Saturday, January 26, 2008

Winter Storms and Auxillary Power

Pine Mountain

Hello again from Pine Mountain. It is the last Saturday in January. It seems like we have just started this year but already it is a month old. Another large winter storm has been with us for several days now. So much snow has fallen that several avalanches have swept down into the valley. Our ranch is out of the path of any avalanches but the ski lodge had to close it's expert course because one of the avalanches just missed sweeping several skiers away. That avalanche took out the main power lines that bring power to everyone on the mountain.

Auxillary Power

We still have power at the ranch because we have several auxillary power systems. Ours is a four part system. The first part of the system is the solar panels. We have 20 panels on our south facing roof. Each panel delivers 130 watt of power at full sun. Total output of the full system is 2600 watts. The power from the solar panels is sent to a battery bank through a charge controller. The panels work great. There are several problems. First the panels have to be kept clean for maximum charging. We accomplish this by having a compressed air system that blows air across the panels every twenty minutes. If this does not keep it clean then we go up on the roof and manually clean them. The second problem is the sun has to be out to produce any power. Our system does not help us much at night.
The second part of our system is our ES 10K wind turbine. There is almost always a wind blowing on Pine Mountain. It only takes a 7.5 mph wind to start the turbine running. The turbine produces 1000 watts at 10 mph and 10,000 watts at 30 mph. Most of the time our turbine produces around 5000 watts. If the wind gets stronger than 40 mph the turbine begins furling to protect the turbine from damage. The turbine feeds power directly into our service and any excess is sold to the power company through a special meter. Most of the time we get paid by the power company because we supply more power than we use.
The third part of our system is our water turbine. We have a large pond and a fast flowing stream that does not freeze even in winter. Our turbine is a Harris pelton turbine with 4 jets. It produces 2500 watts at full speed. It is installed in the dam of the pond. The 25 foot dam height and the 300+ gpm flow rate usually give us maximum power most of the time. The power from our turbine helps charge the battery bank.
The fourth part of our system is a 10 K generator. This only runs when we loose power from the grid and our other systems are not supplying enough power to keep up with our power demands. Our system is a rather complex one and cost us almost $50,000 but it is a necessary expense because of the numerous power outages and our mini fish hatchery operations.

Alternative Energy

If you are interested in alternative energy for your home go to This is the home of ABS Alaskan in Renton Washington. They specialize in wind, water, generator and solar alternative energy systems.
Pine Mountain Evening

It is Saturday evening and I am trying another of my coffee flavors from Tonight I am trying blueberry Cinnamon swirl. This coffee tastes like a blueberry muffin that someone has put a Cinnamon topping on. It is an interesting flavor and it is a coffee to sit by the fire and enjoy. I have a warm fire in the fireplace and I am reading my discover magazine and listening to Squeekers my African grey parrot chatter away on his perch by the fireplace. Soon it is time for bed. I put Sqeekers in his cage and retire for the night. Good night from Pine Mountain. See you next week.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Applesauce and Applebutter

Pine Mountain

Hello again from Pine Mountain. It is the third week of January. It is sunny but there is still snow on the ground from the storm two weeks ago. Here on the mountain part of our land, about ten acres is an apple orchard. We grow Jonathan, Red Delicious, Winesap, Rome Beauty, and McIntosh.
Apple harvest
We start harvesting in mid September and pick the last of the apples during the first week of November. We receive $8 to $10 a bushel at the local farmers market. we also have a cider press and make fresh squeezed cider. We have a 20 foot/6 meter by 20 foot/6 meter refrigerated cold room in the basement of the barn that we keep at 38 F/3 C. We store about 40 to 45 bushels of apples from September to March. We sort apples every two weeks and any apples that are getting soft we gather and make apple sauce out of them.
Apple Sauce

Making apple sauce is time consuming but well worth the effort. We bring the apples that we sorted out to the house wash them and cut out any really bad spots. We put them in our 40 quart/ 38 liter pot and cook them until they are tender. We then put them through our Victorio strainer and turn the handle to remove the skin, core, and seeds. We put the mash back in the pot add cinnamon and some secret spices and cook it until it is ready to put in jars. We use quart mason jars that have been sterilizing in another pot. We fill the jars and put 7 Quarts at a time in the pot making sure the jars are covered with water. We boil them 30 minutes more to seal them and then we let them cool. After they have cooled we check to make sure they have sealed and store them on shelves in the pantry. Shelf life is 18 months but we use them in 6 months.
Apple Butter

When the apple sauce has been on the shelf 6 months we turn it into apple butter. We combine the 6 month old apple sauce with fresh pressed apple cider from our apple press in our big 40 gallon/152 liter cast iron pot. We add some secret spices and cook it over an open fire for 7 to 8 hours stirring it constantly with a big wooden paddle that looks like it belongs on a boat. After we taste test it , we can it and label it. The local store and restaurant buy it for $5 a jar. We make apple butter about 3 times a year. We make it in September, November, and January. Each time we make apple butter we also press some apple cider on our press in the barn.
Pine Mountain Evening

It has been a long day and I am ready to relax in my easy chair by the fireplace. First I make a pot of African cinnamon coffee available at After a long day of making applesauce and apple butter it is just the right beverage to relax with by the fire in the fireplace. I feed Squeekers our African Grey parrot some apple chips and peanuts as he sits on his perch by the fire. I sit in my easy chair and enjoy the fire, the African Cinnamon coffee, and my discover magazine. Soon it is time for bed. I put Sqeekers in his cage and head to bed. Good night from Pine Mountain.