Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What a month!
So far we have bought an extra 10 chooks.....had a huge amount of site works done for our shed... changed our preferred housesite at least twice...bought furniture...cleared about 1 ha of land.... I nearly got killed by a "widow-maker" tree: a stringy-bark which dropped a massive dead limb...set up a veggie garden...bought an extra trailer...discovered a dragon...Jack-Jack, one of the dogs made his first kill: unfortunately, it was a bandicoot, but his second one was a mouse, so he's getting the idea. I think that's about it.
First: it's great to have She-who-must-be-obeyed on site. I'm not dropping weight as quickly as I was, and my alcohol consumption has certainly increased, but it's worth it to have her here.
Second: Jim Woodward's firm, Woody's Diggers, and their main plant operator, Andrew, are brilliant. Woody came in with a cheaper quote than anyone else, has done a better job than expected, and coming in under budget. Difficult to complain about. ...and they're damn nice guys too.

Our neighbours, Ben and Anna, are brilliant. We have made friends with a woman, Louise, from the sub-division South of us. And all is right with the world.
The widow maker

..and its dropped branch

..had to go

The biggest tree on the hill.

How the mighty are fallen...

The dragon in the Huon River.

Jack-Jack's first kill.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Finally we moved.

We hitched up the Suzuki Vitara to a luggage trailer full of gear (slightly overloaded) and headed south.

We visited Sue's sister, Gay, in Boort, Victoria for a while. She generously urged us to borrow her pop-top caravan for temporary accommodation, and we agreed. So there were two crossings of Bass Strait in two weeks: one with the trailer and one with the 'van.

I came down alone on both trips to get things established, little appreciating how long it takes to get things done. A week or so after I got set up, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed arrived for a couple of weeks. She was simply underwhelmed by the sleet, gas lantern for light when the generator wouldn't start, strong winds, bla-bla.

Piece of advice: don't buy a Scorpion Generator. Mine presented problems from day one: an absolute piece of crap.

After Sue left, I bought a solar panel, controller and inverter from a firm in Hobart.

Next piece of advice: don't buy solar energy components from a salesman without finding out if he knows what he is talking about. After promising delivery in 4 days, there was nothing on the ground after 10. I cracked up, and received a controller very smartly. Not the one I ordered, but a bigger beast. Worth more money, but way overpowered for my set-up. A controller came with it too.

The inverter allowed me to run the genny into a battery bank, through the inverter, and into the 'van, using the computer, etc.

Then the solar panel arrived: 300 watts. I ordered a mounting frame for it, but it wasn't made on time (surprise, surprise) and was presented with a heap of aluminium angle to make one myself, which I did.

Looked at the label on the back of the panel and thought: "This is a 48 volt panel for my 24 volt system - not good." I rang the shop and was assured that it was perfect for the system. Rang the manufacturer of the controller and was told a different story: "No. It will destroy the controller." Demanded, and got, a refund on the controller and ordered an MPPT controller from another (reliable) supplier - Tasman Energy of Deloraine are brilliant and their advice is spot-on. There was another mix-up resulting in me getting a better controller than I paid for. Result: this controller and the inverter will be more than enough for any system I am ever likely to se up. I just have to expand the battery bank and generating power. I also picked up a 500 watt wind turbine.
Sue came back down here permanently at the end of the month.
In the meantime, I had built a chookpen and picked up 6 Isa Brown chooks that Sue had ordered during her first visit. They immediately started cranking out 5 or 6 eggs per day - cholesterol city. I had also taken delivery of the two cutest dogs on earth from my daughter in Brisbane: Jack-Jack, a Jack Russell cross, and Suzy, a red-heeler/dachsund cross. At least they ate the excess eggs and protected the chooks.

Quite an eventful month.