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Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Living on a generator.

The solar array has taken longer to arrive than thought. These past two weeks have had us living off a generator. If it didn't cost us $40 a day to run the entire house, we might actually use it more than twice a day. 

Durning daylight hours, it's not so bad. Rarely are we in the house when the sun rises. The boys and I watch the sun rise at the top of our ridge, as we wait for their bus. The fog slowly sinking into our holler, husband sleeping through it all. The sky lightens, and things get going. I heat water for laundry, but with the dampness down here, it takes two to three days for the clothes to dry. I have two massive clothes lines, and use Small Farm Girl's facilities to wash school clothes. It doesn't really matter what Husband and I may smell like, but the boys need to be clean. 

We flush the toilet with a bucket of water. This is a huge upgrade from the hole in the ground we used the first week. We use a solar shower, except the days I can snag Small Farm Girl's. I am trying not to over stay my welcome with her (she will make some kind of sweet comment then tell me to get over it when she reads that). We are amazingly alike. So that makes it easier. I told her we could never stay upset with each other because of it. Once we think about it, we would realize that, darnit, I would have done the same thing! I will admit, I love having her as a neighbor. Within a week, we had a huge amount of blackmail material on each other. 

Back to living on a generator. 

Ice cream never hardens. No actual running water. We use buckets from the creek for laundry and toilet flushing. We have several 5 gallon water containers that I have fresh, filtered water in for hygiene and dishes, as well as cooking. Besides the solar shower, it gets warm enough that the boys play in the creek. They at least can knock some of the dirt off then. As I said though, I make sure that they have clean showers, even though they might take place outside. 

We did take a trip to the electric co-op. With the solar taking so long, we were getting a bit frustrated. We need electricity for a few things. I have no idea what the guy was thinking when he placed this house where he has. The co-op will only do 1,000 ft free. The rest will cost us. And cost us a pretty penny. None of my pennies are pretty by the way. They also needed the deed. I had the deed for two plots of land, but not the land with the cabin. It should have arrived a month ago. It should be on the way now. Nothing the co-op could do without the deed.  Not even come out to measure. We measured where we could. 2,000 ft from top pole to house. Co-op would come through tree line if need be. That makes me a bit uneasy. Coming from Kansas with little amount of trees, I suddenly feel like the Lorax here in Kentucky.

Luckily I talked with the solar guy, and a freight company. Solar items start arriving today and throughout the week. I am stoked! Once the solar is up and running I will review it for you, telling you all that nitty gritty stuff. 

Mornings are a bit difficult without power. I get up at 530 am, with no light. The flashlight is my only companion as I get coffee brewing and breakfast ready. Large wakes, and gets the generator going, that usually wakes the other two up. With only one light going, we have our food, get dressed and preform morning rituals. Once the sun rises, the generator goes off. Around lunch time, the generator comes back to life to keep the fridge cold. Night is easy. It gets dark just before the younger boys bed time. The generator comes on, so the evening rituals may be preformed, and electronics charged. Then off it goes for the boys to sleep. We have the outside solar lamps bright indoors for Husband and I to see. Luckily they stay lit until 5am, so any midnight bathroom runs can happen without issue. 

I guess it isn't too awful. We have our routine. It just would be easier with actual full time power. It's on its way. Patients is key. Normalcy is in our future.

The next day *************************************

The solar array has arrived!

Well. . . Most of it. The main power bank is being made with our difficulties in mind. It should arrive sometime this week.

We got the call yesterday. Small Farm Girl gave them directions, (what would I do without her?).  We had to meet the freight company on the side of a highway near our roads. He was in a semi, and no one thought he would be able to make it up. Down we went.

On the phone, the driver informed us we had an 800 lbs pallet and a 500 lbs pallet as well as some other boxes. Small Farm Girl brought her truck, and Husband and I drove ours down. The driver was young, and not super experienced with working the lift gate. Husband helped him out a bit. But the driver was polite and personable. And curious. He said he had never delivered solar before and was interested in what was going on. Some might say nosy, but we chalked it up to genuine curiosity. 

The packages arrived intact. Although the panels, pictured above, hand boot prints on it! This freaked me out, and I had Husband open it before the driver left to make sure there was no damage. Luckily it was fine. I don't know who walked on it, so will not call out either company. The driver was patient, and he too wanted to make sure it was all good. 

As we loaded, a State Trooper pulled up. I was right next to his door, and he rolled his window up! Then answered his cellphone. While he did that we loaded the rest of the solar. We were ready to leave, but had to wait for the Trooper to get off his phone. I was highly tempted to just leave. We hadn't done anything illegal. Finally he asked a couple of official questions, then got plain nosy. Trust me, it was nosy. He finally told us to stay safe, and he drove off.

We had to take the slow way home. The roads aren't as steep. Even though my tailgate was shut, Small Farm Girl's couldn't be. Tie downs were used to ensure safe travel. 

Once down in the holler, we unloaded the lighter pallet, multiple boxes, by hand. The panels were unloaded by the wonderful hubby of Small Farm Girl's and his tractor.

Today we can start set up. And once the power plant arrives, we can plug it all in and have real power. I would say like a normal family, but Large keeps reminding me we aren't normal, we're limited edition.


HotFlashHomestead said...

I have to say I am loving hearing this story, because you have started almost from scratch with this cabin, and it's extremely educational to those of us who would like to do the same thing someday. It's an eye-opening look into the time it takes to build a homestead. Thank you for keeping us updated as you go!

Sandy Livesay said...

It's about time, right??

Now talk about a major production getting the proper items and equipment together and down in the holler so you can have solar power. I can't wait to see posts on your family putting the solar power system together and the end result.

Practical Parsimony said...

I didn't realize that the solar array would be so heavy.

I certainly hope the deed comes soon, not just for the electric company.

Kellie from Indiana said...

Wow, I must say I feel for you as well as envy your determination. I started reading about being self sufficient last year and started taking baby steps this last fall, and I am appreciating finding your blog. At times I feel stupid, at times I am proud and sometimes I get exasperated. Its good to learn from others and since right now I live in suburbia if I have to travel the net to find people who dont look at me like Im crazy (for just growing my own fruits and veggies mind you, I want chickens and sheep so bad) then I will. Thanks to Small Farm Girls site I found your blog. Much appreciation for your taking the time to post here. I am learning alot.

Harry Flashman said...

Brings back a lot of memories. Everything I used for my solar power system was shipped here, but the trucks couldn't get off the main road. So I took my truck down there, loaded it all off the 18 wheeler onto my pickup, and hauled it up. You are making significant progress.

FancyHorse said...

I am glad you got some of the equipment, and will soon get the rest. I really hope your deed will arrive soon!!!

kath said...

Glad to hear you are making progress! Even though it seems like baby steps, it won't be long now until you're all settled in, just in time for winter.
I love the "Limited Edition" comment. It sounds just like something my oldest son would say!

Unknown said...

I'm impressed you are able to deal with all of that and blog still. Congrats on the solar array. How exciting! We'd love to get off the power grid, or less on the grid, but that's gone on the back burner.

MamaHen said...

I'm excited and anxious to see your solar array progress. I wish we had more solar functioning here but apparently Alabama Power is MUCH more accommodating than other power companies. One day I'll have more. I remember well how it was before I was able to move in my house; we lived in the back of a store. Took our showers for 2 years on the deck with a garden hose! Didn't have a full size oven for about 5 years. I'm sure ya'll will go much faster! Good luck with everything!

Ken McClelland said...

I enjoyed reading your story. Despite the difficulties, the long term rewards to come will surely outweigh them all. Like many others who envy your position, I hope to do what you and your family are doing someday, and hopefully that someday will arrive. Might I also add that you have a flair for writing and that I hope you'll do it more often. Have a blessed day... Ken

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