Halfmoon's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu Dec 01, 2016 1:12 am

THE HOMESTEAD/ACCUMULATION YEARS

Ever-helpful Wikipedia tells me that Jimmy Carter installed photovoltaic panels on the White House in 1979, and Ronald Reagan had them removed in 1981. Like Reagan, we were skeptical at first about the capabilities of solar – particularly in cloudy western Washington. It’s amazing how standing under a freezing pond outflow will open the mind, though. We decided to see if we could possibly supplement our hydro system with photovoltaic panels. Finding someone to advise us on the subject was another matter; this was hardly a mainstream technology.

We did a lot of reading, and then we got lucky when an alternative energy shop opened in the nearest small town. We spent some time talking with the owner, who didn’t know much more than we did. However, he had made contact with a couple in Idaho who were building charge control/battery monitoring panels that integrated solar and hydro systems, and he had invited them to visit his shop and spend the night. In a bizarre turn of events, he had a mental breakdown the day before they were supposed to arrive. They were expecting to spend the night at his place, and he had no way to contact them. When we visited him in the hospital, he asked if we could wait for them at the shop and apologize for his absence. We agreed, and that was the unexpected beginning of an affair with solar that continues to this day.

The Idaho couple were tiny, kind of awkward -- and absolute geniuses. We offered our guest bedroom for the night and fed them dinner. They slowly relaxed, and we talked for hours. Well…they talked, DH absorbed like a sponge, and I was pretty mystified. We eventually bought a control panel, solar panels and an inverter, and DH put it all together with their instructions. This couple ran their business from the off-grid home they’d built on a mountain in Idaho and became very successful over time. When we visited them some years later, they had started to get a little bored and were EACH building a helicopter from scratch. 8-)

Photo of our kitchen with the control panel on the wall:*

Image


By the mid-eighties, our living conditions felt pretty deluxe (as I said before, it's all relative). We bought a tankless on-demand propane water heater and installed a shower; no more tub in the kitchen! We had scaled back our livestock venture. We could turn on 12-volt lights and radio with the flip of a switch just like magic, and we had an inverter for my very first computer and printer.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, I had to go to school.

*This image came out a little too small, and the others are too big. I may go back and fix them all.

Barlotti
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Barlotti » Thu Dec 01, 2016 10:10 am

I LOVE your journal. It's completely captivating, and I find myself coming to the site to check for new installments. You MUST write a book.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu Dec 01, 2016 10:40 am

Thank you! This made my day. I am sort of writing a book, right here. Very limited distribution. :)

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bryan
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by bryan » Thu Dec 01, 2016 1:34 pm

pleased to be privy to the "limited release".

You're make me want to go buy some property in the PNW and start building! Water wheel looks great, how much power (@?voltage) was it able to produce? And like Riggerjack, I am making note of these real world experiences :) (though I have never romanticized living on a farm! forget that.)

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu Dec 01, 2016 2:18 pm

bryan,

I'm pleased to have this fascinating group to share with! It isn't apparent yet, but there is a financial side to the story also.

Your question about the water wheel's power output has us searching our fading memories after all this time. We know the amperage was highly variable (always at 12 volts for the batteries) depending on the water flow. We think the motor/generator was capable of 30 amps, but we often got a lot less. We were very careful with our usage, and the batteries stayed charged. The solar was a huge improvement.

Riggerjack (and bryan),

My brother sent this link to me the other day (just because I mentioned that DH was dreaming of chickens again). He's always been mildly horrified at the turn my life took. Once when I badly broke my foot under a tractor, he said: "I never imagined that a member of our family would be injured in a farm accident." :roll:

http://www.nwedible.com/you-absolutely- ... -chickens/

saving-10-years
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by saving-10-years » Thu Dec 01, 2016 2:21 pm

Edit: The electric pole in the background of the last photo isn't actually sporting any wires. DH hauled it out of the swamp with his tractor and planted it as a symbolic finger to the power company that had refused to reconnect the old lines. Funny man.
Live with one of those myself (quirky DH). Great stories and in case you ever contemplate keeping sheep. Don't. There is no stress at all in sheep keeping until its suddenly life-death-no-warning type stress. They will catch you out (and outrun you even when in labour).

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu Dec 01, 2016 2:26 pm

THE HOMESTEAD/ACCUMULATION YEARS

THE JOB:

As mentioned in my intro, DH was a truck driver in Germany before he came to the US. He tried to get jobs in trucking when he arrived in Denver, but breaking into the union was nearly impossible for a foreigner. He ended up working in restaurants as a busboy, then as a waiter when he learned more English. When he moved to Seattle, he became a waiter in the restaurant where I met him 6 years later.

This restaurant was unique: open 24 hours, but with a huge and fairly expensive menu. You could order frog legs or steak and lobster at 3 AM. The tips were better than anywhere DH had previously worked, and he was delighted at first. He told a gruff older waiter one day, “I love this job!” The waiter replied, “You’ll get over it.”

When I started working there as a hostess/cashier, I also loved the job. (**Spoiler Alert**: We both got over it.) We worked the graveyard shift, and on Friday and Saturday nights it was a world apart. Remember: this was the early eighties, before AIDS or strict DUI enforcement. Nightclubs were huge, coke and excessive drinking were commonplace, and bar pickups were the social norm. Our job was a zoo.

The restaurant’s employees called the period from 2 AM (when the bars closed) to about 4 AM “Bar Wars”, and we commonly had an hour wait to be seated during that period. Take a bunch of drunk, coke-aggressive people, put them in a small waiting area, and tell them they can’t eat, drink or have sex for an hour…it wasn’t pretty. I sometimes visualized myself on one of those PBS nature shows where the photographer is in a shark cage, sharp-toothed creatures lunging at the bars.

The customers didn't improve by the time they did get seated. There were fights, attempts to run out on the bill, people sneaking in booze or throwing up or passing out. We had a sort of crazy janitor who had a real thing about people messing up the restroom. He once hauled a woman out of the ladies’ room and shoved her at the guy she was with, growling in utter outrage: “I caught her throwing up on the floor!” Her date got angry; shoving ensued. The janitor ran into the back and came out with a vacuum cleaner hose yelling, “I’m going to kill him!” The guy retreated.

The same janitor came to me one night and said, “There’s a naked lady in the restroom.” I checked, and there sure was. She had removed all of her clothes and was lying on the floor. I wanted to call the police, but the three (!) men she was with said she was fine and carried her out of there. I followed them outside and watched them toss her into the back seat of a car. I had never heard of roofies at that point, and I regret now that I didn’t report them.

We called the police at least once a weekend, and sometimes several times a night. It was standard for a waiter to come running past me and out the door yelling “WALK OUT!” I would call the police, and then we’d give chase. Once we caught a father and son trying to leave with a pewter soup tureen and wine glasses under their coats (Really. A large soup tureen.). The manager confronted them, and the son hit him in the face with a wine glass. The manager was lying in the lobby with his nose broken, blood and glass shards everywhere, and customers were still walking in asking how long the wait was for a table. We had to testify in court for that one. The manager quit.

Another time, I confronted a woman who was trying to skip out on the bill (with her young daughter in tow, no less), and she punched me in the mouth. I have no memory of how it happened, but the next thing I knew, we were outside and I was shaking her in a blind rage and yelling something. DH had to pull me off. The job didn’t really bring out the best in us.

After a few years of this, we developed a tremendous dislike of people in general. When we drove to work in the evening, I would look at houses with lights in the windows and feel so envious of those who were safe in their cozy homes. When customers came into the restaurant, I would look at them and think, “What’s wrong with you? You could be HOME! It’s the middle of the night!” I started having disturbingly violent dreams of shootouts and knife fights with customers. :shock:

DH worked from 9 PM to 5 AM, and I worked from 10 to 6. When his shift was finished, he would go out to the car and crawl into a sleeping bag in the passenger seat. When mine was done, I would start driving home while he slept. The drive was usually just under an hour, but I could never make it the whole way without getting sleepy. At that point, I would pull over, wake up DH, and we’d trade seats. When we arrived home, I was so tired and cold that I hated to get out of the sleeping bag and come into the house.

One morning, DH was sleeping so hard that I didn’t want to make him get up and take over driving. I figured I could stay awake that little bit longer. Next thing I knew…I woke up to a loud thud. The car was in a ditch, where I had clearly driven about 20 feet before hitting a big rock. DH had woken a millisecond earlier to the incomprehensible sight of grass flying by the window, and he Was. Not. Happy. He got out of the car, said “Wait here” and walked the last mile home to get our truck. I figured it was best to wait there.

Unless it was raining, we would sleep for about 4 hours and then get up and start working on outdoor projects. We had a poster in the kitchen listing (in letters huge enough to read across the room) our planned projects for the season. When completed, we’d cross them off and add new ones.

When it rained, we slept a little longer and then had a leisurely breakfast in front of the wood cookstove. I started to pray for rain. ;)
Last edited by halfmoon on Fri Dec 02, 2016 11:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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sfchristo
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by sfchristo » Thu Dec 01, 2016 4:25 pm

"After a few years of this, we developed a tremendous dislike of people in general. When we drove to work at in the evening, I would look at houses with lights in the windows and feel so envious of those who were safe in their cozy homes."

Amazing. It reminds me of working summers at my father's seafood carry out in a dangerous neighborhood with a drive-by shooting at our windows happening here and there over the years. The last thing I wanted was to be working there standing behind a floor to ceiling jail bar cage waiting to get shot at.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu Dec 01, 2016 8:45 pm

saving-10-years wrote:
Great stories and in case you ever contemplate keeping sheep. Don't. There is no stress at all in sheep keeping until its suddenly life-death-no-warning type stress. They will catch you out (and outrun you even when in labour).
We actually did contemplate keeping sheep. In fact, we built a barn with the intention of housing sheep on the bottom level. Then we read that sheep can easily develop hoof rot when living in damp climates (our climate is more WET than damp :lol: ), and we veered away from the sheep plan. I'm also not a fan of lamb or mutton (goat meat on the other hand...), and I don't see myself having the patience to spin wool -- despite the fact that you're apparently doing so one-armed these days!
sfchristo wrote: It reminds me of working summers at my father's seafood carry out in a dangerous neighborhood with a drive-by shooting at our windows happening here and there over the years. The last thing I wanted was to be working there standing behind a floor to ceiling jail bar cage waiting to get shot at.
Now, that sounds like a story I need to hear. :D When are you going to start a journal?

inchicago
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by inchicago » Thu Dec 01, 2016 8:52 pm

I had to see what all the excitement was. Love reading your stories. :)

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu Dec 01, 2016 9:46 pm

All the excitement? :o

I'm so glad you're enjoying the stories. There's something cathartic about telling them.

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Ego
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Ego » Thu Dec 01, 2016 10:06 pm

My goodness, this is a fun journal.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu Dec 01, 2016 10:19 pm

Thanks, Ego! It's strangely fun for me also. I get a huge kick out of reading your Something for Nothing posts (a friend calls us "combat shoppers"), so I'm glad that I can return the favor.

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Riggerjack
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Riggerjack » Thu Dec 01, 2016 11:30 pm

Your http://www.nwedible.com/you-absolutely- ... -chickens/ link had me literally laughing out loud.

I agree, goat is great, but I think the flavor is enhanced by my joy at a goat's death. That may not reflect well on me, but there it is. To this day there are times when my carnivorous tendencies are still inspired by livestock experiences. :twisted:

Or, maybe that isn't true, I have never raised pigs or cows, and pork and beef are still delicious.

1Vikinggirl
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by 1Vikinggirl » Fri Dec 02, 2016 2:22 am

I love this too!
You write well and provide sobering thoughts to all who have never stumbled out to an outhouse in the cold morning.(NOBODY needs to go to the bathroom at night when it involves a walk in the dark!) And I remember when the house was a divided battle groun between the cats and the (field) mice. Mice ruled the floors and cats sat on top of cabinets, playing rhe floor is lava-game. Or having to turn the electricity off every time it rained... Aaaa, the days, I love my apartment!

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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Farm_or » Fri Dec 02, 2016 8:50 am

You have a gift for flair in story telling that's obviously broadly appealing. Great stuff.

We have raised sheeps for twelve years now. My DW is the opposite, she gets emotionally attached to the critters. This worked to our favor though, because we traded hay for some butcher lambs that were hair sheep (Barbados).

We raise the wooly types (Suffolk/Hampshire), but the Barbados are better eating- similar to goat, or a cross between wooly lamb and venison.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Fri Dec 02, 2016 10:40 am

Riggerjack wrote:Your http://www.nwedible.com/you-absolutely- ... -chickens/ link had me literally laughing out loud.
Yes, I loved the line '...4.5 years of Pets Without Benefits'. And this:

'There is a local urban farming message board that is filled – filled – with people trying to give away their three year old chicken to a “good home.” Are you kidding me? You own the chicken. Your home is a good home. And once it’s not, your soup pot is a good soup pot. I once joked to a good friend that I could stock my freezer for the entire year off no-longer-laying hens being given away free “to a good home.”'

This got me thinking about ERE possibilities for filling the freezer. Hmmmm.... :twisted:

Sadly, I think I'm too soft for it now.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Fri Dec 02, 2016 10:55 am

1Vikinggirl wrote: You write well and provide sobering thoughts to all who have never stumbled out to an outhouse in the cold morning.(NOBODY needs to go to the bathroom at night when it involves a walk in the dark!) And I remember when the house was a divided battle groun between the cats and the (field) mice. Mice ruled the floors and cats sat on top of cabinets, playing rhe floor is lava-game.
The cat/mouse thing is hilarious! There goes my image of cats as marginally useful. :? DH is allergic, so I never got to find out. Besides: I prefer the sloppy devotion of dogs.

We were fortunate enough to have a flush toilet in this stage of our lives; it was only when we moved to the mountains that we reverted to an outhouse (very nice one, I must say). I actually did use it at night, or at least in the dark evening and early morning. Funny thing about that: it got me outside to see the stunning night sky, which was awash with stars so far from civilization. That's a story for another day, though.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Fri Dec 02, 2016 11:06 am

naomi wrote:I love your journal, thank you for sharing.

Is bringing back some memories from time spent on my grandparent's farm during school holidays...From a child's perspective lots of good holiday memories, but would have been a tough life.
Thank you for sharing in it by reading and commenting! The truly satisfying part of telling a story is starting a conversation. The memories you listed brought back thoughts of my own grandparents. My grandmother used a wringer washer with her own homemade soap, had a wonderful apple-redolent fruit cellar full of home-canned food, and made apple butter in a copper kettle over an outdoor fire. When I wrote to her bragging about our kerosene lamps and wood cookstove, she wrote back:

'Why on earth would you choose to live like that? We did it because we had to.'

:lol:

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Fri Dec 02, 2016 11:14 am

Farm_or wrote: We have raised sheeps for twelve years now. My DW is the opposite, she gets emotionally attached to the critters. This worked to our favor though, because we traded hay for some butcher lambs that were hair sheep (Barbados).

We raise the wooly types (Suffolk/Hampshire), but the Barbados are better eating- similar to goat, or a cross between wooly lamb and venison.
Now, this is something I never knew: there are wooly sheep and hair sheep? Is this where a hair shirt comes from? ;)

Do you or your wife spin the wool? I know from the comments that @saving-10-years does fiber spinning. Do you do your own shearing? It seems to me that we need some stories. :D

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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by EMJ » Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:19 pm

Shearing is not that hard. I watched a few videos and got a friend to help hold the sheep the first time. I went from 1.5 hours/sheep to less than 30 minutes including hoof trimming (yes, I know how fast professionals are). Some sheep are more ticklish than others and that makes it harder. Take your time, fast reflexes to drop shears if sheep flinches, careful around delicate parts.

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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Farm_or » Fri Dec 02, 2016 4:32 pm

halfmoon wrote:
Farm_or wrote: We have raised sheeps for twelve years now. My DW is the opposite, she gets emotionally attached to the critters. This worked to our favor though, because we traded hay for some butcher lambs that were hair sheep (Barbados).

We raise the wooly types (Suffolk/Hampshire), but the Barbados are better eating- similar to goat, or a cross between wooly lamb and venison.
Now, this is something I never knew: there are wooly sheep and hair sheep? Is this where a hair shirt comes from? ;)

Do you or your wife spin the wool? I know from the comments that @saving-10-years does fiber spinning. Do you do your own shearing? It seems to me that we need some stories. :D

I don't know much about spinning or fashion. We have a couple of neighbors that spin though.

Yes the hair sheep have some appeal that they never need sheared. But thus far, at our local auction, they are not as profitable as the lambs we raise. We topped the market for the first time last year!

We used to shear our own. We did for about four years and maybe we are slow learners, but it never got much easier. The sheeps really don't like beginning learners either because they suffer a lot of nicks. We have a regular shearer come by once a year. He is a machine! And works too cheap. We always get him some food, drinks, a good tip, and give him most all of the wool.

Part of the reason that I like your journal so much, is that I am trying to learn some style points. I am another aspiring writer, but what good is it until you can deliver in a way that people want to read? I have years of material, but still not satisfied with refining my style. Some day though?

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Fri Dec 02, 2016 7:02 pm

EMJ wrote:Shearing is not that hard. I watched a few videos and got a friend to help hold the sheep the first time. I went from 1.5 hours/sheep to less than 30 minutes including hoof trimming (yes, I know how fast professionals are). Some sheep are more ticklish than others and that makes it harder. Take your time, fast reflexes to drop shears if sheep flinches, careful around delicate parts.
Okay; you are far braver than I am. If the animal flinches, I squeal and freak everyone out. I tried clipping a ratty old rescue dog of ours once, and he came out bald in spots. What's worse: the hair never grew back. :(

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Fri Dec 02, 2016 7:17 pm

Farm_or wrote: We have a regular shearer come by once a year. He is a machine! And works too cheap. We always get him some food, drinks, a good tip, and give him most all of the wool.

Part of the reason that I like your journal so much, is that I am trying to learn some style points. I am another aspiring writer, but what good is it until you can deliver in a way that people want to read? I have years of material, but still not satisfied with refining my style. Some day though?
First of all: I want to shear your sheep! Food, drinks, tip and most of the wool? Sign me up (aside from my complete inability to do something like that). :lol:

I'm not really an aspiring writer in the commercial sense. I don't want to wonder about everything I write: does this measure up? Would someone pay for this? It's similar to my feelings about our home. If I think about marketability, I'll be forced to take down the cold frame made from old windows, the huge compost piles waiting to become onion beds, the endless pots of volunteer tree seedlings DH rescued from the mower's path...the chaos of an interesting life.

My suggestion is that you put aside self-judgment and tell the story. I guarantee that your life is interesting; I already want to hear more. :D You can always refine it later, but tell the story first however it comes out. If nothing else, the telling is really fun.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Fri Dec 02, 2016 7:45 pm

I deleted this because I found the earlier post I thought was lost. Idiot at work. :oops:
Last edited by halfmoon on Mon Dec 05, 2016 11:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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