May, 2012 browsing by month


Solar power update

Saturday, May 26th, 2012

I believe my last post on our solar power suggested things were not going well with the batteries. Well, I’m happy to report a turnaround.

When I got concerned about the way I wired the batteries together and rewired them, I created trouble. I switched the battery wiring to a spider or wheel style and ended up with seven fat battery cables all held together with a single bolt. At the time I was concerned about the quality of the connection, but they were all touching and the bolt was tight — really tight. I hoped it was fine.

Over time, things continued to get worse. I worried the connection was not solid and finally found this beauty on line:

battery connector

This is how we do it now

Ideally, it would have seven connectors and not five, but this is what I found. It, however, is working great. The batteries have all bounced back. When the sun goes down the initial voltage is higher than I’ve seen in a great while: 50.5-ish. The voltage remains high for much longer too. It’s frequently still above 50 volts late into the night. There was a time when the voltage dropped to 49.1-ish as soon as the sun set. Further evidence of improvement was a day with virtually no sun — we powered through the day and on until the next without concern — or skimping.

It’s such an improvement that I’ve set the generator into maintenance mode in order to make sure it runs once in awhile.

A nice convenience with this battery connector is the wiring block at the top. You can pull off 48 volts for DC powered things here — I’m not using it, but I would have if I’d bought it when I installed the system.


I’m stuck!

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Our greenhouse’s mesh walls are frequently the playground for lizards. This fat one got ridiculously stuck today.

I eventually had to cut him out with tin snips. Neither of us were happy about it.

Garden update

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

The garden is doing great.

The greens (lettuce mix in the foreground; tatsoi, an Asian green, in the background) have shot up  and are ready to begin  harvesting.

About 30+ tomato plants are in the greenhouse now, with only 10 or so still in pots in the house. The first plants have blooms.

Squashville is doing well with cucumbers, watermelons, cantaloupe, and squash all a couple inches tall. Brad also planted some garbanzo beans, which have grown quickly. (If you haven’t had fresh garbanzos pan roasted, they’re quite delicious.)

In the new beds by the greenhouse, the green beans are doing well, but most of the edamame didn’t come up. I’ve reseeded with garbanzos.

It’s been hot here — in the 90s and supposed to reach 100 next week. Good weather for growing as long as you water frequently. The cool nights make the greens happy.

lunch salad with Asian greens from the garden

Movie night!

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

When Brad and I lived in California, we had a favorite getaway spot that was a small bed and breakfast in Palm Springs. It had a Moroccan theme that influenced some of our house design, and each evening they showed movies outdoors on a small makeshift screen. Often, we were the only two moviewatchers, huddled under a blanket on lawn chairs. (We were often there in the winter.)

We always said that someday, we’d like to have outdoor movies like that.

Last night was the debut of ranch movies. We had a few neighbors over for dinner and then went outside to watch “Moneyball” on the side of the house. Despite temperatures in the 90s during the day, the evenings are quite cool, so again, blankets were in order.

It was really just lovely. Exactly how we’d imagined it.

We’ll be taking requests for future showings.

Desert blooms

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

The desert is continuing to bloom. Here are some pictures from our hike last weekend.

Cholla blooms

Prickly pear blooms

Desert willow


Saturday, May 12th, 2012

About a year and a half ago, Brad and I went for a hike back in North Fork of Horseshoe Canyon and found a big dam that was built in the 1950s to hold water to pipe down for cattle. The reservoir behind it was bone dry.

Today, we did the same hike and look what we saw.

At our house, it has rained very little so far this year (one time, less than a quarter inch), but looking at the watershed area behind this reservoir, it probably doesn’t take much to fill it up.



Stucco’ing Virga

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Finishing a big work project and finally getting some rain here gave me a chance to finish this video I’ve been meaning to assemble for a while now. (The actual work here has been done for weeks.) Enjoy.

[I always forget to say that this isn’t the final coat. The second coat is much prettier and also much easier to do.]