March 2008 Archives

Tobogganing

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The tobogganing conditions the last couple of weeks have been stellar. We have 2' of hard pack snow than runs smooth down the back hills and almost right to the house. Conditions are best in the morning after a good cold night when the crust is still frozen. By mid-afternoon this crust is slushy and the hills are slower.

This is the view from the top.

The view from the top

Of course to get there you have quite a walk ahead of you.

Climbing to the top of the hill.

Savour the view for a few minutes, catch your breath and then it's time to come down.

Tobogganing. Tobogganing.

The run from the top is too long and steep for the kids to do themselves but there is a nice hill about half way that Gil can handle on his own. The longest runs are around 300m. We toboggan from the back property line almost all the way to the house for our final run.

Tobogganing. Tobogganing.

Though sometimes speed gets the better of you and you and the GT part company.

Tobogganing. Declan thinks that a soother counts as protective headgear. Declan.

Throwing blades

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We went out this morning to play in the snow (more on that later) and we could hear a strange rattling noise. Things are usually pretty quiet around our house and the sound was coming from the north, which is very unusual because there is nothing but fields behind us for quite a distance. It turns out that the strange noise was coming from our wind generator which had thrown two blades sometime early this morning.

Three bladed turbine with only one blade.

I'm not sure how this happened as it wasn't particularly windy or cold or this morning. When I got up around 6am we were producing around 10A of power from the wind generator so I can only assume that it still had three blades.

Anyway I tripped the brake on the wind genny charge controller which slowed it somewhat then climbed the back hill to trip the main brake which is located in a sealed box at the base of the tower. That brake shorts out the leads and causes the turbine to stop.

The brake located at the tower base.

Once that was done I set about looking for the thrown blades. I found one quite near the base of the tower but the other is missing. Depending on how fast the turbine was spinning and what direction it was facing the blade could be very far away.

The end of one of the broken blades.

The biggest problem for us is that we make the bulk of our wind power in the spring. In fact we've had such a wonderful confluence of wind and sun for the last month and a half that we haven't run the generator in ages. There's so much snow in the back fields that it'll be quite a while before we can get a truck up to the hill to lower the tower. Not to mention that the gin-pole is buried under nearly two feet of snow.

We had a huge dump of snow in the last 24 hours. It's the biggest snowfall in the time that we have lived here. There's at least three feet of snow in most places and more in the drifts. It took Joanne and I a couple of hours to shovel down to the cars and clear around them. Even so we're not going anywhere until the driveway gets plowed out.

I love the snow so for me this is great, I'll be heading off into the bush with my snowshoes following animal tracks and watching for the birds. I love trekking through the parts of the land that are normally too wet and inaccessible in the warmer months.

Snow everywhere Snow everywhere Snow everywhere

The week before last we had a camera crew here from an Australian magazine taking pictures of the house. So we had Gil take some pictures of them while they took pictures of us.

Photographing the photographers Photographing the photographers Photographing the photographers

Now that we've left the grey grey grey months of November, December, January and February we're producing lots of power again. Those months are what we usually refer to as the "100 Days of Grey" because the sun rarely makes any substantial appearance. We make a fair bit of power off the wind generator at this time of the year, but we still have to run the gas generator far too often for my tastes. Through the worst parts of December and January we have to run the generator about once per week. By that I mean that we run one full tank of gas through the genset, which lasts for about 7 hours.

Around mid-February the sun starts to make more regular appearances and especially in those brutally cold -20C and -30C days we can do quite well. As we move into March we tend to get both sun and wind - today we've been generating about 25A from the solar panels and between 10A and 15A all day from the wind generator. As a result we've run the dishwasher, and done five loads of laundry and we're still making tons of power. We haven't run the generator in about four weeks.

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