Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Big Freeze of 2009!

Last week Alaska opened the refrigerator door and a very cold mass of air enveloped California for a few was cold! It got down to 5 degrees in Trinity County and about 10 in places around Mendocino County. As usual, the pipes burst and the plumbing supplies went sailing out the door at the hardware stores. I thought we were pretty safe against the cold, but, mother nature proved me wrong. The inline water filter shattered and that took the whole system out until things thawed and the water started flowing again. The problem is, once everything freezes, you can't tell where the leaks just have to patiently wait so you can begin fixing things. I also lost some argicultual fittings at the outlet to one of the big plastic tanks. That still has to be repaired, but not to worry, there will be plenty of opportunity to repair that before it is needed. After the freeze the rains came, which are a most welcome relief after the bitterly cold period. The hydro is now flowing and creating about 62 amps of power a day. The road is soft and will need some more gravel as a temporary solution in order to get in and out of the cabin. I plan to do that on my next trip up. Oh the joys of ownership! Actually, I am not complaining; I love my land!

Monday, December 7, 2009


Yes, apple trees need and like the cold. In fall, the leaves drop and the sap, the energy of the tree, flows down into the trunk and root system. Trees need at least 500 to 900 hours of low temperatures so the tree can rest and prepare for the spring bloom. So cold nights and mornings are just what the doctor ordered when it comes to apples. I wonder about people? Do they need down time when they can regroup and rest? Sometimes we call that vacation! The first snow of the year has hit Bell Springs and it is a wonder for sure.
For me, winter is the perfect time. Because of the snow and cold, nature forces us to "chill". We get to linger over a cup of tea, and spend a few extra minutes talking with a friend or relative. The maddening rush is done, and the satisfaction of the accomplished projects hangs in the air. This year there is so much to be thankful for. I am happy to be here and feeling liberated. Feeling free to be myself, and dote on my apples. Keep it simple, Noel, that is the only way to really enjoy life!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Finished At Last!

After nearly six months of focusing on the water system, I can realistically say that for now I am done. It really began with the leveling of benches along the hillside last year by the excavator. With the leveling meant removing water pipes that formally followed the terrain. However, the challenging aspect is that post tractor work the pipes then needed to be reinstalled. You know how it is....first I decided to upgrade the pipes to a better quality that wasn't so available 25 years ago when we first created the system. Then I got to looking at the tanks themselves, and realized what I didn't really want to know. They were pretty shot with the lids broken from years of snowfall, and little creatures nesting in this delightful aquatic environment. So, the replacement plan got more expansive. Research was necessary to determine what size and brand. And due understand, just because you buy something does not mean it is magically going to appear 40 minutes from the small podunk of Laytonville. Merchants are definitely on "country time", and it takes some negotiation to get the product delivered. The other consideration was the Hydro System, which I have also been working on for a couple of years. In the winter, the water from rainfall is abundant, and it makes sense to capture the water and direct it to the generator that is now producing the power the cabin daily needs when the sun is not out. So, no plan is complete without calculating how the water system will work hand in hand with the Hydro Power system. Once I finally had all the materials, pipes, sand, tanks plumbing fittings and faucets, I then had a pretty daunting feeling and the question came to mind, "How am I going to do all of this?". As was mentioned last blog entry, that is when Ben came along. But, today, I was on my own for the finish up. Some final connections were on my list for today, stopping at the hardware to pick up those items that I became aware of last time that I needed to go to the next level. For me, there is nothing more satisfying that covering the holes and racking the ground smooth, becoming receptive to the rain that is already gathering far out on the horizon. With the tools put away, a smile on my face, I cruised home feeling a strong sense of accomplishment!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Heading Down the Homestretch!

Just a couple of weeks ago, with two new water tanks delivered, and the sand to put under them on hand, I was wondering how this was all going to come together? Then, enter my nephew Ben! Ben is a 20 something Cal Fighter who was just got laid off for the season, and was scouting out some work to keep the his wallet plump. Turned out to be a win win situation. Ben has that kind of "can do" attitude that a strapping young man who is out to conquer the world just wreaks of. He has a tenacity that you just hope all the firefighters in California have, because then there would be no lost homes or forests. No problem is too big or impossible to solve. So, the first day out we tackled the spring fed drinking water tank. This is a little complicated because we also have to hook a two inch poly pipe into the hydro generator 70 feet down the hillside. This rolled pipe is somewhat like wrestling with a might know the direction you want to go, but this opponent is big and bulky, and certain has a mind of its own! We actually get it all hooked up in one day and then the test! Yes! 3 amps of continuous power. Mind you, this is not the Hoover Dam or anything, but, this does represent over 70 amps a day. Imagine if you had a really good car battery, and you foolishly left the lights on all day, and your battery went dead. The best intervention would be to put the battery or a slow charge; maybe two or three amps for a day. Miracle! The battery would recharge and be as good as new. Thus it is with this power. On a rainy day, when there is no Sun to shine on the solar panels, the batteries will still be charging so that Lindsay could turn on a light, watch a movie, or maybe work on her computer. All these are within her power means. So it won't be solar power, but rather water power that refills the battery bank.
On the second day out, we set up the 2600 gallon storage tank that will water the trees late in the season when all other water is gone. I was very pleased to get these two tanks checked off my list and now in service. I think two more days will see the "water replacement" project completed!