chickens on garden furniture

The advantage of it being winter now is that we can let the chickens freerange.  This means the rhubarb is gone.  Completely.  They really like rhubarb.

Next to go is the comfrey (my bocking 14 variety) which is in the process of being decimated.

Apparently even the garden furniture is fair game (as below).

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Going Solar?

LGPanelsThis post was supposed to be about how I was having a shiny new 3.6kw system installed.  Sadly, not.

The original proposal was to have 12 LG 280w panels, attached with Enphase micro inverters wired into a generation meter.  This was because they’d be on my East roof and my South roof. The total would give me about 2.6-2.7kw of generation (from a 3.6kw system.  Whilst there’s an awful lot of negative media being thrown about by Solaredge and Enphase (what seems to be the biggest comparable competitors) one thing is sure.  Micro Inverters work best on shaded split systems and Optimisers work best on single string installations with a single inverter where there’s no shade and you’re on the optimum angle.

With that in mind I was fairly happy with the Enphase system.

My selected installer came out and we had a long chinwag and were pretty much ready to sign contracts.  In the course of answering some of my questions, I checked google maps and we both realised that where we were talking about the panels would be North East, not East.  If you’re not aware of where the sun rises, it’s mostly South East to South West in the UK.  If it rises in the North, your continent has slipped below the equator.

So what to do? Well I do have a very nicely laid new flat roof.  It _could_ if we’re lucky get a few panels on it.  My garage roof is best because I ought to get seven rows of two panels at the perfect angle to generate the most power during the day.  Actually, 14 panels on a single roof, facing South, potentially in a string situation with a SolarEdge system probably would work better.

My single most annoyed gripe about the Enphase system is the pay per play system.  I’m not too sure what the current deal is, but basically I have to pay £250 to have a box which’ll monitor my system.  If I allow it to connect to the net, it’ll send my generation stats to a pay for service.  I can’t actually use my box to its full potential without setting up some sort of man in the middle attack (due to some dodgy SSL handling it’s possible) and coding some sort of interpreter.  All I’d like to do is make a page on Waark which shows you my stats if you like that sort of thing.  I might pay £250, but to activate my account, I apparently need to pay an additional $250 (not sure what that actually equates to in the UK, in truth it might be £150-250 and I’m not doing that for a webpage on a blog)  I’ve heard rumours they’ve gone back to  a pay per year service which in itself seems silly.  Which is a real shame as it looks so much cleaner and better designed than the Solaredge system, which is cheaper.

I’d also get monitoring software thrown in, which would be cheaper than Enphase.  Trouble is, my garage roof was laid by morons without a tape measure. or, a clue it seems.  It’s filled with woodworms as well, mostly made out of 2×4 and 2×6.  Mostly.

So, my current plan is get the gear on the new flat roof so we have a registered 4kw system for the current FiT payments.  Get garage roof updated to 8×2 and regraded and move the panels over to the garage roof once it’s done.  Whether my installer can be convinced to do me a Solaredge (or similar) install with the LG panels will have to be seen! It might save me a few quid considering I’m going to have to completely remove the garage roof…!


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Normal service is resumed

Whilst the normal site carried on as normal, the mobile version of this site was a little more racy. Sorry about that. I only found out today when I popped on with my mobile at work and got a little more than I expected…

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Tesco Hudl 2

Well, it has to be said the Hudl2 comes at a bargain price. I’ve had a couple of problems since I purchased it. On my very first day of ownership it crashed badly – one minute it was working, the next I couldn’t seem to even restart it. I ended up plugging it in and oddly that seemed to bring it back – even though it had a full battery.
It crashed again a few days later (the next time I actually was using it in anger) and the unlock screen was smeared across the landscape view. Again, I reset it and everything was fine. A few hours later, dead again – with only being plugged into a plug socket making it come back to life with 75% charge. Very odd!

Other days I’ve used it fine since, so maybe just bad luck. Today I’ve watched several hours of videos and one thing is clear – it’s a power hog.
First off, I tried plugging it into my laptop to charge. No dice, even though it’s a socket with the power symbol for charging devices on it (I assume 1A), whilst it “charges” with the screen on, you’re just delaying the inevitable – the device discharges quicker than it can be replenished.

So why not use a 2A plug? Fortunately I’ve got one of those too… but again, whilst watching video, it slowly discharges (albeit slower!)
So who caries a 2A and a 3A plug? I do. Well, I have an Anker battery pack which charges at 2A and outputs at 3A – and very handy it is too. There seems enough charge being output to satisfy the Hudl2 and I can watch video AND charge the device at the same time.

I’ve not checked the charger that comes with the Hudl2, but it may well be a 3amp charger, which puts it in league with my laptop and explains why most normal chargers won’t be beast enough to power the hudl.

Charging with 3A is noticeably faster than the 2A – in 20 minutes, my device has gone up by 6% whilst watching a video (this in itself is not surprising if you know anything about current) but it shows the draw from the device outstrips 2A supply sockets, so watch out, they will be getting fairly warm. Best to stick with the manufacturers plug – don’t use your other older chargers from previous devices.

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After a couple of weeks away at this year’s bushmoot I undertook a leatherworking course. One of my projects was a tankard, so I thought I’d have a go at home. Turned out much better than expected


Afterwards on the Sunday I had a go wet forming a card wallet



And a woggle or two for the scouts





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Found this. It’s got a bit big.

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So the old kitchen has gone into the garage and the brewery has its own space. Next is to make it food safe! Bodge job on the extractor fan to get steam out efficiently.

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A while back now we decided to get rid of the old pantry and the boiler in it and put in a new efficient boiler. Loosing the pantry meant we had little storage space. Buying a new kitchen would have been pretty expensive, so we’ve ended up getting a second hand one from eBay. I think we’ve saved about £550 so far. I’m modernising by adding led lighting under the cupboards and new electrical sockets with USB inputs.

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Another Pizza Oven Build

Last year at the bushmoot I was intending to build an earth pizza oven.  As the area is built on sand dunes, sand was not going to be a problem.  Clay on the other hand was.  I ended up walking to the river, digging and finding… sand!  So this time I came prepared with some readily dug clay and some from a local potter.



We dug in a load of sand from literally next to the tarp.  Two young girls did most of the work, the rest of us mucked in only when the camera was showing!



For the base, we used wooden logs – these were chopped from a timber pile.  About 3ft long, they were notched so they wouldn’t roll.  We used a tarp to stop the sand running through the bottles onto the floor.  We laid bottles, then tucked the tarp over the bottles and layered sand over the tarp to both hold it in place and give us a firm bed for the fire bricks.  We then built the sand form over the top.



Sand form getting there.  All done with eye.



Layered a copy of the metro over the top and wetted ready for the oven clay mix.




Clay being built up around the form.  This was done quite quickly and inside you could see the cracks where it wasn’t bonded quite as well as it could be.



Smack the finished dome with a big stick.



Straw dipped in clay slip and layered on.  Door is cut.



Add another layer of clay with added straw for stability over the top – just a thin layer.



Add decoration and immediately light!



Used an arrow as a blow pipe




The front did dip a little, but still worked fine :)




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Not quite so free ranging chickens


Using the tree posts,  I half arsed together a temporary enclosure for the birds.   The can range in a restricted nature rather than destroy our rhubarb, strawberries, gooseberries, fruit trees, grapes, raspberries etc.   Neither our cats not the birds have worked out how to enter/escape.


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