marshmallows by a campfire. The fire got a little smoky at times, but added to the ambiance. A great time was had by all. Maybe next year we can have a "Springfest" and everyone can help build a cordwood wall or two.