Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Comparing Solar

With both our solar arrays connected, it was only a matter of time before we started to compare the two. Over the last few weeks, we’ve had some beautiful sunny days (in amongst the throwback to winter *sigh*), so we’ve started noting down what each array was doing.

We have 1kw array of flat panels on our roof.

And a 1kw solar tracker.

Our block is oriented east to west (not the best), so our flat panels receive most of their sun in the afternoon from the west. Our solar tracker obviously tracks the sun from whenever the sun first hits the panels (8.45am) until sundown.

On our best day last week, our flat panels generated 4.69 kwh. BUT our solar tracker generated 8kwh. I was very chuffed to say the least. First of all, because we generated nearly 13kwh that day and we only use 6kwh on our worst days. I’m not that much into feeding back into the grid (though Mr B is). In my mind, as long as we make more than we use, I’m happy :-)

But secondly, because the solar tracker was so much more effective than the flat panels. And now this is where I must divulge that Mr B has been working in solar & sustainability measures for the last 8 years. He was so enamoured by different solar farms that he saw in Germany and Spain about 4 years ago, that he came to Australia with the dream of building solar trackers.

And so it began, working in our garage and in our study. He has mainly worked rurally in Victoria getting his dream up off the ground. Working with farmers, vineyards and small city councils. The biggest solar tracker he built has been for Wangaratta City Council.

So we have always wanted one in our own yard but with all our housing issues over the last few years, it just hasn’t been possible. But now we have one in all its glory (yes I’m biased LOL) and I am so proud of my dear hubby that it lives up to all its promise.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Innate Curiosity - Silver Fox Style


~ The cure for boredom is curiosity ~ there is no cure for curiosity ~
   Dorothy Parker

I celebrated my birthday over the weekend. My beautiful family treated me to lots of cakes, love and pressies (yay for my new Fiskars secateurs). Not an important number but I love to reflect nonetheless.

I decided on my last birthday to stop colouring my hair with henna. Instead I’ve been growing the colour out. I now have a beautiful skunk stripe grey streak at the front down to bob length. And the rest of my hair is speckled with silver strands (which strangely enough I quite like). Unfortunately I don’t like my hair that short, so there is an obvious colour difference between the top of my hair and bottom. I'll post pics when I'm all grey.

And on my birthday I discovered a new young grey role model – a young silver fox - Sarah Harris. She is a writer for Vogue who has completely grey / silver hair and boy does she rock it!! :-) Inspiration enough for me to keep going with my hair.

As for my Dorothy Parker quote, I think as I get older I just get more curious. I’m not interested in the status quo or what’s cool or trendy. I’m not interested in the “shoulds” or the “ought to’s”. I still want to change the world. And I'm innately curious about what everyone has to say about the state of our world and how we will change it.

Looking back over the last 5-10 years I’ve changed so much in my beliefs, my views of the world, how we chose to live our lives but I realised yesterday that I’m content. I love my garden, I love my life, hey I’m even loving those grey hairs…we have so much further that we want to go on our sustainable path but as we make our way there, I’m happy!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Slow Living Diary September 2012


Once again, I am joining in with Christine from Slow Living Essentials for a monthly reflection of slow living…

NOURISH: I’ve got back into the habit of making more of our own dips (hummus, spicy pumpkin) to have as snacks.

PREPARE: I’ve started buying all our nuts loose and in bulk. I was surprised to find out how much more cost effective it is. I’ve also found 4 and 5kg paper or cloth bags of oats that I can buy from a local store.

REDUCE: I’ve been making head way with my personal plastic challenge. I’ve really been rethinking what I buy and am finding that I’m making a dent in what we buy in plastic. It helps to have the visual aid of keeping all our plastic for 1 week at a time. Shows me where it comes from directly, rather than in some sort of abstract manner.

GREEN: Our beautiful solar tracker was finally connected and she works so much better than our flat panels. It also means that we now have time of use on our meter. So I’ve been working extremely hard to make sure that we use as little electricity during the day as we can. I’ve also been using the timer on our washing machine to ensure that we only wash during off peak hours (5am).

The hardest bit has been being super organized about the washing – no more 3 loads in one morning. But there is something nice about the washing being all ready to hang out when one wakes up.

We’ve also finally started a compost bin for our cat litter after reading helpful posts like this. Little B and I spent a day decorating the bin so that no one could make any mistakes with the compost it generates.

GROW: I’ve planted out 4 kinds of tomatoes (Amish Paste, San Marzano, Cherry Roma and one that's good for drying) - 9 plants in all and my squash, pumpkin and zucchini seedlings have just about grown enough to go into the ground. Crazy though - we planted our tomato seedlings one week earlier than we normally would swayed by the warmer weather..two nights later we had a frost. My garden bed was the one with every bucket available tipped over each tomato plant. Good news...no damage done :-)

CREATE:  This month I had great fun making our Super Hero teepee. It was so successful that I’m in the process of sourcing secondhand material to make an outside one too (turns out queen size sheets are the go :-).

DISCOVER:  My favourite info books this month have been A Story of Seven Summers by Hilary Burden and How can I be prepared with self-sufficiency and survival foods by Isabell Shipard.

My favourite fun reads have been The Boy Who Fell to Earth by Kathy Lette and Runemark and Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure both by Joanna Harris. (I do have to say though that I preferred her last book about Vienne, The Lollipop Shoes).

ENHANCE: I helped update the website for a local community group.

ENJOY: Helping out on the zoo excursion for kindy – 23 kids, 8 adults from The Dandenongs to central Melbourne on the worst weather day imaginable (it hailed numerous times). But oh we had so much fun despite this!! The kids were so excited, a butterfly landed on a mum's face in the butterfly house, and Little B was sooo excited to have patted a frog!! :-)

Kiteflying with Little B – it’s so cute the way he gets such a buzz from it. And on really windy days it can be quite exhilarating (even for us big kids).