Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Power out day 4 and counting

Well, if I wondered what I'd do for an extended outage, I have my answer now.  Power went out friday night, this is tuesday afternoon, and no word on when it'll be back on.  4 days and counting with no power.

Biggest problem so far is water; while I do have a generator, it only does 120 volts, and the well pumps are 230v; so I've been having to pull water out of the river to water my 600 critters.  450 gallons of water twice a day.
lots of thirsty critters.  the weaner sale pen right now

 Really makes me think about some sort of gravity powered or wind powered solution -- I daydream about a windmill and a water tank with a gravity feed to the animal troughs.  I even went and looked one up; you can buy a pretty good quality one for about $4k.  Not writing that check now, but if this was a major catastrophe and my power was going to be out for a month or two, I'd sure like to have one.
Dreaming of windmills

Right now I'm using a 12v RV-style water pump with a garden hose to supply water to the drinking nipples that most of the hogs use, and feeding it from a 55 gallon drum.  The rv pump is an on-demand, and I'm running off my set of car batteries that I use for electric fences.  When those run down I'll probably pick a vehicle - a truck or skidsteer or something - and have the engine running to replenish the batteries.  1 of the drinking nipples can service 40 or 50 pigs, and one small rv pump can supply enough flow to keep 8 or 10 nipples going.
sprayer converted to livestock waterer

The second problem is feed; the motors that drive the feed augers are 3 phase 230v; and my generator does single phase.  So to get feed to the critters I'm having to pull it out of the inspection plate at the base of the augure.  With a trowel.  By hand.   I have to say that it's making me weigh the feed to each critter -- so while I'm spending a lot more time on (read: labor costs) I'm probably actually using less feed than normal.

One of my few vices is internet, and I actually do have both a DSL based internet, via phone line, and a sattelite internet via dish, and I've found that I need both.  When my power goes out the DSL line goes out, too.  So having the sattelite allows me internet access (and telephone via voip, and email) and I think it's worth the money to have both.  If I had to choose one I'd probably pick the DSL line -- the sattelite is fast once it gets going, but there's a half-second delay before anything happens just because the data has to travel 44,000 miles before there's any response.  

I actually purchased a whole-house backup generator, propane fired, but hadn't gotten around to hooking it up.  Needless to say that task got bumped on the priority scale.


Chris said...

I keep trying to find a tractor PTO-powered generator for the 3-phase or 230v stuff..... maybe there is one up in your neck of the woods?

Bill Gauch said...

I feel for you. I live on an island. Our power comes from high voltage transmission lines run from the mainland on two different towers for redundancy. During a severe storm, one of the towers blew over and fell onto the other tower. Power was out for almost a week. Around here, power goes out maybe once per year for no more than a couple hours typically, so an extended outage was a shock for most people. For my part, I just grabbed the camp stove and kept the cell phones and laptop charged with the car chargers. Now, if I had hundreds of pigs, it might be a different story.

Unknown said...

Bruce, u need the contact the NRCS office in your county. There are a number of programs that pay you to install wells/pumps/pipes that are powered by solar. There is even a program/payment for a 1,000 gallon water storage tank. It is around 1,300 bucks in my county and the tank is much cheaper than that. U pocket the difference.