Fernglade Farm
Fernglade Farm
Details
Commenced:
01/01/2005
Submitted:
08/04/2011
Last updated:
16/02/2016
Location:
Cherokee, Victoria, AU
Climate zone:
Cool Temperate





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Fernglade Farm

Fernglade Farm

Cherokee, AU


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Project: Fernglade Farm

Posted by Chris McLeod about 4 years ago

Spring landed with a thump over the past few days. The sun shone strongly and the weather was sweet. In the warmer conditions, the bees foraged for pollen and nectar amongst the many flowers at the farm. By Sunday afternoon you could almost hear the buzzing of the insects as they were all busily going about their tasks. The bees in particular were enjoying the blue Echium flowers:

A happy European honey bee is set to land on a blue Echium flower

The Echium plants were a chance gift from a nearby neighbour. In the early days at the farm, those first Echiums were a very unimpressive set of specimens and to be honest they looked a bit sad. But I really appreciate gifts of plants, and so I planted the original gift plants in a well fed garden bed. And the plants just grew. And then they grew some more - and self seeded. I had no idea at the time just how big these plants can get. Those original Echium plants were like Triffids in that they just kept growing – it was a bit scary. The Echium plants have shrugged off frosts, heat waves, drought, dogs, wallabies – you name it, but at the same time those plants also produce copious flowers for most of the year.

I mentioned wallabies and Echium plants because occasionally, a wallaby will bounce into the middle of an Echium plant just to see what is in there. In the process of jumping into the middle of the plant, the wallaby will destroy branches and leave a gaping hole in the middle of the plant. Does an Echium plant worry about such damaging marsupial action? No, because a couple of months later, the Echium plant simply regrows all of the damaged branches, flowers and leaves.

Where we we, ah yes, the sun was shining very strongly over the past few days and in fact on Sunday whilst I was working outside in the full sun on the new picket fence (see below), I unfortunately scored a minor case of sunburn on my skin – despite the fact that the UV is only rated as moderate (edit - serves you right, I told you to put on sunscreen).

Fortunately, the strong sunlight has produced excellent hot water (very toasty too!) via the solar hot water panels as well as excellent electricity via the solar photovoltaic panels. Today, I had a great deal of trouble trying to work out what exactly to do with all of the excess electricity generated by the sun. Fortunately, there is always the task of baking dog food in the electric oven, so I went a bit feral and produced well over 140 oven baked dog biscuits this afternoon. The dogs were excessively helpful with that cooking task too! As an interesting side story only Poopy the Pomeranian (who is technically a Swedish Lapphund) was clamouring for more food this evening, but he does have an unfortunate and unmentionable relationship with food. I could see it in his eyes that he was trying to tell me that: “food is not the problem, food is the solution!” In his particular case, portion control seems to me to be the solution, although Poopy and I have learned to agree to disagree on such matters.

Anyway, the solar photovoltaics (PV) were producing a stupendous quantity of electricity at about lunchtime. Just for the techno geeks out there, I thought that it might be worth talking about PV solar panels for a little bit (everyone else who is not interested in such matters or doesn’t identify themselves as a techno geek can skip to the next paragraph or so – look for the welcome back everyone message in italics below!). 

We now prepare ourselves to enter the world of the techno geek: The dodgiest thing about solar PV is that a solar panel will only ever produce the rated output under absolutely perfect conditions. Perfect conditions means installing that panel at the equator, facing exactly north, at about the summer solstice and hopefully it’s not too hot. Therefore, in the real world, you can expect about 80% of the rated output of a solar panel. So a 190W panel will produce – in the real world – 152W which is 80% of the rated output. Will you occasionally get more output from that panel? – sure, but don’t expect that output much of the time!

Today, as I was struggling to work out what to do with all of this excess electricity, I spotted this reading on the monitor display:

The Amps generated by the solar PV panels at about lunchtime today

What that display means is that the 4.2kW of solar PV panels were producing 111A (A stands for Amps) at that point in time. With a bit of maths magic we can convert that reading to kW to understand what the reading actually means and the formula for that conversion is A x V = W (or Amps x Volts = Watts). So 111A x 29V (because that was the voltage of the batteries at the time of the reading) = 3.219kW. And, if we use some more maths magic we can divide that reading by 80% to equal 4.023kW (which is not far from the actual rated output of the 4.2kW of panels albeit at 80%). The formula for that calculation is 3.219kW / 0.80 = 4.023kW. Enough techno geek stuff as I can see that some of you are now falling asleep – I did warn you to skip this bit!

Welcome back everyone - for everyone else who is not a techno geek, we now resume regular programming:

With the strong sun over the past couple of days, many of the deciduous trees have broken their dormancy. I spotted this advanced Japanese maple sending out the first of its leaves today in amongst a garden bed of borage (note the blue flowers) and daffodils. The borage is an excellent feed for the chickens all year around, great food for the bees and there are many dozens of these plants all about the farm.

For the rest of the entry click on this link: http://ferngladefarm.blogspot.com.au/

A happy European honey bee is set to land on a blue Echium flower

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