April 30, 2008 – Wind Turbine Foundation Poured!

After the 3rd scheduled attempt, today was finally dry enough to get a cement truck with 5 yards of cement back to the wind turbine site without sinking out of sight.

Todd and James set the layout for the tower and four guy wire supports. A perfectly flat site is ideal, but hard to find, even in Iowa.

Setting the auger in the appointed location to dig out the first footing.

Great fertile, black Iowa soil coming up from the deep.

Setting and leveling the form for the footing.

Martin takes a peek down into the ground.

All five holes are laid out and dug out, waiting for the cement truck to arrive.

The bottom 1/4 or so of the hole is filled with cement.

The rebar form is set into the hole.

Cement is tamped in as the hole fills up.

Final finishing and troweling of the top of the footing.

The tie-down bolt for one of the guy wires is set into the footing.

The finished footing. Now we wait for 30 days or so for the footing to cure before arranging a time for the tower to go up.

It was a bit of a symbolic day to install the wind turbine footings as it was also the day the Iowa Utility Board approved the construction of a coal-burning power plant 15 miles away from us. The permit did come with some aggressive conditions, including 10% biomass fuel in the plant, and a 25% renewable portfolio for the power company by 2028 and 10% before the plant is built.

one year ago…”Blossoms at Sunset”

April 29, 2008 – More Loader Benefits

I don’t have a long trailer, so when I fetch cattle panels (16 ft long), I usually put them on racks on top of the pickup and topper. It’s kind of a pain to load and unload from such a height, but it was the only way to get them home. When I went in to get the wood pellets, I saw them loading some panels in a truck without a topper by arching them in the box of the truck by pushing them in with a forklift. Of course, the problem is getting them out, as they are under much force and could really cause an injury if you just opened up the tailgate end watched them spring back.

I thought I’d try it. But I had a better, safer, and quicker idea than racheting them together before opening the door – I’d have them rest against the tractor loader and slowly back up to release the pressure.

It worked like a charm.

one year ago…”New (old) Bookcases”

April 28, 2008 – Hot Chicks and Cold Nights

I wonder how many googlers will be very disappointed in viewing real chicks after searching for “hot chicks” in a search engine!

I’ve found over the years the most reliable predictor of unseasonably cold weather is the day chicks arrive on the farm. This year is no exception – we expect a low in the 20’s tonight and our county has a freeze warning and a flood warning – now there’s a combination that sounds like fun!

The chicks came at an unexpected time, so being the good farmer, I just used whatever I could find lying around to help keep the heat close to the chicks. Linda says these chicks must feel like they’re “living in a van down by the river” due to their ramshackle accommodations (apologies to the late Chris Farley). There’s a piece of leftover metal siding, an old storm window screen draped with one of the circa 1972 draperies that graced our house when we moved in, another more modern screen with an old sheet, and a salvaged window out of an outbuilding.

I must admit, I’m partial to the genius that is the old window over the makeshift brooder as it keeps heat in, while offering a peep in at the peeps.

one year ago…”Starting to Plant 150 Trees”

April 27, 2008 – A Constant Battle

There’s always something to do on the farm, but eventually the most urgent things spring to the top of the list.

One of these items is this fence. We’ll call it the “Leaning Fence of Melbourne.” It’s a bit of a pain to tear out the old, but this one is way past its prime.

Tearing out woven wire fence involves pulling out fencing staples from old posts, pulling the old posts out of the ground and ripping the old wire away. The wire is usually the hardest part as commonly there is of soil and grass above the bottom wire of the fence that makes is hard to pull up. Here’s some detritus from the old fencing – the salvageable woven wire will be turned into tomato cages, the rest to the recycling at the landfill.

A section of new fence, standing tall and proud.

one year ago…”Not in Our House”

April 26, 2008 – Stocking up on Fuel

We’ve always bee forward-looking about having supplies for future times. Years of canning food for the winter, buying meat by the hundreds of pounds at a time, and most recently signing up for a wind turbine. Now, I’ve locked in most of the fuel to heat the house next winter. There’s no one who predicts that the pellets will be cheaper next fall than they are now – so “investing” in this cost now will probably beat money invested in the market! With corn prices rising with no end in site, it will not be cheaper to burn wood pellets rather than corn in the corn stove.

We hauled home 4 tons of wood pellets home today – this is about 1/4 of the pile – these are tucked in the attached garage.

There is a bit of a strange warning on the bag:

I’m glad that the “Not for Human Consumption” warning was on the bag before I drizzled the wood pellets with a light raspberry viniagarette dressing for my daily requirements of fiber.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #69″