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Irene Kightley

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since Apr 13, 2009
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chicken fiber arts food preservation forest garden fungi goat homestead rocket stoves sheep solar
South West France
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Recent posts by Irene Kightley

I'd be careful buying cheap MPPT  solar controllers. Many of them are fake.

1 month ago
If you can get or make the spare parts, learn to fix them when they go wrong and keep them running, there's no reason why folk won't come running. I would !

Good luck with your idea !
1 month ago
That's almost the same as the machine I used for a few years which was great for smaller things and has really changed my life after hand washing and going to the laundromat for big stuff. (We're off-grid with a very modest amount of panels).

I've lent it to a friend since I managed to buy a bigger machine in a similar style which washes much bigger items and a lot more stuff. Yesterday, I washed two duvet covers, three sheets and lots of pillow cases, seven pairs of jeans, about eleven tee shirts, five shirts, 27 pairs of knickers and five bras, millions of socks and a few dog blankets - all with same soapy washing water. It was pretty grubby at the end.  

I used two only black rubbish bins of water for washing and rinsing, which I siphon off to water the garden.

1 month ago
I grow horseradish in three places in the garden where the earth is really rich and the big roots are worth harvesting. If it's not getting enough nutriments it wears itself out but it will stay alive and take up space without giving anything back. You don't need much to get enough sauce for a year.

Once your plants are really showing signs of enjoying life and have huge healthy leaves, then wait until the end of summer when they start to wither, then dig straight down around the plant with a spade, wiggle it a bit to get the whole complete root out. You can then decide to leave some in for next year or to take the whole lot out. It's only when you cut the root in little bits that it becomes invasive.

Here, it's growing next to Egyptian onions, Melissa, Rhubarb and some pink Lamium.

1 month ago
Hello Bob, just to add to the reply that Thomas gave about 12v batteries.

He is absolutely correct but there is another important consideration when choosing solar batteries.

Take the example of connecting four 12v 100ah batteries in parallel.

Correct wiring and connections are crucial to ensure that the current going through batteries is shared equally. Every battery must benefit from the absorption period to be fully charged.

Resistance paths in six cells x four batteries creates a high margin of error, the paths are not always the same and can change over time. That's why it's important to unhook everything and check the individual cells in your batteries periodically and change their order from time to time. (Eg. Moving the first and last batteries to the inside of the string.)

I've learned my lesson by experience. Just have a look at my Flickr solar photos, you'll see that I made that mistake often, being tempted to buy cheap and easily available 12v batteries that died after just four or five years.

Now, I'd never parallel more that 3 batteries and when I'm designing a system, I try to aim for two.

To get 400ah, it's best to buy 6v batteries - connected in series, they'll get the same charge and they'll last for years. Or, if you already have 12v batteries connect them in series and parallel to provide 24v, use a dropper if you really need to for some applications but most inverters, LEDs, frigos, telephone chargers etc. we can buy now now are 12v or 24v.

For a bigger system use high ah 2v batteries connected in series. They are really expensive but worth it in the long run, not only for your purse but for the environment too.
1 month ago
Ooops, sorry Jay.

I got that completely wrong didn't I ?
1 month ago
We have Muscovy ducks.

Pink salt isn't very different to normal salt, it might have a few more minerals but I wouldn't wait to try the recipe because you can't find Himalayan salt Jay.

Muscovies aren't fatty normally but like most ducks, they fatten themselves up for winter. We kill ours around the winter solstice and get some lovely foie gras - without having to stuff them.

1 month ago
This a 8" j tube about seven years old and it works like a dream but it's not at all pretty so I cover it with crochet pads made from old tee shirts. It's in constant use when it's cold and I've cleaned it out a few times and repaired the cob around the burn chamber twice. I'll finish it one day.

I built it, Fabrice reluctantly built the chimney core and cut and helped with lifting on the old heavy water heater I used to surround the chimney and insulation (Perlite). He didn't believe it would work.  
I used an old chimney pot to connect to the barrel which was easy to cut to size and I also cut out an inspection hatch in it. I used the top of the chimney (Which I cut off) to go into the the cob near the barrel and it's used to dry things, warm wine and so on.

Water heater on, burn chamber cobbed in

Experiments with exterior air to burn chamber. I decided that this didn't make much difference the rocketiness and adding another metre to the height of the chimney solved the problem of a good draw.

Second firing, it worked well (inspection hatch covered temporarily until I had cobbed the bench)

Inspection of the joints and cob around the bottom of the barrel after a few burns

Inspection hatch covered with a plate from an old stove

Plan of the workshop. The rayburn heats the water, I preferred to use the rocket for heat only as the pipe run was so long

Just before the pipes exit to the chimney, a boot stash in a dark corner near our back door with a 1 watt LED light which comes on automatically when you come in to take your boots off.

A good clean and repairs to the burn chamber after 5 years

Four dogs, a man, two cats and me and the rest of the dogs are further along the bench...

1 month ago
That looks really amazing Joy !

What a brilliant idea and I am so bloomin' honoured that you've done this with one of my photos.

Where do you get that sort of thing ?
1 month ago

I've been looking on the 'net but not found the answer.

What is, A hydronic flush mounted crock pot ?

...and how would you build one ?
1 month ago