Hidden Bend Retreat, Romney West Virginia

Romney, WV

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Solar Array Install 2

Here are some more pictures of the solar array install. Once the framework was completed, the panels were attached and the connections made to the main electric feed for the guest cabin. It was 2 long days for the install team but the weather cooperated and the physical install and connections were completed by late Friday afternoon.

Bill Anderson, the owner of Milestone Solar (Milestone Solar) will be back on Monday if the weather is sunny to set up the monitoring system. We decided to go with a micro-inverter system for each panel from Enphase (Enphase M215 Inverter) that includes a comprehensive monitoring system called Envoy. Envoy collects individual performance for each of the 32 panels as well as summaries for the entire system. Each of the inverters is connected via the electrical connection and then to an ethernet connection to our local internet router. A host system called Enlighten collects the data from the panels and is then accessed using a web browser to see the performance information. Will be interested to see how all that looks!

The install crew really did a great job, worked at a steady (but not frantic!) pace and sorted out any of the small issues that pop up in a real life install. Bill said this was one of the larger ground mounted systems they had done. They also had to contend with the normal WV slope for the framing but all looked great when it was done.

Will post more next week once the monitoring is up and running.

Solar Array Installation 1

Donna and I decided to try to offset some of our electric usage by
having a solar panel array installed. Work started on Thursday as we had
a nice break in the cold weather. Here are a few pictures as the crew
from Milestone Solar worked to set up the framework that holds the
array. The last picture shows a stack of 4 panels connected together and
ready to be attached to the frame. There will be 32 panels and is rated
at about 8.6kw.

The connection will run to the guest cabin and any excess electricity
generated is fed back to the power company by basically causing the
meter to run in reverse. Once all is connected and the power company has
changed out the meter for one that can handle net metering, we
should be generating power. Next post will show more pictures
 as the install progressed.

Oz Plaque

The picture in the last post of the Wizard of Oz plague I carved on the
CNC was actually the preview from the software that does the cutting-
here's the actual piece after it was carved just before I boxed it up to
send to Charlene.

Monday, March 24, 2014

CNC Wizard of Oz

Here's a carving I did on the CNC machine for my sister Charlene's
birthday. I didn't want to post it until she got it in the mail. She
called today and said she liked it so thought I'd show it off a little.
The software and hardware combination that is used to make these is
incredible and reasonably easy to use for a beginner!

Alpaca Shearing Class

Last weekend, I took a class to learn how to shear alpacas. It was a lot of fun and included hands on experience using  alpacas from the farm that hosted the event, Good Times Ridge Farm. The class was taught by Matt Best, he's the shearer that has done many of the farms in this area for a few years and came to our farm last year to shear our guys.

Matt did a great job with the class, an hour or two of classroom instruction to talk about the equipment and basic methods, then out to the barns to get started. Using a plywood mockup of an alpaca, our first task was to learn the "shearing dance" which is the series of steps you use as you work your way around the alpaca. It's not quite the Rocky Horror Picture Show Time Warp but when performed with music, it was a quite effective way to learn the moves and quite funny. Unfortunately (LOL), I don't have any pictures of this part of the class.

The pictures below show our 3 person team working on our first alpaca. The shearing was being done by Eric Clark and that's Charlotte Clark helping me hold the alpaca. The last picture shows Eric holding the alpaca that I had sheared and you can see the relief on Eric's face when he realized he had not fully closed the halter before the alpaca was released and we had to get some help getting him back in tow.

 All in all a fun day and although I don't see myself having to shear our guys, I know now that I could borrow the equipment and in a pinch, get it done if needed. Matt will be here on April 16 to shear our 7 alpacas, let us know if you'll be in the area and want to stop in to watch (you might get volunteered to help wrangle as well).

Friday, March 21, 2014

Foster Sally

Miss Sally, our long term foster sheltie took a serious turn for the
worse and died last week. She was with us for 6 months and had become a
real favorite of Donna. Sally came in to our rescue group (Northern
Virginia Sheltie Rescue) after having been hit by a car and injuring her
head and leg. She has surgery for her leg and recovered well, she was
originally thought to be about 6 or so but turned out to most likely be
closer to 12 or 13. We thought she was making real progress but must
have suffered a stroke or serious seizure overnight and then was largely
unresponsive. We buried her here on the farm and the attached picture
shows some of the markers I made to mark her spot. We decided to go with
CNC Plaques for Miss Sally
the oval shaped marker with black letters and put it on a pine tree next to her grave.

These were made with the CNC router I blogged about in previous posts.
I've been asked to make a few more of these by others in memory of their
shelties so will see how that works out.

More later.