A Delivery With The Usual Humor

We had to ponder for a while how to best get a reliable source of water to the greenhouse.  The spigot from the house is slow, leaky, and is needed for other things, so hooking it up as the source for the drip irrigation system doesn’t work.  We have a ranch hydrant out in the chicken coop and we thought that maybe we could string another one over by the greenhouse, but that involves about 150 feet of trenching and some know how about how to tie it in to the water line coming from the well pump (trenching costs $15.00 a foot).  I know my limits and that is something I simply don’t want to tackle.  So I did some researching of water tanks, rainwater harvesting, using electric pumps on drip irrigation, etc. and I found a company that specializes in just such things!  We designed a system and ordered the parts.  Essentially, this is a 1000 gallon water tank that will be filled from a combination of snow capture, some rainwater capture (a certain amount is now legal in Colorado) and simply filling it up from the well itself (which will ultimately be the primary source).  The tank will be plumbed to a 1/3 horsepower pump that will keep a small pressure tank pressurized(similar to one’s attached to well pumps inside the home).  The drip irrigation system will be attached to the pressure tank with a timer attached to it.  When I determine the amount of watering that is needed daily, I simply set the timer and voila!  The pump detects when the pressure tank is low and switches on thus keeping the pressure in the irrigation lines constant.  I can bury the irrigation line using a middle trencher I have for the tractor (it will be down about 8 inches), instead of having to bring in a Ditch Witch to get the line down the 4 feet needed for a hydrant.

The plumbing, pressure tank and pump all arrived within a week of ordering it.  The tank itself had to be shipped by semi from someplace in Bumflucking Egypt.  Because these things are made of plastic I had to sign a document specifically stating my understanding that I MUST inspect the tank thoroughly prior to signing for it as these things can easily be damaged in transit.

I have been leveled this past week with the flu.  I don’t often get sick but when I do, I might as well begin funeral preparations.  Man I’ve been sick.  You know, the coughing up a lung, can’t smell, can’t hear, cold one minute sweating the next!  That kind of crap.  Yes, my beloved clients, I was still working through all of it.  God I hate tax season.

So no one decided to call and tell me this beast was coming.  Fortunately, so as not to pass this gem of a disease on to my son (he is in the throes of Calculus and we don’t need him bugging up now that he just aced his mid-terms), I am quarantined out at the farm.  It has been cold and windy and the air outside has been like poison on my throat.  So because of this vulnerable state, the creator in all of her mercy decided to deliver the tank un-announced!

No biggie.  The guy brought the truck in, wheeled the tank over to the end of the truck, even had a lift-gate (miracle!) and lowered the thing to the ground.  He was enthralled with the farm so I gave him a quick tour and he took some videos of the pigs for his kids.  He was concerned, because of the soft ground from the recent snows, about being able to turn himself around to get out.  I told him that if he backed up a ways toward the gate and because his trailer was pretty empty,  he should be able to put his trailer out on the field, keep his cab on the asphalt driveway and kind of jockey himself around.  Did he?  Are you kidding!? That would have been far to easy!  Why would anyone actually listen to the guy who LIVES here?  So he started to do his jockey-ing down hill too far from the road.  Instead of a series of backs and forth’s, he jackknifed the truck.  So he thought that he would just do a big circle.  This took him cab first into the field.  I watched him do it.  The weight of that diesel engine just sank that sucker right up to his gas tanks.  Of course, he tried to rock it out and that just dug deeper holes.  By the time I had walked out to him he had high-centered the thing and one of the back tires just spun freely with no contact with the ground.  That my friends is called STUCK!  Been there, done that.  The soil out here when it gets wet is like slogging through snot!

At first he asked if I knew of anyone with a tractor that could pull him out.  Knowing this part of the world, there isn’t a farmer around here that would knowingly put their tractor in that muddy field.  So he had to call in for a tow truck.  Turns out that another of his driver co-workers was stuck near here as well so they got a two-fer!  About an hour and a half later the hook arrived and pulled him out.  As my son said, “This wasn’t just stupid, this was ADVANCED stupid!”  Couldn’t agree more.  So off they went without so much as a “by your leave” or any offer to replace their divots – which are significant.

So as the JAZ Farm has proven time and time again, everything we want to do eventually happens, but NEVER, EVER, think it is going to go as planned.  Just keep smiling, just keep moving.

The Beast!  1000 Gallons!  Six feet tall, six feet wide.  It will weigh almost 8500 pounds when full.

New Tank

“Hello Boss?  Um….”

Stuck Semi

My Hero!  Pretty big tow truck!

Semi in Tow

Hey! Aint you guys gonna fix yer divots!?

Semi divots

Hauling the new big bucket to its place behind the house!  It will just wait there until Farmer Juan isn’t hacking up phlegm balls.

Hauling Water



Living Mostly Off Grid Is Pretty Cool!


Sorry that I haven’t posted in a while.  As spring gets closer there is much to do.  The seedling room is loaded with tomatoes, peppers, herbs, eggplant, and are getting ready to be transplanted into the 2 gallon pots.  I have a friend coming out to be a farmhand this weekend and to help transplant, so it ought to go fairly quickly.

So I wanted to do a quick post to show you what incredible changes can happen out here on the plains.  On Monday and Tuesday of this week it was in the low 70’s.  I even got out and worked in and on the greenhouse and got color in my face from the sun.  Then today happened.

I woke up (I’m out here alone today) just as the power kicked off.  It is currently in the low 30’s, blowing 40 mph and ice is building up every where! What happened to spring!?  Oh ya, this is springtime in the west… along with a broken jet stream.

This is the first test of the solar panel/battery back up system.  The batteries are supposed to kick in automatically when the power goes out on the grid.  That part failed so we will be having the technician out to make sure it gets some troubleshooting.  It could be that there was a fairly large load on the circuits it’s supposed to supply so we will have to see what needs to be done.  However, I went downstairs and flipped the switches manually and they fired right up!  Genius!  We have however, decided that we need to hook in a generator to the system with an autostart function just in case.  Should I have not been here and the batteries hadn’t kicked in, the house could have frozen and the freezers could have thawed.  Both are the reasons we installed the batteries in the first place.

So as it seems that FEMA isn’t coming out here any time soon, I am thrilled with the off-grid progress we have made!  Even without it working perfectly, this was the RIGHT answer for farm self-sufficiency.  The batteries aren’t supposed to power the entire house but it is certainly supplying a lot of it!  The battery back up is wired to power the entire basement (lights and outlets as it is where the two big freezers are located), the upstairs refrigerator, well pump, and furnace.  I got a bonus in addition that I didn’t realize.  The outlet the refrigerator is on is also the one the coffee maker is plugged into!  So on a cold winter blizzard morning with the power out I still had hot liquids!  Yes its a power drain but the batteries recharge from the solar panels during the day.  The fridge is on and cool as are the two freezers.  The electric stove doesn’t work and I can’t use the outdoor kitchen because its covered with ice.  So how to cook?  Well, if there was no other choice I could go out to the fifth wheel camper and cook out there (but I didn’t want to trudge through this awful weather).  So I went downstairs and pulled out the propane stove I use at hunting camp and astronomy star parties.  Voila! Breakfast (with hot coffee!).

This off grid adventure has proven to be just amazing and awesome.  Now we know that if the power goes out, we need to make some minor adjustments but so far NONE of the comforts of home have been eliminated.  I simply ran an extension cord to the internet router and I am sitting here posting while the farms for miles around us are out of power (unless they have generators).  I know they don’t have solar.  There are only one or two other houses around here that I’ve seen that do.

As it seems that FEMA isn’t coming out here to rescue me, this is very very good news.  So the first minor OYO (On Your Own) event has happened and the farm is doing great!  The chickens and pigs are all hunkered down in their respective pens, coops and huts, and I am just sitting here watching the world ice over!  Pretty cool!  Very happy!  I’m glad that even with all the difficulties getting the solar built out in the first place that we did indeed get it done!  So now I have to watch the CDOT website to see when they might open the highway so I can get into the city to do appointments tomorrow.  But in the meantime… I think I’ll just go take a hot shower, enjoy some coffee, do some real work…. because.. well…… I can!

And in closing, should you think I am completely off my rocker…. read and watch this video post (punks with some explosives are bad but this will displace a half a billion people – sooner than later).  If you deny a chief NASA scientist you are simply a fool: