Friday, July 6, 2012

I'm Back! Again. :)

Late Wednesday/Early Thursday (4am) morning we had some great thunderstorms in South East Michigan. I was in bed perfectly happy to hear them beating up against the window panes. Meant to me that the garden would be happy albeit possibly roughed up.

While laying in bed I noticed that the fan had a brown out 4-5 times over the course of 15 minutes. Opening the window at night and running the fan is enough to keep me from needing any AC. Thus saving costs and being the best hippy I can be.

V wakes me up because she cannot remove her car from the garage. Turns out that those precious water-works knocked out the west sides power. Showed V the pull knob that dislocates the door from the motor so we can go manual, then proceeded back to bed to sleep until the power company figures themselves out.

So, that would have been a lot of sleeping in. Much more than even I can manage. Here at 6:15pm on Friday, EST we have returned to scheduled programing. Two days without electricity. Groovy. You know, it actually wasn't that much of a nuisance. We haven't been bothering to use the AC much lately even though it has been hot. Once again the fan helps. Even without it we managed. Rather I managed. V enjoyed it warmer. Of course we had to use candles but then again, who doesn't end up burning a few candles now and then? The only thing, sans Internet, that got us was the fridge. V, being the proper brit as she is took it upon herself to save the cream (Teas) by bringing it to work with her.

There also was the problem of not having a range. Sandwiches covered it. :)

Throughout our neighborhood there was the hum of a dozen generators. Our house sat there silent as can be. The both of us reflecting upon how you wouldn't notice grid failures if you had your own Solar array. There is something to be said about being self sufficient. Relying on services and others is all well indeed, that is until something prevents them from being able to provide it. Then what to do?

Lately I have been reading online various green building sites and YouTube videos. The last two days without the grid has cemented in my mind just how strangely we build our homes. They aren't sun oriented to take use of 'free' passive heating or cooling. Homes are built with a bunch of closed of rooms that block out all natural light and restrict the flow of air/moisture. Leaving us to rely on heavy uses of electricity to turn our 'cubicle caves' into something livable.

Strange isn't it. Personally, I would have thought even older homes would have been built to take use of it as at the time they lacked electricity. It really shows that when resources are cheap (wood) then why bother to think of a better way to use it. It didn't matter if you had to clear half your forest to heat your home. IDK. Something inside says that if you can get the systems to work for you, doing there natural ways, then why go against it in order to have to work at recreating the system at all.

Earthship House building. No heating or cooling

Passive House Designs

Anyhoot. Garden is lovely. Corn is shooting up nicely. Yesterday I had to walk around with a bucket of soapy water flicking in the Japanese beetles from the eggplants and marigolds. Also had to entice a few earwigs out of the corn and into the soapy bucket. Not too bad though. Should be able to keep up. After all, the wasps are really helping out by buzzing around everywhere under the plants eating aphids and caterpillars etc.

Two days without grid and Internet.... I'm back! :D


  1. Welcome back! I love how you seemed to take the lack of power in stride even with the heat. I think we would have been miserable. It seems as though you and V treated the situation as an adventure.

    A period without electricity certainly make you realize how much we take for granted. Where we live, we tend to lose electricity often. There are little things that we have done over the years so that we are self sufficient during the periods of no power. We have battery backups on our computers and cable modem for a few hours (most times cable is still on even though power is out). We have a wood stove for heat in the winter. Gas gill for some cooking. Power inverter allows us to use electricity in a pinch (hair dryer when getting ready for work). This year, we finally purchased a fairly new, second hand generator to keep our chest freezer going. No need preserving a bunch of garden grown produce only to lose it because of a multi day power loss.

    1. Good point on the garden produce. I've seen a few articles online how you can easily convert a chest freezer to be a fridge and run off a single solar panel as it only consumes 100 watt-hours a day. A freezer would take more of course.

      What did occur to me with everyone running generators was that for a modest price (The neighbors purchased a 6000 watt one for $750) you could instead have a solar panel or two, small inverter and batteries. Not enough to power the ac or many things but all we need really in an outage is a fan, a couple lights, and having the internet would be lovely as you say. :)

      So long as you have lights, all other things are simply an inconvenience. Without lights it would eventually make you start to feel isolated.

  2. Glad you are back. Wondered how things were with the storms. Glad y'all are ok first of all and then glad the garden is ok as well.

    You know you can always have oil lamps as a backup. We intend to do that at the farm, I have some oil lamps that were in my Grandparent's cellar for years, just need new "guts". I'd like at least one oil lamp in each room. They put out a LOT of light. Way more than candles (though I love some candle light on occasion too). I agree that light is important. We were without power for 14 days after Hurricane Ike. The heat was unbearable, but at night when it got dark and at least was a bit cooler, but the darkness was unsettling. It did make you feel isolated.

    Like the idea of a chest freezer turned into a solar fridge, I'll have to "google" that. ;-)

    Welcome "home", we missed you!

    1. How did you enjoy the search? It should have taken you to a page with an Aussie man yeah? I miss Oz. It was nice living down there a while.

  3. I always tell people that the best thing to do when considering alternative power is to shut everything down and really see what they can live without. So now you got a taste of that ;) I was flipping through a Northern Tool catalogue (I think it was)the other day and I see they have exhaust fans that come with their own little panel. Reasonable too. It might be better for you to get something like that than invest in a panel to run a few things since it is not just as simple as buying a panel. There is the batteries, charge controller, inverter, wiring, connectors, you will need to change things in your electrical panel, and a lot of little hardware items to make it work. It might be better to wait until you are where you want to be before you hook that up to save a few bucks.

    Oh, and you are supposed to go to bed when it gets dark. No need for lighting. That is how the farmers do it...and the chickens. And we all know how smart chickens are ;)

    1. Good insight. We were thinking more mobility like a rolling Amish lightbulb. You know, battery box on the bottom, single pole with light bulbs. Maybe a 120v plug on the size. 12v dc light, 12v battery, dummy charge controller, no fancy mppt. small inverter. :)

      ANY sort of PV system would be taken with us! Nobody is going to take our PV panels away when we get them. :)

  4. We were knocked out-twice-by the storms this week. We were down Tuesday for several hours, which wasn't bad, but then the set of storms that rolled through on July 4 (which completely missed A2) knocked us out. Until Friday night. Sigh. With kids and one having severe food allergies, being w/o the fridge is a HUGE DEAL, so we did borrow a generator to keep that running, and escaped the the neighbor's for a day and then to my parent's place by 12Oaks for the remainder. The garden, however, loved the heat! Glad you're back, too.

    1. Our gardens do love the water and temps so far! Have to build more tomato gallows. You guys definitely had it worst than we westside a2s did. A few 100k people on your side while only 10k or so here... Glad YOU made it as well!

  5. Glad you made through the storms and welcome back.