A friend of ours called last night saying someone he knew had a big lot of new, unused 300 + watt solar panels to sell cheap. He was buying three for himself and our carpenter friend, Tom, is buying 30. Will, David, and I regrouped and are getting 10. Four are for David and six for us. When coupled with the pallet of older panels we’d been given by our very good friend in Virginia, we’ll quadruple our energy production! It’s taken a year, plus, for Will to study the sun’s path over the spot we plan on putting the array but now he’s confident it’s the best spot. So, come real spring, we’ll get busy with that project.

Meanwhile, I finished planting the rest of the tomatoes. Wow, there are sure a lot of containers up behind the wood stove now. But the peppers are ready to transplant so our little plastic greenhouses in the south-facing windows will soon be ready to accept germinating tomatoes. How exciting!

I know spring is really here because our tom turkeys are spending all day strutting to the hens. Such show-offs! You’d think they’d burst a blood vessel!

Spring’s here; our tom turkeys are starting to strut.

Our heifer, Salsa, STILL hasn’t had her calf. Her due date was Saturday and she just keeps getting fatter. And fatter. We keep close watch on her and are sure glad the weather, including the nighttime temperature, is pretty decent. Ashley is in Bemidji, working at the car-testing company for three days a week and I think Salsa misses her playing classical music to her from her iPhone. Will says cows like country-western better.

Salsa keeps us waiting for her calf.

Meanwhile he keeps cutting more trees in our new garden area. There’s enough firewood from it to keep the house warm all next winter! So that’s sure a win-win-win situation. Firewood, sand for the driveway, and a new garden for us.

See how big our new garden area is?

— Jackie


  1. Jackie, can you talk some more about putting the faraday cages over the charge controller and inverter? Love to catch up with your progress!

  2. We have been using solar for close to 10 years now. We do things differently. We are ham radio operators which started us on this as the radios run on 12 volts. Mostly our systems are 12 volts and we run 12 volts LEDS for lights at the house, radios, wifi, internet and phone router.
    The biggest investment is not panels but batteries.
    12 volt marine deep cycles do not work, they are not efficient and on an average last 2 or 3 years.
    You have to get 6 volt golf cart batteries from either Troyan or NAPA and run them parallel; 2 6volts to make 12 volts. These batteries last 8 to 10 years and cost about $150 a piece, well worth the price.
    We also run a freezer on solar using and inverter, works great.
    Marine 12 v deep cycles give you 125 amp/hr, one 6 volt gives you 225 amp/hr, so 2 6v give you 450 amp/hr.
    We use 4 6 volt batteries for our systems.
    Good luck and God bless!!!

  3. Hi, Jackie. You are so smart to get the solar panels when you can get them at a good price. I look forward to doing that when I move up to Minnesota, too.

    Have a great day.

  4. Miss Jackie, I am soooo amused!!! A pregnant past due for delivery black heifer named Salsa who enjoys both country western and classical music chewing her cud in the sunshine in winter on the homestead is something NEW for me!!!! I thought I had experienced it all on the homestead…. I wonder??? when you hand milk her if she will do a country sideways line dance or a hot breathtaking Latin dance step in your arms as she tips you into a pail of warm frothy milk, or perhaps it will be a sinuous interpretation of a Viennese waltz??? I hope I can observe from atop a round Haybale!!! I will fall asleep chuckling tonight!!!Bless you….Rick

    • We loved your comment, Rick! And we have news. It’s a boy and his name is now Tango. After all, his grandmother is Mamba, his mom, Salsa so he needed a dance name, too.

  5. I am always amazed at both you and Will’s resourcefulness. Today sunny around 45 in Mineral Point Wi but we are to get a dump of 5 inches of snow. My peppers are growing strong and I have started tomaotes. It’s great to think spring is COMING. Take care. Everett Lindsey–thanks for seeds I ordered should be fun to see them grow.

    • Yeah, we hear you. It’s taken us a long time, too; we started out with 4 little panels and watched for sales and prayed a lot. God did hear us and ta da, panels. Good friends are one of life’s blessings for sure for it was good friends who allowed us to go bigger with our solar array!

  6. It’s taken a year, plus, for Will to study the sun’s path over the spot we plan on putting the array but now he’s confident it’s the best spot.

    Would be interested to hear/read about the criteria Will was using to determine the best spot. Might be useful to learn.

    • I agree with you WolfBrother, as I have a system to install and want to put it in the best spot so YES, JACKIE, would you share Will’s criteria. I have watched the sun pattern thru the years but as usual, get sidetracked and sometimes fail to record dates/times and too, I think the sun pattern has shifted some as well as reading that there seems to have been a TILT in the earth’s position. Don’t know what is fact or fiction anymore these days with all the THEORIES being reported so some concrete info from a bonafide homesteader WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED! Also, will your system be EMP PROOF with all the threats of a possible EMP attack via nukes/solar flares etc??? Thanks in advance~

      • Picking a site for our solar array wasn’t rocket science, but did need a year’s worth of observation on a couple of possible sites. Basically, you want a site which has the most unobstructed “view” of the sun for as long in the day as possible. Seldom can you get a whole day’s sun rays on panels, especially when you live, like we do, in the woods. But the immediate area south of our house is clear, both for protection against forest fires and for solar. So Will just watched the sites daily as he went about his business and decided the first one we chose would work the best. It has the most sun-gathering ability for the most hours of the day, year around, taking into consideration how low the sun travels during the winter and how high it rises during the summer months.
        In the late fall, Will tilts our panel array more vertical to catch the low sun’s rays, then in the early spring, he tilts it to a position more horizontal to catch the higher sun during the summer.
        We aren’t sure if our array IS EMP proof but will be placing Faraday cages over our charge controller and inverter just in case. But we ARE able to live without power if push comes to shove. Been there; done that!

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