Mat's Blog Return to sustainability menu
I invite anyone who has a desire to learn about my attempt at
sustainable living can visit here for a weekend, week or month and
help me with the chores. I am experimenting with many different
systems and learning as I go. I do not have any answers for others
as each individual's skills and needs are different. This is a
learning process and I am less and less believing in electricity
and the very short life cycle of computers and related
October 19 2018. Its been quite some time since I last wrote. And quite a journey too. I had a stem cell transplant on June 7 whick made me very sick.. infact I could not get out of bed for about two weeks. Recovery is still ongoing and the first four months were very difficult.. well really not enjoyable at all. I have recovered somewhat in the last two seeks but now I am plagued with a host/ graft rejection. Just a skin rash but it could get a lot worse so I am back on rejection medicines. There must be 10 -12 pills a day for various things. I am still alive and generally feeling optimistic.
The farm has had a difficult time since I was not around and our sunflwoer and camelina harvest were very poor. Since late august we have done a lot of cover crops and even got some white clover planted recently.
I did manage to contract a large addition to our home for a workshop on the first floor and a second floor apartment. I was also able to get a large pole barn done as well.
Carlos has joined us as a full time employee and we are hoping that will continue on eventually taking over the farm as I get too old to do anything. Carlos will bring his wife and child here sometime in the future.
We still have our horses and have just purhcased a new one, a 3 year old gelding from Ken Laing.
April 26 2018. I finished the first induction of chemo but unfortunately I did not go into remission. The second chemo worked will and I went into remissiion and headed right into consolodation. This chemo really knocked me out for a few days and as of day 26 my counts are just starting to come back and I am supposed to be headed for a stem cell transplant in toronto in later May. When I was last on the fields the camelina was coming up well in the wetter areas and gthe rye and spelt had just started to green up. It has been a cold and snowy spring.
Feb11 2018. Well life has changed drastically. I thought I would be cleaning grain and playing with my gravity table but I am actually in hospital with leukemia. And I have been here for 26 days in the same room.... My blood counts are so low I am confimed to a room, but I do get out for a walk every once and a whiile as long as I am wearing a mask because my low blood counts mean that I can catch an infection or sickness very easily. Lucily a number of people have volunteered to help with the horses. The horses have been logging and getting firewood from the woodlot. Just feeding and watering the horses, chickens and cow have been a lot of work for dorothee who still insists on visiting me every couple of days. It is an hours drive and she can only do it at night after feeding the animials.
Lucily I have not had any sickness or nausea but I have lost my hair. I'm eating well.. infact too well as I am gaining weight despite the walking I do.
The doctors tell me my blood count should come up this week and I should be going home for a while before my next chemo.
While all of this can be disheartening my spirit has been quite high and I am handling the whole thing rather well. And ti is thanks to Dorothee who has kept the farm going in my absense.
November 2 2017
It has been avery busy time at the farm getting all the cover crops in. I use mostly rye which can be used for forage for the horses but I did plant oats which I hope will winter kill and I will plant camelina directly into it.
Today we rolled the final field ready for planting rye. It has been very wet lately but on our sandy soil we can plow and plant while the fields are wet.
The push to have the oil pressing operational by Nov 13 is moving along well. Today I had all machines running but there are a number of things yet to do.
Oct 29 2010
We have done a lot in the last year. We finished building a spelt dehuller, got two gravity tables to separate out the grains, got a stone mill for grinding the spelt flour... and even have a sifter. It was very dry this last part of summer which made it difficult for the horses on pasture. I at one point planted clover in the rye stubble and it grew.. infact very well indeed! We did get a third but in the hay field too although not as much as I would like.
We put up another grain bin and have filled it with spelt for feeding the horses and making spelt flour.
Dorothee continues to make butter, and has really come into her own swith making various cheeses... Her Edam cheese is superb.
July 22 2017
Wow the time has flown by! I got married to dorothee on June 10 2017, purchased a farm in 2015 and am having the time of my life.. and yes I will be 69 this year!
We have one full time employee, lots of tractors, combines, horse drawn machinery... and ofcourse four belgian horses.
Nov 10 2012: The Bayham stupiditiescontinue with the submarine adventure. Nobody in thier right mind would aprove anthing so foolish just by looking at the financial projections. As far as I can see the municipality is co-signing a loan for the military museum in St Thomas to the tune of 6 million dollars. What a sea going submarine has to do with the great lakes and port burwell I do not know. Considering the fact that this is supposed to be a tourist attraction just how will the military museum pay back the 6 million dollar loan when the tourist season is only 2-3 months of the year and tourism is a dying investment as unemployment is increasing.. A 6 million dollar loan will haveto be paid back with at least an interest rate of 6 %... so off the top that is about $360,000 dollars in interest alone and then add in some principal and the payments are going to be about $500,000 per year for about 20 to 30 years!!!! If the sub charges say $20 per per person to get inside and of that only 6 dollars is the profit then they will haveto have 83,000 visitors or about 1000 persons a day for 90 days of the year. This is unrealistic and you can bet that Bayham will be footing the bill and that alone will increase our taxes between $400 and $600 per year per taxable property. How this has got this far is beyond me as there are so many worthwhile projects to be done. Just putting in a vegetable plant to process farmers produce would cost far less and employ many people over the entire year.
Clare has now attended high school and can no longer come in during the week days to update the website. Not sure what we will do now.
In all my work here to find sustainableways to do things I can only say that the real answer is in community where we each share our talents and trade amoungst ourselves.
June 30 2012: I happened to see an amendment to natural gardens in the june council meeting. It stated:
. To provide a setback of two meters from the edge of the traveled
portion of a roadway where natural gardens exist in urban areas where
growth can't exceed 16 cm in height
2. To provide a setback of two meters from the edge of the traveled portion of a sidewalk where natural gardens exist in urban areas where growth can't exceed 16 cm in height
3. To confirm that no noxious weeds shall be permitted in any natural gardens anywhere in Bayham
Something is very fishy here as there is only one property that this attacks and ofcourse it is mine. I wrote the the councillors and only got one reply from Tom Southwick who offered to visit me. We talked about it and while I pointed out a number of things there was really nothing could be done and it would probably pass, which it did.
Here is my letter to the council members:
Councilors of Bayham:
June 20 2012
I am concerned that this amendment to the bylaw does not allow adequate time to dispute any parts of it and that I can't even adequately prepare a delegation before council in the two days available before the council meeting.
I would be willing to make changes to the affected municipal areas without going to the courts if this amendment was open to discussion.
I ask that this amendment be postponed to allow me a chance to prepare a delegation and get a final report from my lawyer.
Please be advised that the amendments to the natural garden bylaw is going to be considered a discriminatory action against me. My yard has been well established for an number of years and now to change or amend the law will be considered discriminatory act against me. This will not only affect my yard but many others who unknowingly may have tall plants in the described area should there be a compliant registered. The setback of 2 meters from roadways or sidewalks, is absurd and will only affect municipal property so how can this be called an amendment to natural gardens bylaw? And who is responsible for cutting this area? There is no bylaw stating that the closest homeowner has to cut this area.
Making an exception of mature trees will only annihilate any future trees planted in the designated areas which for the past many years has been the traditional location of trees along roadways.
If this is a safety issue please list the safety concerns. What is the safety issue with grass or vegetation taller than 8 inches. Is vegetation 10 inches, or 15 inches a safety hazard? Where does safety come in? The sidewalks in Port Burwell if any example of a safety hazard, they are far more dangerous to pedestrian traffic than any natural vegetation. While you are at it why don't you outlaw walking on sidewalks? Just saying this is a safety issue without giving any details will not hold up in court.
Preventing cars seeing oncoming traffic on a corner lot with vegetation over three feet makes more sense. But why do you need a law for this? Last year a neighbour mentioned that my corner was hard to see around so I cut the offending vegetation down to her liking but of course some bureaucrats wanted to impose laws and regulations which made things ridiculous!
Any research in toronto or London Ontario would have let you know that this bylaw is unusual as and there are many instances of natural gardens and ground cover right up to the sidewalk in both places.
There are hundreds of examples of noxious weeds in all parts of Bayham and do not make any sense what so ever and would cost an ongoing tremendous expense for the municipality to eradicate them all in the municipal grounds and private yards. This again allows those who dislike me or anyone else to register complaints forgetting that in every lawn in Bayham those noxious weeds also exist. Quoting a out of date rather stupid provincial law only makes bayham look rather foolish. Incidentally I have already had a noxious weed inspector come here and when we discussed the problem he could not help agreeing with me that the provincial law is badly out of date and did not press any charges against me.
Any research on noxious weeds will bring back hundreds of peer reviewed articles on the stupidity of the provincial noxious weed act. Why do we need to reiterate it when it is a provincial jurisdiction anyway?
For example the Milkweed is termed a noxious weed and yet it is the only plant necessary to the monarch butterfly for survival and Bayham is host to millions of these Monarchs each year, even as a tourist attraction. Shall we eradicate the milkweed here? This would make a great newspaper article having Bayham eradicate the milkweed!!!!
Just concentrating on eliminating noxious weeds in natural gardens is again discriminatory and should apply to all yards, municipal areas and lawns.
April 29 2012:I did spend a month during February and early march in Mexico cycling about 1400 km from Merida to San Cristobal in the mountains. Yes it was very tough for me but in so many ways quite wonderful. I loved the Mexican people and their way of life. It is not like our very unsustainable ways in north America but there is a lot to learn from being part of it and observing. In port Burwell there is no thought of our lifestyle being unsustainable and infact despite the closing of all our stores ( the food store just opened for the summer) it is felt that we are just in a down cycle and that things will improve with the new submarine coming here in the fall. This wild and foolish belief is what desperate people do and politicians seem to enjoy. Why in the world will people come to port Burwell to see an old Submarine? Tourism is one of the last developments that one should think of in light of job losses and a bleak future for our economy and dwindling and expensive fossil fuels. Does the Bayham council not do any serious research? Then again maybe no one wants to be told the truth about our future and do some preparation for it.
While it is easy to criticize the Bayham council I can propose some solutions which to me seem very obvious such as promoting gardening. Many of us here are unemployed and a garden would help us with providing food and developing skills. Even a few chickens would be beneficial. And if there is a lack of employment why not encourage people to start businesses in their homes? But most of this is against the law! Despite the fact that I could probably hire ten people to start, but once I get my machinery up and running well, I will haveto leave as there is no area in Port Burwell that I can lease for the making of sunflower oil. There is really no possible place to put a small business here. Again most people here live on pensions, welfare or on unemployment. Surely with the government now creating more unemployment by cutting budgets and firing workers somebody on Council would see that Bayham is going to haveto create their own jobs in thier own homes.
Some of the great assets of the sunflower oil business is that while the sunflowers are growing they absorb carbon dioxide and when you use it as fuel you release the carbon. Now I do not propose that everyone should go to sunflower oil for their fuel, it is just a last resort and should be used with care in its uses. Just to drive around aimlessly is not a good use for this fuel but more for use on a farm to do some of the tasks that a horse cannot, would be a proper use. That way you could be totally self sufficient by growing your own sunflower oil, expel the oil in the winter time, use the sunflower meal to feed the animals, create methane, heat water and use as fertilizer. But this is so different from modern farming practices I fear that most farmers would wait until everything fails before considering such an idea.
I have been using the sunflower oil as fuel in my car. It has a separate heated tank with heated filter for the sunflower oil. I have also modified the fuel system in one of our main diesels to run on sunflower oil so that it heats the sunflower oil fuel before being injected in the engine and at the tear down just a week ago the engine shows very little coking which is very encouraging for the future of sunflower oil as a fuel.
On the matter of The tortilla maker, a number of us rallied and convinced the council that every municipality around Bayham is promoting value added farming so why not have it here and council finally saw the light and voted for it.This seemed like quite a step in the right direction but the result was very disappointing because now that the idea was approved, the health department stepped in and demanded that the building have two wash rooms despite that fact that the family that runs the tortilla business lived not 25 yards from the building and has all the washrooms it needs. So again the business is shut down and it looks like in order to proceed they haveto build a new building to accommodate the two washrooms. Sound pretty stupid to me!!! But that is life here where the best thing to happen is that one moves away.
I did volunteer for a agricultural advisory committee but all we are asked to do is ratify a proposal as written in the Norfolk bylaw allowing value added farming. There is no discussion allowed for the future of farming with the dwindling fossil fuels, loss of soil fertility and the great debt most farmers have accumulated. This to is just like our medical care system, try to fix it after it is broke.... no thought on prevention and looking down the road as to what will be needed. Very sad indeed.
Despite the many stupidities in Port burwell I have made great progress in putting up a new winmdill, adding to my oil expelling machinery, got the gardens ready to go and am using the veggie car. I am preparing for the long emergency.
Jan. 3, 2011: I might just as well copy the first paragraph of my Sept. 6, 2011 entry but adding to the foolish things such as building a new firehall and resurfacing the pier. Hailed as investments by the politicians they are actually what accountants call expenses. Ofcourse they were tendered out and the work went to businesses out side of bayham. Sad I personally know of a number of people who could have done the work locally and provided some much needed employment in Port Burwell.
Recently I was made aware of a local tortilla maker who uses his own corn to produce the tortillas. The municipality became aware of this and promptly notified the owner that he must apply for a zoning permit costing about $2000. .And after having a new zoning he will face a re-assessment of his property which will now be industrial despite the fact that it is not a full time occupation! Despite the fact that most municipalities are encouraging farmers to have value added goods to keep farming alive, Bayham has chosen not to recognize this opportunity for jobs and helping the economy. It is indeed sad that the best jobs in Bayham are working for the bayham municipality and I believe that quite a number of those jobs are held by people living outside bayham.
I have been quite industrious in developing the sunflower oil expelling. I now have it running autonomously... yes it can require no operator! Now this is sad in a way because it eliminates one job but what I am hoping to do is to have one operator for two or three machines and reworking the second machine is next on the list. Since the cost of going into business in Bayham is far greater than anywhere else I will probably head out to a nearby municipality where the ideas of jobs and a local economy are welcome.
I do understand the resistance to having anyone working here as there are a lot of summer homes and pensioned and welfare peoples here. My only worry is that if companies are not making any earnings and the interest rates are low, just how will the government support the pensions? Should we not be looking ahead and encouraging small business?? Well thats Bayham for you..
I've often considered trying to persuade others that we indeed will suffer some economic setbacks in 2012, yes even fossil fuels will be very volatile, jobs scarce and disposable income diminished and it would be a good idea to prepare for these. Seems rather self evident to me but I am more leaning towards doing what I can in my own preparation, getting to know my neighbours and really just enjoying what I have.
September 6, 2011: As you can see I have not been updated my blog for quite some time. I was discouraged by our Bayahm councillors who seem to be oblivious to events happening outside of Bayham. There is no understanding that just maybe fossil fuels are going to be in short supply at some point, or that everyone including all countries are in such a debt dilema that just maybe there will be little job offerings for many years to come if ever. The world has reached its limit of growth. Our councilors are spending more time bringing in such stupid ideas as a submarine to boost tourism. If only they would look around and see the potentials here for just a local economy, but no they defend the law that prohibits working from your garage so people move businesses from here to set up elsewhere, just as i have done. And if you want tousim look no further than Ron allensens fantastic Monarch Landing... a glorious tribute to the wealth of natural diversity here. Pity they missed the butterfly festival held there last weeken.I doubt that any councilor even knows or cares about it! Supporting even the simple idea of people having gardens would go a long way to help feed us and reduce our dependence on the grocery store. Bascially this government system does not work.
There also seems no way the ordinary person can do much about the unsustainable life that corporations have fed us. Everything is contrived to push consumerism on us and the problem recently is that our personal debt load is such that it is killing consumerism. It's a pozi scheme plain and simple.
So what are we to do? I have done a lot of thinking about it and do not have many answers but we need to do things that reduce our dependence on this thing called a job. Yes grow a garden to reduce your grocery bill, insulate the house to reduce the heating costs, trade with your neighbours and learn to repair things. Do not purchase things that cannot be easily maintained. Happiness comes with community and yes even I have great diffculty being involved... it is so easy for me to slink off and build another generator instead of being with people! But there is hope and I am working on it.
So what have I done to help me through this period.. why I took up kayaking and visited our great Georgian bay doing week long trips. The beauty is breathtaking.
The summer has been good to me with bountiful harvests, eggs from the chickens and now we are preserving the harvest in the cold cellar either in jars or the fresh veggies in dry sawdust.
January 19, 2011: My thoughts on alternative energy sources.
Everything is connected and interdependent so a windmill without solar cells, without a garden, without a compost pile, without a methane digester and having a job outside the home is not going to do very much towards a sustainable lifestyle. We are in a transitional period still wanting to maintain our unsustainable ways by using windmills, solar cells etc. I think it is important to look where we are headed: where we will end up and without any question in my mind it certainly does not allow the use of electricity and fossil fuels except for the very rich. Renewables will not have enough energy output to replicate solar cells and windmills let alone maintain our current industrial base.
Furthermore those who do have solar cells, methane digesters,
composters, gardens and windmills will soon discover that it is a 24
hour a day maintenance chore so you really cannot have a job outside
the home. Even the idea of charging batteries so you can come home
and do the washing is absurb... you need to use the electricity as is
is being made. Also the wind and solar are complimentary.. where
there is wind there is no solar and vise versa so you need both. and
they need maintenance.... batteries need filling and carefully
watching for the correct voltage... windmills need to be supervised
so that they can be shut down in a strong wind. But the most
important point is that these things do not replicate themselves.
Horses are a better form of energy..... consume grass and
themselves with no electrical energy or fossil fuels.
Being grid tied seems to solve that problem but it is a tremendous cost and the cost can only go up exponentially to the customers as electrical infrastructure tries to cope with the various sources. This does not encourage living within ones means... if there is no sun and wind there is no electricity. One needs to be flexible and especially resilient.
What I have done is moved myself into the transitional stage about 5 years ago and within say 10- 15 years will enter the non-electrical, non fossil fuel stage so those who are just entering this transitional stage will only be disillusioned as all alternative energy at this point is solidly based on fossil fuels to get them built and it does not support our current lifestyle. It would be much better to skip the transitional stage and go directly to a non electrical, non fossil fuel base as this is within a proper time frame for getting it done within say 5- 10 years. Yes no hybrid cars, no electricity and everything done on a local community level by hand and by horses.
I know this is a wild concept and not readily accepted for most but it is certainly the most doable for all of us and being prepared is certainly better than being caught in the struggle to maintain an unsustainable lifestyle.
December 14 2010. I have approached Bayham council about the unliciensed vehicles and have been asking just how Gordon Roeseh was able to charge me knowing the supporting documents. Unfortunately this is typical of a small municipality where the councilors do not take any stand towards the staff. I was very surpirsed the Ed Ketchabaw took the stance that the law 5.1 actually reads that I am indeed in violation, the first person to give it that meaning. Tom Southwick is the only one willing to voice concern over just what the law says unlike the other councilors who just do not reply. I actually thought that the councilors were supposed to represent us and really consider our concerns but that is not the case.
The living room and office now have double walls and double windows. I was happy to spend time in the workshop constructing the windows. I recently obtained a new industrial planer and was able to feed rough planks into it giving me a finished plank in two passes.The windows are very simply done with plexiglass to minimize heat loss.
As the price of fule rises most people complain a lot but very litte is done about it. This coming thursday I am giving a presentation to council on "The concept of powerdown" and like ever presentation I expect there will be no response from council who is more interested in keeping Bayham in "Business as usual" despite the cronic unemployment and noticeable climate changes happening in the world.
October 30 2009. My mother died today.
And as you notice I really have not written much this summer. I've become rather discouraged because I have to face the fact that very few people are actually doing anything about preparing for our limits to growth. Yes there are looming difficulties with the scarcity of fossil fuels, potash and minerals and now even water..... but very few take it seriously - especially politicians! Despite the loss of jobs and more unemployment expected people feel its just a matter of time before things get back to normal. Wake up,,, do some research.... read some scientific reports and it will not be hard to understand that yes indeed we are systematically destroying the very earth that we depend upon for survival! It may seem like you are giving up a sinking ship for shark invested waters but you gotta make some plans.
On October 18, 2010 Gord Roesch Municipal bylaw officer for Bayham handed Mat Redsell two notices of offense with fines totaling $330.
In the “ Did commit the following offence” section it states “Permit storage of unlicensed motor vehicle on property”
This notice of offense states the Corporation of the Municipality of Bayham bylaw 2002-9 section 5.1
The law in question states below:
5.1 No Person shall use any property within the Municipality of Bayham for the Storing/ and or parking of a motor vehicle which is not currently licensed pursuant to the provisions of the highway Act for the Province of Ontario or amendments thereto, for the purpose of repairing, wrecking or dismantling it or salvaging parts thereof for the sale or other disposal, unless the use of such land is in conformity with the requirements of the Municipal Zoning bylaws.
This law clearly states “ for the purpose of repairing, Wrecking or dismantling...etc”
My vehicles are in running order and are not being repaired, or wrecked or in the process of dismantling or salvaging as I stated in the following letters to the bylaw officer.
Surely the intent of this law is for vehicles that are being wrecked or being salvaged .
It should also be noted that last year there are about 70 unlicensed vehicles in Port Burwell alone and unlike mine, which are in running condition but I am the only one that gets complains. Clearly this is an abuse of the complaint system and a disgruntled neighbour is using the system to harass me. That Gordon Roesch cannot see this is an insight into law enforcement in Bayham
In the letter from Paul Groeneveld last year he also sited bylaw 5.1 concerning unlicensed vehicles but later changed his conclusion and wrote me a letter in November 23 2009 stating that Mat Redsell's property was in compliance. What has changed?
Many of these people who have unlicensed vehicles are unemployed and left the cars unlicensed until employment started again.
So what is the actual reason for this bylaw? Is it a matter of safety, Health or a fire hazard? Probably none of these so why is the interpretation of this law to mean any vehicle not licensed? Just up the street from me there is a very busy tractor repair going on and most every yard close to mine has an unlicensed vehicle.
My Motorhomes have a garage but I put them outside to recharge the batteries since they have solar cells.
I also did not receive a notice of violation prior to the offense notice as required.
June 16, 2010. I can't help thinking about the Gulf oil spill and just how much of a price we are paying for fossil fuels. The gulf is already under seige from the efflunet from the mississippi creating a massive dead area but how much damage can a windmill or solar cell cause??
May 31, 2010. Been a very busy month here with the gardens ... how anyone will be able to survive alone being self sufficient is going to be very difficult. We Have a trade fair on Jun 19th 2010.
May 10 2010. I had a rude awakening as to the quality of chickens being used for our egg production.
This summer I am going to organize a number of bicycle tours to various organic farms and intentional communities. Those wishing to join me can email me.
May 07 2010. I attended the Bayham Council meeting last night and again was very dissappointed that not one of the councilors seemed to understand that we need a local ecomony in Port Burwell. As it is there is no place for any small industry to be in Port Burwell nor is anyone allowed to have any home business except within the home itself. The zoning has cut off any ability for Port Burwell to gain any local economy and its economic demise is imminent. One of next casulaties will be the hardware. I do not think that any of the councilors have done any homework on our energy future. The future does look bleak unless one prepares for a more vibrant local economy as has been started in many parts of the world. This morning I read the online book for Transition in action, an energy decent action plan for Totnes ( http://totnesedap.org.uk/) This is an excellent read.... make sure you read it.
I am putting together a few cycling tours of various organic farms/ intentional communities, those interested should email me. This tours will be a leisurely ride with a possible backup of a vehicle. Average rides will be about 65 km a day with a rest day following each ride to investigate the farm or community. I am currently asembling the various palces to visit.
April 18, 2010.
I was disappointed that the Bayham council could not see any merit to having backyard chickens at the council meeting of April 15, 2010.
March 22, 2010. I learned more at the Living Center than I was able to teach others about my own efforts in Port Burwell. The idea of a forest garden has inspired me to make this a goal of mine over the summer. I already have many trees, shrubs and vines but little did I realize how these could work together to form a forest garden. Our complete dependence on annuals is far too energy defendant, yes we need to be more interested in perennials. It just makes a lot of good sense. I'd advise anyone to go to any course offered by the Living Center... see for yourself this marvelous property.
The more I investigate our current lifestyle the more I fear a complete collapse in the not too distant future. The tremendous handouts by our governments have just prolonged the inevitable collapse and done nothing to change our future for the better. Infact we may be worse off with a lot more debt than we had before. There is still no real manufacturing becuase people are now very cautious about any purchases. The continuing rise in gas prices has most people hesitant to purchase cars and the thought of driving to work is weighing heavily on the working population. Change will haveto come about but I do not see any real political will to bring about any changes and this could very well be the result of our own thinking that we really do not wnat to change anything and the politicians know that.
At present we are still busy with the new oil expeller and putting on a new steel roof on the house. I decided on steel so I can collect the rainwater and possibly use it for drinking water.
I recently traded a modern generator for a Three cylinder water cooled Lister diesel.... not quite sure what I am going to use it for but I am very pleased with it. Quite a find! I know some must wonder just what purpose this old diesel serves in my alternative lifestyle....and I am not really sure myself but it will run on sunflower oil and biodiesel.... and I do have an 10K generator that I can hook it to... but what do I have that uses a 100 amp service??? OK OK its a new toy!
So there it is the new 3 cylinder diesel.
The greenhouse has really come on strongly and I expect tomatoes soon. The lettuce production has been very good, suppling me with a daily batch of greens for my lunch.
I have attached two 110 volt fans to the new solar air heater. AS I figure it I do have lots of electical energy when the sun is shining so why not just use my 120 volt system. I have yet to hook up controls to the units and for the moment am just plugging them in when they are needed.
March 10, 2010. Things are really moving along here getting ready for spring! The new solar air heater seems to be a success providing about 78 degree Celsius hot air.. perhaps I need more air flowing through - so thats what I am now designing. The food grade oil expeller is going together well. This seems like a good design except for the vibration from the 12 hp listeroid. These engines are not made from the best metal so I worry about their reliability. I do wish I had been able to find another real lister... maybe down the road somewhere.
The chicken committee met last night and all seemed in agreement that chickens should be allowed in residential zoned area. This will be hard for council to accept but if any of the council members had read any of the handouts that Paul Groeneveld had given out with his animal bylaw they would have realized that perhaps even Paul had not even read the material which was very much in favour of backyard chickens!
The birds are coming back to Port Burwell. This morning there was a flock of Ruddy ducks in the harbour and I saw about 100 Tundra swans fly over this morning.
The past week has been filled with sunshine and this meant that I was able to heat the house with just sunshine... What a feeling to be heating my home with just sunshine in weather that is some mornings at minus 10 degrees Celsius!! My usage of fossil fuels has been diminishing constantly and it feels very rewarding to be self sufficient.
This coming weekend I will be doing a presentation in London of some of the things I have done at my home... a little radical for most I am sure but I need to remind people that this is my idea and yours will vary from it as to your abilities and needs.
Feb. 26, 2010. Last week was interesting -I had a visitor who stayed for a week. She was quite overwhelmed at all the things going on at first but managed to pull together and end up by really helping with all the chores. Yes most people get overwhelmed at the thought of attempting a more self sufficient lifestyle. I always say start small... plant some plants, put up some doors, get to know others who are on the same path and always do something with your time.
I am most frustrated with our local municipal government. There is no leadership to change anything despite the great need for a local economy. Supporting small home businesses would be a good start and yes it will upset some of the more conservative ranks but if we do not, we will have no economy and our poverty will be profound.
The property committee reached an a agreement to recommend to council to accept natural gardens. Not really a great leap forward but perhaps a start. Next we get onto to chicken issue. The best argument so far is that once you have chickens horses and cows will surely follow. How that figures I do not know but if that is the only reason for not having chickens then Bayham is more backward than I previously thought. After polling the committee and reviewing the very positive material Paul Groenvelde supplied to council I can only see a recommendation that allows chickens. It is very obvious that the material supplied to council by Paul Groeneveld was never read by council and their minds as well as Pauls were made up beforehand to ban chickens. I wonder if council will still ban chickens after a recommendation to have chickens by our committee?
Feb 13, 2010. I can't believe just how busy things are here. We finished the rewiring of the second floor, put a door on the cold cellar room, started and nearly finished a new solar air heater and started to think about the summer gardens. The greenhouse has been quite interesting too. There is no supplementary heat put in there and we are discovering just what will survive in a climate that goes from 3.5 to 35 degrees Celsius Quite a range of temperatures to deal with. The basil can't take it but surprisingly the green zebra tomatoes are doing just fine and are just starting to blossom. Last week was particularly sunny. We had about four days of sunshine which meant the greenhouse got to over 30 degrees Celsius and the house was heated just with sunshine during the daylight hours. I did use the biodiesel heater for a couple of hours in the morning and again in the evening. This week is a different story: we are facing no sunshine so the temperatures in the greenhouse record a high of maybe 8 degrees with lows about 4 degrees. While it may seem a rather simple deduction I now know that it is going to be very difficult to be able to heat the house without burning something. And if the world is short of fuel just what will we heat our houses with? In days past the small population could heat their homes with wood but if we do that today we will soon have the place denuded of any trees if our unhealthy bodies can manage the physical task of cutting the trees.
I have been attending our local municipal council meetings. I have come to a conclusion that our councilors are not forward thinking people nor are they leaders. They have an agenda made up for them, none of which they initiate, and then proceed to vote on its acceptance after hearing a staff report. Seems simple enough but what I miss is their ability to connect the dots. In the report on building activity they failed to understand that a lack of commercial building meant that there is going to be lack of commercial activity in the future which is going to mean a lack of jobs and a lack of municipal revenue. Another example is the sewage and water treatment operations. They listened intently to the marvelous report complete with charts of the required regulatory numbers showing how well the system works. All looked rather well but no one asked just what was the energy requirement for the sewage plant and whether the municipality will be able to afford to run it when the cost in dollars is four to ten times higher a few years down the road. Obviously our sewage plant was deigned for cheap energy with no contingency plans for anything different!
Recently the feasibility report on a lake ferry here was canceled since the study suggested it was basically economic suicide with little hope of any success. It only cost us $80,000 to find that out, yet none of our councilors who voted unanimously for the study, did the math which any grade four student could have easily demonstrated was a dud. In our village we have a number of small home businesses that are hiding from the authorities since home businesses in anything other than ones house is frowned upon. There is not even any place to put a small industrial process in Port Burwell. I have finished two pilot projects for pressing sunflower oil and a biodiesel process that uses just sunshine for energy. I have also got a go ahead to develop a pilot project for doing food grade oils as well. I have asked our councilors and Mayor on numerous occasions to visit me and discuss the possibility for development in Port Burwell but there has not been any response,. I guess they would rather chase fairies.
Jan. 25, 2010. Its good to hear that the Bayham council has voted to discontinue the Fairy proposal. It was a speculative venture at best as the study mentioned. Most of us knew this already but politics seems to be miles away from reality.
WE have just about finished the double ceiling in the upstairs hall. This I'm sure is contributing to the low energy cost of heating the home. The temperature outside is just about freezing but I still turn off the biodiesel heater for the night and restart it for a few hours in the morning. I attribute part of the heating to the presence of the two water heaters one being at about 35 degrees Celsius and the other from 35 to about 80 degrees Celsius. It would be good to record their temperatures.
The biodiesel heater has also been changed and I am very pleased with each change. I have not logged my changes unfortunately. I have solved many of the problems and each change is an improvement. The only problem I have left is an accumulation of soot which I feel is from starting and stopping the burner. I'll do more thinking on that... maybe I should use kerosene to start it....
The greenhouse has done well with the sunshine and the plants have shot up but they do lack sunshine overall..... and some warmth. When the weather was down abound 10-15 below Celsius the greenhouse got down to about 3 degrees which really slowed things up. With the weather outside just a zero the greenhouse has been holding about 8- 10 degrees but we have had some sunny days which have helped to heat the water. I need to put more of the sunny days heat into the water barrels.
Jan. 9, 2009. WOW! finally brilliant sunshine!!!! What a difference that makes! The house is able to heat itself with just sunshine even at the very cold temperatures and I am collecting hot water for things like a hot shower, a clothes washing and for this evening heating the air in the house.. The greenhouse is about 22 degrees Celsius up from 2.9 degrees this morning (the lowest it has ever been). I hope the greenhouse hits 30 degrees later in the day. The sun really makes things come alive. Yes it was minus 15 degrees Celsius this morning but the sunshine makes all of the difference..... there was no wind which is usual for very cold temperatures.
Not everything was perfect... The pipes to the biodiesel evacuated tube system where frozen.. ?I had tried to adjust the amount of antifreeze a few days ago in the system but obviously it was not enough. Within a short time I had it flowing again.
I have also switched over to our alternate water supply for doing the clothes washing and will try this morning to complete the new tap installation for the city water to the main kitchen sink. I tried getting a lather with the basement well and it seems to be fine so it appears not to be hard water.
Jan 3, 2009. I must admit it got a little discouraging for the last week.... lacking sunshine!!! I have had to run the biodiesel heater 24 hours a day now that the weather is about minus 10 celcius which does also provide me with enough hot water to heat the greenhouse root bed to about 18 degress celcius. With the addition of the solar cells I now have enough electricity for everything if I am careful but it is the lack of hot water that has made things difficult. I have had to take sponge baths at night so I can save the hot water heat the greenhouse root bed becauase the temperature in the greenhouse hovers around 3-4 degrees celcius. Surprisingly the tomatoes are still standing but the Basil is badly affected by the cold.
Now that the cold weather is here I do get some sunshine though whispy clouds which activates the evacuated solar hot water system but not enough yet for a hot shower!!!
I am increasingly concerned that i do not have enough biodiesel to make it through the winter. My very rough calculations are that I have used about 3-4 liters a day of biodiesel nad at the moment with the very cold weather am using about 6-8 liters. I have about 250 liters of biodiesel left.. it will be tight if I do not get any sunshine.
Dec. 29, 2009. Again I have to complain about the lack of sunshine for the greenhouse. I did put in a new heating system for the earth/roots. This puts the roots at around 20 -25 degrees Celsius when there is heat in the hot water tank. But this morning it had to be one of the coldest days so far in the greenhouse at under 4 degrees Celsius, and the root system was only about 8 degrees Celsius and the water in the barrels is below 10 degrees Celsius. Fortunately there was a a little sunshine this morning. I haven't had a shower either for about 5 days. Luckily the tomatoes do not seem to be effected yet.
In all of our desire to commit to stopping climate change I know of no one who has really tried to live a sustainable life. Most people will do things that do not cost them anything nor disrupt their current lifestyles.
Am I living sustainably? My food is about 90 percent from my summer garden, along with some preserves of local fruits, pickles etc. I do drive a car about once a week and at this time of year it is on diesel because of the cold. I heat the house with sunshine and a backup of biodiesel in a heater I developed. I made the biodiesel last summer from a batch of used restaurant oils kindly donated to me. I purchase used items.
I have very little garbage and to me this is a sign that one is headed in the correct direction.
Just how the world will ever reduce our emissions is beyond me. I just do not think many will do anything but I do note that there are many demonstrators that want us to reduce our emissions. I wonder how many of them have done all they can to reduce their green house gasses? I think most people just think that the government just passes a law and we have renewable energy to continue our unsustainable lifestyle.
I know that our lifestyle is a grand Ponzi scheme much like the Madoff scam. At some point this system has to break down. We are at many limits of growth in energy, metals, agriculture and population.
It amazes me that we have become so dependent on electricity. Without it most people are useless and we keep demanding more all the time. Even batteries seem to be leading us down a false path as there is a lot more energy going into battery than we ever get out of them and they are all non recyclable.
Dec. 21, 2009. This time of year is most difficult because the sun refuses to shine. I get a few hours of sunshine maybe once a week. That means the greenhouse is cold,about 5-7 degrees Celsius which does not seem to harm anything but it really stunts the growth. In brilliant sunshine in an hour the temperature in the greenhouse can get to 25-30 degrees Celsius. The sun is at about 42 degrees to the horizon and just a small amount of haze blocks the warmth. Luckily I added 8 more solar cells to the roof of the barn and now I seem to be able to produce enough electricity to provide for the computers and light in the evening. This must be quite a shock to those contemplating going off grid to see how little energy is produced at this time of the year. Again I stress that going offgrid really means you must be around the property 24 hours a day so that you can monitor everything carefully. I open the solar air heater when there is an couple of hours of sunshine, I let the water circulate in the solar water heater when 30 degrees is reached in the solar water heater, I adjust the air to the biodiesel heater , clean the biodiesel heater when the efficiency goes down and there are many more things as well. So having to go to work just does not work for the offgrid home.
With most people not being able to go offgrid there is still the grid tie system but even there I doubt that the system is worthwhile for most. The new FIT program for purchasing electricity from those who are grid tied with solar cells also seems financially risky with the recent lack of sunshine in the southern Ontario winter weather. I realize that Ontario Hydro will pay about 80 cents a kilowatt hour but this will also increase the electrical bill when you can't provide your own electricity. In the end result we will haveto learn to live with a lot less electrical energy.
I noticed quite a lot of apples and pears at the market. I did do some preserving but in the end I decided to dry the apples and pears over the biodiesel heater on a screen. This has been quite a success! Except for the fact that I eat most of it, I did get a jar of the stuff put away.
Our Municipal council is still unaware of any limits to growth, climate change or that we need to reduce our expenses. I gave a talk on the foolishness of doing a ferry study at the last council meeting. Mark Taylor showed his displeasure with a number of remarks before I spoke and then left the room. Lynn too interrupted me and asked me to summarize it. No one is listening at council its just business as usual if you do not do any research!
On December 12 2009 I attended a rally to urge our government to make progress at Copenhagen. this was well done and as usual no-one from the governemnt showed up.
Dec. 10, 2009. Yesterday got me very anxious. I had known that the wind was going to get quite strong but the actual force quite frightened me. I had two solar cell racks cause problems because I had not adequately prepared them. Luckily there is no damage but I did have to crawl up on the barn roof late at night to re secure the racks which was very dangerous in the high winds. Due to my negligence at putting up my canopies on one of the motorhomes last summer I did loose a canopy.
The windswept east beach Dec. 10, 2009
The wind picking up the sand. Note the barely visible windmills in the left background on the horizon.
This is a lesson for those who want to go off grid.... you must be around the home 24 hours a day to monitor the various energy/ hot water contraptions you have. Was I terrified... yes!!! Today the winds are still far to high to restart the windmill and the overcast does not allow much solar electricity to be produced so I had to use the generator this morning for a hour. For the last few days my hot water has been luke warm as only my biodiesel boiler on the biodiesel stove is producing hot water at roughly 32 degrees Celsius but that is a lot better than cold water!
I have had two inquiries from African countries to foster ideas using solar energy but my perception is that we put electrical production for the middle class above food and health concerns for the vast majority of people. I certainly question the time and money needed to maintain our electrical system. And yes I too have electricity and need it for my computers, fans, workshop, lights but how necessary is it?
Dec. 7, 2009. I have had a quite a run of cloudy weather with only one partial day of sun in a week. Keeping myself in hot water has been difficult except for the biodiesel heater.The weather so far has been about zero Celsius but in the next few day is expected to be minus 10.
I have put in a kerosene heater in the greenhouse as a precaution. So far the coldest it has been in there is 8.7 degrees Celsius.
Dec 4, 2009. A number of updates in oil expelling and Greenhouse,
Nov 26, 2009 Many things happening. Paul Groeneveld had proposed a new bylaw that would ban chickens in urban areas of Bayham. It was deferred and the suggestion to have a public debate seems to have been taken up.
I have tried a new heating system from the excess hot water from the evacuated hot water system.
Clare has updated a few pages, Greenhouse ,Hot water ,and windmill . Clare is now our photographer and brings a special perspective to our web site as she is only 11 years old but already quite fluent on the cameras and computer.
Nov. 10, 2009.The main issue now facing us in Bayham is the new proposed Animal control Bylaw proposed by Paul Groeneveld. It is a very long and detailed document that tries to squashes the issue of backyard chickens. This bylaw is as a direct result of Pauls investigation into my backyard chickens only increasing the bureaucracy involvement and does not solve our food shortage in Bayham
Besides having to confront the Bayham council on issues of chickens and property maintenance I have been volunteering my time in projects that I feel are worthwhile. This last week I did a few days helping to put on a roof at Will Arlows place. It is really wonderful to spend time with others working on very worthwhile projects. And there is a great joy at the end of the day to have a hot meal. This kind of community work is what many of us should be doing, it builds friends and strengthens our community.
Wills house and the new metal roof going on.
Nov. 4, 2009 About half of my time is now spent doing research on the property standards and trying to basically fight Paul Groenevled who to this day has not specified any complaint nor has given me a suggestion as to how to please him. This is an incredible waste of time and I am starting to think that there must be a lot of others out there who also have problems with Paul Groeneveld. Perhaps it is time to gather those folks together. On Thursday Nov. 5 will make a presentation to council which again will be a waste of time for me but perhaps valuable in that the newspapers do pick it up and seem to be on my side of the fence.
Otherwise I am slowly putting in eight more solar cells. I should have done this sooner because lately there is a real lack of sunshine here... and the wind has been poor too. I have had to run the generator for an hour or so each morning to get the office up and running but I still do not believe in solar cells or anything computer controlled... but ofcourse I still have them! One of the main reasons for this wanting to get rid of the computer that we as humans haveto understand nature and use weather as it happens and build life on that understanding.
The biodiesel heater has been working for a few hours each day and the recent changes I have made to it have been quite good... but there is yet another modification I want to make.
I must admit that I am loosing much hope of the world changing directions in the near future. It is only when we are finally confronted with an unlivable climate that man will want to change and then it is too late. If there is something I do really believe in , it is community and preparing for change. I find that getting together for a night of singing at the piano once a week or doing cider with neighbours is a real joy for me.
Solving how people will live more sustainable is really impossible. I hear a lot about people talking about climate change, and living sustainably but very few seem to grasp that you haveto do it, not talk about it. You cannot just change all of our ways to rely on renewable energy... it just cannot happen. You have to make immediate large scale changes to make even the slightest change to emissions and that could entail quitting your job, insulating the house, putting in a garden and getting rid of the car. And you ask how can I do that "I need a jop to get money to buy food and I need a car for travel to the job and I do not have any extra money to insulate" So you can see the problem and I do not have any solutions. All I do know is that everything we do seems to lead to an unsustainable life style.
October 28, 2009. Paul Groeneveld our local Bayham municipal bylaw enforcer, gave my yard another inspection today. Again he was interested in applying the letter of the law and his main interest was various piles of sawdust, wood chips and perhaps my compost pile which I attend to almost every day. This interest probably arose from his realization that my grass height was no longer an issue due to the Toronto rulings but he would not discuss this. It is particularly difficult to deal with such a person. He is the ultimate bureaucrat with no interest in helping anyone or even finding solutions to problems. He infact creates problems by being so inflexible and rather than trying to work with the actual complaint against me sees it his duty to find everything that could possibly be illegal and then write up a notice of violation for them while completely disregarding the initial complaint or trying to find a solution. So instead of trying to resolve an issue it looks like we are headed to a court case.
I have been working away at what I think will be an excellent primer on sustainable living called "Offgrid in Bayham". while the bulk of the material deals with many of the issues one should consider researching and learning in this venture there is a lot of material provided by our local Bayham council that show how difficult it is to work with uninformed council members and laws that just discourage any attempt at sustainable living.
Oct 3, 2009. I walked out on my presentation on Oct 1, 2009 to council as I was being harassed by Mark Taylor our councilor. I just was not allowed to speak. Lately I have been upgrading the biodiesel heater with good results so far.
Sept 25, 2009. The presentation I gave to council last week got a lot of press but no one really understood the point that I made that the municipality does not have the legal right to ask for a zoning application for my windmill. It was very discouraging for me as council discussed the power they thought they had, unfortunately for them their consultant verified my point of view that the municipality does not have the right to request a zone change from me.
I am still being hassled on issues of my natural gardens which I am fighting.
September 10, 2009. The summer has really flown by and now it is harvest time. The rye harvest was a real success, as was the potatoes, onions but not so with the tomatoes. A fungus got most of the tomatoes and I was reduced to purchasing some from a local vegetable stand which I presume had them without a blight because they had been sprayed.
I have been entirely discouraged by the Municipalities view of my attempt at sustainable living. There is a measure that I should in some way try to conform to the others in the neighbourhood and I do keep this in mind. But in the last letter received form Kyle Kruger they are just dealing with the law and nothing else. Proving the offenses will prove difficult in court and I hope this is what they do as it will force them to look more closely at how we integrate gardening for food nard living a more sustainable life with the unsustainable condition which our laws now enforce.
I look forward to the trade fair/tour and video showing this weekend. Hopefully this will encourage a small number of people to think about the direction of our community more seriously.
August 23 2009. I have just finished two books on food and finally eating is making sense to me. It seems that the nutritionists have been recommending things like vitamins, minerals and various other man made substances when all along these are not really necessary if you eat a good variety of healthy food. Healthy food comes from your garden... not the supermarket where profit is the main motive for food that keeps for ever, looks good and is from factory farms using a minimum of fossil fuel based nutrients. Your food is found in your garden that is fertilized with a composted mixture. So simple yet no politician will be able to say this because it will mean job losses and the lobby groups will see that he is not elected next term. And this is democracy???? But finally I have a general rule about purchasing food " If it has a bar code it is probably not healthy and certainly those items that advertise they are healthy should be left alone. So if you haveto purchase food get it from a farmer, farmers market or best of all from your garden.
On the Home front Paul Groeneveld has not responded to any of my letters, infact not even a whisper from Marc Taylor our local rep who said he was going to get the council together for a visit.Very discouraging but maybe this is the way politics work. Paul Groeneveld was supposed to find a solution to the Chicken question but that too has disappeared over a year ago. Maybe this is Paul Groenevelds way of facing difficult things... just forget about them rather than solving them.
August 5, 2009 thanks for the support from residents of Port burwell
August 5, 2009. Well I havev started threshing my rye... very interesting indeed!
July 29, 2009 Bayhams bylaw enforcer came by july 29th and then sent me a registered letter with a notice of violation and a letter. I am currently seeking legal help to deal with this.
July 26,, 2009. I hosted a trade fair July 26th sunday. It was a success. I certainly enjoyed trading more than purchasing things. I got honey, beans, brocolli, and many other food realted items.
July 20, 2009 On July 8, 2009 Paul Groenveld our Bayham bylaw enforcer visited me concerning the height of my rye. I decided that just maybe his visit would benefit from a walk around and an explanation about what I was trying to do. He obviously does not know anything about climate or any problems with fossil fuel: his main concern is imposing the law as it reads. Everything to him is weeds and Rye is a grass and therefore must be cut to 8 inches in height.
A week ago I went to an amish auction with Rosella, the gal who got me started on chickens. She purchased or should I say rescued some silkies.
I also joined our local naturalists club to canoe down the Big Creek.. a real blast!
A week ago I went to an amish auction with Rosella, the gal who got me started on chickens. She purchased or should I say rescued some silkies.
Lots of horse drawn equipment!
So there we are in the rain! A great time had by all too.
July 7, 2009. Went to kingston for the weekend and had a great time with my father who now has a housekeeper who keeps him eating organic food. His health has improved greatly.
On July 6, 2009 we set up the walls to the greenhouse. Looking good but a long way to go yet.
July 2, 2009. I must admit that there are times when I am very discouraged by the actions of the local municipal council. I get the impression that none of them do any research on things like the concept of peak oil and the future of our villages without any knowledge of sustainability. The council is still in the belief that some company will come along and give us employment. The recent endorsement of the council to a bid for another Fairy ( ferry ) proposal is very representative. The council was not presented with a business plan or a spreadsheet of just how viable this undertaking would be. I maintain that any grade four student could easily do the math. The cost to us taxpayers will be tremendous and will we will be holding the bag when the fairy leaves. The endorsement as I read in the newspapers is a go ahead for an application to do a feasibility study costing about $300,000. The municipality will obviously contribute some of the money but most of it will come from other government sources. There is very little hope that a fairy service could be economic especially with the knowledge that any business based on fossil fuels will be hard pressed for survival in the near future. Why not invest in the people of Bayham by seeding a few small undertakings that use the already natural resources here, namely agricultural using more sustainable practices? Again our so called leaders are simply looking for fairies and ignoring the warnings of science proved global warming and fossil fuel depletion coming our way. It's time to get some real candidates on council that are aware of the basic science of climate change and what other more progressive municipalities are doing to work towards a sustainable society.
The garden has done very well which brings to mind the great potential for non fossil fueled agriculture in our area...... but who on council is looking?
June 23, 2009. We have had good rain and now the weather has turned warmer so the garden is bursting forth. I have been stocking upon sunflower seeds so that I do not have to expel oil in the cold... and the making of biodiesel. BUT I am now more aware that our society has a very high probability of failure. Nearly every form of alternative energy is inadequate to sustain our current lifestyle.... or even mine! I still feel very vulnerable -I do not have an alternative water supply although the machinery is there and my evacuated tubes for heating this winter are not yet installed. But how about my neighbours? Those that are out of work have come to the end of the unemployment insurance and now are required to go to school to learn a trade for which there is no employment.. Then what?When I mention some of these ideas about societies collapse people just do not believe it is possible and just listen to me politely, while some say that they cannot change their lifestyle. It is not that this societies collapse an absolute fact but the probability is getting to a point where you need to do some preparation towards sustainability.
A number of writers have been mentioning the downside of democracy and I am seeing this when our so called leaders are just telling the people what they want to hear rather than taking a real stand and showing concern or insight for the future of our civilization. Economics trumps any environmental concerns. Our own councilors have do not even know about any kind of future other than continual growth and are still stupidly considering a cross lake fairy that feeds Port Burwell with wealthy tourists and truck traffic for car parts! They obviously are more concerned with their positions. It is time to get some real candidates on council.
June 8, 2009. The garden has really come on strong and I have learned that the cardboard and mulch make the best garden... no weeds and it keeps the ground damp in dry conditions. It has been a very cold spring for us... and right now the ground is very dry. I am swinging more towards a very good mulch... digging up the ground only encourages weeds. WE did get the forms done for the greenhouse.
May 29, 2009 The biodiesel heat exchanger is a real success! I have a few things I do not understand but it works well! The heat exchanger heated the sunflower oil to about 50 degrees celcius which is all I need as I pull a vacuum to get the water or methanol to boil.Yesterday I also washed the oil and the sun heated both the oil and the water! I am really having fun discovering just how muchI can do the the sun as my source of energy. I have this sneeky feeeling that it is far better financially and emission wise for each one of us to have our own energy source. Surely the cost of running wires all over the country, maintinaing the system etc is far greater than my effort here. OFcourse the difference is that I follow the weather.. just as today I am catching up on computer work since it was raining outside.
It may surprise some that I now have an electric forklift.. I was searching for another one.. propane but Will really questioned the logic of this and sure enought I was able to find a 24 volt forklift that suited me perfectly at Martins forklift.
May 21, 2009. This is a very busy season just now. the frost killed off my buckwheat but little else was touched. I had a neighour complain of my tall grass over 8 inches as the bylaw says... he was set back a little when I told him it was rye and I actually eat it!
Progress has been made on the greenhouse.
The event of the week was getting the heat exhanger installed for the biodiesel process..... very successful so far too!~
I find so many people still ranting about how we should go green yet they do not offer any practical solutions for most who are badly in debt and without a job. And besides what is sustainable living anyway... if you are not already living that way and can offer a very comfortable lifestyle I doubt it will make any sense to anyone.
The more I play with sunflowers the more things I see in it.... not just for a fuel but soap making, salad dressings, cooking oil, and the sunflower meal also has many uses for things like composting and animal food. So I wonder just how one can set up a sustainable farm based on sunflower oil? Does one go with horses or diesels??
May 9, 2009 We have started the greenhouse.
May 4, 2009. Yesterday Rod and I finsihed his install of the evacuated tube system. I really enjoyed the day as we worked together and Rods wife provided the meals. Thsi is our second installation and we will take the next two weeks to test the system. So far I am very encouraged with these systems.
April 29, 2009. This morning on my normal checklist of things I found that the solar evacuated tube collectors had become too hot at 138 degrees celius.... way above boiling. It did concern me... how hot can this thing get before it busts? I checked the fluid pressure and found none so it had developed a leak which was fairly apparent as it was wet at my feet. One of the drain taps had sprung a leak. It has certainly paid to have the system filled with water before putting the glycol in. But this did raise a very good question... what happens when the system overheats because of loss of pressure. On the computer there is a switch for a dump load so that the water tank can get rid of some heat but that is only for the tank not the collectors. I guess my daily checks are still very worthwhile.
April 21, 2009. I took a few minutes last night to summarize my thoughts on my attempt sustainable living. Feedback would be welcome.
April 20, 2009 The spring is just flying by and so much hasto be done in the spring. I did not purchase any seeds this year as I wanted to use up what I had purchased last year and to use some of the seeds I had collected from last years plants. I really feel it is important to save ones seeds and develop seeds best suited to ones climate. I have already planted Spelt.. yes it should have gone in last year but I did not get around to doing it in the fall after the harvest of the beans. I have onions planted and some lettuce in a window frame which hopefully will give it a little more heat. I did plant rye last year in every garden and have turned most of it over. I have a few friends that do not turn the soil but cover it with cardboard and mulch which seems to have great results.
On Saturday I met with those that I had given solar hot water evacuated tubes systems to. The first installation in my biodiesel works has worked out very well.I am hoping that those who purchase the systems learn the installation process and go on to help others with their installations. I realize that debt and families hinder this but one needs to make choices and think of where the future is headed.
At the moment I have an excess of hot water... so I will add hydronic floor heating. I will also be adding two sets of 18 evacuated tubes to the system on the house to give even more hot water. I am planning on lifting the floors and putting down foam then routing out a channel for plastic tubes for hot water then covering the floors with a laminate or wood floor. This is somewhat contrary to my needs as I like to get a quick surge of heat in the morning... and one in the evening because I spend a lot of my day out side of the house in the workshops with no heat but if the sun can deliver a constant source of hot water then maybe this idea is very worthwhile and my biodiesel heater can just act as a backup.
It is interesting how I started this whole project. I basically started with no heat...nor water! I spent one winter in my motorhome as an experiment just to see what it was like. Gradually I added things... a few solar cells then cut of the grid and added more solar cells, added a solar hot air heater then a solar hot water heater and on it went! I really do recommend this approach to grow slowly.
I have been casting about for some interns and have had a good response but my fear is that most are students that are so debt encrusted that this lifestyle is not an option as they will haveto join societies enslavement programs that see them locked in a job until they pay for their education, car, house and new boat! However I have been wrong before and want to be proven wrong again. What I am really looking for is those who really intend on continuing with their own version of off grid living and self sufficiency as well as community creaters.
April 3, 2009. We have finished the new oil expeller guard and Darlene painted it along with the new hopper. I have received a new oil expeller.. although damaged by Epic transport with a fork lift. Along with the oil expeller I purchased a 12 hp single cylinder diesel lister copy. This I will hook up to a 7 kw generator as a backup to my or a few of my village friends electrical needs. the more I read about climate change and peak everything I am more diligent in preparing for a local economy. This is the only solution that I can see. And if the economy does not tank then hopefully my preparations will help our community adjust to a different lifestyle but if it doesn't happen we will still be better off.
March 27, 2009 Friday. This has been a very busy time for me... fixing the busted solar hot water heater, fising a leaky pipe in the basement, and then a busted toilet bowl for my non composting toilet, purchasing 7 evacuated tube solar water heaters, getting in another oil expeller and a 12 hp listeroild diesel, getting the garden dug, taking down some trees... and on the list goes!!! Yes I am beginning to wonder just how much maintennace I am willing to put in to keep my labour saving devices going!!!!!
A number of people are feeling upbeat about the governments trying to jump start a dead economy. I'm not holding my breathe especially when you understand what caused all of this. Yes we have been too much in debt and very few have any savings but the true reason is peak oil. When the cost of fuel when sky high every one was affected and business stopped, some countries could no longer import oil so the demand dried up which lead to low prices for fossil fuels. Now if governemnts are trying to restart an economy what is the most important thing they will need... why yes it is oil! And what is happening to the oil industry? They are not investing money to finding more or exploring.. it just has no return just now. So when the economy starts to roll you guessed it... fuel prices will soar to even greater heights and this is the craziness that we are in.
So what is the solution? Simply we must cut our energy uses by 75 percent.. invest in solar! Thats where those billions should have been spent.
But since I did prepare for a depression I have food, heat and even hot water in abundance.... all I need now is to keep healthy so I can do the labour needed to keep the show going!
March 10, 2008 Tuesday. Yes I was away for a month and a half in Mexico cycling 1400 km from Merida in the yucatan to San Cristobal in the mountains in the south of the Yucatan. This was in many ways a life changing experience... or at least a great re enforcment of a lot of my understandings of what is going on the in the world today. Basically large multinational companies have reduced traditional farming and general life to a form of slavery. It starts with an advertisement to drink things like Coke.... even the countryside of mexico is littered with plastic bottles! And the really sad part is that it is your pension money that is doing this!
So I have the windmill up and running again.. and the biodiesel heater but the solar water heater got busted so I will rebuild it better. Lots ot look forward to this year... more sunflowers for sure... a new oil press and lister type diesel to run it and maybe this year we can get some biogas working. I must say I am really excited to be back and so many things to look forward to.
January 21, 2009 Wednesday. I switched back to running pure biodiesel in the biodiesel heater and am very pleased with the performance. Biodiesel is far superior to diesel fuel mixed with sunflower oil. All of this has me thinking about using straight sunflower oil for heating... but then again is it necesary to burn anything after my compost box experiences? The windmill has really been my center of electical generation this winter and I must build another one so that I can have a backup.
The method that I was heating the house by only heating the morning and evening was fine for temperatures above zero celcius but now the minus 10 to minus 20 I have found that the biodiesel heater on 24 hours a day is actually better in a few ways. It means I have hot water for a shower each day. While this seems like a luxury I think it is necessary as I do a lot of hard labour each day and I am sweaty... and I do haveto watch for fungal growth for once started is hard to stop. And there is nothing like a hot shower before going to bed!~!~~!
Another great success is the cold cellar which has provided me with so many vegetables that I have not had to go to the store. With the great cry about lack of food this is such a simple fix.. just store the summer veggies in sawdust and store in a cool place. It is that simple!!
Most governments are recommending great technical and electronic fixes to the problems we face today and yet in my own way I have started a movement away from technology to simple methods that have been perfected long ago. It is actually so simple but most people just cannot get motivated to make these changes necessary. As David suzuki said " We are driving a car at 100 mph to a solid cement wall and there are no brakes"! And yet if people just sat down and thought about preparing for whatever emergency that arose in their lives we would have some easy solutions but waiting for a crash is then too late. Its not about predicting the future but of preparing plans for things that could happen and through this planning ones lifestyle will be enhanced not degraded!
I will be gone for a month vacation to study mexican subsistance farming , mexican lifestyle and lots of cycling in the yucatan, so my blog will be ending shortly and should resume in later march 2009.
January 18, 2009 Sunday. Yesterday I just had too much energy.. the battery was full and the hot water was at 70 degrees Celsius: how much better an it get!!! Well today was a real let down and something us off griders would like to keep to ourselves. I noticed the biodiesel heater was not working too well so I decided to clean it... well that did not solve the problem so I took it apart again and cleaned out the carb,, that did not work! Yes I struggled to over 9 hours before finally getting the thing to function properly! It was a combination of poor fuel, plugged carb from old restaurant oil biodiesel I was using up and then the mat factor ( I had better adjust that thing the wrong way. Being off grid has its moments of panic " What if I can't get that biodiesel heater working again?Well that is where the backup plan came in. I just turned on the gas furnace which I had hooked up and the day being quite windy I had more than enough juice to run it... but I did note that the evening and the next two days may be calm and no sun!!If I work long enough on anything I usually get it working again and I did plus I learned a few more things about that carb too! Yes my adjustments where just plain wrong and it only took me about 8 hours to find that out!
To add some more misery the forklift did not want to go either.. so I used that starter fluid... after a lot of grumbling it came into action and I put my first load of sunflower seeds up on our new second floor storage area.
The lesson I must tell everyone is have adequate backups. This has really made me thing of the propane fired vented heaters. I have one in my motorhome. They require no electricity and the propane lasts for ever and even if it is expensive it is only the backup! These propane heaters can also be converted to run biogas.
January 16, 2009 Friday. Quite a week we are having at minus 20 celcius. We may have had such a cold snap last year but I do not remember it. The biodiesel heater has been working well but I need to clean the fuel line every few days. This is a difficult job and a little messy so I hope that the new design will eliminate this task. I gave a presentation at the Bayham council meeting to try get some discussion on climate change and things like peak oil but as I expected there was not one question from the council members: I did however get a number of enthusiastic people from the audience approach me.
January 11, 2009 Sunday. Time sure flies and so much to do! It is minus 13 celcius this morning but the sun is out and that makes my day! Lots of energy... electricity and hot water!.. So I did a washing. I installed a new shower in the first floor of the house and now I let the biodiesel heater run 24 hours a day which keeps the water at shower temperature ( 38 degrees C) when there is no sunshine not the hottest but just fine for me.
The chickens are doign well in the snow and still laying a few eggs.. about one a day.
Did some very successful oil expelling... that oil expeller is finally working really well even without the hopper auger! I have let ti sit for about a week and a bit and it still produces good quantities of oil -but I should clean it soon just to look everything over.
Good idea to go for a walk i n the sun.
January 5, 2009. I took some pictures on my walk this morning.
A great day today for energy... lots of sun and some good wind early in the day... so I did a clothes washing in the morning then did some oil expelling using the centrifuge filter ( spin cycle on the washing machine). The oil expeller works very well in the winter producing a lot of heat to heat the building not only from the hot meal but the radiator on the Diesel. And I still had enough energy left for a hot shower thanks to the solar water heater, the biodiesel water heater and excess electricity from the battery... a winning combination!
At the end of the oil expelling I let the chickens out in the snow.. they finally had enough courage to face the snow.. they ran around and enjoyed themselves I even fed them some kale which they really like! I hold it for them to tear away at. And I am still getting eggs .. now that is a true capitalist -I feed them garbage and they give me wonderful eggs!
January 4, 2009 Sunday. I have been wrestling with the thought that solar cells and windmills are really just a stop gap measure for us... infact they are subsidized by fossil fuels. This is a hard concept to really understand.Through my reading on the internet I believe this to be very true and what us humans are doing is tousing up all of our natural resources rather quickly forgetting about any life expediency beyond our own. Should we not be reserving resources so that we can understand the immense challenge ahead of us? And should we not be researching and finding out what is a really sustainable lifestyle?
I am going to Mexico for a month and during this time I expect to be made more aware of the subsistence farmer and just how sustainable they are. I also expect that ones human relationships are a lot more important than our rush rush society. Yes I do thank the internet as much as I despise computers, for the many resources out there maintained by unpaid persons. I find that most news from the major newspapers is actually for sensationalism rather than than for solid facts or provoking good ideas and solutions.
I took a little time to look up the plight of Michael Schmidt today... very similar to my fight with the municipality with the chickens. Is it not insane that there are no recorded cases of illness from Michaels Milk yet he faces annihilation and there certainly seems to be a great wealth of information supporting the need for raw milk but the current laws cannot take that into account! This certainly smells of big business trying to squash out the little guy. How can anyone allow this circus to go on when in most parts of the world raw milk is legal to sell? Again like my chickens, The larges city closest to us allows chicken and we can't have them -there are problems brought to light with having a few hens but the stopper is that there was a law passed that made chickens illegal and there seems no way for me to get that changed except that the law is badly worded and they are going to amend that. Seems that council is totally unaware of what is going on in the world today.
January 1, 2009. No I did not get hammered last night.. I went over to Gwynne's place last night and played the piano.. had pizza a few of Gwynnes cookies and came home and went to bed before midnight. My mind can't stop thinking about the compost box and the heat it produces! So today I went out an measured the heat off it.. and it is 135 degrees F! That is warm.. now what can I do with this heat... and what looks like an endless supply of sunflower meal. there is no flame.. but there is a smell....can I heat my sunflower oil in the biodiesel process, can I heat part of the house, or can I heat a biogass reactor with the heat? This is where I need a couple of clones of myself and its is obviously looking towards more interns this year to get just some of the work done.
How amazing this whole process is.. it is what I call organic... I get an idea and that leads to another and so on with each idea leading to lowering my energy needs or making more energy with less environmental damage.
The oil and diesel mix is so good that I am going to mix my biodiesel and sunflower oil too. This will mean less time at making biodiesel which lowers my energy required to do everything here. EXCITING!
The chickens are doing just fine!
December 30, 2008. I asked myself last night just why I was doing all of this? I'm not certain but I felt that I just should do something that I feel good about. When I was faced with the fact that we are using our finite resources at an ever increasing pace with no provision for any future generations and in the process eliminating specie by specie I wondered if a sustainable life in the future is possible. I still do not know except that a number of indigenous tribes in various parts of the world seemed to have discovered sustainable lifestyles but the so called civilized world is eradicating them as fast as possible along with the vegetation and animals that they rely on. So why am I doing this... somehow deep under I am replacing my social life with a need to keep busy at something that I can show results. This all started in High School when I discovered that I could do a heck of a lot of motorcycle building in an evening rather that stand around and do nothing at a dance. ( could be why I am single still )
I'm gradually coming to the conclusion that as long as we maintain this north American lifestyle, sustainable living is not possible. Even for one family to be totally self sufficient I doubt that there would be time for any member to go to work. So just how would one afford to buy a property, a house, machinery? I am looking more towards what we call the rural third world and their basic sustainable lifestyle and I think that from what I can see some of the ancient cultures had a much better idea of living sustainably than we do today in North America. I wonder what is going to sustain our way of life say 5 or ten years down the road. Climate Change is coming very quickly and yes there is a lot of talk but very little progress towards zero emission. Even in my own experiment I have some emissions from my biodiesel heater and my car but I know of no one who is even close to or seems able to pursue what I do here anywhere in the surrounding area. And just why do I do it when I could be cycling somewhere in the tropics? Nobody seems to wants to make the effort if it changes their lifestyle.We would rather chagne a few light bulbs and be done with it!
December 28, 2008.There are very high winds today. This really makes me wonder if this is more of the type of climate change we are going to expect in the days to come. At any rate I have found that I can just put the brake on and leave the windmill standing. The blades do turn slowly but come to rest very easily after a gust... so far so good! This certainly saves a lot of time not having to lower the windmill. I just checked the windmill and the windspeed indicator said it was 60 km/hr. I can't vouch for the accuracy of the windspeed but certainly the strongest wind I have ever seen here.
With all of my interest in this lifestyle I am forgetting about getting together with people.. last night I forgot about a great supper and show at the Quakers meeting house.... Mary and Rosella phone to tell me about it seeing that I was not there... I do need to meet more people!
I am excited with the prospect of developing the new oil burner further. I have an idea which I will do this week to see about getting a much cleaner burn.
We are in very difficult times but there does not seem to be any concerted effort to prepare for anything. I'm sure that most people feel that I am a pessimist. In the long term that may be true but my focus is on preparing for those things that are imminent or things I cannot do without. For example Electricity. We are absolutely addicted to electricity and everything comes to a stop without it. For example most people rely on a sump pump to remove water from their basement but there is provision for a hand pump if the electricity goes out. For myself I just decided to not rely on Ontario Hydro and put in my solar cells and windmill.... but they are a full time job keeping them working. This is an experiment and I do not think that those who rely on a full time job can live like I do. If I was part of a small community then there is a good chance that someone could have a full time job but as a community how do we keep from falling apart? I guess that is why I still live alone and have visitors.
December 27 2008. I finally got the new oil burner going. I used some straight diesel to get it started but my mixture of Diesel plus sunflower oil was better. It smoked a lot and basically worked better than I had thought it would. Now to some experimenting.. I would love to obtain that wonderful smokeless fire I get with my other biodiesel heater. Just give me time and I'll do it.
December 26, 2008 The biodiesel heater burning straight diesel was bothering me so I tried blending the diesel with straight sunflower oil. This was terrific.. it worked just great. I mixed about 1/3 sunflower oil to 2/3 diesel.. seems just great! I have my blue flame back and the oil and diesel seem to mix easily and stay mixed! Should I try a 50:50 mixture?
December 23, 2008 Had to disconnect the outside air forthe refrigerator as it was not cooling the freezer. Yes it seems hat the cold weather does not do the fridge any good. But what should be happening is that the outside air should be used directly in cooling everything in the fridge at least for the weather about 5 below Celcius. At any rate I think I will convert a freezer to a refrigerator in the future. It was a good experiment and I have some documentation.
The windmill has been just fantastic.... it has been working away daily providing most of my electricity and when the sun kicks in I get a lot of hot water from the diversion controller.It has been very cold with a lot of blowing snow.. the most I have ever seen!
The biodiesel heater has been burning regular diesel and it does burn quite differently. I much prefer the sunflower biodiesel! The sunflower biodiesel burns with a nice blue flameand regulates easily. Diesel seems a lot thinner and I haveto turn the valve way down. The flame from the diesel does not readily turn blue and is much harder to regulate.
December 21, 2008. Looks like Chistmas is coming quickly and I have done nothing.... except make sunflower oil! Well I deserve the nickname Scrooge! I am aghast at the amount of wind we have this year... now being off grid and wanting to protect the windmill and solar cells I turn the windmill off during high gusty winds and also level the solar cells so thw wind is not so forceful on them. Today is expected to be the highest winds I have encountered. So far the Windmill break has worked perfectly. Today Ihope to get a start at putting a fuel tank on the newly developed sunflower heater.
Certainly had my problems trying to make another batch of biodiesel. The oil was so cold it would not circulate.. and I burnt out the heating element nad chared the oil! A lot to be said for making sunflower biodiesel in the summer... no freeaing water and more energy from the sun... so I'll buy more sunflower seeds for next fall instead of getting caught waiting for the harvest.
December 18, 2008.
It has certainly been a difficult last few days... maybe even a few weeks. The sun has not been out to aid my hot water situation and I have had a few breakdowns in my biodiesel process. First the oil expeller hopper auger quit... I wore out the beveled gears........ but I recovered by removing the auger and it works just fine with the sunflowers. I have been mixing the sunflowers with the left over meal that I did rather poorly the first time around. I burnt out the heater in the biodiesel reactor... the second one. I feel that the oil must be moving at all times past the heater to help solve this. However that means that I need a lot more power.. Say 1500 watts for the heater and about 1000 for the pump. I also pulled apart the pump and I think it needs to spin a little faster to get a better flow rate.
It has been discouraging but thank god this a trial run.. I can still go out and purchase some diesel at a local garage very cheaply. ( in fact much cheaper than I can produce it).
The biodiesel heater I developed works really well on sunflower biodiesel! The difference from the used restaurant oil biodiesel is remarkable.... not much cleaning needed and it has a much greater range... from very little heat to very hot! I do have the other oil burner nearly ready for trials but just no time to do it.
I have been producing oil the hard was.. I need a generator to give me power for the biodiesel heater... and to run the centrifuge. Normally I use just the solar cells and windmill. The noise is tremendous!!! I hate it. I think I will continue the rest of the season on purchasing diesel and concentrate on rebuilding and getting backup machinery for the processes.
A thought that has just occurred to me is to have a passive system. The earth ships do seem to offer some possibilities but in the northern climates I wonder how they would be heated. I like the idea of methane but keeping the 30 degree Celsius for them to work will be a problem... using compost to heat it is great too but for the best compost I will need sunflower meal!
I am really learning a lot about sustainable living and in the process realizing that when the fossil fuel crunch comes we are totally unprepared and the result will a die off. At present I know of no alternative to fossil fuels other than going without. Unless our source for energy is renewable there is little hope that humans will survive. Rather pessimistic isn't it but unless we are prepared and well practiced that is what will happen.
Electricity is low these days too.. about 24.8 down to 24.4 which for a 24 volt battery is actually quite good.... but normally it is about 26 volts! I must say the windmill has been the saving factor in all of this and so far not much trouble.
December 17, 2008. There are times I feel a real failure in that I still cannot live a fully sustainable life here. I have been having to purchase Diesel to run my diesels because of the cold and the shortage of oil which also means a shortage of biodiesel which I run from it. I tried today to put some biodiesel in one of my generators and it would not go through the filter because it had gelled. I have however been really catching up on the sunflower oil. I have the expeller running really well even without the hopper auger. I am actually reprocessing the meal from last week along with the new sunflower seeds as it was not dry enough.
I started my first batch of Biodiesel and wouldn't you know it the methanol pump oil seal blew out and that now has to be fixed!I often forget about the machinery that breaks down when I am theorizing about doing things like making biodiesel. Which reminds me I just blew another heating element in the biodiesel reactor. The 1500 watt heater is just too much.. I need a 120 volt 1000 watt heater. To help solve the problem I did leave the pump on so that the heat would not build up with the new element I installed.
What really bothers me is the web sites and books that describe going off grid, making biodiesel, pressing oil or making alcohol do not really give anyone an idea of the problems one can encounter with things that go wrong. Then add in the local bylaws and government regulations that do not understand just what I am doing nor have any idea about fossil fuel depletion or understanding the broken economy. Its is at times discouraging. What makes it worthwhile is friends and community.
December 15, 2008. I took Sunday off to join the Dennis/Grantham family in our annual bird count. We covered a vast area ... and it rained and the wind blew with gale forces. I was a little worried about the windmill too but it survived just fine. As for the day it was wonderful being with a family and sharing the birdwatching duties. In the evening the local nature group went to a local restaurant for dinner and Ron discovered that we identified over 70 different birds.
Today I continued my oil expelling.... I am running very short of oil due to my generosity. My first efforts at running the oil expeller gave poor results and now that I have got up to speed I am reprocessing the old meal along with some new sunflower seeds and getting excellent results. Tomorrow I will try get some actual results as to the percent of oil I am getting from the sunflower seeds.
Working for five hours on the oil press was tiring,,,,, having the hopper auger not working did make more work for me too... but at least it is working. This highlights the need to always have a backup plan... all machinery breaks down eventually and I do not have any spare parts for the oil expeller.. I'll change that.
Working all day making oil was not pleasant and makes me wonder if the energy I get from the oil makes getting it worthwhile. Because there was no sunshine and the windmill was shut down due to the high winds I ran the generator as well to run the centrifuge. I wonder what ratio my energy input is to my energy output.
I have discovered that I often exist in the house at 11 degrees Celsius and as long as I am moving about I feel no discomfort. So when I am away from the house I turn off the biodiesel heater... and if I sit down for computer work, I light the biodiesel heater and it heats things fairly quickly. This brings me to think about the need to heat quickly rather than have a heated cement floor which would take a lot of energy to maintain the heat all day. Just a thought.
December certainly has been difficult.. I did not have any sunflower seeds till November so I got started quite late in my oil expelling and the very blustery wind that I must at times shut down the windmill. Life is harder this time of year with the difficulty of living off the stored food, the cold, the unexpected break downs and lack of sunshine. I really do not know how those who are unprepared will live life without fossil fuels.
I did happen to watch a little television at supper and noticed the US president elect -Obama actually talking about sustainable living and how connected the economy and climate change affect one another. The various people sounded very promising and infact it got me excited but after a little thought I do not think we will make any progress towards making a dent in the catastrophic climate changes we are going to see in the immediate future. We are addicted to fossil fuels and a very wasteful lifestyle.
I must recommend the internet site <http://www.energybulletin.net> as one of the most helpful sites to understanding the various things that are making out future.
December 13, 2008. Got a lot done this week but in the process the hopper auger gears broke on the oil expeller. Not quite a disaster.... we have recovered by removing the auger and just patting down the seeds with a stick... but just one more job. The last expelling I did was not good enough so I am reprocessing the meal and getting much better results. I also purchased another 1500 lbs of sunflower seeds as an energy backup. Will has been working on installing a shower in the first floor of the house... one that I hope I can connect to a tank on the roof for summer showers. The tank will be drained for the winter.
Not much sunshine these days and that usually means a minimum of energy put out by the windmill... and warm showers instead of hot showers.
Had a wonderful call from a gal that was a neighbour of mine back when she was about 12 years old.... it was a wonderful time of my life and it was great to reconnect with her.
Sean and his kids came over yesterday and I showed them some of my presentations. It was great to have them here and listening to my ideas and opinions. I am hoping that they can take over the tours here.
December 8 2008. This is certainly one of the most difficult times of the year for my sustainable living experiment..... sometimes the wind is too high for the windmill.... the frig is using more electricity and I am running short of sunflower oil.
I am down on sunflower oil. The last pressing did not yeild very much sunflower oil becuase of the cold... and I should have reporcessed some of it as it was the first pressing in a while and there is a learning curve to getting it running well. So I need to get more sunflower seeds.. it is money in the bank for me.... but there is a lot of snow and the driving is treacherous. I will plan the next trip out on thursday when it promises to be a snow free day.
I've also had a dissappointment in my refrigerator experiment. Lately I have been getting high readings of about 1 kwh per day in the very cold weather. This may be becuase the compressor pump is slowerd by the cold and uses more electricity. This is the second problem I have had., Earlier the fridge defrosted... I believe because a fan was struck. So this experiement which looked so good at first is flawed in the very cold weather.... haveto do soem thinking about this one!.
December 7, 2008 I turned off the windmill yesterday afternoon rather than taking it down which I think was a good decision. The winds where getting to 50 km and quite gusty. The wind roared all night and I checked it occassionally and all seems fine. This morning the wind died down and I turned the windmill back on. I think I learned soemthing here... If I can get the windmill shut down it will actually stand a lot of wind. Getting it shut down is sometimes a problem as there are moments when if the brake is put on above a certain windspeed the blades do not stop... and this builds a lot of heat~! I have noticed that if I wait there is usually a moment that I can put the brake on.
Heating the house is a concern just now too. I have only a few 16 liter containers left. I was nto able to purchase sunflower seeds until November and now the weather has turned quite cold.I have yet to find out how much oil I expelled in the last few days.
Dec 6, 2008. This is really the most difficult time of year for me... and yes its the windmill and the tremendous amount of wind we are getting. The forecast winds are very unreluable and I just can't seem to find any method of forecasting winds that give me reasonable results. So some days the weatherman says it will have winds to 30 km which alerts me but those winds can be much higher than predicted and if they are gusty then I do worry. So far the windmill has gone through some very severe winds without any failure but there is also the tower to worry about -can it survive the gusty winds over the long haul? I have already discovered that the galvanized wire I used is starting to rust in certain areas and I have it in my mind to replace all of the wires with stainless next year.
Some of the most disconcerting times are at night.. I thought that the winds at night would be more steady but this is not always the case. Last week I was wakened but the noise created by the winds at 6 am. It did worry me so I got up and with a bit of luck got the windmill stopped and then I lowered it. I guess I could do it in the dark as well but I would rather lower the windmill during the day. One of the problems is when to stop the windmill. I only want to stop the windmill once the winds get very gusty but at that time if I put on the brake it may not stop the windmill and remember that putting on the brake increases the heat build up with can cause it to burn up.. but hopefully not in the cold or wet weather! ( I did redesign the cooling of the stator)
So this time of year is interesting in that there is lots of wind and lots of energy from it and even at this moment I have too much energy... my hot water is approaching 60 degrees celcius as the wind blew constantly all night and despite the fact that I took a long hot shower last night at midnight ( so I could make room for the hot water that would be generated all night form the excess energy form the battery) So it is getting to an unusual place that I haveto burn off energy to maintain my system. My limit on the hot water is 70 degrees celcius. I may haveto get a electrical air heater going to help burn off the energy! Thsi is really rather funny since some of the time in the shoulder seasons when there is no wind and sun I haveto have warm or cool showers.
I am working with Sean Grantham who will be conducting the tours of my place and then he will help set up workshops on the various aspects of my attempts at sustainable living. We went hought a presentation that I had made last year and felt that this would be an excellent start to the tours.
Last night I was over at Seans place where we had a surprise birthday party for Sean. Having a gathering of diverse people was wonderful. We got ot talk and gossip on about our lives. I even met the man who owns the drag strip just behind Ken Laings farm. I often hear the racket and am really bothered by it. IT was good to hear his side of the controversy.... but I was not very convinced of his right to waste resources and make so much noise... Get real what is its use in our present situation???
Well on with the day...now should I stop the windmill or put it down as the winds are expected to increase... but at the moment the windmill is doing just fine! Now if the windmill output meter had not broken I would feel much better about myu situation! The laserprinter also broke down this week and Sean Hurley has been redoing my linux computer which has been having its problems. Did I say I loved computers????
Dec 4, 2008. Just had a visit from two high school kids... Alex ( female) and Dave. It was a bit intimidating since neither really knew very much about what to expect in our future..... nor had they thought about any preparation. So we went about doing things like making apple cider, doing some sunflower pressing for oil and then a littel construction on putting in a double ceiling. I did spend a lot of time ( maybe too much time ) impressing them with soem of my ideas about our addiction to electricity and energy and how little we may have left in a few years. The thought of the world actually changing so that our current lifestyle was no longer viable I do not think had occured to them. Lets hope some of my preparations are not necessary. I'm sure I left them with the impression that I was one of wayward hippies that really got my ideas mixed up.. I guess time will tell. Despite my axuieties we seemed to have a good time,, I hoep they return from time to time as it will be interesting to see our changes. Again I really enjoyed the people around and am convinced that without community there is no survival.
The windmill has turned into my most needed source of electricity.... there is very little sun and lots of wind.. so much so that I actually put the windmill down one morning about 6:30 am. Being so dependant on this windmill made me realize how important it was at this time of year and I do need to have a backup.. another windmill and blades for next year! I am so thankful for the new stator that I made.. it produces more electricity and has certainly gone though very tough winds. I pretty much have the furling correct now.. but there is still times that the furling can't compensate entirerly and I see a gust of 50 amps at 26 volts for a short period.... I was fearful that the system would not take it but so far it works well.
November 27, 2008 I just installed the aluminum water tank on the side of the biodiesel heater to give me another way to create hot water. I deisgned it and will Arlow constructed it. Seems to work just fine and really comes into play at this time of year when there is very little sunshine and the windmill just keeps the batteries up. Nothing like a hot shower!
Nov 24 2008. I have been meeting with a few local unemployed friends to form a group that will help one another in home repairs and setting up a co-op style business.Our first venture is to sell sunflower seeds. I have been getting very busy with giving tours but there are just too many now so I now have a set time for tours and this is on Saturdays. Please phone ahead to make contact with me and show up here on saturday at 10 am. I am hoping that these tours can lead to workshops that will be conducted by the community group just formed.
Nov 21, 2008 I have been working on insulating the ceiling and attic of the bedrooms. instead of adding to the attic I decided to put in a second ceiling with an R22 insulation and vapour barrier.
Mike has started helping me with the many diesel generators that I have....and together with two or three others we are forming a co operative that will dabble in many community oriented projects. There is a desire to earn some money but we will be also doing some community work as well.
November 18, 2008. I've been eating about two eggs a day and just the food I have in the cold cellar. did my blood work at the doctors and it came back normal... hope that means that my two eggs a day means that this is good. I had a temporary problem with the diversion controller.. the automatic equalization mode would not allow the heating of hot water and the solar and wind eneergy was so low that an equalization would not take place, In changing the settings I made a mistake and the unit would not work.... this caused me to pull out plan B... use the 120 volt cicuit to heat water and take away some of the excess energy going into the battery, It worked but it really kept me busy. After a while I decided to recheck my changes and found my error... having it working again was a great relief especially today since I have both wind and lots of sun producing about 1500 watts. The water heater is going gangbusters with the diversion load! all of this makes me realize the need for backups and having thme manual creates problems... am I addicted to the electronics? Food for thought,
As the world spirals out of control we have a lot to think about. I really see no turnaround ever. We have lost the chance to prepare for a future without fossil fuels. Now we will have a very difficult time. Since the demand for oil has been lost any investment in finding oil is now lost... or building a new refinery. This will also curtail investment in renewables as the demand is not longer there but we are still using coal fired plants and wanting to build nuclear generators. Coal fired plants are a disaster as are nuclear.. both are finite resources. The sun is our only renewable resource and we haveto learn to work with it now. So the human race has not prepared for the inevitable and that only means one thing.. a die off. Sad but true!
Nov. 14, 2008. the more I research and find out the problems we face on earth the more difficult I find it to be an optimist. I have no doubt that without a gigantic change many life forms including our own will become extinct. It is not that we cannot change but our current laws and lifestyle prevent us from doing so. For many it is the fear of a lower class lifestyle so the status quo must be maintained at all costs but if one prepares and practices the lifestyle will be enhanced. In our own community we have some very serious problems arising. Many are now out of work and are facing about 45 weeks of unemployment insurance: but there is little hope that they will go back to work so what happens when the benefits run out? The main problem will be paying the mortgage... many of my friends can feed and keep their family warm but they cannot earn dollars: there is just no work, So what happens? Do they lose their house which will sell for very little as there will be a glut of foreclosed homes on the market? Not a good solution at all for this will only increase their dependency on government aid.
I met with two out of work friends to discuss this possibility... how will we create a business that will earn dollars.. we could not come up with a solution except to feel that some sort of food will always sell so maybe growing veggies and selling them from a cargo bicycle just may work..... but to raise $1000 a week? thats a heck of a lot of carrots so how do we pay for that mortgage!!
Lets face some basic truths. We have exploited all of the resources ( much of it in landfill) and our cheap oil is now at the point where we are going to have to consider burning two barrels of oil to make one barrel of oil from the Alberta tar sands and then pollute areas the size of lake Ontario in doing so! We are willing to snuff out our lives for the sake of maintinaing an unsustainble lifestyle; incredible!!
There is only one basic solution. We must learn to live from the present sunshine alone with a lot less people. Even solar cells are not a long term solution since they cannot reproduce themselves without the assistance of energy from cheap fossil fuels. And there would even be a problem getting enough lead for the batteries needed.We have a predicament that is not going to be easily solved. Do we just give up? Well, I for one will continue my experiments learning as I go and enjoying the benefits of the journey, the company of friends and preparing and helping others accomodate to these many challenges..
Nov.7, 2008. I again was scheduled to do a presentation last night at council on sustainable practices but the other presentations took so much time I realized that non one would listened so I deferred to another date. I did however ask them to consider a one year pilot on the chickens to see what problems there really were but I feel it fell on deaf ears.
Rob Perry of the Aymler Express did an excellent introduction to my sustainable living by doing a full page spread on me.. lots of great pictures. I have a real feeling of frustration at the bureacracy and the councillors who continue on with business as usual. Does no one there know that we are coming to a crisis. At the meeting last night there was a long presentation on the Aylmer food bank (the corner cupboard) and it was noted that there was quite a number of families in Port burwell and Vienna who where using the food bank so the Corner Cupboard asked for money and got $1500. Now would that number of families be appying to the food bank if they had a garden and a few chickens? And that is what I am all about... being self sufficient and sharing this information but no one is listening yet.
Oct 25, 2008 I must admit that last night I was very worried about the windmill. The weather indicated that winds to 29 km where possible and I assumed all would be fine. About 10 pm I noticed a lot of heavy gusts so I went out to check on the windmill.. still doing its thing but man it was violent! So I looked at the amp meter I had attached to the system.... was it a shock!!.. normal in high winds I see the occasional 35 amps but now I was seeing short bursts of 55 amps and infact one reading just came back as HI. This made me very worried..... was my system able to take this? The rectifier was getting quite warm too. There was nothing I could really do at this point except just wait it out. What made it even worse for me was that the highest winds where predicted for 2 am! This morning everythng looked normal and no damage apparent. Looking at the weather on the internet I was alerted to higher winds on Monday so I took down the windmill. This also gave me a chance to inspect. Again no damage apparent,
Oct 22, 2008. A Chicken War has been delcared in Bayham Municipality!
Oct 15, 2008. What a great thanksgiving weekend!!! (Other than my internet site going down during this time!) Friday I cycled to Aylmer and up to GlenColin road to visit the amish, Saturday at the fall farm Auction , Sunday I was invited with the Grantham-Dennis fmaily for a thanksgiving dinner and Monday I was helping put the Mud on the walls of Ken and Martha Laings Straw Bale building. And then Tuesday I was off the toronto dropping my bicycle off in Cambridge for a tuneup along the way. In toronto I was able to purchase more bicycle equipment.... yes I was a consumer for a day.
Oct 3, 2008... Well the council voted for an animal control bylaw specifically prohibiting chickens!!!
Oct 1, 2008.. Mayday Mayday!!!! Read about the chickens!!!
Sept 29, 2007 Saturday did my 65 km run to Aylmer on my bicycle then in the afternoon helped Mary and Rosella finish their chicken coop. Sunday I worked a bit on the windmill then road my bike to Shedden about 65 km to see rosella do her horse thing. I was tired since it was against the wind most of the way.
Today I phoned Paul, the fire chief to see what he had to say about the chickens. He said he was going to get the lawyer to interpret the law... Nowwhy can't we as ordinary people read a law and make sense of it? And besides shouldnm't the law have a good reason for existing?? The fact that Paul cannot use his own head to figure it out and not be able to really give me a good reason why I cannot have a few chickens indicates the depth to which the beauocracy has fallen. I actually thought the beauocracy was here to help us.
Sept. 26, 2008 A number of years ago I felt the financial system was headed for a big bust and it certainly looks as though this prediction is coming true... and even perhaps worse than I thought. I tried to tell a number of friends but most felt I was really off base and things would continue as they always had. Well its wake up time!!
Fossil fuels are finite as are the resources of this world but the way we use them does not reflect this very well. And even my attempt at sustainable living is really fulfilled after two years of working very hard. My biogas project is still on hold...as is my water system. This will be my first winter without an electrical connection to the grid and I still need more biodiesel to get through the winter. Even my biodiesel is about twice the cost of regular heating oil... yes those sunflower seeds are defendant on the diesel tractor to plant, cultivate, weed, spray and harvest them!
I'm still turning over the horse workshop in my mind..... The CSA farm and its future... I really believe this is a good thing... but what am I doing? working towards a farm to sell things or am I just working towards a sustainable livestyle with just enough income to pay property taxes? And what will that income be?and I do know one thing the future involves community.
I was over talking to my elderly friend Gwynne and we where discussing the best thing to have for the future... and its not money but good neighbours who can help through any crisis.!
Sept 21, 2008 I attended a Draft Horse workshop the last few days at the farm of Ken and Martha Laing. It really was an experience of a lifetime!
Sept 17, 2008. Yesterday was a trial Cider day with the kids... I purchased an old homebuilt press and chipper. Needed a little work but in the end it worked nicely. No word back yet from Paul Groeneveld about the validity of the chickens that have taken up residence in my hard.
Sept 15, 2008. Well it finally happened, Paul from the Municipal office came by and told me Chickens where not allowed in Port Burwell. He did not have a copy of the law and was actually unaware of the wording. I asked him the reason for not allowing chickens in Port Burwell but he could not come up with any logical explanation other that it was against the law.(I doubt that he even read the law before visiting !!!) I will not remove the chickens and will certainly use every avenue open to me to fight this ridiculous law.
Sept. 12, 2008. The rain has come and our showers will be on the warm (since the solar water heater and the solar cells will not have enough sunshine) now since I have not started up the biodiesel heater. This is the awkward time of year.. I do not want to heat the house until absolutely necessary as it uses biodiesel which is in short supply just now. I have about 20 of 16 liter containers of biodiesel and my calculations say I will need 46. I still have some sunflower oil to convert so I will get another 6 or so containers of biodiesel. I'm waiting for the new crop of sunflower seeds until I start pressing again. This is not the most economic way to do things as natural gas and oil are both cheaper at present but I thought that this would be a good winter to see it I can survive off grid and not using natural gas in main furnace for heat. I do have the natural gas furnace hooked up to my own power but it does consume about 1000 watts to work so this will be just a backup to the biodiesel heater... and ofcourse the sun will have to be brilliantly shinning and the wind blowing for the natural gas furnace to be working!
The chickens continue to be a source of enjoyment with a number of kids coming by to fed them and hold them.
Sept. 3, 2008. Karen visited for a day and really helped me greatly in putting a lot of my veggies in the cold cellar.. .then helping with a batch of biodiesel, feeding chicken and even getting an egg or two. thanks Karen I do hope you return in November. Its been one great summer! Now to look to the fall season. I'm worried about the world economy and just how that is going to affect us all. I read that Britain is undergoing a severe recession and I'm sure the States is to follow. In Canada there are many job losses coming which in turn will mean a recession is imminent. But the scary thing about this is that not many are prepared for a sustained recession let alone lack of food water and shelter that seems to a possibility in the near future.
Sept. 1, 2008. Wow what a great day.. yes I spent the day with Mary Yett and her daughter Rosella and friend Brittany finishing up Rosellas Chicken coop. They came over the night before.. had a long breakfast then started work on the chicken coop! We accomplished a lot ... and yes I was the slave driver! However a good swim and lots of splashing made Mat maybe a little more fun than just being the task master!
August 30, 2008 .wonderful ride with Sean Hurley today.. did about 65 km, great weather and a great time of the year to be outside cycling.Later in the day I cycled out to Houghton to complete my 100 km ride.
August 29, 2008. Really pleased with myself at putting in the new battery and solar cells yesterday. Saw a great article on steps to lessen your impact on greenhouse gasses. Worth reading!
August 28, 2008 late afternoon. Yes finally the new battery is in and the new solar cells connected up! Bev came by and I traded some sunflower meal for apple cake and maybe some pumpkin pie... and I gave her 3 eggs from the chickens! Gywnne phoned over to say that she had made some chili sauce.. so I brought her some more tomatoes... hint hint!!!!
August 28, 2008. OK I received a new battery a few days ago and just installed it... should be a lot stronger than the 10 year old one I had. I have also installed the new set of four 123 sharp solar cells. I installed them yesterday on the new racks I had built by Will Arlow. I did happen to mount them upside down so I will put them right way up when the rain stops. I still have to do the electrical connections which I may get done today. So far the chickens that Sean has loaned me are puting out one egg a day. I have been experiementing with what they eat. I got a new bike ordered for my trip to Mexico which I am looking forward to. OK back to putting those solar cells up correctly!!
August 19, 2008. There is just so much to be done before winter sets in. I have been expelling oil for biodiesel which will give me heat for the winter months in my biodiesel heater. But I have also been working on a heater that burns straight veggie oil. Sunflower seeds have been selling for about $.36 a pound and that makes the oil worth about $2 a liter and as you can see its much cheaper to just go out and buy diesel from the local gas station. So nothing of what I do will reduce my costs more than just plain not using it! The way I see it there never will be a day that sunflower seeds are less expensive than diesel at the pump since every process in growing sunflower seeds involves using fossil fuels. Now can a farm grow its own sunflowers, expell the oil and run its machinery? I doubt it but I will work towards that goal. It will not be profitable but it may be sustainable.
There is certainly a lot of talk about sustainable living but I can't find many persons at all on the internet who are doing this on a practical level. And how is one going to live sustainably, ( that means cutting energy by at least 75%) have job and be part of society? I am exploring the options but so far I do not see any solution for the next generation. Most people I talk with are waiting for government to take the initiative. I do not think that any politician will get up and say "people we haveto reduce our energy by 75% so there is now a tax on fossil fuel usage starting with ten percent in the first year and growing by ten percent a year." Yes it will cause a calamity and will never be adopted so instead what we have is the slow eradication of the human race as we take economy over ecology. This I'm afraid is the end result for all of us. I do not have much hope but I will in my own way keep struggling.
I receved a letter yesterday from our local Bayham Government.. seems they have finally realized that our village and others in this municipality are dying economically so they have set up an eleaborate "New Economic Developmemnt Committee Structure and Mandates." Committees never accomplish very much because one always makes consessions and in the end very little is achived. What One needs is a motivating individual who has the ability to strike out in new areas. But that will never happen since we are in the committee mode and committees tend to squash indiviualism and stifle those with new ideas. See my article on businesses that will do well in Bayham.
Sean Hurley lent me a book entitled "Stupid to the last drop".. a must read for anyone. It describes our situation accurately and I applaud the author William Marsden for saying things as they are. Why as so called intelligent beings are we self destructing... well its money, money money with no thought about what to do with the wealth once we have devastated our surroundings! SAD!
August 18, 2008. A great weekend for visiting and attending a corn roast. did 100 km cycling on saturday
August 12, 2008. Just wanted to put up some pictures of our chicken tractors.
August 11, 2008. Lots of sunflower oil expelling but I am becoming more aware of the cost. The actual cost of the oil alone without labour, machines etc it is over $2.00 per liter and then to make biodiesel add about $.50 so sunflower oil is still more expensive than regular diesel at $1.30-.40 per liter. But the sun is still free in Bayham township... or is the property tax really a sunshine tax? So what does this mean? Yes our addiction to oil is not going to stop and the recent decrease in the price of a barrel of oil will not encourage people to use more sunshine. But be wary of the present price of fossil fuels, now is the time to invest in insulation, solar heaters and electrical production with solar cells. The price of fossil fuels will go up so rather than do a stop-gap measure figure out what the end result will be and then paln for it. As a good example of this take the past interest in using restaurant oil- it was only a matter of time before reataurants started selling the oil so what was the end result? Pressing sunflower seeds for oil! It may not be the cheapest today, but the day will come when growing your own energy will be the end result so at least begin the process and get experienced.
The summer is slipping by so quickly...I am keeping my cycling up by doing about 18 km per night then doing about 70 km on the weekend. I have not had the sailboat out yet sadly but maybe next week. I would liek to do a cycle tour for the month feb 2009 but this will have some problems for me... how do I care for the animals, windmill and solar cells? Heating? etc. I do hope that I meet someone who wants to share my experience and would not mind my being away for a month whiel they look after things. This is not a small task as there is just so much that needs to be done and decisions to be made dependant on the weather.
For me the greatest thing this summer has been people. We may not agree on everything but at least we seem to be on the same side. My most fun seems to be building a chicken tractor with Mary Yett and her daughter Rosella.. the buidling and the eating!
Still I cannot image anyone wanting to live a sustainable life and having a full time job. How this will work out for the world I do not know.
August 5, 2008. Getting quite busy with the double wall construction on the second floor of the house, the basement walls water barrier, the oil expelling and biodiesel.... and do not forget the garden producing everything.... I think my neighbours are fed up with zucchini !!
July 24, 2008. Been a while since I last posted.. some idiot downloaded a virus on my computer....just happend to be me! Jake and Issaac are busy putting in Double walls in the second floor, Darlene has been using the oil expeller with good success... except when I overfilled a container of oil... (walked away and forgot) and Jeff has been working on my various diesels. I put in a lot of time on my electrics last weekend expecting the inspectors on Monday!
July 17, 2008. Onward with the house insulation... and its quite hot just now for working in the attic where a lot of work hasto be done. We have the front bedroom insulated and drywalled... even put in three wire electrics. I've been helping in the moring and night with chores.. feeding chickens, steer and cats... well the geese and ducks too. Its a good bike ride in the evening.. about 16 km.
Very worried about the apparent meltdown of the financial well being of the States.
The Diversion controller seems to have packed it in so I am watching the battery voltage very carefully and regulating it manually. I have a note out to David Birch for another. I only had it about four months. This is one of those things about going off grid.... I am the maintenance guy!
July 11, 2008 I have started insulating the house using a double wall construction.I have hired Jacob and Isaac to help with this. I first took the large bedroom upstairs.. took out the wall and found that the wall was actually filled with blown in insulation at least 4 inches thick. Not too bad at all but we removed it and put in 6 inches of insulation on the wall then added an inner wall and added 6 inches more of insulation which should give about an R 44. The attic is very difficult to do not only becuase of the heat. I discovered that there was no air inlet around the soffits but there are roof bents... so we are drilling one inch holes around the edges of the roof. The attic is stuffed with insuation and moving it about is very difficult. I will put in baffles and connect them to the holes in the soffits.
The garden is really coming on strong now.. had my first zuccini. I got started too late in the season but hope this fall to put in a green house so I can get started earlier with my indoor planting. I did not really plan the garden so next year will do this as I need to rotate my crops. I am also digging up new gardens in the morning and evening when it is cool.
I now have more than enough hot water. I have reset my diversion load to 26 volts and it then begins heating my hot water earlier in the day.
July 8, 2008.I am making some kind of progress on the refrigerator. and yes I am confused since there seemd to be nothing I did that affected the power usage until I realized that the temperatuure in the fridge was getting lower. I took the thermostat apart... nearly lost everything in a desperate bid to understand and put it back together again... but as always I persisted and its functioning again. So what have I learned? One needs to tackle the thermostat first, understand it and then record the temperatures you want to keep. In the end result I am at least saving about .3 of a kwh a day from the normal 1 kwh a day.. but whether that is from the work I did or just changing the thermostat to function better I do not know.. I guess the part I haveto concentrate on is that I use less energy now.
July 4, 2008. I miss the gals from last week but this week I am taken up with new challenges. I need to get some resolution to the Electrical Saftey Authority and am working on that. I washed a larger batch of biodiesel and most of it done just with sunshine as my source for electricity. I have hired another fellow to help with the many projects around here as the summer is slipping away quickly.
July 1. 2008. Allison left this morning. I enjoyed her.. a vivacious independant individual. I am anxious to see how she fits into society. So back to the work at hand. finished up the second stage in the Biodiesel using sunshine only as my electrical source. It really paid to change the pump motor and convert it to 240 volt. In the evening I was invited over to Sean and Bevs place. Bev is an expert gardener and I need to learn things from her. Sean and I talked about my present dilemma with the Electrical Safety Authority and the things I am doing that are now considered illegal yet perhaps will have to change. We talked about the idea of the Ferry. It may be the mayor who has been promoting the Ferry proposal for Port Burwell. The idea is to have trucks ferried across lake erie coming through Port Burwell. This project will require a lot of very expensive upgrades to the roads, sewers, water system etc at a cost of many millions to Bayham, not to mention the dredging of the harbour every year. The jobs offered will be non skilled since there are just not the border guards here, ferry boat captains etc. Its a politicians pie in the sky that is already costing the taxpayers $9000 to get a company to fill out an application for grant money to do a feasibility study. I think any grade four student could easily see that it will leave bayham very badly in debt and the ferry service will only run for a short while before it folds as is the case for every other ferry attempt.
Counter to the ferry proposal would be to go into a limited production of some of the designs I have developed by allowing each household to contract out parts for these designs. We could also be expelling oil for use in cooking and salad dressings, using the sunflower meal for animal feed and as a compost stimulator. The oil could then be used for biodiesel with byproducts of a glycerin degreaser, which I have found most useful.
This would require no investment but a change in the laws to allow for working in the home workshop. It may only provide for about 20 or 30 jobs but I'm sure the ferry proposal would not offer more and there would be no upgrades to the municipal infrastructure.
I was saddened to see that some brave soul in Vienna has removed their chickens, presumably forced by the strong arm of the law. In all of my reading there is no harm having chickens but a lot of good that comes from having backyard chickens. Again its against the law and that law has no valid reason behind it. I think it needs to be challenged in light of our declining economy.
Sean and Bev always bring to light the sad state of governments but they did impress upon me the need to change local governments.
Our small towns in Bayham will have very great difficulty surviving. The cost of fuel has reached a point whereby anyone with a job is moving out to the cities and those reliant on travel for their food items will also consider that move leaving the towns with a very small tax base.
June 30, 2008. This has been an exciting week for us. Sadly Angali left last Friday after her week and Allison stayed on. I think the most important this we did all week was really visiting other people. There was Christine Dennis the Medicinal Herbalist, Mary Yett and her spectacular garden...( and a great meal too) Sunday we attended the Quaker meeting house and afterwards went to Ken And Martha Laing. I am so very impressed with Ken and Martha. They run and CSA and have interns helping and learning. Most of the work is done by Horse but on Sunday when we where visiting they were having a day of rest. The Vegetables where just spectacular....no monoculture there! Lunch offered by the Laings was delightful especially ending with strawberry pie! In all of my work I feel that their lifestyle where we should be looking. My experiments seem only a stopgap measure that will eventually lead to small organic farms that will be tended by both horse and man.
I tried very hard to give every opportunity to Angali and Allison, they tried everything I could think of... planting, weeding, oil expelling and even biodiesel.
Unfortunately Allison never really got a hot shower! There was just too much rain and cloudy conditions. We never ran short of electricity though. I did run the generator to provide some hot water the last night for her- used biodiesel or course!.
The towns electricity went down and it did not affect us but most of my neighbourswere concerned about the sump pump or the freezer.... I had to do a little bragging here about the benefits of the windmill.
I can't help thinking just what all of this will mean to anyone in their 20's. Not many are really capable of doing it because perusing a fulltime sustainable living situation requires cash,,, and to get cash you need a job and when you have a job you have no time. Allsion was the most optimistic feeling that her generation is well aware of the problems of the world and has already made many changes from the previous generation and given time things will sort themselves out. I am not so optimistic but I am listening and I must admit that everyone in that 20- 30 bracket that has been here has certainly given me great hope that they can make a difference in a gradually escalating way that does not create anarchy as perhaps some of my ideas indicate,\
I must also admit to really enjoying Angali and Allison. They are friends and I look forward to hearing from them years down the road when life has them in families. Allison leaves tomorrow and she will be missed as I loved her independence, hard work and optimism.
The ride to Port Rowan begining at 6 pm was a crazy thing to do but we had fun... I kept up to Allison... gads she can ride I hope she keeps it up when she goes back to Kingston. We returned partly in the dark and arrived home at 11 pm.. just fantastic, just what I needed for an old stick in the mud type guy!
And yes I learned a lot myself.. bless you gals on your way.. thanks.
June 28, 2008. I must admit having the two interns ( Allison Cannon and Angali Sharma) this week was just great. Both gals working in everything from driving the fork lift to expelling oil to weeding the garden and emptying the composting toilet. What was most promising for me was that they started to do the routine things without me asking and even going beyond such as researching making spelt bread! Visiting for a week seems to work out well since there is so much to do and I really can't show it all in a day or two. It is hard work...especially the getting up in the morning as the wakeup call is before 6 am.
June 27, 2008 The Ontario Electrical Safety Authorities support of sustainable living! I need help!!
I have fought long and hard to design and build my windmill as a
certain neighbour has held a grudge against me and phones every
bureaucracy to try hinder my work. Today I was visited by two agents
from the Federal Scientific Research and Experimental Development to
further my developments in alternative energy. They where
enthusiastic about what I
had done. It is a pity that the very same day that they had visited my place (and I showed them all of my work in detail and they said they where impressed), a Mr Bill Sasse from the Electrical safety Authority had to bring me an ultimatum for compliance on a number of issues that ended with fines up to $50,000 and a year In jail.
Because of the experimental nature of my work nothing is really permanent which is an important issue to consider so that at every turn the Ontario safety authority has the ability to request payment for inspections and CSA approval for every little item along the way. Sounds like a industry pact to discourage homebuilders from constructing their own energy devices. Even my refrigerator.. I have changed it to try get it more efficient... are they going to demand that I unplug it because I have now violated the CSA approval and have it field inspected at a cost of a few hundred dollars an hour with the inspector charging for driving time of about four hours.
When John Roland demanded that I have the windmill CSA approved by a field inspector this really got me upset especially after I contacted the CSA field inspector and he told me that it was quite foolish to have it inspected since it was only 24 volts. He said the inspector was probably new on the job. This cost me a lot of anxious moments as I added up the costs in time, frustration and money. Why did John Roland not know this or did he not bother to tell me this?
I then contacted John Roland again and he said he had talked with the CSA person and agreed that this was not necessary but that he would have to inspect it. I said OK but what are you going to look for. I first asked him if there was a standard wire colour on the solar cells . He fumbled around and could not come up with an answer so I changed the question to the windmill and asked him what he wanted to see on the windmill. His first thing was to see about an inline fuse. This is stupid... you cannot have an inline fuse in a windmill for if it blows then the windmill will freewheel and destroy itself. He then said well maybe there should be one between the diversion controller and hot water heater... Again a very dumb thing to do for if the fuse blows the battery is no longer protected for over charging.
At this point I decided I certainly did not want anyone with such inexperience wasting my time. So rather than Mr Roland getting someone with better knowledge I am now issued with a letter to strong arm me into submission. Of course they have a heavy law on their side and are paid to do these things I am not.
Most of the large components of my system are CSA approved but some of the items I have built myself because they are not available commercially or are inferior despite their CSA sticker. These too will want to be field inspected at great cost... then when I upgrade them or change them you will want to inspect them again and so this ridiculous cycle will go.
I suggested to Mr Bill Sasse that someone knowledgeable about solar cells and windmills contact and we will talk. If I am satisfied with this person who can answer my questions I will consider permitting an inspection by him otherwise I will shut down my system and go without.
What a sad result after years of fighting the local municipality for the right to put up a temporary windmill and study sustainable living!
Here are the charges: See how much time it takes to find these rules and then try understand them!
April 24, 2008
It has been brought to our attention that you carried out an electrical service upgrade at the above noted premises without the authorization of the electrical safety authority -rule 02-102
So a Neighbour phone in a complaint... any guess who?? This was not a safety issue but a disgruntled neighbour harassing me.
April 24, 2008
Rule 2-022 indicates that no person shall use, advertise, display, sell, offer for sale or other disposal any electrical equipment unless it has been approved in accordance with Ontario Regulation 438/07 and rule 2-024. solar panels and Wind Generator.
This indicates that if I build it myself I can't use it without the approval of the Ontario Electrical Safety Authority. If I was attached to the grid I would be more understanding of this rule.
And how about this one... any idea what it means??
April 24, 2008
A single disconnecting means shall be provided either integral with or adjacent to the distribution equipment -rule 14-418
April 24, 2008
Areas of the building were not accessible for inspection.
The inspector came unannounced and wanted to see everything with no discussion of making another time to come and he certainly was not aware of windmill installations. Judging by the rules every little thing that I had done electrically... yes that small solar cell under 12 volts that drives my solar air heater would be subject to a costly inspection! And there are lots of items like that in my place!
April 24, 2008
Any person responsible for any installed, alteration, repair or extension of an electrical equipment must be inspected and approved in accordance with the Ontario Electrical safety Authority -rule 02-004
So this really stops my research and ability to reduce my energy consumption as a do it yourselfer.
April 24, 2008
The equipment below does not bear the required electrical approval marking. Therefore it must be inspected and approved in accordance with the Ontario Electrical Safety Code prior to energizing. Rule 02-024 and ontario regulation 438/07. wind generator and solar panels.
So that wind generator I built myself despite not being capable of hurting anyone with 24 volts is considered a safety hazard??
April 24, 2008
The wiring is not be to concealed or rendered inaccessible until it has been inspected by an electrical inspector and found to conform with the Ontario electrical safety Code. Please expose all wiring for inspection -rule 02-044(6)
June 21, 2008 Saturday. Anjali Sharma arrived to intern for a week. We worked together on the refrigerator and she did some gardening. Getting the outside air to cool the regrigerator seems like a good idea so to add to that I added about 4 inches of insulation around it as well. we are recording the power consumption. I am also planning to use a solar cell to power a small fan to help the circulation i n the refrigerator venting system.
June 15, 2008 Sunday. Had a number of calls from prospective persons wanting to help out here. I hope some of them can make it.
Spent the day yesterday at an aution trying to buy up any hand operated tools... got some garden impliemnts, and miscellanious tools.. was quite a day. Today I finally put my design and ideas into action on the refrigerator by isolating the cooling unit and then having outside air cool it and then exiting the hot air outrside. Just a couple of hours work.
My next project is the water from the cistern so that I am not using my drinking water for washing. And who knows maybe the rainwater/ cistern water is better!
June 12, 2008 Thursday. What a wonderful group the OTESHA group of cyclists where.. I really miss their company here! We shared a wonderful tiem together... an evening walk, a campfire, singing at the piano and a great breakfast where they ground their own grain by hand for pancakes! I rode part way to Port Dover with them.. about 25 km out... it was a lonely journey back without them! On returning a found a wonderful hand crafted card made from recyled paper... really a great group!
June 7, 2008 Saturday. I have had quite a sore back for a couple of weeks. This sure reminds me of my advancing age.. and of course I have not been able to rest at all. I have visited a chiropractor and the reality is I am getting older and I need to take the time to get my back into shape as best can be had for my age. Sad thing is that I have always looked after my back doing the exercises... but I guess it was just a matter of time before things caught up with me. In the last few days I have felt a lot better and some regualr sessions with the chiropractor are helping.
I've posted a number of artlcles I have written. Some of them have been published in our local paper here "Round about Bayham". They are not very popular as I do not promise happy times or new discoveries of unlimited energy.
I've managed to hire Jeff Rogers to work with me on many of my projects. We have been fixing up the many generators that I purchased. I'm not so sure they are really related to sustainable living but they will come in handy if the power fails. They are all diesels and can run quite well on the biodiesel I produce. I hopefully will get them running of straight oil this summer. I envision the price of electricity to get quite high so that anyone wanting to use power tools will haveto use a generator with biodiesel or oil for fuel. At any rate I am providing jobs here.
As an electrical saving device I put in a large window on the south side of my large barn... the sunshine is very welcome.
I have been fighting with an old forklift and finally we are at the end of the road... the head was cracked and a subsequent try at welding proved not very good..... so I'm in the market for a new fork lift.
The garden has suddenly taken off with the warm weather... I need to get out and plant more! Radishes and lettuce are in abundance!
June 2, 2008. Monday. Still have not heard from the electrical Safety authority.I would not mind them doing an inspection but I would like to be assured that they actually know what they are talking about! I was not impressed by John Rowland at all! He wanted fuses on the windmill!!! Which is a dumn idea.
Been doing a number of batches of Biodiesel. I haveto use the generator to produce enough electricity to heat, mix etc the biodiesel. I do wonder just what the ratio is for energy in to energy out? At this point I feel that it is close to 1:1... not a very good ratio which leads me more to just using straight vegetable oil. I added up all the hours using the generator to produce electricity and found that I use about 12 hours of electricity at a rate of about 2 litres per hour useage for hte generator. So to produce a batch of 85 liters of biodiesel I will loose about 24 to my production of electricity. These are just rough figures at the momentand I will do a detailed study later. I will also substitute some solar and wind energy too. But one can see the trend.... to produce Biodiesel it does not produce much in the way of free energy!
May 27, 2008 Monday. Time sure flies. I have a lot of the garden planted. Recently I wanted to plant a field of non treated and non hybride sunflower seeds but I just cannot find any seeds that I can grow organically. All of the seeds are now coated and hybrids. I also looked at using hemp seeds which seem to grow in profusion with very high oil content but are regulated which actually prevents their usage by the local farmer. As I read on the internet there is actually no reason to not permit the growing of commercial hemp. Nearly everyday I discover that many bureaucracies hamper anyone wanting a sustainable lifestyle. Take just the idea of not having your grass cut is by law an punishable offense and yet there is a fossil fuel crisis..... and the related climate changes. I have come to the conclusion that many of our laws are counter productive in reducing green house gasses or cutting our use of fossil fuels. We are frankly in a mess and there are no solutions other than cutting down our energy requirements.
As a note about my problems with the Electrical Safety Authority..... I have not heard from them which is good!
May 11, 2008 Sunday. I stll have a bad back but I did manage to lower the windmill and replace part of the tail boom with aluminum to lower the weight so it would furl earlier. Partly successful. I also put a larger battery in my electric lawnmower that my sister donated to my efforts.This ofcourse will be charged by my excess solar and windmpower electrcity. Now if it would only stop raining so I can try out the lawnmower.
May 10, 2008 Saturday. Well I got intouch with the elctrical safety authority inspector and he said he would not require a CSA approval but he did want to inspect the wiring. I then asked him what he wanted to see in the windmill wiring and the first thing he said was fuses. I told him that a windmill does not have fuses but a brake that crosses all the wires should things get out of hand. He then said he wanted this to be autmatic. The autmatic nature would not work since you put the brake on in a lull, Putting it on at full tilt will burn the thing up!I also told him that I did not want a fuse because if it blows the windmill will freewheel and destroy itself.
At this point I realized he did not have any idea how a windmill worked so I told him he had better do a lot of study before he comes here to inspect as I do not have the time to educate him. Suddenly he said that he had given this case to a differnt inspector. I guess I'll wait and see what happens.
I spent a good deal of time in the garden yesterday planting beans. I have discovered that dry beans keep quite well and when added to soup are delicious. This morning I ground up some beans to a fine flour and made pancakes... with excellent results!! I would not have know the difference. Can I make bread out bean flour? My Milk substitue is working out too.. ground up almonds and maple syrup. Now I need to find a substitute for almonds..... maybe its beans!!!
I can no longer get free fying oil from the local restaurant as they are now paid to pick this up. Luckily I have the oil expeller. I must find other sources of oil... can I buy canola seed? How about poor quality soya? And I still want to grow sunflower seeds on my own.
I am managing to have a hot shower every few days. With the solar hot water heater and excess electricty produced I regularly get water over 60 degrees Celcius and it is very hot!!
I must concentrate on more insulation. I have just devised a very good window insulator which I planned yesterday. I plan to insulate the basement ceiling. I am very interested in hydronic floor heating and cooling. Now that I have a method of heating water I would like to use it to heat water that circulates through the floor. I do nto liek the idea of using cement so what i have thought of is routering a cutout in the flooring and putting in the pipe then covering it with a caulking. But before I get too involved in this I need to concentrate on insulating.
I have been using the biodiesel heater that I developed and so far it has been perforiming very well indeed.
I have updated the garden site.
Thanks for the notes of appreciation.
May 03, 2008 Saturday. I have been doing a lot in the gardens... Gynne came over and gave me a basket full of sprouted potatoes so I planted those along with the ones that sprouted in the fridge and ny root cellar. The parsnips from last year are doing gangbuster. So far they are the sweetest and best tasting things I have eaten. Some of my collardgreens also survived the winter and I am making a salad of the young leaves. Yes food has really become more expensive but this I feel is really due to the cost of fossil fuels finally getting throught the system. Our village is also at a turning point. There is no business here in town so anyone who has a job travels amny kilometers to work. Those that work usually have small kids too. So what is the result? Yes they want to move closer to work and stores. This will have a devastating effect on the population here and the matter of the school closing is probably final as they move away. What is left is the older retired population. This crowd will oppose any industry and that will let Port Burwell dissappear. Whjat we really need is a local industry that uses local produce producing items that are used locally. It will not make anyone rich but it will build a community.The problem with this is that most everyone will want to hang on to their acquired lifetsyle and not be able to cut their living expensess so they can live with less earned income.
There is just so much for me to do and I feel rather overwhelmed most of the time but thanks to many who drop by and encourage me onward.
Did some updates on the windmill and food sites.
April 30, 2008 Wednesday. The inspectors keep coming!! I got a visit from the Electrical safety association, John Roland. I got quite a list of violations or warnings in the mail. Some of the issues are reasonable as to meeting code for safety reasons. The big issue for me was the demand that my windmill be CSA approved at a cost of $152 per hour that includes travelling time. I then phoned the field Inspector Larry Watson who then said it was really a non issue since it was only 24 volts. He wondered about fuses but I told him I do not want fuses since it the windmill becomes disconnected from the battery it will freewheel and I also said I do not want fuses in the 24 volt line to the water heater. Larry was very understanding and said that the windmill was really a non issue and it is really the conversion to 120 volt that is the issue. I have asked for an inspection application and talked with John Roland concerning having a safety inspection since this is probably a good idea. Yesterday was a really difficult day for me, really very discouraging as I realize the difficulties with bureaucracies of going off grid. Hopefully I can get this done and then advise others who also want to follow this path so they can avoid some of the emotional trauma that I have gone through.
If you go off grid then the electrical safety association considers it a new service that must meet all new codes. In some ways this makes good sense on a safety issue but it could be very costly to someone who has an older house like my own. When i purchased the house I realized the wiring was badly done and have been disconnecting things and rewiring. I am hoping that the inspector will help with this as he seemed quite willing in this respect.
My disconnection to Ontario Hydro was done yesterday and they left me the wire coiled up on my front porch.
I started my biodiesel heater this morning and actually wrote down the instructions so I can remember them in the fall.
I have so many things to fear just now... the solar water heater.. I see things about having to get it CSA approved then the gas stove that I put in not to mention the methane digester I want to put in.
So going off grid and being self sufficient is something that is just about impossible at this time? Ofcourse all of this can be done easily if you pay a certified contractor. The message is that rich people can easily go off grid but those who need it most can't!
Now I wonder what potential road blocks will come up today?
April 24, 2008, Thursday. My Neighbour is causing me a lot of problems with harrassment. Someone informed the municipality yesterday because there where two semi trucks on delivery to my place and then today I had an electrical inspector from Ontario hydro show up to inspect my house.Amazing what some people will do for enjoyment.Interestingly those people who disagree with my work have never visted my place or even asked me about anything.
April 22, 2008. Tuesday. Such a lot has happened in the last few weeks. I've got the 1930 vintage stove operational on Natural Gas... at least the top burners! Just steaming some fresh parsnips from the garden for supper... yes I let them stay in the garden over winter and they are expecially tasty!.
April 12, 2008. Saturday. Well this has been an exciting week. I found my gas stove! Yes a 1930's vintage cooking stove. Very simple and very elegant. I have take it all apart and painted up the inside surfaces, replaced one rusted panel and now to put it back together. My plan is to get it going on Propane to begin since I have a number of propane tanks around, then switch it over to natural gas then to have methane produced from a biogas digester. My biggest source of energy loss was the electric cooking stove.. not that I did much cooking but should I need cooking then using the methane makes a lot more sense, Ofcourse this will entail a major building this summer of a biogas digester... onward!
The new solar cells add much needed electrcity assuring me of lots of hot water on a sunny with the wind blowing. The windmill has surprisingly stood up to all kings of wind. Despite the fried statr which I fixed it is doing well. I have everything except theheat dissipating epoxy... but it is on order. Can't wait to make a few more stators... then there is the blades to get from the molds that I made.
Its time to start the garden.. havea few seeds planted and some lettuce growing in the garden from last year under cold frames.
April 2, 2008. Wednesday. Monday Will helped me hoist the new solar rack and solar cells on the barn roof. We bolted everything together and I then spent the time hooking up the electrics. It was a long day and I was very tired late at night but it all worked perfectly. So I added about 500 more watts to the system's capabilities.... at least if the sun shines! I hooked the soalr cells in a series and the controller shows I now have about 60 -80 volts from the solar cells and many more watts. I still need a better battery. I ordered wire for the new stators Iwill build. I am also looking into getting a themally dissapating epoxy for the stator but this might be very expensive!!!.... but worth I'm sure.
March 30, 2008 Sunday. the winmdill is still putting out electricity but at a reduced rate. The Greater space that I put between the stator and the magnets has made a difference. At least it is still working! YEsterday I helped chop wood for a friend at his maple sugar operation.. he built the building and did all the work within the last month. Hew was exhausted and slightly injured and I enjoyed being there.
Today I finished off the coil winder for the new stator and built a tail. The one I have is too small but also too heavy... I may go to aluminum. The weather is gradually improving and today I had an excess of hot water minly due to the input of the windmill.
March 27, 2008 Thursday. Well the stator is slightly burned but the windmill still works so I patched things up a bit and modified the nose cone to permit the entry of air to cool the stator. I took my time and did a good job but I know I need to make another stator shortly for this one will not last. I need to have the windmill furl earlier but to do that I need to lighten the tail... but its already as light as it can be unless I change the pipe. Will has welded up the new solar cell rack and we are painting it this week. somehow I managed to do a miscalculation on the roof angle so I will haveto set up one side of the rack on a 2x4 to make it vertical. With the windmill out of commission it really let me know how I was relaying on it for my morning computer work as it usually built up the battery over night.
More and more I am realizing that people have no idea how little energy is available from anything but fossil fuels. I was very miserly this winter with the heating and by the time I added up jsut the expenses I have spent over $1000 to heat my home. If I had used the natural gas furnace it would have been more like $500 and no hassles! So why am I doing it??? It seems pretty obvious to me that we should be planning for a future with very much reduced energy and so I have started. There is very difficult learning curve and it will take me another year at least before I am self sufficient.
I miss the excitment of the flying wings, hopefully one day I will do it again.
March 25, 2008. Monday. Today was a rude awakening for me. I looked at the weather forecast and felt I should shut down the windmill for the day which I did. Later in the day the wind looked calmer so I restarted the windmill. A short while later I realized the windmill was going top speed and the amps went occasionally over 40. A very sudeen surge of wind came and I deicded to shut the windmill down. I did so at the wrong moment. It was really reved up and I threw the switch to cross all the wires which acts as a brake.. Smoke erruped from the generator!!! AT that point I was horrified but a short time later the windmill stopped and now turns slowy in the high winds as it should with the brake on. I may have fried the stator but the brake is still holding so there is some hope that it is recoverable. AS I have been watching the windmill I feel that the tail volume is too low and I would like it to furl a little earlier. Yes more things to modify!!
The biodiesel heater is still doing well but there has been a problem with the biodiesel caking up in the fuel delivery tube so today I increased the size of the delivery tube and lowered it, in hopes that the carbon buildup is slowed. I will probably end up finding a way to cool this delivery tube with air or perhaps with water since I need to heat the water anyways. But this does pose some very difficult engineering problems.
If there is anything I both love an hate it is my computers... Today I pulled out a battery from my linux machine and it would not start.. .well the new drives are SATA and it took some hours before some helpful friend got me on the right track.
Today really let me know that for most people the off grid solution wtih windmills just may be too much maintenance, especially if you are away at a job. Knowing the weather is vital and knowing how to fix things is just as important.
March 20, 2008 Thursday. That Biodiesel heater is really great! Now to refine it!
March 18, 2008 Wednesday. I have some really great developments in the biodiesel heater. It has been a tough few weeks developing the new biodiesel heater but I have what I think is the ultimate! In my trials in the house I added a damper to the air intake. This made an incredible difference. I was able to control the flame so that it burns with a consistence blue flame with zero cleanout. If there is a problem it is that the small pipe that delivers the biodiesel to the burn pot seems to clog up occasionally. But the cleaning is very quick and I'll do some more experimenting on it to see if that can also be eliminated. Next thing to do is make a hole in the house and use the air from outside. The air from the outside will go through my heat exchanger I built in the furnace chimney pipes.
Mar 17, 2008 Monday. The weekend saw a number of visitors interested in renewable energy. My final testing of the new biodiesel heater is complete and it is a success! Now I have a removable dish to clean rather than sticking my hand inside the burn pot to clean out the residue!I did try straight veggie oil but without a lot of preheat it was not successful. I will work on using straight veggie oil as making biodiesel is intensive on chemicals and Methanol.
Mar 12, 2008 Wednesday.Started a batch of biodiesel. I had to resort to the natural gas furnace for heating the house since I was down to my emergency supplies. I have just hatched a hairbrained idea of using my old washing machine for a centrifuge to filter the oil. Basically jam the machine on spin cycle, then line the tub with a cloth pour in the oil and then spin it up and it will be filtered!On the windmill I have produced about 900 amp hours which if you multiply it by 25 (rough voltage) you get watts per hour about 25,000. Divide that by 1000 and it produced 25 kilowatt hours and multiply that by say twenty cents and I have saved $5 for about three weeks of the windmill. So basically at that rate of about one dollar fifty per week it will save me about $65 a year... so payback is $4000 divided by 65 is only sixty one years! This outlines our real problem of not realizing the true cost of energy. in the coming crunch of expensive energy the only solution is to cut down the usage drastically. But no one is listening!
Mar 9, 2008 Sunday. Well it snowed again last night but what a great day today. The sun is shining the the wind is blowing! That means the battery is full and the extra energy is heating water... and did it heat the water.... all the way up to 54 degrees Celcius... dam hot!! So after shoveling out the drive..and my neighbors I had the pleasure of a long very hot shower.
Mar 8, 2008 Saturday. Lots of snow! I have left the windmill running through the storm to see what happens. The winds have picked up to somewhere over 20 km per hour and is supposed to get higher today maybe over 30 km per hour. The Wind direction and speed monitor I have installed does work but as I said earlier I'm not sure it is that accurate. It is registering 18 km per hour just now but I suspect it is higher. The windmill rarely seems to have a constant speed and it does furl but perhaps at too high a wind speed. Output when furling is above 30 amps... and I have seen over 40 amps but just for a moment.
Mar 7, 2008 Friday. I looked at the coming weather and determined that I should lower the windmill, do an inspection and then add my wind speed indicator. I started about 2 pm and ended just before 6 pm. I did a lot of work and was happy with the new windspeed indicator that sends a wireless signal to a receiver which in turn is connected to the computer so I can track what is going on. The receiver actually stores all the information until I turn on the computer.This is not a perfect set up but it does work. Now the airpseed is not calibrated.. I will need to do that but for the moment it does give me some idea of the power output to windspeed.
The more I work on this sustainable lifestyle the more I realize that society is in for a real shock -there is just no way the individual can live off of renewables, have a job and do things other than monitor and maintain the system. My direction is now to encourage communities to take charge of their energy needs by building and maintaining their own windmills, biodiesel, wood etc for without the community effort life in the future looks like a disaster.
Mar 6, 2008 Thursday, I have posted a vew of the electric panel, the rectifier and windmill brake on the electrics section.
Mar 5, 2008. Wednesday. I have been away for the last week trying to help my elderly Father. One of the first things I did when I returned was to turn the windmill back on. It was a real joy to do that. The wind actually was quite strong and I recorded the highest amperage output ever -about 48 amps at 26.5 volts giving about 1272 watts. It was not constant and I later turned the windmill off when the winds threatened to go higher and ice pellets and freezing rain hit.. I may haveto set the furling sooner! I did notice a little different sound today which I attribute to ice on the blades creating a noisey airfoil. I took somew picutres of the now crowded electrical panel should appear later today ot tomorrow.
Feb 25, 2008 Monday. On the weekend we had a get to gether of local people presenting differing aspects of their lives from alternate energy ( myself) , to Christine a medicinal herbalist, to plants and birds (Ron) , land use etc. It was very successful in many aspects but especially putting me in touch with those of similar ideas. On Sunday a number of people came by to have a tour of the property.
Feb 21, 2008 thursday. Took the windmill down today to rebalance the blades. I was worried that the previous set up had too much vibration. It took a few hours but it was all done by about 3:30 pm. It was a calm day so I could not really see if the effort I put in was worth the time.
Feb 20, 2008 Wednesday. I again went to the market in Aylmer and was very pleased with the bread I found there.
Turning the windmill off over night with very gusty winds worked well! Last night I ran all night and charged up the battery.today its very sunny but not much wind so again we have lots of power and even making hot water with the solar water heater and I expect any excess from the solar cells.
I have great doubts about many people actually being able to do what I am doing because there is just not enough time in the day to do this sustainable living thing and have a job. But if one had a partner one could work and the other could maintain the home. I am also thinking that the large central power generating stations are really the answer too since they can monitor and maintain the system and install pollution devices. But the big question is the fuel used. Wind energy is the best since the larger the windmill the greater the efficiency. This being said what I say will not matter since I do not have any political clout. This is where I find democracy failing, Big business such as the nuclear sector has paid lobbyists and they influence the politicians ( who do not do their own research).
Today I am working on a new design for the new solar cell racks.
Feb 18, 2008 Monday Well so far so
good. I have lowered the windmill an number of times and checked it
out. The only thing I found was a little slop in the bottom bearing
which I fixed. Today it was quite breezy with lots of gusts, I expect
to over 30 mph. It started to concern me so I applied the brake and
sure enough the windmill slowed and is mostly stopped. I'll see how
it lasts the night.
I want people to realize this is my first attempt and I will be changing the blades and stator... perhaps more in my effort to refine it. As it stands just now I am very fortunate that it works as well as it does. It produces electricity making the rectifiers warm to the touch but I need to know how many watts for each windspeed so that will mean a weather station and the newly purchased amp meter installed.
I have also purchased four more 123 sharp solar cells to give me another possible 500 watts of electricity. This should bring my total maximum wattage to 1500 watts. My battery will be replaced this year as well with a 24 volt 1000 amp hour battery.
I was very nervous on this first week of testing but so far everything seems to work as planned.
I am making every effort to live within my limits and of all hopes well I will be able to off the grid in the late spring when the new set of solar cells go in. Today I also measured the watts used in washing clothes. Took about 30 minutes and used about 600 watts for 23 minutes -easily done with my system -especially on a sunny day. The more I work with the weather the better!
Feb 17, 2008 Sunday. Yesterday I lowered the windmill and checked it out carefully for any loose bolts and such. The only thing I found was that the windmill felt sloppy on the main post so I shimmed it up. It certainly seemed to run more smoothly after that. Paul Roy dropped over to lend a hand. Today sunday morning I lowered the windmill again and prepared for high winds. I thought it would be prudent to do so. There was also freezing rain. When I lowered the windmill I noticed large globs of ice on the blades -not quite what I had expected. AT any rate I removed the tail feathers and tied down the blades for expected rain and wind. Yesterday due to the good amount of sunshine and wind I was able to see the diversion heater at work. Before I had the diversion controller hooked up the solar cells would cut out when the battery was full. Now I can make use of the extra free energy from the windmill and solar cells. The hot shower felt very good last night! I picked up four more sharp solar cells in London friday. This will bring my total now to 1500 watts possible. I am also currently looking for a new forklift battery. Will installed an inside staircase and hatch so that I can access the solar cells on the roof of the barn without going up the ladder any more.
Feb 15, 2008 Friday Things are better today. The windmill worked overnight and it did increase the battery voltage with the higher winds.I am currently looking for ways to record the windmill output and thanks to the internet I am getting a lot of help with being able to meter the windmill.Now I have to record wind speeds, current produced etc and find where I can optimize it. Thanks to all the people who have supported me through this project.
Feb 14, 2008 Thursday. Well the windmill is up and running but now I haveto refine it. I am somewhat dissapointed in the output at this point. I have done all I can do to make sure it is producing electricity. The ac voltage on any two wires from the three is about 20 volts and if I disconnect the battery I can get over 30 volts ac from the rectifier. So what is going on? I have put this question out to one of the windmill forums. My battery is 24.8 volts. The solar cells really jump up the voltage when the sun shines. Now why doesn't the windmill do the same. Need higher wind? I guess I'll haveto wait for some expert advice on all of this.
Feb 13, 2008 Wednesday. Today I will put the wind turbine on the tower. This is going to be exciting.. I hope all foes well. Yesterday was very cold but I am still heating the house with biodiesel. I have laso started a biodiesel heater log so show how much biodiesel I am using, the times of cleaning, the types of biodiesel and any other comments. I will post it in a month or so.The sun is out today and I hope that I can get more hot water and solar heaterd air! The soalr cells are working well too, a few dyas ago I recorded over 600 watts which was very surprising.... I was only supposed to get a max of about 500!
Feb 10, 2008 Sunday. Been washing the biodiesel I made yesterday and disicovered how good that glycerine byproduct is for degreasing all manner of things! Washed my oily rags in it, clothes, the oil expeller, the floor around the expeller and this stuff works just great!!!Very cold outside today ,minus 14 Celcius but my air heater is getting 50 degrees celcious and the sloar water heater is up over 45 degrees celcius. I actully have the heat turned off in the house for the afternoon.
Feb 08, 2008 Friday. Finally I have all the parts ( and backups ) for the windmill. I'm just going to get the rectifiers set up on the heat sink material donated by Rob Rader of Sparta - thanks Rob. Had a power outage on Wednesday but it did not affect me as I was prepared. I wrote my Column "Energy Matters" that evening on the computer, had lights, heat and all. I did run my generator just incase the outage lasted all night. I 've started another batch of biodiesel today. I am anxious to try my newly made water pump. I got an old pump at a flea market and hooked it up to a electric motor I found around here... a lot less noise than what I was using before. I made more changes to the methanol recovery unit... it works very well now. I changed the pulley on the main mixing pump as well which made a good difference in the ease at which them motor works. Many improvements this week! So when do I put up the windmill? I'm waiting for better weather but within the week.
Feb 4, 2008 Monday. I spent saturday working on an old fork lift which I intend to use for moving the generator parts around.It is rather fun working with Jean. He has a constant sense of humour. Sunday I spent the day drying the sunflower seed biodiesel. Iactually tried the biodiesel and it does have better properties from the restaurant oil. Infact it seems to burn hotter.I have also been working with the biodiesel heater and find that it still leaves a lot of gooey mess after a few days of burning. I think this indicates that I either have poor biodiesel or the conbustion is not complete. Althought I have not yet cleaned up after the sunflower oil biodiesel I am wanting to modify the fuels delivery by preheating. Sunday I also finished up painting the windmill blades. I also nearly completed the wiring.. but need a few more connectors from the hardware. I have yet to find a bowl to afix on the front of the windmill to cover the bolts.... in airplane talk we say spinner! Should be an exciting week as the windmill is just about ready to put up.
Feb 1, 2008 Friday. Yesterday was a good day for me. The wind was calm and there was sunshine! So i decided it was time to lower the tower and put in the cable. This meant that I had to stuff a weighted string in the top, raise the tower and then let the weight pull down the string. Good in Theory and after only one failed attempt the idea worked just fine. I beleive it was Ray who suggested this idea. Rick the dutchman came around just in time to help pull the cable through the tower. The raising an lowering ot the tower was very easy and presented not problems. The Biodiesel reaction of the sunflower oil has moved along. The reaction is now complete and the mehanol recovery has alwo been completed so now I am heating water to do a wash. I have noted that a lot of my activity has to do with what the weather is doing but being aware of the weather has really made me aware of the severe changes we go through each day and yet how little note most people give the weather. If we are going to reduce our energy useage then knowing the weather well and adjusting our lifestyle to it will be a necessary step in our survival.
Jan 30, 2008 Wednesday I purchased another oil stove. This one is larger than I have previously seen and of a different construction.It will haveto wait for a while for restoration and testing. The wind today is very strong and really worries me. Many treees are down and I had to secure my solar cells with ropes just to help secure it. I really fear putting the windmill up in this kind of weather. Is this climate change?? I also purchased four more solar cells and will think long and hard about the rack I am going to use. The wind strength on the barn roof is quite high and this worries me. I started another batrch of biodiesel made from the sunflower oil I expelled. Curiously the sunflower oil was very thick when it was cold, infact the p8ump had a very hard time to turn over. after the first removal of the glycerine it was a lot easier to turn. I painted the back side of the windmill blades yesterday.
Jan 29, 2008Tuesday. Monday mmorning I finally did some calculations on just how much oil I was producing . Seems like I am actually getting 40 percent oil by weight from the sunflower seeds. This is good. consumption is about 91 kg per hour or about 200 lbs per hour. So in a four hour time one can do 800 lbs. I found that the expeller starts with a very poor oil to meal ratio until it gets hot. Then it does very well but after a while the minute holes start to plug and the meal does exhibit more oil as the small holes in the press start to block. I think four hours is about the longest one should run the press before cleaning. Cleaning is not a very hard job and takes about 30 minutes.
Worked on the windmill blade sanding in the afternoon to get it ready for another coat of paint. The weather had turninged warm so I took the opportunity to make up another water barrel for the biodiesel room. I do need about two barrels of water to process the biodiesel.
Sun Jan. 27, 2008 Sunday Morning. On Saturday I worked at getting the battery, charging and inverting monitor mounted in the house. I had laid the line in the ground and now finished the installation. I put in two phone jacks to make the system easy to work with but I had made a flawed assumption and it wasn't until I was laying in bed that I figured out my mistake. So early this morning I made the changes and behold it worked fine. Now I can monitor everything from the house! Amazing how discouraging it was yesterday and now today so exciting now that I got it figured out! OK today I have to finish cleaning the oil expeller because tomorrow is going to be warmer and I need to do the testing to see just how much meal I get compared to the oil. then I need to measure how much sunflower seeds the expeller uses in a given time. I took some pictures of the "HOT" sunflower meal in the yard. It has been snowing but the pile is so hot that there is no snow on it! I cleaned the oil expeller and made some changes to the biodiesel washing system. The automatic hookups I had used for the water leaked in the cold so I changed them out for some more industrial quick releases they should work fine. I also cut down a hose from the methanol/potassium hydroxide mixing tank so that it ran directly to the reactor.
Sat Jan 26, 2008 Saturday morning . Yesterday was a good day too. I finished up a batch of biodiesel and it went rather well. I'm stiull making a lot of refinements to the biodiesel system and so far everything is working better. I did contact Fred Herman a few days ago to enquirre about more sunflowers and he said he was palnning on planting a lot more so there will be no problem of supply. Rod came over yesterday to add to our Diesel parts inventory.
Jan 25, 2008 Friday morning: There is one good thing happening in the weather... its getting consistently colder which means that there is more sunshine and that means I can rely more on the sunshine for heat and hot water. I made quire a discovery yesterday. I am anxiously reading about sunflowers, their production and uses for the meal and oil. Mike phoned me and said that his cows loved the sunflower meal... goo because he has good chickens and that means we can trade! But I also discovered something else. As I passed the pile of sunflower meal that I made over two weeks ago it now has a very bad smell. Sure enough when I dug into it the meal was very hot and its minus 12 degrees celcious outside!!!! Now this must mean that it is producing methane! I was wondering why there was warnings about storing sunflower seeds that got wet.... now I know. If indeed this produces methane then I had better think of ways of capturing it and using it for my cooking. I got the windmill painted yesterday... sky blue.. just the first coat... more to go on. I also started some of the inside wiring at the house and barn. Will have finished the first part of the shelving on top of the biodiesel room. I was able to complete the washing of the biodiesel.. now today to do the drying. Was at Gynnes house last night playing the piano and gossiping!
Jan 23, 2008 Wednesday. I reclaimed an old electric water heater and got it set up to heat water for the biodiesel since I did not want an open flame in the biodiesel room with the biodiesel water heater. Spent time getting the windmill blade off after I glued the blades on to the hub. The epoxy resin had squeezed out onto the hub bolts so I had to heat up the bolts to soften the epoxy.. sure enough it came off after some heating. Balanced the blades. Did some more wiring on the panel as well. Will has pretty much finished the shelving on top of the biodiesel room... looks very impressive.
Jan 21, 2008 Monday. Things are moving along quite nicely, Will is finishing the shelving on top of the new biodiesel room, I'm making more biodiesel every day, Finishing up the windmill wiring etc. BUT I may have just glued my windmill blades to the turbine ... must have been some squeeze out. I'll tackle that tomorrow! The weather has been a lot colder lately and there appears to be more sunshine! I'm certainly very anxious to get more of the solar stuff working. I obtained a new diesel engine... a Petter two cylinder. It looks in rough shape but there is good compression and everything appears to work. Another project not quite sure what I will use it for but a generator just might be its best use.
Jan. 17, 2008. Thursday. Really worked hard today to get the final connections to the barn and house complete before the cold weather gets here. It was a lot of work but I did it. I will now have the privilege of being able to do the final hookups indoors. Also started another batch of biodiesel using the heavy lard since I missed the pickup of the used canola oil at the local restaurant. Will finished the staircase up to the second floor in the barn. Not really sure what I will store up there yet. Still trying desperately to find a source for rectifiers... I do not want the ones I have to fail. I would like to have a backup for everything. Need to do a final sanding on the windmill blades and then paint them.
Jan 16, 2008. Wednesday. Things are really moving along well. I made another batch of biodiesel with good success! Everything worked rather well. I tried the centrifuge and that too worked well..... OK now on with another batch since I am burning it to heat the house. The windmill is really moving along well too as the baldes are now epoxied in place. I have yet to balance them. I also mounted a lightening arrestor on the top of the windmill. If there is anythign I am not too sure about its the rectifier so I will do a little more research on that.
Jan. 14, 2008 Monday I avoided the windmill blades today to do more work on the biodiesel. I am quite convinced that it takes more energy to make a biofuel than you get out. I am making the process more efficient all the time but still that is my time spent when I could be doing other things. The experience is good though. I did more reading about the windmill and feel that I do not have enough of a heat sink on the diodes for the windmill. I'll do something about that tomorrow. I tried out the new filter centrifuge on the biodiesel. I drilled some holes in the piping, taped them and then put in the fittings. It will work just fine but first I need to wash the biodiesel. I am a little frightened to light up the biodiesel water heater in the new biodiesel room since it has an open flame so I am considering resurrecting the old electric water tank I found. It will take some work but it will be safer. I can use the biodiesel water heater when the weather gets a little warmer. I have also thought of running some 24 volt lines and putting in a water heater run from the windmill. so much to do and so little time. I sometimes wonder what life really is..... survival?Will finished one door to the biodiesel room... tomorrow maybe the other one, then stairs for the roof.. and some insulation too.
Jan. 13, 2008 Sunday Very good weekend , on Saturday Jean came over with some plastic conduit that he took out from his torn down tobacco kilns. He also brought with him a coil of wire which we pulled the cables that he had also given me. He then also insisted that I bury the conduit and cable before retiring for the day. I was exhausted but if he was going to keep working at his age I would certainly match it!! At night I finished putting filler in the last fiberglass covered blade.On Sunday I finally got the blades assembled and mounted on the windmill , it looked impressive. I also started a batch of biodiesel. One of the humorous moments came in the workshop when I realized that I could not put the blades together in the shop since it would not fit out the door.....hmmmmm Glad I didn't glue it up.
Jan. 9, 2008. The day finally got sunny so I rushed around opened the solar air heater and opened the valve for the solar water heater. Yes !! 60 degree Celsius air out the the solar air heater and 43 degree Celsius out of the water heater. Will worked at the biodiesel room and I finished up on the wood carving of the windmill blades. Now I haveto cover the windmill blades with some fiberglass cloth, let them cure and then fill them and sand... another week of work and then we an get them on the test stand! I have still to install the water heater elements that work on a nominal 24 volts... and then run the lines. I may not be able to bury them if the ground is frozen. AT night I visited with Gynne, gossip and piano playing and good fun. This day also marked the end of owning buildings in downtown Toronto as the last of my buildings was sold. We have had a lot of wind these last few days so I put the solar cells flat so they would not have much tension on them..
Jan. 8, 2008. Tuesday Been in Toronto for the last few days completing the sale of my last building in Toronto. I can't help thinking that I sold it just in time. with peak oil and a general fall in housing prices in the States soon to be in Canada. So now to put more of my time and money into my sustainable living venture. Monday was rather hectic with lawyer stuff but Tuesday I was able to get back on the windmill. I have the cable buried now to the base of the tower and the necessary fitting to connect it to the tower. The blades are nearly done. The test stand will be mounted in the parking lot and a few tests done to make sure everything works. I still have to run the 24 volt lines to the Water heater. I will lay them on the ground surface until the next thaw. Will have worked this week finishing up on the Biodiesel room in the large barn. I need to get things up and running again as I am down to my reserve in Biodiesel and relying on Natural gas just now. The weather has been particularly cloudy so solar electrical production has been poor, however there has been lots of wind and on some days I worry about the high wind velocity damaging the windmill. There is a lot of work to be done not only in doing completing new ideas but maintaining the system. And yes there is still meals to make and clothes to wash.
Jan. 2, 2008Wednesday .Another great sunny day. Certainly provided enough energy to heat my home and provide electricity which made me feel very good. Today also saw a barrel of oil go over $100 per barrel. I am especially concerned with the coming scarcity of natural gas which is expected later in 2008. Almost finished carving the second blade for the windmill which feels really good. I also installed a light over the oil expeller which was badly needed. It takes the electricity from the oils expeller generator and will provide good lighting so I can do oil pressing in the evening. It was actually quite cold today at minus ten Celsius but with the brilliant sunshine the cold did not matter. In the evening I went over to Gynnes where I played the piano gossiped and I tried to explain just what and why I am doing this sustainable living stuff. She understands it as she lived that life back in the 30's and 40's.
Jan. 1, 1008 Tuesday. Both Sunday and Monday where very busy with the windmill blades and lots of oil expelling. Hopefully I have enough oil now to do a biodiesel batch. The oil seems great, I used some in my cooking tonight... I liked it better than olive oil. I also noticed that the oil got all over my hands when I was doing the expelling and cleaning... left them softer and feeling much better. Today I have one windmill blade pretty well carved and the others almost there. I think I'll spend all my time on finishing the wood blades and get some tests done with those. I have all the pieces for the windmill test now. I will hook up everything on the test stand along with my windspeed indicator and see if everything works as planned.
Dec. 30, 2007 Saturday, Good day today, got the second windmill blade glued and the first one partially carved. I also did a lot of oil expelling with excellent results. seems I have the process pretty well figured out. I did screw up on the oil expeller at the end when I neglected to secure the screw adjustment handle. But it was time to clean it again anyway. Later in the evening I worked hard at carving the windmill blades.... took some time to find the right woodworking tool. It has been about 20 years since I last used the scrapers and planes that I used making harpsichords. I picked up one scraper and said the guy who sharpened the blade must have been nuts.. ofcourse it was me 20 years ago and this blade later proved to be the solution to blade carving!
Dec. 28, 2007 Friday. I did my shopping. I needed some basswood for the backup blades for the windmill. Townsend lumber had a very limited quantity and only 1 inch thick so I picked out 6 planks that I would glue together to give me my two inch thick blades. It was really great to get to use the woodshop again and it took surprisingly little time to dress up the boards. I will try to have a lower TRS ( tip rotational speed) of about 5-6 as I do want them to be quiet and different from the fiberglass ones that I hope will eventually be successful. In the late afternoon I got back to expelling oil. I noticed right off the bat that the oil was not flowing as it did in the last time I used the machine. I guess it needed cleaning.. so thats on the agenda for tomorrow. At least I did not jam up the machine! Feeling a lot more comfortable now that I am back at work. work here really is my happiness.
Dec.27, 2007 Thursday. visited Kingston over the holidays visiting parents and sister. This was partly a working trip since my dad is now needing help with his finances. I had some time to think about finances and our immediate future and am not feeling too optimistic about our future in North America. In light of our dependance on fossil fuels and what I see as a wasteful use of energy in all aspects of our daily life we are in for a rude awakening. I was also reminded of a comparative study of the collapse of Russia a few years ago and the impending collapse of the USA. While the USSR struggled it at least had the ability to survive but the USA does not have that tradition of back to the earth abilities. Even my own expolits are teaching me that the future is simply a matter of great conservation and a more simple way of life that centers around community. We will have those that are rich enough to purchase their way of life but for most of us we need to sit down and write out what our basic needs are and how we are going to have alternatives knowing of the current fossil fuel depletion and climate change. Although I am constantly refining and learning about biodiesel and veggie oil alternatives I am not optimistic that any of the biofuels is the answer for everyone I do know that learning to live simply off the land and being part of a community is at least the starting point.
Dec 21, 2007. A sunny day at last. The solar air heater is giving a reading of over 60 degrees Celcius and the Solar water heater is producing hot water at 44 degrees celcius.
Dec 20, 2007 Thursday I was disappointed at the windmill blade construction... the edges of the mold did not release well. The plug came out just fine though so I had to grind part of the mold down , touched up the plug a bit and then I will repair the mold. Will came in for a few hours today and put up the walls for the Biodiesel room. He will put the roof on over the next few days. Rob came as a visitor from Sparta. He drives a Diesel volkswagen too. I gave him a tour of most everything then he pitched into help move things around in the Barn. His help was really appreciated as it was a two person job.
Dec 19, 2007 Wednesday Finally sorted through that big pile of papers on my desk. Today was very busy Tom Wilson came by and took away the branches that had remained after taking down the tree from the southeast corner of the property. I had really wanted to have this chipped but I could not get an answer from the gusy who do the chipping so Tom came by, cleaned the driveway as well. And tom and I trade, Will came in the afternoon and started building the Biodiesel room. I had spent part of hte morning doing some cleaning and moving things around. The nice thing about this room is that we are making a rather strong roof so that I have more space for my junk! In the evening I went over the Gynnes place. I played the piano, we talked joked and had fun! It was another rather warm day just above freezing but no sunshine.
Dec 17, 2007. Monday. Lots of office work with the impending purchase of generators and the sale of one of my properties. Went up to visit My friend Mr Chalyson who had an old fork lift I thought I could use. Unfortunately the engine was seized.. so I removed the spark plugs and gave it a shot of WD40. I'm not too hopeful that this will work but I will see if I can get it moving tomorrow. Will cmqae over and we talked about the new shower installation in the washroom. I originally wanted a tiled shower unit since I could not find one I liked. In the ned he convinced me to just purchase a prefabricated one from the local hardware. We then tlaked about building a room for the biodiesel which we hope to start tomorrow. Did some time moving stuff around to make room for the generator shipment. There was some sun today and I benefitted by some hot water and the solar air heater was operational.
Dec 16, 2007 Sunday. 9 AM bird count.. and yes it was snowing very hard and quite cold with wind but there must have been about 20 people out. I walked along the shore line in what was a most beautiful walk.. and lots of geese, ducks and gulls throw in a few junco's, a finch and chickadees. I had prepared the second half of the mold as well and so in the afternoon I finished waxing it and then applied about 3 coats of release compound ready for the epoxy and fiberglass to finish the second part of the mold tomorrow. I frequently shovelled snow for Gynne , the various side walks and the solar cells. Cleaning the solar cells is actually quite dangerous as I haveto climb a ladder while the wind is blowing quite hard. At the moment I put the solar cells flat because of the wind so the snow gathers easily. I have yet to figure out how to get the ice off them but hopefully there will be sun at some time this month! Having solar cells on the top of a building has its detractions such as high winds but it does get a lot more sunshine in that position.
Dec 15, 2007 Saturday Got up early this morning knowing I had to cast the lower half of the windmill blade. Everything went well except for a pot of epoxy that exothermed on me.... a littel rusty in the mold making department. Let the gelcoat harden to a slight stick then applied cloth... and again I forgot to apply cabosil and epoxy to the corners.... hope I recovered. I also worked on getting the last two diesel generators that I purchased, up and running.I actually took one apart because I did not wait for a moment until the starter kicked in....so today was a frustrating day but I will recover. I have purchased a large amount of diesel generators. I know they 're not as popular as gasline ones but in looking to the future and my biodiesel and oil production I see them as becoming popular in a year or so espeically if I get them to run on straight vegetable oil which I am planning to do. At night I joined a group of carrolers on a hay wagon... rather fun!Still eating tomatoes from the cellar.
Dec 14, 2007 Friday. Another good day of work! Got a generator working that had been giving me problems -at least I understand what the problem is now. The big event of the day was to finally get the oil expeller working again... yes I produced lots of oil and the whole machine is working perfectly! I ran out of space for the meal left over from the expelling. I'm hoping I can trade this as livestock feed.
Dec.13, 2007 Thursday. A great day today. Got my 24 volt hot water heating elements for my diversion load on the windmill. I got a test stand made for the windmill -the stand on my table had to be sacrificed but thats the way it goes. I then made up the tail section and mounted it on the test stand. I then started the windmill mold. This is going to be very tricky so I did plan a couple of alternate methods should the first not work. Snowed today and for the last month there has been very little solar electricity or solar water heating. I really need that windmill!
Dec 12, 2007 Wednesday.Quite a day. Finished drying a batch of diesel. The process is getting easier as I make small adjustments along the way.. a work in progress! Will came and helped me move a piano from the church to my place. I felt this was a real mistake for the church since a piano will last forever with a little maintenance and requires no electricity but no listened. Next I moved the new generators to the large barn where I will work on them to get them going. Did a lot of thinking about the windmill blades I am making. I have figured out a way to make a mold from the plug I just made... tomorrow I hope to get that done/
Dec 11, 2007 Tuesday. Monday I spent running up to Woodstock to meet with a potential business opportunity with diesel generators... I also purchased two more new ones. Got some supplies for my windmill and biodiesel projects too. Today I worked at washing the biodiesel... finally got some water from the rain and melting ice. Got the new biodiesel water heater going but it was tough going as the rain made it quite cold. But I did vary the reactor again and it is much more efficient in the washing cycle. Worked on the Windmill blades too... more fine sanding and hopefully tonight I will start to think more seriously about how to do the mold.Working on the biodiesel reminded me of some rather serious thought. I did have some troubles with the biodiesel reactor today. The cold and wet weather did not help either. I have made improvements on the process but two things happened that frustrated me.The spray nozzles where not working well, something was plugged! First I forgot to shut off the water pressure in the wash process and then I tried to change the nozzle. when I released the cap holding the nozzle the water came gushing out. This put a lot of bulk water in the wash tank and this messed up some of the the batch. The good part was that I had forgotten about the filter which was the first reason I was taking the nozzle apart. The filter popped out absolutely plugged. I cleaned the filters and then the sprayers worked great but I had damaged my biodiesel batch.The second thing was that I had made a provision for another air line for suction without a valve on it. When I was doing some serious pumping the line backed up and came out the vacuum pump creating a real mess. This I fixed and cleaned the vacuum pump. There is a serious learning curve trying to live a sustainable lifestyle. It is becoming quite obvious to me that those people who work for a living will just not have any time to prepare for any kind of sustainable living and are basically at the mercy of the local gas and electric companies.It like offering the local natives work...you kill the ability to be self sufficient and then they are a slave to the consumer society.
Dec 8, 2007 Saturday. I attended my first protest march. I did not feel comfortable at all, lots of police, people with loud speakers, people with signs, etc. Being part of a crowd is not my thing but at least I was there to protest that Canada is not keeping to Kyoto. I was however impressed with the leader of the new Democrat party who spoke…. I wonder where our Green candidate was?? We marched from Yonge St to the parliament buildings. I did not hang around to hear more speakers but decided to head to Hart house to get a glimpse of literature from other protest groups and one person promoting worms.
I am always looking for contacts but what I find is most people are just talking about cutting back on their energy use not really doing it with real commitment. I do everything I can and I have a message for anyone who wants to listen. It just is not going to happen! We are just too accustomed to the consumer society. If we where really very serious about cutting down our harmful emissions we would immediately stop driving our cars, stop using natural gas, stop using coal, cut out our artificial rinks, most of our sports such as car racing, hockey games, use of motorboats, etc. and take up cycling, and those things that do not use energy other than our human energy.
If we want to live a comfortable lifestyle after the fossil fuels become out of reach financially to most of us you have to have plan B ready to go now! Waiting till you cannot afford food to grow a garden is too late for you will go hungry… it takes a couple of years to get proficient at gardening; Waiting till gasoline to too expensive before looking at alternatives will mean that you will not go to work, go shopping nor attend protest marches; waiting till natural gas is no longer affordable means you will have to live without heat. But if you have plan B ready now you will have heat, food and transportation. And if you life in a community where everyone does this you will not need money but will be able to trade for food, heat and shelter.
I know this sounds rather severe and many people I meet say well that's easy for you but I have a wife and kids, a mortgage, a job and I am not going to deny my kids the chance to go to university where he can become a corporate lawyer. Well you need to think very seriously about the future. I consider it very much like the nazi rise to power. Some Jews saw it coming and sold everything and moved to a more hospitable climate, and those who stayed did not want to loose their business, their friends, there houses but instead they lost everything including their lives.
The probability of what is going to happen in the future is not that hard to decipher. Is the price of fuel going to go up? Is the price of natural gas going to go up? How will we increase our energy supply? Take the time to plot your life's future on paper and see if it makes sense under the probabilities.
Dec 7, 2007. Friday.It was much better working today -a little more planned and got some things completed. Put in the controller and the junction box ( that will act as a brake for the windmill as well) Have yet to wire them up. Did some planning for my second generation biodiesel heater. This one will have heated air coming in for the outside. I enjoy the challenges of some of these designs. Been talking about purchasing a quantity of diesel generators that will run on biodiesel and then I will develop a generator that runs on straight veggie oil. I do not intend to log everyday.. but at this time of year there is not much to do at night so I may as well talk about what I am doing. There are two things that have occured to me lately. I am going to have a comfortable lifestyle in all of this. There are a few things I need to have. One of them is a hot shower the other is warmth when I am sitting or sleeping. Most people who enquire about what I am doing are alarmed at the thought of going without. I guess this is exactly why I am doing my experimenting now so that I will have all the comforts should something fail like the natural gas, electricity or gasoline supplies. If I have an alternate now that is reliable them I have no worry, but if I do not have these alternatives then I will suffer. The moral of the story is to plan ahead for what is probably going to happen. The other issue is that most visitors think I am doing this to save money. That is not the case as I have already spent over $50,000, probably enough to live comfortably for quite a few years with the present hydro and natural gas. What I am doing is finding alternatives thorugh trial and error so that I know that if something does fail I at least can get through just fine and hopefully I can convince a few neighbours to copy some of my ideas, share in the biodiesel, share in the veggie oil making and work as a community to get through tough times.
Dec 6, 2007 Thursday. A rather lazy
day.. Paul Roy visited with some really fine chicken soup. then
Douglas Came over with some books. In both cases we discussed the
politics of living in Bayham and the difficulty of doing anything
different than what has happened in the past. I have been trying to
think of ways to get my temporary zoning change turned into a
permanent one.... this may be very difficult but first I have to get
some very quiet blades in operation and everything running smoothly.
How the new zoning will be written is going to be a difficult task
since most bureaucrats need things like engineers reports, insurance,
professional drawings and the like. What we really need is someone
who can use good reason and thought.
I worked on the windmill blades today smoothing them out in preparation for casting a mold.
Dec 5, 2007 Wednesday. Birding again in he early morning... saw a wood duck, Gold eyes . and thousands of Canadian Geese. My Fridn Franco came to visit so we worked on the biodiesel generators with limited success... one controller is not working well. We then finished off the biodiesel water heater...as I hope to use it tomorrow to wash the biodiesel. It was sunny today and the solar water heater was a great success! I unfortunately broke the glass on the solar air heater as the fan was blocked by a cloth..it got too hot!!! Felt bad about that! I invited Franco to eat in Vienna... pizza to go!! And I'm off to play the piano, gossip and tell jokes with my elder neighbour Gynne.
Dec4, 2007 Tuesday. Lots of birds again... saw two pairs of common mergansers and the gold eyes. Ron says there is a hooded merganser in there too. But so many birds... and very nervous.. I heard lots of shooting so the duck season must have started. changed the angle of the solar cells now that the wind has died down. The new position of the methane condenser seems to give very good results. Now how am I going to wash the biodiesel? I have an old electric water heater.... maybe I'll hook that up and get some hot water that way. I could use a diesel generator but I could also use the Ontario hydro.I think the generator would be best as it might over task my system at about6 3000 watts. Covered the forklift battery with 2 inch foam to see it it helps keep it warm.I am certainly glad I put the rear mud room on.. makes quite a difference to heating the place. I will soon have to record just how much heat I use. I will now go back to using the natural gas furnace until I have a good stockpile of biodiesel. At least I know the biodiesel heater works very well indeed. If there is anything it needs.. perhaps a damper to regulate the inflow of air as with windy conditions it draws too much.Worked part of the afternoon on rebuilding the biodiesel water heater. I will need this to wash the biodiesel once the ice melts.
Dec.3, 2007. Monday .Got up this morning and went down to the river and lake... as always took the binoculars and despite the heavy wind the birds where there. I first found a common merganser, a common gold eye, a few buffleheads and the two snow geese where there. At one point there was about 1000 ducks and geese flying in overhead.. they covered the beach and river when they landed. I then continued on with my biodiesel.... Darlene came in and did a study as to my vehicle costs.. turns out to be about $350 per month. My vehicles are paid for so these are the maintenance, diesel, gas expenses. I purchase about the same amount of food per month since most of my eating is from the garden. Yes even in December there is my regular soups and steamed veggies. I get my beets, carrots, onions from my cellar.... though in some of Mikes chicken and let it brew in the pressure cooker on the biodiesel heater. Makes a great meal!I worked on the biodiesel reactor as well. I was not satisfied with the reclaiming of the methanol so I moved everything about and came up with a better solution. Now if only I had some water.... the hoses are frozen! Anyway I rigged up a system to put cold water in distiller and it works just fine... much better than before.
Maintenance is what it takes... composting toilet emptied, biodiesel made and put in containers, meals rebuilding things... and getting that windmill up and running. Yes those blades are going to take some time as the epoxy does not cure too fast in the cool weather. Certainly makes me realize how much more simpler having wooden ones would have been.
I'm having to supplement my electrical supply with Ontario Hydro. The weather this last few weeks has been very overcast... but windy!!! So thats why I need the windmill!
Got some pictures from Jane Vanessen of the Laings post and beam straw bale house going up. I will post those.
I'm having difficulty using ontario hydro or natural gas. I am not really ready for a totally sustainable life... I am just at the beginning. I only have 500 watts of solar cells... the windmill is not operational yet. I do not have an adequate supply of biodiesel either. I should be stock piling biodiesel so that if an emergency does occur I have enough biodiesel for at least two weeks. It is hard for me to use the natural gas but I must remember that at this point I have tried the biodiesel and I know it works but I must first get a good stockpile so I know that I can face an emergency or have enough to complete the season.
Dec 2, 2007.Sunday. It certainly has been grey and wet the last few weeks. The wind has also been very strong and it is expected to go to 50 km/hr tomorrow from the northwest. So I reduced the angle of the solar cells so that it would have less frontal area. There appears to be no sun forecast tomorrow so no loss of sunshine electricity. Spent the day doing another batch of biodiesel. Installed a timer switch on an outliet so I could put things like the vacuum pump on it. Later in the day I got a phone call from a fellow who had a a natural gas water heater. This would come in handy for either a biodiesel water heater or my envisioned straight veggie oil heater. So I went up to springfield and purchased it along with a large industrial fan. A very wet drive but at least no snow. A returned and then continued making the plug for the windmill blades. This blade making will take at least twice as long as one from wood and use a lot of unrecycled materials. Not exactly my aim. Anyway I covered it in micro balloons and put it in front of the biodiesel heater to cure. Worked on rebuilding the other biodiesel heater.. have great ideas of using outside air and perhaps heating it with the exhaust. I have also thought of putting a damper on it to regulate the draft which seems to be too strong when the wind blows. Ran the large diesel today and discovered how to start it in the cold.. hold the propane torch to the air intake to heat the air... it works!
Dec 1, 2007. Saturday was really quite a good day for working. I moved the biodiesel heater cxlose to the main water heater so that the exhaust travelled on a 45 degree angle. This meant that the lines for the hot water where much shorter and it was immediately apparent that there was a lot more hot water being made. The biodiesel heater also seemed to work much better with a consistant blue flame at various settings. Impressive~! Iworked on the biodidesel reactor too. I felt the methanol condensor was too far away and the methanol was actually condensing before getting to the actual condenser so I moved it closer to the reactor, put the vacuum pump on top of the reactor and have plans for putting another vacuum pump in the system to circulate the mthanol vapour. I could not pull enough vacuum to boil the oil at 140 degrees so I upped the temperature .. hope this does the job. In the evening I went down to the center of town and watched the santa claus parade. It was a crisp evening with all the lights but what a dissappointment, there where very few floats that actually showed that none did much work in decorating them. It was mostly fire engines an old car, off rodd vehicles and a marching bag pipe band. The surprising thing was the great crowd of people that gathered along the way.
November 30, 07 -Friday:Busy day again.Moved the windmill blade operation to the ketchen dining area... really having second thougths about making the baldes from epoxy and fiberglass... but I did devise a way to make a mold so I can produce many of the same design. This would allow for changes to the spar construction so that I can make some sets more stiff. Really quite a wind out there today and it rotated my soar cells which where on top of the barn. I put up my heavy ladder attached it to the eves and went up to tighten down the solar cells... This I managed but it certainly was dangerous. Really made me think about how useful our renewable enrgy systems are going to be if they cannot take the extremes of high winds etc. Even the biodiesel heater is affected.. the air is drawn up the chimney and this cools the burn pot so that the flame goes from blue to yellow. Made a soup today in the pressure cooker from my root cellar and a little of Mikes Chicken (yes local). I am also thinking that I should design a veggie oil cookstove/ heater, but first I haveto get a making the veggie oil heater- I need more time! I certainly have discovered on the the things that modern man may not like about sustainable living.... its the maintenance... brought in biodiesle.... then there was a container of saw dust for the composting toilet..... prepare a meal 5 hours ahead of time so it can slow cook on the biodiesel heater, check the voltage in the batteries and on it goes. I am learnign to shorten these tasks though... it will take time. Now off the town to purchase more building supplies for Will who is finishing the front and back entrances.
Nov 29, 2007 Thursday. Very windy today... the tower is still standing and no dead birds yet! Dug up my beets today... yes a little late but they are now in the root cellar.. I think the tops are not good but the beet looks fine. Didn't get to walk this morning due to the garden work.... worked on the busted generator... yes I fried the controller... luckily I had another one. The machine is good but it has an odd rattle.. I guess I should take it apart and see if there is anything loose. Worked on the first blade of the windmill. Making it out of foam has its problems and is certainly not a local product... but it is what I have left from the aircraft. I do agree it would be better from wood a renewable product. Now do I make a mold or just make two others using the foam. Tonight I am off to fix the piano in the church hall. Had the biodiesel heater working all day - I will move it over closer to the water heater to aid in heating the water in winter when the sun is not out. I had the stove too far away for the hot water to travel by thermosyphon. Put in the new batch of biodiesel and filled the reactor for another batch but I may haveto wait as a cold spell is coming..
Nov 28, 2007 Wednesday. A busy day working on the windmill blades. Put in the front side carbon spar and then covered it with a layer of fiberglass. Finished up drying the last biodiesel batch.. Worked on my biodiesel generator... copnnected up the battery backwards and blew the controller. Will put the roof on the back porch. In the evening did my regular session with Gynne, and 81 year old neigbour. We gossip, tell jokes discuss politices and then paly the piano and sing... great fun!
Nov 27, 2007, Tuesday -Finally I have begun the task of making the windmill blades. I decided to make them out of foam with carbon spars covered in fiberglass. Have been chasing around the idea of inviting guests here to live with the many things that I have here, such as living with solar cells, the windmill, making biodiesel or expelling veggie oil. I can also invite many others who can come in and give lectures from birding to herbal medicine. The last part of november has been quite wet, windy and starting to get cold. I have yet to finish off my solar water heater... so on very cold nights I haveto let out the water but the cistern has yet to register any freeaing temperatures. ( the solar water heater sits on top of the cistern).
Starting to appreciate the carrots from my root cellar. I buried them in sawdust. The tomatoes are another treat... to bad I waited to long to gather up all the green tomates... but I have quite a number. Had two today!