Due to some real life issues and unexpected happenings, about 3 years ago, we moved back into town for a couple years while we reorganized ourselves. Now a few years later, things are slowly getting started back up and we are making good progress on our new piece of land in the mountains of western New Mexico at 7300′ in elevation. There are a lot of differences between this new piece of land and our old land in the deserts of west Texas. Just to name a few, this land gets about 2 1/2 times the rainfall of the land we had in the desert at about 24″ of rainfall a year. Having learned a lot of valuable information about rainwater catchment while living in the desert with a whopping 9″ of rainfall lol, we have added more containment and now have a total of almost 6000 gallons capacity. This should be more than enough to last between rainstorms which come during the summer monsoon season and snowfall which comes in the early parts of the year. We have moved a 14’x76′ mobile home up there with a wood stove capable of heating the entire house. We also have a 12’x24′ shed with a freestanding fireplace which we will use as a guest house once it is completed and a 30′ camper parked there. With the addition of the woodshed, which will come later this fall, it will give us a total of 1672 square feet of roofs to collect from, giving us an average of 1003 gallons per inch of rainfall once we complete all of the rain gutters. Fencing around the house has started going in as well which will allow us the ability to plant veggies, berries, grapes and fruit trees without having to worry about the local wildlife eating them as much. We have also upgraded our solar from 9 panels, which is what we had when we lived in the desert, to 24 panels of which 12 are currently installed. After I get the additional batteries for the next 2 strands we will get the next 6 panels in and the last strand of panels will go in with the 5th strand of batteries. Giving us a total of 1075 Ah of batteries and 4560 watts of panels when completed. This will give us the ability to run our entire house off of solar, well everything except the furnace which will be run off propane and be used as a secondary backup to the wood stove. We will also have a propane on demand water heater as a secondary backup to the electric water heater. The electric water heater is going to be a converted 10 gallon electric RV water heater with the ability to turn it on and off when not needed to conserve electric. We have started going to the property once every three weeks to work on it which means there are times when things seem to go slow but overall there is always progress being made. After each trip up we will start posting a brief update as well as after any major things being completed. I look forward to sharing lots of great things with y’all. Until the next time, stay safe and God bless.
Due to working excessive hours for Christmas I will not be posting anything until after the 19th of January when I finish inventory as well. At that point I will have a little more time to focus on the ranch. Hope everyone had an amazing and merry Christmas. God bless y’all.
So just a quick update, I know I haven’t been on a lot lately.
Looks like until after Christmas and maybe the New Year, work will pretty much take most of my time. Ah the joys of being a store manager during the holidays. LOL
I did get (with the help of my oldest son) the area cleared for the raised beds. Going to start on the raised beds one step at a time as they will be utilizing cinder blocks. Going to bring home about 10 per trip to Lowes which means it will take me about 2 weeks per raised bed….give or take…..and that is just for the cinder blocks. Not including the dirt lol. Going to use good dirt to start and then we will just add compost to it twice a year as needed. Anyway I will get a pic or two tomorrow of the cleared area before I go to work.
We had a great time at our neighbors house for thanksgiving dinner, ate way too much lol. So today I got my truck (1970 f-250) running after I got home from work, also replaced the battery with a new battery thanks to one of the neighbors. Happy days…..
Haven’t gotten a lot else done lately though been so busy working 12 hour days prepping for thanksgiving by the time I was getting home I was too exhausted to do much….something about the hour and a half drive to and from work that just made for really long days. One good thing about the drive is it gives me ample time to formulate plans for the ranch lol.
Monday I will get the area for the raised beds cleared and marked before going to work. I will get a couple pics hopefully and get them uploaded.
Tuesday will be spent….at least a good portion of it hauling water from our community well to fill our two 2500 gallons tanks.
Got our seeds for next springs planting in yesterday….was like a kid in a candy store.
I will post a list of the seeds later tonight before I hit the bed. Also my wife saved a bunch of seeds from one of our acorn squashes. Tomorrow she is going to save the seeds from a white scallop squash we got at the local farmers market.
So found out Saturday that I have to go to court on Tuesday in regards to an attempted robbery at my store about 2 weeks ago. So after a mad dash to change the schedule on Thanksgiving week I ended up working 15 hours yesterday so that one of my assistant’s could be off. This frees up today so that I can go do laundry lol.
On a side note this also allows for a ton of things to be worked on today and tomorrow morning before I have to leave for court.
So with that being said on today’s agenda is marking out and leveling for the raised beds, hauling trash and going to pick up my sons water tank.
I am also going to work on the trenching for our grey water. At least maybe get it cleared out where it will run. Also need to finish the box for my water line.
And maybe start working on the layout for the chicken and duck house. Can chickens and ducks go in the same building? Hrmm….have to look that one up as well LOL.
Also going to do a little rewiring today.
I will post pics of the progress tomorrow morning.
It is a beautiful, if not a little breezy day.
Supposed to be 62° today. Love the weather here.
On a side not, also have some pecan clippings that I am trying to root…..May have to wait til spring as they were starting to go dormant thanks to the cold weather when I got them. But we will see…..
So my wife is ecstatic, with the final batch of solar panels we have enough power to run her curling iron, the microwave, her blow dryer and the electric heater……the electric heater can only run during the day due to the batteries needing to be replaced. At best guess I believe the 660 Ah setup I currently have is actually holding about 250 Ah which when converted to 110 gives me about 20 Ah once the sun sets lol. Going to replace them with L19 Trojans over the next month and a half or two….one set at a time. They are 435 Ah batteries so when I get all three sets I will have 1305 Ah total (wired in parallel). This will give me about 430 Ah of usable electric @ 24 volts. This will convert to about 100 Ah @ 110 volts.
The conversion of Ah is something I never learned before trial and error and a few searches on Google.com heh.
Basically the missing step that I never took into consideration when calculating what I needed is as follows:
To figure your ACTUAL Ah, (usable electric for 110 volt appliances) you take the voltage of your panels and divide it into 110 volts (this gives you a figure we will cal P-volt). Then take the Ah output of you solar panels (SP-Ah) and divide it by the number we got labeled (P-volt) this will give you your (P-Ah).
So 110 Ah output at 12 volts becomes about 11 Ah.
120/12 which equals 10, then divide the 110Ah by 10 which gives you 11 amps at 110 volts.
The same Ah @ 24 volts gives you 22 amps @ 110 volts. And at 48 volts, you would get 44 amps. I chose 24 volts for my setup as it is twice as efficient as 12 volts but very similarly priced to 12 volt, and costs about 1/3rd the cost for components at 48 volts. For those of you interested I got my solar panels from ML Solar. They were very competitively priced, I paid $2190 for 2280 watts delivered to my house in the middle of nowhere. This is by far the best price I found. I am currently using 3 PWM charge controllers which will eventually be replaced by MPPT charge controllers, which is way more efficient when charging but extrememly expensive lol.
Anyway off to spend some time watching MST3K with the kids before I hit the bed…4 am comes early lol.
If anyone has questions please feel free to ask. Happy to help.
Here are the pics of the solar panel install.
The frame for the panels is made from 2×8’s stained and concreted in the ground. The lack of rainfall means that the wood will work fine since it won’t have to deal with excessive moisture. If I was in the Midwest or somewhere where they get more than 12″ of rainfall a year I would have used metal for the frame.
Currently we are using 3 charge controllers 2 30 amp and a 60 amp. The total output from the solar panels is about 80 amps at 24 volts.
When converted to 110 volts we get about 18 amps charge per hour for 6.72 hours per day which is peak power. The rest of the day (about 4.5 hours) we get lower amounts…..the drop is a lot more than I originally expected. As little as 5 degrees of change in the angle of the sun drops it as much as 25% output….
Basically according to the meter, we are getting about 700 Ah of electricity at 24 volts per day.
This works out to about 150 Ah at 110 volts per day.
Cloudy days are considerably less but still workable.
On a normal winter day we will get enough electricity to power 3 electric blankets all night so we all stay nice and toasty as well as run the house lights and miscellaneous other electronic devices to include 2 laptops which the kids use about 7 – 8 hours a day for school. Our kids attend a online academy which we love, all their classes are online streamed via webcam. This eliminates the issues of common core as the school they attend does not teach common core.
We also use 2 12 volt 80 watt panels to charge 2 110 Ah 12 volt batteries which run all of our inside lights as well as our water pump and 2 electrical outlets via a small 500 watt inverter. This is going to be replaced with a pure sine inverter at some point to run the tv and DVD player as well as anything else that gets upset with the modified sine wave power.
Our current house is a 32 foot travel trailer with a full size bed in one end and bunk beds in the other. We are going to build a 16’x24′ addition on the front probably next spring. This will be the living room, a large bathroom with laundry room and a 5’x5′ pantry.
Hope everyone is staying warm.
We ended up getting 3 days of temps in the low 20’s for lows and mid 30’s for highs. Praying for those up north who got far worse. Had most of our winterizing done before it got here, still wasn’t quite ready for the cold to come this soon lol. Today I finished the install of our last 3 solar panels. That gives us about 2100 watts of solar. Also picked up a halogen heater which will work great during the days, tested it today. It draws 400 watts on low. After we finished installing the solar we built Isabella our Belgian Shepard a doggy house, she is ecstatic. Next in line is to finish our winterizing and start on the raised beds. Hoping to have the raised beds done by no later than February.
I will get pics of the solar panels tomorrow before I head off to work.
Going to work on the gray water system over the next few weeks too. Have to finish trenching and lay the pipes. Once that is done I will start the planting of our trees. Looking at about (this is still up in the air) 2 Mulberry, 2 Pecan and maybe a couple of fruit trees. Pomegranate trees are supposed to do really good out here and leaning towards maybe a couple of Apples and some Pear trees. Our Fig trees are doing awesome as is our Monterrey Oak.
So much to do lol…..oh and at some point need to start the fencing and prepping for the ducks that we are getting next spring…lol
The first winter storm of the season is coming. It is supposed to be here later today and into tonight. We won’t have the snow and ice they are getting up north but it is still supposed to get down to 27 for a low the next couple days. So we spent the last day and a half winterizing the house. Plastic on the Windows, pipes insulated and propane tanks all full. Praying for the safety of those up north.
Tomorrow I should be home from work in the early evening so I will get the solar panels installed then and take pics Wednesday morning before I go back to work.