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Nov - Dec 2014 update

Have 2 months really gone by since I last did an update? Can't be. They do say time flies when you're having fun...

Ok, so first things first, the temperatures have dropped outside and we've had a few cloudy days, so a good test for the 'ship - and it's still delivering!

~ When we have cold sunny days the temps inside generally get to 26C whereas outside can be about 14C (in the shade).

~ On a cloudy day temps inside are around 20C and outside could be 10-12C.

~ At night outside temps have dropped to between 3-7C, inside the lowest we got to at 6am after 2 cloudy days was 17.6C.

All with no heating, I think that's a big thumbs up.

Battery house sealed

Dave worked his little socks off and got the roof and door on the battery house. We didn't get the insulation in the roof done, so that's a maņana job.

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Wood structure finished
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Vapour barrier in place
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Roofing on
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Door and fill walls installed

New batteries installed

Then him and Phil spent 2 days charging up the new nickel iron batteries that we've been itching to get in. Let me explain...

A friend's son lives in a community of off-griders in the mountains near Las Vegas, he recommended nickel iron batteries rather than lead acid for a number of reasons;

1. They're much easier to maintain.

2. You can use a lot more of the energy stored inside them, typically there's no problem taking them down to 20%, whereas lead acid batteries start to get damaged if you take them below 75%, and definitely don't take them below 50%.

3. Conversely, you can keep charging nickel iron, whereas if you do this to lead acid you'll burn them out.

4. They last heaps longer, there are some that have been running for well for over 40 years. Good quality lead acid can last up to 14 years, but some only last 3 especially if you don't look after them properly.

5. As they don't contain any poisonous heavy metals, nickel iron batteries are a lot more environmentally friendly to repurpose when they do eventually come to the end of their life.

So, with that long list of pluses we just had to try them. Unfortunately, at the time we were ready to order there was no importer into Spain, and only one in Europe who was importing from a non recommended factory (apparently they've since changed to a good quality supplier).

So, we ordered via an American company, and did we pay for our naivety in thinking that importing into Spain would be easy? Oh my, oh my, oh my, did we! What with mind boggling import paperwork, mistakes by the factory, and then finding that when they did eventually arrive (after over 2 months of tooing and froing and 3 weeks stuck in customs) the bloomin things then needed to be charged. They had to sit in storage for weeks while we tried to find a charger man enough to get them going (did anyone think to tell us this during the 2 month delivery period? like hell did they). And we still don't have the oil that you're supposed to put on top of the electrolite! All in all a right royal pain. Needless to say, all the time spent fannying around with this for months stopped us doing other work. Ok, rant over! Here's a nice picture to calm us, well me, down...

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Stroking a cat is meant to be very stress relieving!

Having said (ranted) all that, now the batteries are in they're working a treat, so all is (almost) forgiven, ha, ha. We've had a few grey days and taken them down to 45% without batting an eyelid!

A lot of men have a garden shed that they disappear off to, when Dave vanishes for a while I know I'll find him fiddling in the battery house. And when the sun comes out full blast, or I put on the halogen oven, he goes scampering out to read the dials and play with nobs...ok, ok, nuff of that.

Book and web site update

So what was I doing while Dave was tearing his hair out over batteries? As you can see I've been updating our Get Started Booklet and giving our web site a bit of a make-over (as well as setting up KnitaFrolic for my hand made accessories). I know I should've been mudding walls but somehow we both needed a bit of a break from all the physical graft.

The book is now bang up to date and all you kind people who donated should've received your updated pdfs by now (if you haven't let me know, we only had two bounce because email addresses don't exist anymore).

Plus, a very kind Manuel, who is planning an eco build over Huelva way, has translated the whole thing into Spanish for us, what a star! Dave is just doing a final read before passing to me to put into pdf format.

Landscaping

That heading is a bit grand for what I've been doing, but I couldn't really call it gardening either as it has involved a bit of land moving.

Basically I've started to shape areas around the earthship for plants and paths. I've taken cuttings from some of the cacti at our old house to put along the front face. These cacti have the most fantastic flowers that come out at night or early morning, so I wanted to place them where we could see them from inside. I also started to re-work the entrance pathways.

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cactiflowers
Kapow! This is what they will grow to I hope

Fencing

As much as we like the wide open spaces here, our land is smack bang in the middle of a hunting zone. We say to hunters who come wandering by that we'd prefer them not to hunt on our land, and they're generally very good about moving along - even though they're the ones with the guns, yikes. But, their dogs are a little less aware of boundaries and we have had a few come right into our entrance way. Now, these are quite big dogs, a lot of the time they look hungry too, so we're a little concerned that one of our cats might make a nice snack for them one day. So fence we will.

But you know us, never ones to take the easy way out (ie. get a digger in to pick the 180 holes we'll need for the posts). Naa, we've had an iron pole with a pointy end made up and we bash our own holes using those handy (and very heavy) sledge hammers, the very same ones we used to thump tyres with. But why? I hear you cry! Well, the drought has caused havoc with our wild plants, a lot are struggling to come back after the months and months of drought, so the last thing we wanted to do was squash them under the tracks of a digger. Soft hearted? Maybe, or maybe just soft in the head!

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So, that's it, I'll try not to leave it so long before my next post, it's just my fingers get caught up in all the gorgeous knitting yarns I'm meddling with these days!

Have a lovely Christmas and a very happy, joy filled and peaceful 2015.



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