Image: More solar panels added to our array.
After being away in Campbell River for two weeks, it was time to get caught up on a bunch of fall projects, before the rainy, drear weather of winter settles in.
Our most pressing concern for the winter was insuring that we had enough firewood stored away to keep us nice and toasty warm. We still had a good bit left over from a load we brought in last spring, but we wanted to double that amount. And we now had the right tool! Last year, I was splitting wood with a regular, light-weight splitting axe. Ken was using a heavier, double bitted axe. We were splitting large rounds – up to 24″+ in diameter, and both axes had a real tendency to get seriously jammed into the logs, often requiring a sledge to free them. This made the work slow and frustrating. We talked about buying a splitting maul, and Ken had read a lot of good reviews about a “Condor splitting axe” (see Condor splitting axe review). As it turned out, on one of our turns through the Campbell River Canadian Tire store, we found just what we were looking for.
Image: Yardworks knock-off of a Condor splitting axe.
We have been harvesting wood from an alder blow down patch that is close to the shore. The trees have been down for about two years, and are reasonably dry, but not yet full of rot. This year, thanks in part to the new splitting axe, which worked like a hot damn, we were much more efficient than last year. In less than a week, we had a good load of split wood in the Kipper ready to be stored under the house!
Image: A load of split firewood for the winter.
During the summer, we had been charging our battery system with a pair of 80 W solar panels. These had worked fine enough when there was plenty of sunlight, but we knew that we would need something more come winter. So a while back, we had purchased another pair of 80 W panels to add to the array. We also needed to get a proper solar panel mounting system constructed so that we could change the angle of the array with the changing seasons. This became our second major project.
Image: Solar panels as viewed from the front. Panels hinge on a cedar log.
Image: Solar panels as viewed from the side. The uprights have three positions which control the angle of the panels – summer, winter, and spring/fall. The angle of the panels for each season has been calculated based on our site latitude.
Image: Solar panels as viewed from the rear. The uprights are hinged on a second cedar log. The back of the panel shelters the wiring and a breaker box, with a buried power line running from the box to the solar panel charge controller located inside the cabin.
Our third major fall project was bringing in the harvest. I had planted a wide variety of vegetables in the garden. Some, like the beans, were planted primarily as a seed crop this year, so that I could determine their viability in our local conditions, and also so that I could generate sufficient amounts of seed to plant a bigger, more sustainable crop next year. Others, like the root crops, needed to be harvested before rot and pest damage made serious inroads on our yields. I have been keeping notes on the performance of the different species and varieties in the garden, with the hope of making better and wiser choices next year (see garden-planner – this was created on an Excel spreadsheet which I use to calculate planting times for different crops and make notes on successes and failures).
Image: Good sized Scarlet Nantes carrot from our garden. We didn’t have a huge crop of carrots, but the ones we harvested were large and tasty – a good promise of carrot crops in the future.
Image: Just a sampling of the fall harvest.