Life at the end of the road

January 9, 2011

There’s always one :-)

Filed under: animals, daily doings, life off grid, stonework, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:14 pm

Big change this morning when I arose, the snow that threatened to cut us off yet again had gone, or at least most of it. Indeed both UKWind and Theyr.tv said as much last night, but with –2 degrees reading on the outside thermometer at midnight I did not believe them.

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Sure enough around 4:00am the temperature started to rapidly rise on the back of half a gale of west wind.

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The highest temperature of the day being 3.2 degrees at 7:23am !!!! anyway I wasn’t complaining as I was glad to see the back of it 🙂

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We were lucky here at the north end in missing the odd shower that seemed to catch Skye and we made the most of it by hauling tons of rock up the freshly thawed road. The recent freezing and thawing of the last few weeks had started many minor rock falls at the side of the road near Tarbert and these proved perfect for improving the hard standing for the pigs.

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These are photographs were taken a year ago, which just goes to show some things never change, and it’s about time that I bought a digger and a dumper 🙂

My one armed helper and I spent a good few hours at this, right up until lunchtime and then just one load afterwards.

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It was whilst returning with our last load that the ‘wee dug’ spotted this one antlered stag

 

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and when going to investigate she picked up a follower 🙂 Bee had obviously lost George and Ed and was looking for company 🙂

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Molly however was not in the least bit interested as she had enough ‘hangers on’ 🙂 She’s been a great mum but is now at the stage where she spends as little time as possible with her ‘wee wains’, she does all the feeding and cleaning required but will quite happily leave them for an hour or so. She’s also quite happy for you to handle them now, a couple of days ago she’d have taken your hand off if you stuck it in the box.

 

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There’s always one that’s louder and faster than all the others, well at least there is with piglets, and it’s usually a girl, well here she is, the first one to escape from the box 🙂 She’s the one that makes the most noise and is of course the fattest :-) 

When we’d finished with the rock moving we went back along to Torran, whilst over there yesterday I’d seen something that had caused me concern. Like my house, my mates is powered by a battery bank and whilst checking his bank yesterday I’d noticed that one cell was not gassing, it also contained more electrolyte.

 

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The heart of any ‘off grid’ system is a good battery bank to store all your power, however it be made, diesel, wind, solar, or hydro it’s no use unless you can save the electricity you make for when you need it 🙂 Batteries are a very complicated subject and the more research I do into them the more I realize how little I know. A few things though do stand out as irrefutable for ‘off grid’ applications though, weight equals capacity, ‘deep cycle’ is the only way to go, starting batteries are pants and ‘FLA’ (flooded lead acid) are better than gel 🙂

Basically a lead acid battery has a life of so many cycles (charge and discharge), however this can be extended by drawing only a fraction of the batteries capacity before recharging it, 20% is good but 10% is better 🙂

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I checked the suspect cell first (on the left) and whilst it was still fairly high at 1.25 it was much lower than the other 11 cells at 1.275. Though I’d be wary of the actual figures, because I’ve yet to find two hydrometers that read the same 🙂 If this battery bank were being charged by wind, solar or a generator I’d be seriously worried by this but as it’s main source is hydro it’s not quite so crucial. Still it does need watching closely 🙂

 

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After that we went sown to check the boats at Port Arnish and have a look at the old caridh (fish trap) there, it’s in much worse shape than the one at Fladda

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and a great deal smaller.

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Whereas the Fladda one was constructed entirely out of stones placed on a gently sloping beach, the Arnish one is much simpler using mainly the natural formations in the ancient rock. I don’t suppose it caught as many fish but then anything more elaborate would have been subjected to the huge northerly swells not evident in Caol Fladda.

That was about it really,

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well apart from feeding everybody and taking my helper home 🙂

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3 Comments »

  1. Lead acid batteries just suck they were invented 150 years ago and they are still not much better as you say you have to cosset them or they quickly degrade. The only ones that you can get a decent life out of are the old NIFE batteries, they will last for 60 70 years,just change the drain cleaner ever 20 odd years or so. once again it is swings and rounderbouts. They only have about 1.2Volts/cell so you need 40% more and they are more expensive which virtually doubles your up front investment. There are ways to recondition them but you never get the output. Until we find a new cheap storage system for storing electricity, you can forget about renewable energy. The only way that seems to hold any promise is the gravel Battery invented by this firm Isentropic, here is the link

    http://www.isentropic.co.uk/

    They have done proof of concept and are now scaling it up for trials. It is basically a reversible heat pump using argon, which is inert and can be extracted from the atmosphere and storing the electricity as heat in tanks of insulated gravel none of your fancy metals like lithium that you have to import at fancy prices after it has been extracted from brine lakes in Bolivia or where every it is. The firm is definitely going for large scale utilisation, but it seems very practicable for small scale use, at least from this tykes point of view.I ask a simple question. How much renewable electricity have you wasted because you have to dump it as heat into your house because you don’t have the storage? a few extra tons of gravel in insulated containers problem solved. I have bound to have got a few things wrong, even Tykes are not perfect, as my Dutch wife continually points out. Something you might like to ponder over?

    Deep Regards

    Dave

    Comment by Yorkshire Miner — January 10, 2011 @ 5:45 pm

  2. Dear Paul,

    simple question, what would it cost too put the fish trap you have at Arnish in working order? Would the fish caught pay for the effort?

    Deep Regards

    Dave

    Comment by Yorkshire Miner — January 10, 2011 @ 5:56 pm

  3. Paul

    Pups starting to take shape now and looking good.

    Had a colleague at work looking at them and wondering if all are accounted for as she is looking for a wee dug.

    Jackie

    Comment by jackie — January 11, 2011 @ 10:55 am


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