Monday, March 24, 2014

New Blogdeavors and Adventures

Hi, there, folks. I just thought I should update to let you know that I've started a new blog project. You can check it out over at It's a blog about cycling, hiking and general outdoor adventuring with kids in and around San Diego, specifically for those of us on a budget. Check it out, follow it, hop on for a ride and drop me a line to let me know what you think! I will be updating both blogs more regularly as I'm trying to actively write more. If you've got any good tips or tricks, don't be afraid to throw them my way. Thanks, folks.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Going Solar

We are super excited to announce that we are FINALLY jumping on the solar bandwagon. Seriously, with as many people as we have living in this house it makes total sense. We have been jumping into that Tier-4 usage slot for SDG&E, and you homeowners out there know just how expensive that can be. I heard a statistic recently that said if you were spending anywhere over $100 per month on electricity, it pays off to go solar. I think even if you're paying less, it still pays off for being eco-friendly AND a flat rate over time -- you never know when electric rates will hike again, so why not lock in your payment?

The farm spent some time researching different options and finally decided to go with purchasing instead of leasing. With the purchase option, it's paid off completely in 7 years and then it's ours to keep. There is no increase over time, no money down, and a hefty federal tax rebate that most companies will give you off the top or work with so that it lowers your payment. Our bill will be going from over $250 per month to about $160 per month, for those that are curious.

I think that we were convinced that the process would be more complicated than it really panned out to be. Essentially, we made an appointment with the company we liked to come and give us a proposal. He came over and took a look at our energy usage over the last year and found our average. He drew a quick sketch and did the math to figure out how many panels we would need, then wrote up a tentative contract. We signed the paperwork and then waited. Most companies work with financers, so our next step was to wait to hear back about the loan information. That got approved the next day at the interest rate he quoted us, so we signed the paperwork.

The next step was for the engineer to come and do an official inspection and site plan to submit to the city. He came the following week and spent about a half an hour checking out our roof, our electrical box and the angles of the sun. Later that day, he sent a couple of tentative sketches to us so we could pick the one we wanted. With our ok, he sent them to the City for permitting and we got approved within a week. They called us to let us know, then scheduled us for the installation. That's where we are at right now, and it should be done by today. Our next step is to wait for the City to come and sign off on it, which they said should be done within a couple of days. Lastly, we have to wait for SDG&E's approval to "flip the switch," and we are done! Officially up and running within about a month from when we started.

For those that are interested, we decided to go with Semper Solaris. This company uses panels and equipment that are "Made in the US," which we like to support for many reasons. They also automatically default to use micro inverters. There is a really good description on the differences between micro inverters and traditional string inverters here. In a nutshell, micro inverters are newer technology, more efficient, and safer. Also unmentioned is the lower EMF exposure, if you're concerned about that kind of stuff. The folks there were really friendly and prompt, too, and they have a great referral program. If you decide to get solar and go with them, tell them that the folks at Radio sent you!

Here's a quick picture of the men on our roof at the moment. Enjoy your day!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Springtime and Goats

Boo gave birth to her babies today. She officially had two goats, our very first births of this magnitude on the farm. Sadly, one of the little guys didn't make it but the kid that's left is spunky as can be. Camille and Estelle have decided to name him Pickles; I don't think any of we adults are getting any choice in the matter. Spring is definitely in the air! Currently we also have baby bunnies and a gaggle of chicks wandering around. 

On the home front, Sarah and BJ are studiously mapping out a year of seed so that we can attempt to grow as much as possible off the land this year. Romantic promises of home canned tomatoes, freshly ground maize and hand threshed wheat are stealing our hearts as we remember idealistic fantasies of the sustainable lifestyle that originally enticed us to buy this land in the first place. It's easy to move away from initial dreams as life happens around you - sometimes you have to hit the pause button and reset a few things. Enjoy the video! It's short, but very cute.