Life at the end of the road

January 11, 2014

A drop in temperature

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid, shed/house, weather, wind turbine — Tags: , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:58 pm

Hardly wintery by any stretch of the imagination but it was certainly colder than of late today, both outside and inside the house. The constant wind and rain, driven by mild damp south westerlies keeps both the wind and hydro turbines well supplied with energy. Consequently it’s not cold outside and roasting in the house, as all our surplus electricity is turned into heat, which at times can be too much. Darling wife has just sent the Dude out to bring in wood so it looks like we’ll be lighting the wood burner for the first time in quite a while. We’ve had one electric fire now going constantly for weeks, it’s only 750w but combined with the heat dumps in the porch it’s meant the house has been toasty and we’ve only been lighting the oil stove for a few hours in the evening to heat water.

Of course a good dose of the high pressure we all crave will see that come to an end and we’ll soon start being a little more careful with our electricity usage. This last month or so has seen me leaving the Christmas lights on all night and leaving a few lights burning at the new house site just to use the power. As the temperature drops along with the wind, so the batteries become less efficient and as the burn dries up with lack of rain or ice so does the power from the hydro turbine. Of course we’ve always got Mr Lister to fall back on, though our system is so refined that you don’t even notice the transition from Inverter to generator. The Trace SW4548e senses the battery voltage is low, automatically starts the generator and seamlessly integrates with our ‘mini grid’ the Trace then becomes a large battery charger that then tops up the 48v 1000ah battery bank. Even with no wind, sun or rain for days on end the Trace ‘off grid’ inverter will manage the system so that the generator starts every two or three days for five or six hours to charge up the bank automatically.

This type of hybrid system correctly installed is far more reliable than the grid in this part of the world, sure it’s not as cheap if you take into account replacing the batteries every ten years or so. However with the price of even a relatively straight forward grid connection to a new build you can buy a pretty good hybrid diesel/solar system. Of course if you then have a good wind resource like us and a burn you’re laughing, and just look at all the fun we’ve had with it over the years Smile

   110114 inside temp

The inside temp is a little misleading for I keep this receiver unit in the window as it keeps losing the signal to the sensor. You can see where I removed it at 18:30 to connect it to my laptop on the kitchen table. The last weather station I had used two Duracell AA batteries in the transmitter that ran for a couple of years. This one uses two rechargeable AA’s powered by a solar cell but I stupidly fitted them in the house and didn’t mount it up the mast for almost a week so they’ve not had a chance to fully recharge, though they’re definitely improving Smile 


110114 outside temp

Not freezing by any means but there was a dusting of hail lying on the grass and puddles this morning and the gritter had put in an appearance too.


weather 110114

The cold crisp day had me out early do give all the pigs a good cleaning out, not just in their ark and the barn but all around the doors and entrances too. It was a good day for it, well it was after I got over the shock of Jamie Lea blindly bumbling about the croft tipping over hen feed and making a bee line for the pig food store. I’d turfed her out yesterday with the other two and couldn’t for the life in me figure out how she’d got back in, for I could have sworn that I’d closed the gates last night. I was somewhat relieved to see that she’d just lifted one of them off its hinges, a far easier thing to repair than a burst fence.

Jamie, with her floppy ears is truly ‘as blind as a bat’ she really cannot see anything at all and has to rely entirely on her amazing nose, for her hearing can’t be that great either. Those two thick hairy ‘sows ears’ seem to flop right over her lug holes so she lollops about shaking her head and sniffing the air. Whatever obstacle she encounters along the way is generally tossed aside by her solid head and powerful neck muscles. Gates, feed troughs, water butts, fences and even her own piglets can be tossed feet into the air, especially if food is involved.

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She also seems to have problems remembering what sex she is, though Rocky seems to be severely nonplussed by the ‘lesbian sex show’, he’s just wondering if I’ve got any food on the quad Smile

Fitting a ‘Windy Boy’

Apart from our major pig cleaning and bedding changing the only thing that I really did today of any note was go down to the village on an errand with the Dude and fit an inverter.


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The clear blue skies and sunshine of the ‘north end’ giving way to some ‘moody’ vistas at the ‘south end’, the Cuillin looked pretty menacing today.



The Storr looked far friendlier on the way back


and the low bright sun picked out nicely the old Nicolson house at Torran. This was the last inhabited turfed roof house or ‘black house’ on Raasay and was lived in right up to the second world war at least. The late Murdo Nicolson left that house in 1939 to go to France, returning over five years later (having spent almost the entire war as a POW) to the one next door.


Exhibition Image One

A solid built stone house unique on Raasay with it’s steeply pitched corrugated iron roof, a design more common inland and on the  east coast where the shedding of snow was more important. The picture taken just after the war shows John the Caley and Murdo front left and right with Chrissie and Alick behind them, you can see the steep pitch of the roof on the gable behind them.



Also picked out by the low winter sun was ‘the eagle with the sunlit eye’ or sea eagle, though I think the Gaelic ‘iolaire sùil na grèine is far more descriptive.



There was actually two of them but it was hard enough getting the one in focus.

Once back home the Dude and I got on with fitting an SMA WB6000  that I’d purchased recently for the new house. At 65kg this is a beast of an inverter so mounting it some 5’ off the ground in my new shed wasn’t going to be straight forward.


We managed to get the thing sat on top of Harry but quickly discovered that we just weren’t going to get it any further.

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So a little ingenuity in the form of a galvanized ‘stem eye’ a quick ‘short splice’ and a ‘handy billy’ were called for.


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I was ‘well chuffed’ with the result Smile



Of course we’re still a long way getting it all ‘up and running’ but we’re getting there Smile This is going to be a seriously warm shed with all these inverters running but that’s the idea, it’s well insulated so that the batteries will be kept warm from all the heat produced. If an inverter is 95% efficient then that means that 5% is ‘wasted’ as heat, but to my way of thinking if the 5% is keeping your shed and batteries warm and more efficient then it’s far from being wasted.


Once back in the ‘wee hoose’ settled in and blogging nicely I though that I’d better go and check on the sixteen wains, that’ll be the nine spotties and seven Tammies that have been recently deprived of their mothers. Well, after spending a couple of hours cleaning out the barn for the Tammies I was amused to see them bunked up with the spotties.

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They were at diametrically opposite ends of the insulated ark and the larger Tammies had stolen all the bedding but at least they were in the same room. A bit like the Arabs and Jews I guess Smile not to mention Rangers and Celtic fans Smile


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Anyway, I stuffed a whole load more bedding in there and let them sort it out, actually I got right in there with them and what a laugh it was Smile

Another sad loss

Speaking of Rangers and Celtic, local character and former owner of the pier hotel in Portree passed away today,

 The Pier Hotel, Portree.. (Traditional two and a half storey building on Portree's Telford designed pier used as an hotel...)

Harry Dick died of a heart attack last night and will be remembered by many as the colourful landlord of the pier hotel, so long as your colour was blue that is Smile Harry’s banter was legendary and though he gave up the hotel some ten years ago? he’d still be very visible as a taxi driver around Portree, indeed I was only speaking to him a few weeks ago in the Square. My memory is shocking but I know he had at least one son, Innes, and a daughter who used to drive a convertible Ford Escort? Apologies for my pish memory but my thoughts are with you all.

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