Almost 21:00 and that’s me ‘squeaky clean’ and feeling almost human for a change, the 12th of May and I’ve not even had a midge bite yet!!! Now that is something worth writing about, I usually get the first one round about my birthday and that was almost a week ago. Say what you want, the weather has most definitely gone barmy and this virtually frost free winter we’ve just had is bound to herald an explosion of ticks and midge before the month is out. Still, unlike in years gone by, we do now at least have a weapon that works against them
and you can buy it on Raasay at http://thesilvergrasshopper.com/pages/shop so get some now before it’s too late.
Well so much for Monday nights effort and Tuesday, it’s Wednesday now and I’m determined to get something down on here ‘just for the record’ so to speak. I’ve kept diaries since the ‘year dot’ so feel like I should, if only to record what could be a serious matter, the missing pig!!!!
Jamie Lea has been missing since Sunday night and three days of frantic searching have failed to find any sign of her. Being heavily ‘in pig’ we thought at first she’d wandered off to have a litter somewhere, but that’s seeming more and more unlikely as each feeding time passes by. Especially as by now we’ve searched the entire Arnish common grazing several times and without finding the slightest hint of where she’s been.
We have had sows do this in the past and to be honest, at this time of year it’s not a problem so long as you can get to them with food and water. In fact they’re actually better outside when the weather is good like this, no need to clean out the ark or change bedding. The hot interior of an insulated pig ark may be great in the winter but at this time of year I guess it can be a great incubator for bugs too and there’s certainly less likelihood of squashed piglets in an ‘alfresco farrowing’.
However as each feeding time and ‘tour of the estate’ passes be we’re getting more concerned that she may have gone over a cliff or something. The lack of crows suggest she’s not lying injured or dead anywhere on land but three days without food is very worrying.
21:30 now and just back inside yet another fruitless search for Jamie Still, at least it’s daylight, not like the last time we lost a pig in February, even then it the dark we found her safe and well within a couple of hours. That was Shona and she’d took it into her head to skip the nice warm ark in favour a grassy hollow in the wood.
She once spent three hours making this ‘haystack’ in the pishing January rain and then gave birth to fourteen piglets inside it!!
Eventually she saw sense and moved them into the barn
but it was only after a few days of wind and rain, they really are incredibly hardy.
Back to the hen shed
In between searching for Jamie, which I have to say has been a great excuse to tramp the little trodden heather, birch and bog of Arnish, I’ve been madly trying to finish the hen house. We’re collecting 50 more pullets from Donald the hen at Struan on Friday so it’s got to be finished by then.
We got the water flowing to it yesterday, a full 3bar from our 3000lt tank on the hill behind. The best of quality water from a tiny well under that cliff behind the birch trees, a ‘secret well’ by all accounts for not a living soul seems to know of it’s existence.
Just one of the many gorges that we searched for Jamie, this one is surrounded by aspen trees and cuts right into the land.
Monday started bright and early with me feeding the herd prior to going wandering the hills with ‘wee dug’ and shotgun looking for Jamie.
There are any number of places here a determined sow could hide a litter,
but with the size of her I’d not be expecting her to do any ‘mountaineering’.
After and hour or two, and with the heat making it difficult I turned my attention to the ‘pop holes’
two on the front that hinge upwards.
After a few hours of that it was once more on the ‘pig trail’
and whilst I never found Jamie, I did enjoy a little time watching Ellie’s litter playing in the lawn clippings.
Power to the shed
Monday evening whilst we searched once more for our wayward sow we had a visit from ‘Stanley Watson Barker’, the Portree lifeboat out on exercise.
Hamish and the crew came right into the narrow bay at the fish farm slip,
turned her (or is it him ) ‘on a sixpence’, then sped off into the sunset.
Should have asked them to keep an eye out for a spotty pig!
Today (Wednesday) after even more wanderings I concentrated on getting power up to the hen shed. I put a much heftier supply in than needed to take into account the 4kW solar array that will be going on the roof. So instead of the normal 2.5mm square or 4mm square armoured cable for what would be just a few lights I laid a 6mm square cable from the generator shed. Typically this was mostly ‘odds and ends’ I had lying around the croft and required 3 resin filled joints.
Two of which I did in the luxury of my workshop on Tuesday night, I just love these joints
When the 4kW array eventually does go on the roof it will be ‘AC coupled’ into my ‘mini grid’ rather than ‘DC coupled’ to the batteries via a charge controller. This means that I use a standard ‘grid tie inverter’ and do not need to run extra DC cable from my shed to the battery bank. There’s a good explanation of the theory here http://www.casanogaldelasbrujas.com/blog/2009/05/13/sma-sunny-island-ac-coupling/ and a more in depth study here http://currentgeneration.co.nz/site/current/files/Partial%20AC-coupling%20in%20Minigrids.pdf
Designing off-grid wind and solar installations differs from grid tied installations in a number of important ways such as:
- The solar array must be in a certain restricted voltage range
- The solar and/or wind generator must be kept very close to the battery bank
- Expanding the system in the future can involve complex wiring
SMA has addressed many of these issues in their Sunny Island product range by offering a unique system configuration where all power generation sources can be connected directly to the AC bus as illustrated below:
The system certainly is innovative and offers a number of advantages over traditional DC coupled systems, but there are potential downsides too.
In this article, I’ll explore the advantages and disadvantages of AC side coupling using the Sunny Island and Sunny Boy with more traditional DC side coupling using the Outback MPPT charge controller.
And I’ve just lifted the above from StephenDV’s excellent blog
Anyway the 6mm square cable will give me the option to expand the array further or even to tie my turbine into the same grid rather than run several cables of different sizes an voltages.
OK, it’s not pretty but it’s all I had