Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Going Solar

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Dear Friends and Relatives,
This is a notable day for us - we have just gone solar for our electricity needs. We have been preparing for this over the last year by cutting our electricity consumption. In the photos you can see Jack and Gil preparing the site, and then the solar array in the sunshine.
I think we'll have plenty of energy!
I need to experiment with timing of electricity use. Early morning use of the washing machine was OK today, but after the wash (avoiding simultaneous use), turning on the electric oven triggered the back-up diesel generator. I'll wait until full sunlight to do my baking.

After a little investigation, I am impressed with the potential of solar dryers to preserve tomatoes, fruit and herbs, but not impressed with solar cookers or ovens at this latitude. The one I saw in action at a friend's house required constant adjustment of the reflectors, and although I burned my fingers when I touched it, took ages to boil water.

The other new thing is the incorporation of WWOOFers in our lives. The acronym stands for Worldwide (or Willing) Workers on Organic Farms. People, usually young people, travel around offering four hours work a day, for which they receive accommodation and food. It is very commonly done in NZ. Our beginning has been very pleasing. A delightful woman, Helen, came from Dunedin with her equally delightful young sons to see if she'd like to join the village. And a US student stayed for a few days. We are expecting two other groups now. It's a big help for Jacques in watering, mulching, transplanting, etc.. When there are no WWOOFers, Jack and I join Jacques and Cheryl to water for 1-2 hours each evening.

Warmest wishes to all,