Galen Young

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since Mar 14, 2017
out in the woods of Maine
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Recent posts by Galen Young

My last duty station where I retired was Naples Italy.

Returning stateside we decided to settle in Maine.

Most of the nation suffers from repeated droughts or 'water-stress', Maine has no such issues.

Most of Maine is rural and it is over 92% forest. I bought two forested parcels, one of which was marketed for $350/acre.

There is a sub-culture here pushing for 'Food Sovereignty' [which gives all land-owners the right to sell whatever you grow on your land]. It keeps USDA inspectors out of the process, if you grow carrots you have the right to sell your carrots, and I as a customer I have the right to buy your carrots.

Most townships here lack building inspectors. I was able to build our house myself. Our building permit came with a certificate of 'self-inspection and completion' for me to sign when I was done building it.

Maine has always been among the top 5 states for gun rights. We have a constitutional right to Open Carry and to Conceal Carry.

The 'snow-belt' region downwind from the Great Lakes is known for snow storms that can dump many feet of snow in a single storm. This region is basically "Grand Rapids-Detroit-Cleveland-Toronto-Buffalo-Rochester-Syracuse-Ithaca-Scranton-Albany-NYC-New Haven-Hartford-Springfield-Worcester-Providence-Manchester-Boston".  Not very much of Maine dips down South into that region. Here in Maine we may get that quantity of snow spread out over the course of the entire winter, a couple inches one week, a couple inches the next week, and so on. Maine gets a lot of summer tourists from the snow belt. They think we are heroic for living here since we are North of them, they think we must get 10X more snow than they get. But they forget that we are not in the snow belt.

2 months ago
Have you contacted MOFGA?

They sponsor a wide array of farm apprenticeship positions.

http://mofga.org/Programs/Education/Farm-Apprenticeships

Devin Lavign wrote:... When going off grid you do often need to think outside the box and look at alternatives to using power to do stuff, since it is no longer cheap and readily available. Hanging clothes outside/inside on a line rather than a drier for example saves a lot of power use. There are tons of little things you can do and big things you can do to reduce the need to use power to accomplish a goal. Being off grid you really need to access everything that uses power and figure out if there is another way. And if you can live with using the other way. Some will be fine opting for hand washing clothes, others will insist on powered washer. bneither is right or wrong, it depends on you and your family and what is best for you. A single guy washing clothes by hand is a lot easier than a family of 4.



A local group had a 'Solar home tours' event today and I agreed to open our farm for tours. We just finished giving a bunch of farm tours, and had to explain this. 

A common theme among installers is to get prospective customers to calculate their monthly power usage, and then use various formulas to design a solar power system.

This builds a false narrative.



My home is on solar power. On most days my batteries are charging by 8am and somewhere between 10am and noon our batteries are at 100% SOC. We can run every home appliance and every power tool without consuming all the power that we generate. However if we were to use the above formula, it would say that our photovoltaic panels only generate about 80% of how much we 'need'.

In reality from noon everyday until 4pm we have surplus power that we can not use.

In light of this reality, my wife bought a dishwasher. It only runs during daylight hours. We have a clothes washing machine and a clothes dryer. We raise pigs and we market pork, as it turns out we raise pigs faster than what we can market pork. So we have a large surplus of pork. Which then drove us to buy more chest freezers. Today we have four chest freezers filled with pork.

To assume that using solar power means that you must handwash your dishes, or use a clothesline to dry your clothes is a false narrative.

I own a Prius Prime. It sits plugged-in right now. I can drive into town, do a couple errands and drive home again, all within the 25-mile EV driving radius that it provides. All without it's gas engine ever starting.

Living on Solar Power is a lifestyle. But you must make the shift to this lifestyle. Once that shift is made you can actually do a lot.

btw; our chest freezers are all on timers, so they can only run from 8am until 4pm. All other appliances stay off until after the sun is up each day. My wife loves her coffee percolator, but even that can only be used when the sun is out.


4 months ago
I grew-up farming. When considering regions to settle after I retired, I wanted to avoid the drought-prone regions of the nation. So we chose New England.

The primary consumption of energy here is home heating. Active Solar Heating systems give you much better 'bang' for the buck than do Solar power systems.

Here in rural Maine the power grid is unreliable and it does not extend into most townships. Most parcels that I looked at do not have grid access. If you want electricity, then you must make it yourself. That is life on the East Coast.

Yes generating electricity yourself is more expensive, but this is often the only option.
4 months ago
We have a 48vdc battery-bank because our biggest load is a well pump [240vac] and the only inverters that can make 240/120vac are 48vdc inverters.

I used welding cable 4/0 for all the cables between batteries.

Setting your 'Low Battery CuttOff' at 80% * is smart.

Edit:
* - 80% State-Of-Charge, NOT DOD. You really do not want to drain much more than the top 20% to 30% of a battery's charge.
4 months ago

Jonathan Ward wrote:I hear it about the property taxes.  That is one of my concerns as well.  I'll look at Maine and see what's there.  Are there other New England states that you would suggest?



Some people really like NH, others Vermont.

Maine is the oldest state in the nation. The average age of residents is the oldest. We have the highest percentage of retirees. People may think of Florida, but ... if you do not mind winter and want to be active outdoors this is the place to be.
4 months ago

Jonathan Ward wrote:Galen, what made you chose Maine over the NW US?



I grew-up farming in a drought prone region. I need to avoid drought prone regions.

I had many co-worker who had bought land and homes in Washington, and then their property taxes had doubled or tripled. We pretty much knew that my pension was not going to be enough to support our family if we stayed in Washington.

So we needed severely cheaper land, with much lower taxes in a region that is drought-free.

The local culture of independence, and off-grid sustainable farming does not hurt either.



... General question again:  Do you guys/gals have issues with many Apex Predators in the area?  Bears/Wolves ect?



We have a lot of coyotes. Bears usually hibernate on my land every winter, but they are not seen as 'predators' here. I have seen them wander into my pig pasture, in ignorance. As soon as they detect the presence of my pigs, they turn away and they move along quickly. Wild bears are scared to death of free-ranging pigs.

:)
4 months ago
I was stationed in Washington for five years. While living there I consumed every day of my earned leave exploring the surrounding areas looking for a good site to homestead. After all of that effort, we decided to homestead in Maine
5 months ago
In my town there are four homes that use Photovoltaic power. One of these homes is grid-tied net-metering, and three homes are off-grid. One home is all 12vdc [it works just fine].

The 12vdc home has been on solar power since the 1980s, and it is the simplest and cheapest system I have ever seen.
5 months ago
Su Ba-

All good points.

With 4400 watts of photovoltaic panels, during a sunny day we make way more power than we need.

We can charge the battery, run every appliance we own, and every power tool. But it is a lifestyle change.

If you want to toast a piece of bread, you must be willing to conform to considering things like will the overcast clear-up first? And how are the batteries doing?

My wife has one of those new Freeze-Dryers. It is seriously a cool device. But it runs a 30-hour cycle. Our system can not generate power for 30-hours continuously. So for her to run th eFreeze-Dryer, we must first cycle power breakers to put us back to grid-power.

Among off-grid home-owners it seems agreed that your first battery-bank will die within the first ten years. This is due to the learning curve, so you need to budget to replace your batteries.

My wife was working, and she was eligible for a pension. So she decided that she wanted to reduce our monthly bills a bit before she took the pension. Our solar power system did that. Sort of. It was a big investment, and it will require further investments as the years go by.


5 months ago