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We Are Flying Solo

Showing posts with label fencing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fencing. Show all posts

May 24, 2015

Prize Giveaway! Guess The Time To “Brilliant Redneck Solution…Fail”


It seemed like such a good idea at the time…

I know, you’ve probably never used that sentence.  Heh.  But here’s your chance to profit from yet another of my ingenious ideas!

Your prize:  a $10 gift card to SmartPak…and my admiration for your thorough knowledge of idea fail.
My endless love...

To Be Fair, It Was A Good Idea

Arriving home from work a couple weeks ago, I discovered that apparently a chupacabra had attempted to jump my fence.

Drawing by Michael Lee (2007)
SRSLY!  It was the only conclusion I could draw from the evidence.  For newcomers, my fencing is primarily the pre-existing & perfectly built hi-tensile wire, lined with a strand of bi-polar HorseGuard tape (Best. Product. Ever.); only the tape is hot.

I walked out the back door & found the top two wires (this is heavy-duty 12 mm galvanized wire) were snapped clean off about 1” from the corner & the tape had been snagged & stretched. 

Fortunately, HorseGuard is extremely well made, so while stretched, no wires or nylon fibres were broken, so that was a simple 5-minute job to re-tension.  Wire…less simple.

Epic Richard being epic
Thanks to Solo’s awesome Minion & wonderful neighbour, Richard (who has the big, professional wire crimpers), I spliced the wires back together & was able to repair the tensioners (I can’t remember if I’ve posted my discoveries about the amazing safety features of correctly-installed hi-tensile [post#17 in link]– but there are a lot, thank goodness!) that gave as designed when Mr. Chupacabra barged in.

What Really Happened?

Honestly, I still don’t know for certain.  Our deer are fairly small.  The damage was exactly the same as when Solo jumped through the fence when we first moved in.  :/  But he was still in (unless he jumped out, then back in?), there were no hoofprints of any kind on the outside, & neither horse had a mark on them.

See – chupacabra.

Let The Games Begin

The final missing piece was a pair of nails that held the wire insulator to the post.  At least I think so.  The insulator was pulled off, meaning the nails would have been ripped out.  However, because the wire fence came with the land, a few of the insulators are not nailed on anymore.  Naturally, I don’t remember if this was a loose one before or not.

Thx, Northern Tool!
But horses…nails…I had to do a thorough search.  I’d returned the borrowed giant draggy magnet I used to clean up after house construction, but I do have a very strong magnetic dish for studs that is also handy for random “I dropped another steel thing” jobs. 

Just holding it though, means I have to walk around bent over, holding it close to the ground.  Back arthritis.  Ow.  And it’s small.  So “let’s get creative, what can possibly go wrong?”

You’d think that’d be a warning flag, would you?

Tell me that's not genius
Brilliant Idea

Hey, it’s a magnet – why don’t I stick it to a shovel & then I don’t have to bend over?  OH SNAP!  I have to bush-hog that field, why don’t I snap it to the bottom of the tractor bucket:  TWO-FOR-ONE!

I was oh-so-careful, sticking the dish to the bottom corner of the FEL (Front End Loader) so I could see the edge from the driver’s seat.  I needed to keep a careful eye on it because it would require keeping the bucket extremely close to the ground to work, with frequent adjustments in order to not bump the ground & pull it off.

Because one of the first Laws Of Tractor Use is “anything you attempt to attach/use with a tractor will inevitably fall off/be dropped & you will run it over.”  Yeah, I bet you’ve done it.  But NO!  I was not going to let that happen, I was going to be vigilant!

Well, the Tractor Laws are like the Laws of Physics:  non-negotiable.

How To Win

In case it’s not blindingly obvious yet, yes, my dish is now, um, a different & distinctly flatter shape than it once was.  Hey, why does a magnet dish need edges anyway, it’s still magnetic?!

To enter:  in the comments, you get to guess how long I was proud of myself before I felt a thump & yelled “NOOOO!”  The closest person to elapsed time between idea implementation & idea fail wins!  You will have ten days from the time of posting to put in your guess.

Bring the noise.

December 31, 2014

The Home Of Solaris Is Now Officially Solar!

Eventually...
Well, his part is, at any rate.

It's ALIIIVVVEEE!!!!!

And despite the rambling of my previous post, heinously simple & working like a charm.  It all comes prewired, so you just stick the velcro where you want your boxes, slip the ring connectors on your battery terminal, & stuff the panel wires in their labeled ports.

Srsly.  Even laziness-enabled so you don't actually have to mount the panel until you feel like it!

You already saw the photos, so I give you this wonderful gift:  system features in live action.  You might at first wonder, why the heck would I want to watch that?

Because, my dear readers, particularly those who have visited for a while, know that I often forget that camera microphones are not selective.  So the ridiculous commentary at the ends of my videos is my special present to you.

From the woman who has few qualms about online dorkiness (plus it is a pretty cool gadget!), I present for your viewing entertainment:



There is even a button to push!!!  A BUTTON!

December 27, 2014

How To Put Some Solar Power In Your Fenceline (Without Taking On The Solar Charger Headache)

No, you may not steal my horse.  Solo is brilliant, but his charge is non-transferrable.

Why Did You Build It?

So they would come.  Duh.  And by "they," I mean photons.  Because photons are badass, right, my fellow physics nerd homies?

My lovely little Blackside Dace, c. 2003
I'm a conservation biologist by day, so my motivation for using truly alternative energy is fairly obvious.  My graduate research was in the hollers of SE KY, studying this fairytale rainbow of a fish, the federally threatened Blackside Dace.

This project put me face-to-face with mountaintop coal extraction, the horrors of valley fill (scary stuff, check out these photos), acid mine drainage, & the third-world poverty of communities left to rot once Big Coal mechanized everything.

After 10+ years in freshwater species conservation, I've also learned about the havoc wrought by hydropower dams via drowned ecosystems, natural communities decimated by unnatural flow patterns, & rivers run dry by upstream withdrawals.  Add in collapsed bat lungs & migratory birds who look like they've gone through a blender in the vicinity of wind farms and, well, it seems like you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.

I won't wander into the side topic of the many efforts to improve the latter few issues (nor my instense desire to hurl large rocks at "clean coal" billboards, *insert expletives here*).  Or the simple fact that there is no panacea.

Newly installed tape back in February 2014
I am also poor.  My farm on top of a Carolina hill has an abundance of sunshine & my Horseguard bipolar fence tape is amazing.  But it still needs electricity to convince Solo to stay on the desired side of the line.

Non-science geek translation:  I really wanted to use solar power because it's free (after setup) & is the only power generation source I'm aware of that, on my small scale, has no negative impacts (unless Iron Man is willing to share his arc reactor -- sorry, I can't even non-geek without geeking).  But all-in-one solar chargers with the durability & power to give the consistent charge you want over the years in varying weather are very, very expensive.

I'll save the technicalities to consider for another day, because the point (if I ever make it there) of this post is supposed to be "How To Make It So With Tools & Free Stuff & Hay String & Shit."

Well, it is a farm, we do have shit.

The previous set-up (& dumpster-diving validation!)
What You Need
  • One pre-existing battery-powered system:  mine = one Parmak Magnum 12 DC [battery]-powered fence charger connected to a heavy-duty deep cycle battery (hey, I still wasn't going to pay for power...).  
  • One quality solar panel & charge controller that is rated for more than 12V (see above reference to technicalities post) - guess what Awesome Mom got me for Xmas?!
  • Something to mount all this crap on, including a vertical or horizontal surface with good sun-exposure (preferably south-facing...unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere)
  • Best. BFF. Present. Ever.
  • TOOLZ!  If your charger is already in a good spot, just a drill & screwdriver to mount the panel (and that's only for eventual permament mounting, because they include options for temporary setup for indecisive people).  The panel kit I used even included screws & velcro.  Yes, velcro - they obviously get horse people.
  • Enough colour vision to distinguish red (positive) from black (negative) & enough literacy to match up the right wires with the little plus & minus signs.  Hee.  This is my third single panel installation; my first was at 22, so trust me, it's not rocket science!   
How To Do It
(My Way, Which Naturally Has Extra Steps; Easy Life Would Be Boring, Right?  RIGHT??)

A:  Know your sun/shadow patterns throughout the day.  Badass photons are powerless in shadow.

B:  Realize your current perfect battery/charger location & precision-engineered setup are conveniently close to...90% shadows after the morning.  And no way am I taking on mounting that panel 12' in the air on top of the run-in.
Dammit.
C:  Resign yourself to moving the charger to the opposite side of the run-in, within easy reach of 99% sunlight all day & a perfect mounting location on the back of the feed shed.  Of course.  You must only move...nearly everything you store there.

D:  Move the charger in just a few "simple steps:"

The new wall
(1) Install new custom Equi-Flooring material & rustic pre-assembled decorative Pallet Wall base unit .  For security, make sure your base unit is secured by AT LEAST four pieces of hay string.  This way, it will never, ever fall.  *snork*

(2)  Get creative!  That scrap of treated plywood Encore knocked down in an itching fit?  Provides perfect weather protection screwed on to the inside of the Pallet Wall.  In addition, you now have your surface ready to re-mount the charger, along with any additional parts.

It's aweeeesomeeee...
(3) Carry your specialized Battery Support System to its new location & you're set!

(4)  If you want to go wild, you can pull nails (& make sure you don't lose them thanks to your awesome new magnetic wrist wrap thingy) from some spare lumber & connect the Pallet Wall to, say, another solid object in case of hay string failure (even though we know this never happens).


Photon-ready, Captain! Yeah, there's a couple wires...
E:  Now that your original system is restored to "action-ready," stick (literally, I told you there was sticky velcro!) the solar charge controller & battery condition monitor in your desired arrangement.  Make sure the controller wires are within reach of your battery & the controller itself is within reach of the recommended wiring range for your solar panel (in this instance, 5 feet).

Controller (left) & monitor (below controller)
F:  Install your solar panel:  either in a temporary setup configuration if offered or mounted in its permanent location.  Remember that panels are designed for weather exposure, but NOT to be trod upon by humans or horses.  It's still glass!

G:  Wire the panel to the controller; this is as simple as connecting the positive & negative leads to the labelled holes.  Make sure the panel is covered at this time & NOT PRODUCING POWER WHILE YOU ARE FIDDLING WITH THE WIRING!  Safety is important, as is protecting your battery & charger.  (ok, I don't have a photo of this yet)

H:  Step back & dramatically spread your dust & sweat-smattered arms so you can loudly pronounce "TA-DAAAA!" to your horses, who couldn't care less.  But your fencing is now power-independent!!

Remind Me Of The Advantages Of Doing This?

The critical element, the controller, will prevent your panel from overcharging or draining your battery.  The condition monitor will let you test your battery whenever you like (for example, when you want to show your friends how you single-handedly harnessed badass photons to run your fence & keep your battery charged for free...just an example...).

No sun?  No problem:  my battery will run my charger on its own for over 30 days.  

That system will also keep your battery in better condition for a longer life, so you get to spend your valuable time & money -- playing with your horses, as you should be!!  

To be continued, so you shall be fully educated whether you like it or not, BWAHAHAHHAHA...

January 11, 2014

Farm + Paint = Estate!

L. Williams (so you know who to blame) requested some more samples of my exquisite Paint artistry (I can't really blame them, I mean, you saw it...), so in an attempt to distract myself from having a panic attack about falling trees during a current fast-moving stormfront, I have focused all my creative energies to create for you these masterpieces.   The shoddy Photoshop work is just a bonus.

You're welcome.  As always, you may click to embiggen.

Here you can see a nice little redbud tree on the west side of the house & carefully planned native plant-scaping.  They did finish the stucco on the foundation finally, although I'm still waiting for my dang shutters so I just drew some in, hee.  No large trees allowed near the house since the truck-crusher of Summer 2013 (thankfully not personal truck, omg)!

The boys are unseasonably shiny this year, aren't they?  And Solo is so majykal that green grass grows wherever he steps.  Naturally.  The "Carolina horse shelter" (the horses live in a carport already, it's very common here; this baby is engineered and certfied for 130 mph winds) is completed as of yesterday!

Now all I need are two 10' gates.  And a 6 x 6.  And four 4 x 4's.  And a water trough.  And eyebolts for cross-ties.  And time to backfill & finish the fence.  But hey, I'm watching the ditches for loot!

The Master Plan.  Call it a 5-year plan.  Or maybe a 20-year plan.  But it is my vision for the future!  Of course I colour-coded it!

As of now, the house, shed, & hay shelter are essentially done (ok, so I need electricity.  And shutters.  And an inspection.  Details.) & the north & south sides of the main pasture (the top one is only for riding until I can find some free t-posts to finish the back fenceline) have their strip of tape up.  The lower pasture is also ready to use, although only when I am living there, as I can't afford to put a strip of tape in front of that wire yet; Solo & wire have a bad history.

Taaaape.  Loving the Horseguard, although I have not fully tensioned it yet.
Yes, my fence will be bipolar -- eesh, not my favourite product name, but it's still great stuff!  That way, I do not have to ground my charger unless I want to activate the wire.  You try driving a 10-foot rod in the Carolina piedmont.  Not till the neighbour's hydraulic post driver comes home!  My dressage arena is all ready:  all six little white plastic cones just need to move to their spots in the grass.

What do you mean I have to go to work?  I have plenty of work right here!