Our first snow of the year fell yesterday -- enough to cover the ground, before rain washed a lot of it away. A little more fell last night and then froze. That's it there, that white stuff amongst the grass, all icy and slippery and un-fun.
Our highest recorded temperature today was ... wait for it ... 3.4degC at 11:23am. Woohoo! That's effing freezing! And at 5:23pm with a wind chill factor of -5, it felt like -6.6degC. It really did. Trust me.
Snow showers are forecast for tonight with a couple of fine, frosty days ahead.
I'd write more about the impending winter but I'm starting to shiver just thinking about it. I need red wine. And a woolly hat. And a cuddle from Farmer Wan.
Posted by Farmer Nik
Saturday 4 May was set to be the biggest day in Spiderbuilder the Ram’s calendar: we were putting him out to the ewes. Last year’s orgy took place in the middle of April and the lambs were born in the first two weeks of September, during the worst weather of the year. This time, we decided to hold off a few weeks, hoping that the weather would be more settled during lambing and there’d be more pasture growth for the ewes.Natalie, Andreas our neighbour and Charlie, the wether that wasn't
Farmer Wan and a couple of friends had separated Spidey from the flock back in February. They tossed him over the fence into another paddock with last year’s wether lambs for company. After a short period of adjustment, the boys seemed happy to bach it together.
Our Swiss friend, Natalie, was staying with us over Spidey’s big weekend. I’d talked up his previous year’s prowess and she was keen to come with us to watch the show.
Getting Spidey into the ewe paddock was the first challenge. He didn’t seem very interested in checking out the girls, preferring instead to run away from us. He’s not exactly an ovine Mastermind candidate. Or a Rambo (pun intended).
The wethers, by contrast, couldn’t wait to charge into the ewe paddock. Silly, silly us. For some reason, we’d thought that “no testicles” equalled “no interest” -- the bald eunuch in Game of Thrones doesn’t seem to pine for jollies, as an example. It’s obviously different for sheep. The wethers literally ran up over the backs of the startled ewes and began partying like it was 1999.
Spidey eventually sauntered through the gate. I started humming Some Enchanted Evening to encourage him. He sniffed at a couple of disinterested ewes and then noticed what the wethers were up to. He fought them both off for about five minutes before taking a short breather. In this time he managed to do the business with a young ewe, with whom he – it sounds stupid but I swear it’s exactly how it looked – fell in love. He smooched around her, nuzzling her neck, presumably demonstrating that she meant more to him than a one-afternoon stand and he still respected her. It was more embarrassing to watch than the renewed leap-frog attempts by the wethers.
This was not the wildly exciting erotic fiesta we'd promised Natalie and I could see she was growing bored. Farmer Wan suggested playing some Barry White to our love-struck ram to boost his ardour but it was growing cold and there was obviously nothing to see here, folks. We left them all to it.
The next day, Farmer Wan called out that we had a ewe in trouble. Charlie the wether had pestered her so much that in her efforts to escape, she'd got tangled up in some portable electric fencing and ripped out her ear tag. We disentangled her and Farmer Wan dragged her into the yards to give her some peace. Charlie trotted in after her, so Farmer Wan flipped him on his back and started dragging him out. It was then that we saw them -- two bulges that weren't supposed to be there. Charlie, although missing a "purse", is still in possession of its contents -- which totally explained his enthusiasm for the girls. We're hoping that he and the other wether are shooting blanks but there's no real way of telling.
Oh joy. It's going to be another interesting lambing season this year ...
Posted by Farmer Nik
On 2 April 2013, the Muntanui 5kW Solar Power Station was officially commissioned and came on line. It is now supplying power, not only to Muntanui, but also the surrounding properties and anyone else connected to the New Zealand power grid.
It was a long time in the planning and execution. We placed orders for equipment back in October 2012. The solar panels arrived in late November and the inverter and cabling in January. Installation of the panels and inverter took a couple of days in late January and then there was a wait for the power company to supply the new import/export meter. In the meantime, we arranged for power cables to be run through a trench from the shed to the house.
Here are a few technical details:
22 x 230W PV-TJ230GA6 Mitsubishi Solar Panels
1 x SMA SB5000TL Solarworld 5kW Inverter
Our average power consumption at this time of year is around 13kWh per day. Working on the basis of approximately six hours of useful daylight, this gives a required system size of 2.2kW. We decided to go for the most we could afford now and sell excess power to the grid, hence the 5.0kW installed. It was not cheap and certainly nowhere near as cheap as systems being offered for sale in Australia these days. But, as with most things, you get what you pay for. We have Japanese manufactured panels and the inverter is from Solarworld in Germany, both good quality and reliable suppliers.
We missed out on all of the great weather in Feb/Mar and, as you can see from the graph below, production is already slowing down as we get into winter. Our second day of production was a satisfying 27.55kWh. We have already produced a total of 400kWh and look forward to celebrating our first 1MWh in about seven weeks time -- depending upon the weather, of course.
We haven't yet received our first power bill to confirm import/export prices. It will be interesting to see how that works out.
Now we shall be looking at ways of reducing our existing usage to enable us to export as much as possible back to the grid.
Posted by Farmer Wan
About Ewan and Niki
Scottish mechanical engineer with a deep and abiding passion for good food. Outstanding cook. Builder of lots of stuff. Cattle whisperer. Connoisseur of beer. A lover rather than a fighter.
Kiwi writer and broadcaster who hates cabbage, even though she knows it's good for her. Chook wrangler. Grower of food and flowers. Maker of fine preserves. Lover of dancing and wine. Definitely a fighter.