Sunday, May 27, 2007

My Work: Living on Solar Power - Part 6

July, 1997

The birds were chirping, the flies were biting--It felt like home.

Our third round of construction was finished and, although we were on the ropes for a minute there, we survived intact.

The carpenters came back for two weeks and the whole house was sided in inch-thick, 10-inch wide rough-planed white pine board and batten. “The Shrine to Pine”, one of the carpenters called it. 2,200 board feet of it. The sawdust from ripping the battens and cutting the boards to length could have filled five bathtubs. Probably another 50 board feet right there. The cut ends supplie us with kindling for five years.

That week we broke our record - 12 vehicles in the yard. Four were ours: the pick-up, two Toyotas, and the chicken van. Also the pickup and the cube van of the builders putting up our garage; the pick-up of the man installing the garage doors; the van of the plumber replacing the well pump and installing the new propane boiler for our hot water heating system; and a backhoe, bulldozer, dump truck, and trailer to re-grade the land around the garage and upgrade the driveway. Too bad we didn’t have some of those coloured, plastic pennants to string around--maybe we could have made a sale or two.

We now had hot water running through radiators in most of the house and a wood-burning cookstove in the kitchen – enough to make the house cozy in the coldest weather and eliminate early morning trips to feed the basement wood furnace. Our new well pump was a soft-start model, which meant there was no beginning power surge to get it started — much easier on our inverter and our batteries.

There was less progress on the phone system. We finally filed a lawsuit for breach of contract against the radio phone manufacturer, distributor, and local installer. We originally ordered a new two-line system but it never worked properly and, after six months of tuning and tinkering, we ended up with a used, one-line system that mostly worked and they wanted to charge us the same price.

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