April Fools?

It was hard not to get caught up in the early spring warm weather excitement and jump the season too early this year.  But with restraint, we’ve kept to our normal seed starting and planting schedule.  Unfortunately, our fruit trees were stimulated into early flowering.  Peaches blooming in March in Minnesota is not a good thing.  We’ve got a couple of nights of mid 20’s F. forecast, so we’ll just have to see how the fruit trees come through. If a few blossoms get blasted that just helps us do the fruit thinning that we never seem to get around to. As long as temps don’t dip too low we’ll probably get at least some fruit.

Recently we added a new solar “load” to our home power system that will come in handy when summer arrives.  We installed a small 12-volt fan (surplus from a Cray supercomputer) on the gable end of our attached porch (located on the SE corner of the house, with polycarbonate roofing and windows with screens).  This fan is powered by a small, 8 watt solar panel that previously ran another fan of the same type, pushing air through a solar collector for winter fresh air intake.  The solar panel was disconnected in summer when the heat exchanger was not used.  Now it can be switched to run either fan.  The porch has a shade cover for summer, but the extra venting will help with heat buildup and air flow, as we use this space to dry seeds, beans, and grains for storage.  If you have any kind of renewable energy production system, it’s good to find all the uses you can make of the power you’re generating. Letting the system sit idle is energy not harvested/wasted.  Think of these kinds of loads as solar sponges to soak up the excess power pouring in.

Meanwhile, the bio-gas system is in place and waiting for warmer weather. And our baby chicks will arrive on Thursday. We have nearly finished their (hopefully) predator-proof coop, although their first home will be in our house in a halogen lamp heated, cat-proof dog kennel. When they are older and much larger we hope that they will provide a diligent bug patrol in our orchard, even if this may not be its best year for fruiting.

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