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DayCreek Journal

September 26, 2003

Falling for Autumnal Equinox

It's hard to believe that Autumn is already here—time flies when your building walls. There's not a whole lot to report over the last two weeks. I took a short break from building cordwood walls to get the house ready for our annual Applefest party. La Crescent, MN (the apple capital of Minnesota) has their Applefest every year about this time, and when they do we usually have our own gathering. We use to go into town to watch the kids apple crate race, but since there was an "incident" a few years back, they stopped doing the race. The "incident" involved a crash that occurred, injuring one of the kids. I never got the story on why they stopped racing, but I would imagine the injury had something to do with it.

With the apple crate race a thing of the past, we decided to have an 18 hole croquet golf tournament. This is the second year that we've done it and it's a lot of fun. Besides having prizes for the best scores (male and female), there was also a prize for the most creative obstacle. There were a few ramps, teeter-totters, and other unique features, but the teeter-totter designed by Ruth and Andy took the prize. Once all the "holes" were laid out, the course looked more like a miniature golf course than the real thing. It was lots of fun and I'm sure new and improved obstacles will be built for next year's event.

Back to the Autumnal Equinox. I took a bunch of photographs of the landscape surrounding the house in order to get an idea as to what areas might be suitable for a PV (photovoltaic) array that I might install next year. The state of Minnesota has a solar electric rebate program available to residents. Unfortunately it has only been available to those who are tied to Excel Energy's grid and being part of Tri-County Electric's grid, this has precluded us from participating in the program.

The good news is that this will change next year as the rebate program will be expanded to all Minnesotan grid-intertie customers provided funds still remain. All indications are that there will be ample funds available. The rebate program isn't as robust as some of the other states (like California), but it does allow for $2k per kilowatt of solar PV, up to 4 kW. If I do apply for the program, I hope to get my bid in by early January. We shall see.

Just when you think you've found the "Holy Grail" of mortar mixes, Murphy's Law kicks you in the butt. As the "cordobe" walls continue to dry, a few more cracks have formed between the window frame and the cordwood wall. This appears to be due to shrinkage and is random in nature. Some of the window walls have very little if any cracking, while other windows have some sizable cracks. My plan is to continue building the walls and once the mortar has fully cured, I'll have to go around and patch the cracks. This isn't a show stopper, but if anyone is considering the "cordobe" look, beware that cracks may occur.

Why some of the walls have cracks while others do not is a mystery. The only reason that I can find is variances in how fast the walls dry due to weather conditions.

Looking forward to the next few weeks, I plan to finish framing four window walls and then get back to doing cordwood work. These will probably be the last four walls of the season.

Finally, don't forget about our open house to be held on October 4th (part of the Wisconsin Solar Tour of Homes). If you are interested in attending, send me an email.

A not-too-happy doe stomps her hoofs and snorts, trying to get me to move. (My face hidden by the camera and strong winds made it difficult for her to figure out if I was a friend or foe.)