20090630

Gnocchi Again


Gnocchi Again
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Wendy made enough gnocchi yesterday that we could eat it again for dinner tonight. The dish changed in two ways.

1. The sauce is no a blue cheese base with majoram, basil, thyme, and oregano all from the garden.

2. The gnocchi didn't hold up well to refridgeration. It got mushy and was more like a potato soup. We still have lots to learn here.

Battery Cleanup


Battery Cleanup
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

In preparation for our new fence I needed to move some batteries out of the way. I setup a small area for my desulfating batteries along with my cores that are used for trading.

Shipping Container cleanup


Shipping Container cleanup
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

My office had a east facing wall with some papercrete blocks on it. Today we demolished the wall and started prepping for painting the wall white tomorrow. The blocks looked pretty bad and can be used in our next dome as insulation instead.

Shipping Container Cleaned Up

Bike Collection


Bike Collection
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We are about to give all these bikes to a local steel scrap guy. I had been collecting frames with the intention of making bizarre fences and tall bikes. After three years of collecting bikes from dumpsters it is time to let go. I'm just not going to actually do anything with them.

Freshly Painted Rain Water Tank


Freshly Painted Rain Water Tank
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Wendy painted the tote to prevent algae growth. I like this forest green color, it looks great.

Wireless Monitoring of a PV Panel


Wireless Monitoring of a PV Panel
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

I wrote up a blog post for Voltaic
Systems DIY page
. This post contains the parts, schematic, and software to start monitoring small solar panels wirelessly. I really like that this basic infrastructure can be used in pretty much any project. I suspect that many of my future projects will be making use of xbee, python, and pachube to capture and share data on-line. I'm tempted to build a custom circuit which can log my 2kW PV system. Really tempted.

Pachube Data Volts Pachube Data Amps Plastic Case for PV Panel Circuit PV Battery Monitor Xbee

Onions up!

Finally.... I planted these in november!!

20090629

Got Potatoes? Make Gnocchi


Got Potatoes? Make Gnocchi
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Wendy has been asking me every day "What will we do with all these potatoes". I say french fries. Can't have enough of those. Today she made gnocchi. It was pretty good.

Got Potatoes? Make Gnocchi #2 Got Potatoes? Make Gnocchi #3 Got Potatoes? Make Gnocchi #4

Rain Water Transfer Pump


Rain Water Transfer Pump
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We have about 1100 gallons of rain water catchment capacity. This a 2x improvement from last year. The problem has been getting enough rain to fill up all of our tanks. The recent rains gave us enough water to go ahead and try to transfer water from our primary catch tank to our secondary storage tank on the south side of the house. I wired up a $10 pump which I had picked up at a yard sale this year. Although clumsy this pump did a good job of transferring nearly 150 gallons of water in about thirty minutes.

Rain Water Transfer Pump #2 Rain Water Transfer Pump #3 Rain Water Transfer Pump #4

Todays harvest: potatoes & squash

It's not even July and we harvesting left and right. This giant squash seems to have appeared over night (thank u monsoon). Now I've got to scramble for a gnocci recepie so that I can make and freeze a few 1lb bags for the future. I think a chest freezer will soon be needed. Oh and I have been loving these soda racks I clipped from behind the grocery that went out of biz. They are awesome for transporting seedling trays, laying out and cleaning harvests and drying.

20090628

Viva Verde


Viva Verde
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We just returned from a two night trip to Silver City. I was a speaker at the Viva Verde event on the topic of "Digital Homesteading". Pretty much the same talk I gave at the Albuquerque dorkbot meeting earlier this year. All the talks I attended were quite good. I enjoyed learning about native foods, drought issues in the southwest, animal husbandry, SIPs as a building material, and issues around biofuels. We were a bit worried about the garden not getting watered while we were away. No problem there. When we came home I noticed that we have around 600 gallons of rain water in the tanks. There must have been some serious storms for the last three days because there is water everywhere.

Viva Verde #5 Viva Verde #2 Viva Verde #4 Viva Verde #3

20090626

The extractor

We had a chance to test our snake and bee venom extraction kit. I got
stung by a wasp while walking in the park. It pulled the venom out really well. Now I'll likely have a big red sucker spot for a week!! I just hope I never need to use it on a rattlesnake bite.

20090625

The Impending Harvest


The Impending Harvest
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Tomatoes, squash, apples, onions, sunflower seeds and so much more. We are now picking tomatoes on a daily basis! In June. This is crazy.

The Impending Harvest #2 The Impending Harvest #3 The Impending Harvest #4 The Impending Harvest #5 The Impending Harvest #6 The Impending Harvest #7 The Impending Harvest #8

20090624

Lithium Swap


Lithium Swap
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

My neighbor Davey had a little stash of lithium-ion batteries. I swapped him the batteries for a large 100lb deep cycle I've been desulfating for the last three months. Now I can rip apart these laptop batteries and start repacking my power tools with lithium cells. The advantages being longer runtime and lower weight.

Fence Posts (Almost Done)


Fence Posts (Almost Done)
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We spent a few more hours sealing the 3x3 square tube posts with rustoleum. We were almost done when it began to ran so we called it a day.

20090623

Lot O Garlic


Lot O Garlic
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Wendy tells me that this wall will contains 75 bulbs. Our garlic harvest minus only the other wall with a few dozen smaller bulbs. Our house smells like a Italian restaurant and looks like we have a serious fear of vampires. Notice how she left all the roots on and did not wash the bulbs. We believe this to be the correct way to store garlic for the long term. Let it dry out before putting any water on it to clean it up.

Fence Posts


Fence Posts
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

It has been a gloomy morning with occasional light rain showers. Kind of perfect for going out in the yard and cutting a bunch of square tube steel fence posts. Wendy and I cut all the 20' lengths down to 10' and even started clean and seal them with rustoleum. We still have about twenty more posts to clean and seal. The rain drove us in early.

Fence Posts #2

Electrical License


Electrical License
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

I'm reading the National Electric Code (2008) here. A few folks in town have asked me to do larger PV solar installations and I really can't do this without a electrical license (that belongs to me or a contractor). The test looks reasonable and I'm not too concerned with that. I've not been able to discern how long I need to apprentice or if it is necessary for me to become a journeyman before going for a master electrician EE-98. Comments welcome. It would be really nice if New Mexico would just adopt a PV solar installer class license and not require that a electrician license be present for every install. California and few other states have such a provision.

20090622

Desulfating Baby Batteries


Desulfating Baby Batteries
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

This is a 12V @ 8Ah lead-acid battery from a old scooter of mine. This battery hasn't been charged in nearly three years and had a voltage reading of 4.9V. I started desulfating it today and watched it hop up to 15V and slowly drop down as it charged. I'm just using a 12V @ .5A wall wart with a small desulfator unit. The nice thing about little batteries like these is that they should be done desulfating within 4 days. I'm going to watch this one closely because it would be very easy to overcharge it and pop the internal cells.

Bathroom Ceiling Painted


Bathroom Ceiling Painted
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Wendy went ahead and made some more paint for the bathroom ceiling. She is dying a elastomeric with our brown umber. I think the bathroom looks pretty good. She says it is now her favorite room in the house.

Bathroom Ceiling Painted #2

Scallions and Garlic


Scallions and Garlic
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

There is so much garlic in our home that I keep thinking that
something is burning. The garlic actually smells that strongly. Wendy also pulled some scallions today which we have left in the ground for over six months (I thought scallions were faster than that). Both the scallions and garlic are larger in size than what Wendy had been pulling earlier this month. The south facing gardens seem to do best for these crops.

Scallions and Garlic #2

Brown Dragon Fly


Brown Dragon Fly
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Wendy threw a stick at my shipping container to alert me that a brown dragonfly was present in the east garden. It sure is a pretty insect. We took a bunch of photos and went back to work.

20090621

The Longest Day of the Year


The Longest Day of the Year
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

It sure felt like a long day. Woke up early due to the dog barking at something. Worked on my solar panel logger while Wendy did yard cleanup. Did our daily lap swim, ate brunch at Bella Lucca, urethaned the remaining 2x4's for the fence, cleaned up battery desulfation pack, walked dog, made stirfry, and now we are waiting for the sun to go down so we can watch a movie.

20090620

Fence Prep (Wood Seal)


Fence Prep (Wood Seal)
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We have begun our journey into another long fence project. Today we prepped 18 2x4x16's with a urethane sealer. These wood stringers which mount perpendicular to the fence posts needed to be sealed ASAP since the sun and irregular rain could warp the boards before we have a chance to get them in place.

20090619

A Summer Meal


A Summer Meal
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We made our first meal this summer in which all the major ingredients were grown in a local garden.

- Corn on the Cob (they were small, but tasty)
- Junk Food Salad - lettuce from Al's garden and our own
- Turnip Tops - fried in ginger / garlic / tamari / hot sauce
- Balsamic Plums - from Al's plumb tree

It was such a healthy feeling meal that I immediately went out to pick up a pint of Ben and Jerry's Fhish food to enjoy as desert with rasberries and blueberries.