Thursday, 29 November 2012

Cat-Astrophic Energy Generation

Happy to see the light of day!
They say cats are curious.  "Curiosity killed the cat"!!  Well, it did just nearly do that for our little resident feline last Friday!  As previously mentioned in my last entry, we have just had our solar panels installed on the roof - all 19 of them.  There were electricians, panel installers on guy ropes hanging precariously off the roof, plumbers etc - a total of 11 people moving in and out the house (luckily I was away at work and this was an incumberance metered out on my husband and daughter.  Nothing untoward there.  
Then we prepared a meal, ate and watched a movie.  We wondered briefly where Shanti, our cat, was but assumed she would present herself soon enough.  The movie finished and it was well after 10pm, so we started to worry about her.  The three of us searched, calling out for her - outside, in the garden shed, the cottage, then back inside.  We fretted that she may have hopped into any one of the 11 tradesmen's vehicles - if they had opened their door she would have bolted and would be a very lost and farwaway cat as most trades people live in the Big Smoke.   Further calling and we heard a faint meow.  We were relieved but frantic - we searched every nook and cranny, every cupboard.  We began to fear for her life as the meows were no longer answering us.  Where was she???

On impulse, I checked in the storage area running along the outer reaches of the roof.  I spied tell-tale squares on the wall - 2 of them, where the solar guys had cut holes in the wall and closed them up.  Could she have crawled in there?   We could not be certain as she wasn't answering anymore.  We wondered how to cut them open again, as they had been nailed, screwed and gib-stopped.  One more desperate meow and we knew she was in there!  Mike didn't hesitate - all those years of karate training kicked in - his loved one was in danger!  He struck the gibbed patch with the palm of his hand and sent it hurtling inwards - peering inside, he spied one very dusty and cobwebby cat!  As he reached down into the wall/roof cavity, her purrs reached Harley Davidson decibel frequency!  Happy to be released from her dark prison of about 5 hours!  Happy ending to that tail!

Solar City
The solar panels have all been installed since Friday and Mike is in his Solar Element!  He is logging how much electricity is being generated with frequent checking on the Enersol Meter in the new Solarium.  He is happy to report that we have generated 24kw on Saturday, 25kw on Sunday and 22.6kw on Monday.  An average household uses around 25kw energy per day, so things are looking good.  We could generate all of our summer needs but winter will be another matter............. we love to be warm!!  May use far more than we can generate with little sunshine hours.  We shall see....

In the garden, we have been harvesting leeks (as usual), salad greens, strawberries (about 500g every second day), a handful of asparagus (just fed them sheep poos tonight as I am sure they could be doing much better), oranges, grapefruit, kale, silverbeet and chamomile.

A deep container filled with juicy strawbs

Home-grown lettuces and home-cured olives accompanied by market tomatoes and feta cheese.
Fresh and full of goodness and flavour.  Nothing beats it!
At the end of this week, we shall be heading into December, which always starts me thinking all-things-Christmas!  Have started to make some little Christmas decorations - not my idea but something I saw in a magazine.  Cardboard wrapped in jute string.  I have packaged them with a label - 100% Biodegradable Decorations - Fully Compostable!  (that is, everything, except the bells which should be recycled!).

Fully Compostable Decorations


Enter the Sock Bag!  We tend to wear through our socks at the heels - all 4 of us!  I darn my socks to last another mile but refuse to do so for the rest of the family (it's a lot of socks we are talking about here and I have tried to offer sock darning lessons to my family but none have taken me up on the offer...).  So they end up in the Sock Bag - basically a sock grave for holey-heeled socks which is denigrated to the confines of the hot water cylinder cupboard.  I have tried to think up ways to use old socks - soap in a sock is a great one!  Or Tool Socks to protect sharp tools.  The best I have come up with so far is garden ties.  Socks make the perfect tomato or vine tie.  They still have some elasticity, which allows for tying around plants that can grow and stretch in time.  Perfect solution to unwanted old socks and a need for garden ties!

Take one old washed sock.....

Sock ties for the garden.  Come in a variety of funky colours.

New bean frame built around the last of the leek crop.
Leeks will be harvested before beans grow too big.
In the kitchen, am really getting into my weed pestoes!  Made one this week with 3 kale leaves, handful Herb Robert, bowlful of spent parsely going to seed, dandelion and nasturtium leaves and oregano and curry bush for flavour.  Add salt, chilli, lemon juice and tahini to taste.  Big-Time Yum!  Costs next to nothing and is  a seriously epicurian delight!  And my very fussy daughter will eat a whole bottle in one sitting!!
A bench full of green stuff from all corners of the garden
Something else I've prepared a while ago,  is ready-made pizza greens.  Pulled off all the leaves of swiss chard/silver beet going to seed, steamed lightly and pressed small handfuls together to remove excess water, then froze them on a tray.  After 4 hours, I bagged them and we have easy-peasy pizza greens............  simple and resourceful.  Makes perfect sense.

Hand sized balls of swiss chard

Ready to pop into freezer for when they are needed for pizza toppings.
Hot on the heels of sock sagas, Mike's favourite walking shoe elastic stretched and perished, so he returned them to the shop to see if they could mend them.  Nope.  So he went to Ajays Emporium and bought some thick elastic (green was the only colour option) and brought them home for me to fix.  20 minutes later, and at a princely cost of $2, his shoes should last another few miles.

And turning to the subject of chooks, they are still squarking early hours of the morning - well, I have noticed it is Lizzie!  Not Spence, she is a later sleeper and stays cuddled up in her bed early hours.  But Liz, pictured below, is active, busy, noisey and curious.  I have tried to hose her when she screeches but she quickly hops up into her bedroom, then as soon as I turn of the hose, return inside - she hops out and starts up again.  We do this routine several times a morning!!  I used to run down to feed her but that reinforces her thinking I will feed her whenever she screeches!  Mike really wants to give them away and buy some quieter versions - Wyandottes or Orpingtons............ not sure I want to simply pass the problem onto someone else.  Seeing as we saved them from the cooking pot, we should maybe see them through to their timely ends............. anyone know how long chickens live??
Lizzie, doing what she should!

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