Monthly Archives: December 2016

Cats On The Move (12/10/2016)

Well, it was finally time!  Time to move the cats to the ranch.  Sheralee and I left early morning Saturday after swooping up some cats for our 3 hour journey.

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All in all, it was a good trip, and somehow they arrived alive…whew.  Being at the property is a first for all of them.

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They were a little anxious at first, and still run for cover under the container or shed, but for the most part one….Theo…is very adventurous and loves to just take off.  The other two, not so much.
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Theo on the prowl…and he does chase birds…very unsuccessfully, but we won’t tell him that.  Of course this much ‘outdoor’ activity leads to some serious down times.

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The days of Saturday and Sunday were spent charging batteries, which are in poor shape overall, and I am sure we have lost some longevity with them, but the charger is working and working hard.

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Right now I have two separate battery banks and two inverters.  I am not using the old battery bank right now, just trying to get them all maxed out, which is taking some serious charge/reconditioning time.  To Sheralee’s angst, I ran the generator pretty much all weekend.  Still more charging time ahead, but it is a good thing.

I also did some more work on the cat house, and am close to building the front door and finishing it off.  We are at a quandary with with windows right now as the ones I purchased aren’t even close to what we want…so looking at other options, which slows us down.

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I did get the cat door installed, as you can see in the two pictures above.  So funny, Theo was in and out of that thing, and actually snuck out of it before I realized what had happened.  Solved that for now.  Bad kitty!

I will try hard to finalize that thing this weekend, at least enough for the grand opening.  Once we have windows in there we think the cats will love to hang out in there and scope things out.  Well, we hope anyways.

Another thing I did on Monday was to take a couple more drone pictures.  This is helping us plan out our pasture area.  We also did a measurement of the outside fence and it is just under 1500 feet.  We believe we have the fencing planned out and are excited for that phase.

Here is the small drone picture, linked to the larger one.

I think that is it for now.  We have some crazy travel times to and from the ranch in the next few weeks, but then we are on to a new year and animals…of all kinds joining the ranch.  Very exciting things ahead.

Oh yeah, one other thing I almost forgot about.  So, some of you know we have two compost bins on site, and one we filled up early this year, and the other we have been using since then.  Well, both were full…and it was time to add another one, a project I wasn’t ready to proceed with yet.  So, my lovely wife had a great idea.  The one that has been sitting for almost a year, why not move the compost out and use that one, so she did.

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She moved the compost out, covered it with a tarp, and it will stay there until we have things to plan next spring.  Very exciting!  I know…kinda ‘crappy’ to some, but hey…we are excited!

 

Batteries & Cat House (12/2/2016)

Hello all.  Spent some time on the property last weekend, first working from up there on Friday and then doing some ‘project’ work Saturday and Sunday.

First thing I did when I got there is start a dang fire, and break out my new EcoFan
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This thing is so very awesome!  I mean to have a fan help push the hot air around, that basically runs on thermal currents…oh yeah.  It is very cool, and fits nicely on our little Hobbit stove.

That was the first thing and was helpful on a cold Friday.  I also did some battery re-arrangement once again, trying to find a configuration that will help our new batteries charge.  Well, what I really learned last week was that in winter time we just don’t have enough sun to charge our new battery bank.  Funny how you find the things you did wrong after the fact.  Hindsight, right?

What we did was buy new batteries and mix them with old batteries, first mistake, but too late now..we move forward.  Also, when batteries come from the store, they are at 6volts, but just barely, and not what you would consider full in a solar system.  They needed to be charged and adding them to another 12V battery string, there just wasn’t enough power to go around.  So, they soon died…well fell to low to be useful.  We bring in some good current to the batteries during the day, but not enough to fill those babies full.  So, I did a lot of battery configurations to try and help them.

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Another issue we have is that our battery box is outside, in a shed that only has insulation.  Being cold, these batteries struggle to charge period.  So, I bought an electric blanket to keep them warm overnight…but….

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You gotta have power to use the blanket! ha.  Oh the humanity.  So, I tried something else.  I broke the battery string (eight batteries) into two four battery strings.  One I used with our solar panels and house power, the other I added to another inverter and trying to charge them with a smaller solar panel.

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This isn’t really going to work either, as the four batteries in the second string don’t get enough input current to charge.  So, we have decided to supplement our solar capacity this winter with a battery charger, run from our gas generator.  This should, and I say should because I write this on Tuesday and have yet to try our new charger, work for us this winter.  Oh how I long for the days of summer!

This is our new charger:

SOLAR PL2520 Pro-Logix 20 Amp Battery Charger

This should fully charge each bank, condition them as needed, and keep them running in tip top shape.  So, they better finish that ‘Standing Rock’ pipeline, cuz the Simpson/Wade team need more fossil fuels!

The other project I needed to get start was building out new cat house.  Now, I am sure some of you think that because I live in Las Vegas a cat house means a structure of ill repute, but I differ.  This add-on will be for the cats to have a place to ‘to the duty’ and hang out.

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This cat house will be right under the kitchen window and since I used the same footing block as the bathroom, it will be about four feet wide.  The floor is done with 2×4’s 16″ o/c.  I used foam insulation and then R13 on top of that.

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Then I used a 1/2″ subfloor.

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And this is as far as I got.  I will be working on the walls and roof this weekend.  It will be about three feet tall I think and since it is under the deck overhang, it won’t really catch any rain.  I am going to still put a little sloped roof on it, but also build a small planter box frame on top of it to sit under the kitchen window.  Should work out…uh I think.  It usually takes a couple runs to get it right.  ha.

That was pretty much my weekend up there.  Oh…and it was a blistering 64 degrees on Sunday…sooooo nice!  We will be heading back up this weekend to continue our progress.

Until then!

Solar and Snow (11/25/2016)

Hey All.

We were traveling around quite a bit this past long weekend.  To the property, then to Phoenix for Thanksgiving, then LV to pick up a bed and stuff, then back to the property.  Saw a lot of the same…terrain…over and over. ha.  All worked out.  We had a lot of things going on this past weekend with being here and there, my working remotely now and then, and Sheralee’s daughter expecting…it was a busy one.

We were at the property again on Saturday, and the first thing I did was add 4 new batteries to our solar battery bank.
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Well, adding more batteries didn’t make live all that much better! ha.  Found that out over time.  Let’s just say…’when you think you have a grasp on solar technology…YOU know NOTHING Jon Snow’!  (sorry…Game of Thrones reference for those of you that actually don’t know..ha)

I have too much power in the batteries and right now my panels can’t charge them enough.  NEED MORE POWER!  So, we are working through that right now, trying to figure out the best approach.  More than likely we will remove some of the batteries in order to try and get them ‘close’ to full.  Lots to think about.  On top of that, we are dealing with ‘cold’ batteries.  Cold batteries don’t want to charge as quickly either..brrrrrr.  We are going to try keeping the batteries warm with a low draw electric blanket.  Might just work..we shall see this weekend.

We did have a good ‘brats’ dinner Saturday! ‘nom’, ‘nom’, ‘nom’!
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While dinner was one…we were treated to some great sunset views, once again.  Just so pretty up there when the sun sets.  For those of you in Oregon…the sun is that bright orange thing you see in the sky during July and August.
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Other than that, we didn’t do much.  We waiting for a snow event to come in over night Saturday, and it didn’t hit.  What did happen though is it started right after I dropped Sheralee off at work.  We got about two inches on the ranch that afternoon.

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Very cool to be inside and see that happen.  Although, we are still dealing with cold right now..but we just purchased this awesome ‘wood stove fan’ to try.

Nickel Ecofan AirMax 812 wood stove fan
Caframo Ecofan AirMax

This thing should move air nicely, and is powered by the heat radiating off the wood stove.  We shall see! ha.
PUPPIES are here!

If you didn’t know, Sheralee and I put deposits down on two Great Pyrenees dogs from a breeder in Texas.  We are getting one male and one female, and we have names picked out but not saying until we have them in the Jeep heading home.  Anyways, early morning on Monday…the expecting mother gave birth to 5 boys and 3 girls.

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They are just 4 days old in these pictures, but sooooo exciting!  We will be driving to Texas in January to pick them up.  Can’t wait!  Well, we can because we have kennels to construct prior to that! ha.

Anyways, this is a quick one for now.  More going on this weekend moving forward, but this was a transition week for Sherlaee and I…logistical kind of stuff, but so good and the progression is still towards our ranch future!

Take care all!