True Color, Part 32
By Chiggers Stokes
Special to The Forks Forum
In conclusion of my story on alternative energy, I always have wanted to impart the advice I got from a lifelong do-it-yourselfer about harnessing gensets. The lodge/resort where he worked was inholding to a wilderness section of the Rogue.
There were two old gensets both undersized to the job of moving large amounts of water from a deep well. He said he wired both genset outputs with an extension cord running from one into the other. He opened up the extension cord and to bare the hot/black wire. To each two hot wires running back to the gensets, he attached a series connection 110 volt, incandescent light.
With both gensets running, the sine wave, frequency disparity caused the bulb to illuminate. By adjusting the throttle of either genset, the light would increase or decrease in illumination. When the light went out it was safe to disconnect the light and switch both gensets in parallel circuit to the load of the pump.
The gensets were entrained, connected by a common electrical field. They were slaves to one another. If one genset runs out of gas, the other will go down trying to turn its partner’s dead rotor. It is electrical fields connecting moving copper remotely — matter obeying some invisible force of Nature.
If I had more time on earth to share my scant wisdom about alternative energy, I would emphasize the need for skylights and other natural lighting when building in the rain forest clime. Many people will tell you that skylights always leak. That may be an overstatement, but goes to the importance of flashing.
Few people have less understanding of flashing than I, but I have constructed many skylights on the Flying S that didn’t leak and a few that did. Nonetheless, when it came to building this 3,000-square-foot home in which I currently reside, I contracted out the roof and nine skylights to Brian Moody. In 15 years of living under this roof, not a drop of rain has invaded this space.
Part of living off the grid is knowing how to do things yourself, but part of it is knowing when you need professional help and making sure that critical expertise is applied to crucial projects.
I have written almost 32 articles on the subject of alternative energy and somehow failed to mention the issue of phantom loads. These are things like old instant-on TVs, computer monitors, motion detecting lights, mobile land-line phones and such.
They actually can amount to a fair amount of energy and will prevent load seeking inverters to shut down properly. One remedy is to put all computer devices, stereo and entertainment systems and such on multi-outlet rocker switches.
Another approach is to know precisely the time weighted wattage of such intermittent loads as freezers or refrigerators. Inexpensive watt meters from the Internet can give you this.
I was 23 years old when I walked away from the grid. I am 65 years old now. Three years ago I learned that I have cancer. The radiation treatments I sought controlled the cancer in my prostate.
But before modern medicine declared nuclear war on part of my reproductive system, the cancer jumped ship. Cancer set up house in my lymph glands, where it was able to travel. I recently learned of this metastasis and have had to roll back my life expectancy. Life regrets include the reflection that I was more a father to my hydroelectric scheme than I was to my flesh and blood daughter in the years that we lived under the same roof.
I live in a big, warm, dry house that I built myself, under the roof with skylights built by Brian Moody. Rain is currently falling on that roof. The same rain that falls on my creek.
I’m typing these words with water power from that creek. The coffee I drank this morning was water from that creek. The stream power allows thoughts to type words to conclude a story about alternative energy that is smeared over three years of the Forks Forum.
92 percent of the blood that is pumped by my heart is water. The brain that conceives these closing remarks is 75 percent water. The rain falling on the roof, the stream that powers the computer, the creek water that served me caffeine in the form of coffee, my blood and even my thoughts are of the same rain on its way to the ocean.
I stand in awe of myself. With so little innate ability, against such ignorance, with such reluctance to read a book on the subject and with so little invested in professional help (but more than a little help from my friends), I built a farm that powers itself.
These 32 articles have chronicled mistakes I made along the way. Persistence and determination were qualities upon which I deeply depended. To anyone aspiring to re-wire their life with alternative energy, I would wish them much of those two attributes.
The other side of the coin, is knowing when to throw in the towel and sell the farm. This is the side of the coin that landed face up last week with a needle through two-thirds of my body. It was a biopsy to confirm the concentration of cancer in my lymph glands.
So along, with the conclusion of this column on alternative energy, I am quitting this farm. And, if one is quitting a column AND quitting a farm, what better way to go out than posting an advertisement in the context of a column on alternative energy?
FOR SALE – 18½ acre farm, 10 miles from Forks, two miles from Olympic National Park. Powered by two micro hydroelectrics and 1.2 photovoltaic scheme. All cedar, 3,000-square-foot house is 4 bedroom, two baths. Two rental cabins, two wells, two septic systems, three large barns, two greenhouses, two ¼ acre fenced gardens, ¼ mile of Hemp Hill Creek, meadows, old-growth forest, truck bridges, large shop. Wildlife habitat protected by Conservation easement. MAKE AN OFFER.
Quitting a farm is one thing and quitting a column is another. But by whatever wind that is left in me and not pure flatulence, I wish to convey my world view.
An example of world view is: All of us are dying, but some of us faster than others. My dying request is that you, dear readers, join me for my next column which will explore world view and the Meaning of everything.
Read the entire story of True Color at http://www.chiggersstokes.com/Chiggers__Writing.html. Chiggers is available for free consult on alternative energy or to receive offer on Flying S Farm at 360-374-2444 or [email protected]