Monthly Archives: January 2016

First Big Issue (1/30/16)

Well, finally made it back to the property after some heavy winter weather that made our roads impassible.  Sheralee and I headed up on Saturday the 16th to drop off some railroad ties/materials for our new container to be dropped off and located.  After stopping in Kingman to get the materials, we headed up to the ranch.  Well, what we found was an impossible road to pass, that had lingering snow and deep mud.

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This is our road off the main ranch road system, called Pipeline Rd, as it follows the old Arco Pipeline.

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You can see, just barely, that just off the main road we were in deep mud.  Truly no way to get to where we wanted to go.  So, after debating if we could get there, Jeep was out of the questions, we thought maybe on foot….carrying the railroad ties one at a time.  Well, for those of you that don’t know…railroad ties are frickin’ heavy.  There was no way we were going to get it 1/2 mile down that road of mud. hahahaha  So, we were lucky to get ahold of our container guy and asked if we could drop the ties/materials at his business location for him to use when he delivered.  Deal, and done.  We dropped it all off and headed home.  A very product 6 hour drive! ha.

On to this weekend.  Sheralee had business responsibilities this weekend, so I thought I would try and make it up there to see how everything is holding up.  There has been about two weeks of good dry weather, and just recently up to 60 degrees.  Why not give it a try.  If nothing else, it would be a good drive and I could hike in to the property to check things out.  Fortunately, the road to our property was just fine.  Didn’t kick up any mud until I was on our property/drive way.  There were just a few spots where the sun could never melt the snow and those spots were muddy.  No problem over all.

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Everything seems to be in tip-top shape.  Well….almost everything.  I did a quick scan, all good.  I wanted to check out if the water tank was trying to over flow, as we had a good amount of snow melt.  When I popped the lid….our water was gone.  Yup, GONE!  1550 gallons of rain water collected over the year…all gone.  I was floored, saddened, upset….you name it.  I couldn’t figure it out.

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Yup, below the bottom drain. uuuggghhh

I looked all around for any type of tire tracks or a hole in the tank…anything.  Anything to understand what might have happened.  On our 3/4″ PVC ball valved, I noticed the turn handled was half broke off.  I thought that was odd so I investigated further.  I noticed the whole ball valve turned easily, as completely loose…hence the water drained out from there.  I was floored….I figured if 1500 gallons of water were to be released, it would make a river flowing downhill, but that isn’t the case at all.  No trace of water running off.  I thought maybe a cow/elk came through and accidentally kicked it….but not tracks whatsoever.  Upon further inspection, I found the problem.  Our PVC ball valved cracked the entire length.

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You can see the crack here, and missing handle.  One theory is the cold caused it to crack.  Well, both theories revolve around the crack.  The other theory is that after I put the spigot in there to draw water off, I left it in there.  I think that the cold at night, and sun heating it during the day, caused that spigot to expand and crack the PVC ball valve.

Either way, all that water be gone, gone, gone!  So, back the drawing board on that.  I have ideas already, but sad to see the water go without using it.  Our first real disappointment.

So, we will re-work that idea to include more pex pipe and fittings, along with some sort of valve box (like with meters and irrigation) to line with foam insulation to keep it a little warmer.

On to the next little thing.  Found that the batteries were fully charged, but no longer being charged….turns out the 14 gauge wire running from the solar charge controller to the battery was pretty much melted.  yikes.

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I replaced that entire cable with a 10 gauge red wire and it is working great again.  So, that was about a 15 minute fix.
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Not sure what happened to the cable though…hmmmm.  Another mystery.

That was about it for my stay.  Emptied our house compost bucket, using the mobile water pump…works like a champ, and it was time to head home.  I really didn’t want to leave, it was a gorgeous day, close to 60 degrees out and sunny, but it is supposed to rain today and start snowing after 5p tonight.  Didn’t want to get stuck up there.  Hopefully Sheralee and I can make it up again next weekend.  Good times!

New Years Weekend (12/31/15)

Hello All!

A new year is upon us, and there are big things planned of this year, but we won’t really move to quickly for a few months in order to gather up our new plans and resources.  Until then, we go up and enjoy our time there, working on small things that we need.

We headed up Thursday (New Years Eve) for a long weekend trip, which included a quick trip to Phoenix.  On our way up Thursday, we stopped in to our see the seller of “Rusty”, inquiring about purchasing a sister for “Rusty”.  I think we settled on another 20′ shipping container to sit side by side with “Rusty” and at first provide us a good secure staging area, until we can start outfitting that one.  We are very excited.  We do have to wait for the delivery though, as there is some good winter weather going through the area this week, which is not conducive to heavy trucks on the ranch roads.

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So, some point in the near future we will get her delivered, which will start our new year out exciting with new options for our future house.

One of the things I needed to get done right away, was replacing our solar charge controller.  Our previous one went South on us and caused our batteries to really run down, which has caused some issues.  I purchased a new 30amp PWM charge controller, which seems to be better and has better user information via a front panel LCD.

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It seems to be working much better, and the charge is coming back, slowly.  We had dropped the total percentage down to about 30% I estimate.  Not good for those types of batteries.  We are hoping  You can see in the left image, the batteries are at 11.9v.  While that may seem close enough to 12 volts, it is about 30% charge.  I am hoping when we make it up there again, they will be topped off and just charging as needed.

After I had that installed and charging, we decided to take a little hike.  There is a hill down the road from us, where you can get a great view East, and one of our property.  We climbed up the hill and sat for a bit.  It was windy, as it was all weekend, but the view was great.

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In the left picture, you can see I circled our loft, which you can see…kinda stands out.  We have a plan for that!  In the right picture, those are the mountains outside of Flagstaff, which plenty of snow, the San Francisco Mountain range.  Below is a nice panoramic picture I took, not sure how it will turn out here though.

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That night was pretty chilly, probably in the upper teens.  We sat in front of the fire having some coffee before we started our day.  Our day plan on New Year’s Day was to drive to Phoenix and have dinner with my kids.  It is about a 2 1/2 hour drive to Phoenix from the ranch.  Really, it is an easy drive down through Chino Valley and Prescott.

While in Phoenix (a gorgeous 70 degrees), we had dinner with the kids…which was really a great time and then on Saturday drove to Scottsdale to visit with Sherlaee’s sister.  Great weekend all the way around.  We headed back up to the ranch about 1pm.

We arrived at the ranch, and there were a few clouds, but definitely warmer, I think low 50’s.  So nice.  While in Phoenix, the kids had gotten us some very cool ‘outdoor’ type of things, but one item is this blow up solar light, that has multiple colors.  It is so light, and you can hang it anywhere.  We experimented that night.

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It was just so cool, to sit there and have the green or blue light on while the fire was going.  The pictures don’t really do it justice!!!!  Great gift!!!

Sunday, we had a couple smaller tasks we wanted to work on, one of which was composting, which meant the mobile pump in action again.  One problem though, our water level a the compost bins was very low.  We threw around some ideas, and we were going to try and get water out of the sink 35gal tank.  I had a better idea….here we have 1550 gallons of water sitting there doing nothing, with more rain/snow on the way.  Why not take some out to try and make a little room…turns out it was just barely any room, but still it was the thought of using that water.

Our first time using rain water collected in our tank!!!!

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This worked AWESOME!  We filled up some 5gal water jugs, and transported them over to the compost area, filling up our compost tank to the top.  So very cool.

That was about it for this past weekend.  It is nice to see some of the things we plan on, working out for us!!!  Very very cool.