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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Physics of Everyday Life

Because we live off-grid, and build our own energy systems, there is a need for a good understanding of physics. Most physics texts are heavy on theory, and dry as a piece of straw. We have found an exception. Written in an easy to comprehend style, and filled with everyday examples and explanations, How Things Work by Louis A. Bloomfield is a reference that should be in your personal library if you are in the least bit curious about how the things around you work, and it's a necessity if you are designing your own energy systems.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The New Grit

We rediscovered an old friend. I remember reading the rural newspaper GRIT as a kid, and recently, they moved to a new format that really works. Now a glossy magazine, the articles are more relevant than ever to living a more sustainable, self sufficient rural lifestyle. With great articles on the USDA's plan to register and tag all livestock (This is bad), to promoting the rural craftsman (This is good), to fencing in and caring for livestock (This is very good), this is a resource you won't want to miss! Advertising? Yes. But it's topical and contextual. Woodsplitters, small tractors, woodstoves, and generators, not cigarettes and alcohol, and the male enhancement ad is in the classifieds section in the back, thankfully (come on Grit, did you really need to allow that one?). Rediscover an old friend .....

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Pressing your own fuel from crops

Our friends and neighbors the Martin's have their oil press up and running. They are pressing oil from oil seed crops, and experimenting with a variety of crop types to determine the best crops for our climate and geography. Pictures can be found in our photo album, and movies can be found at:

Movie 1, 3.2M
Movie 2, 61.8M
Movie 3, 49.2M
Movie 4, 12.1M
Movie 5, 9.3M

Additionally, Melvin and Luray are working with some new >1 watt LED's. Melvin had this to say:

We got some new LEDs to replace the old ones we installed last winter. The old ones were not right from the day we got them, and since, they have lost their light output. The new ones act like they are supposed to, they are many times brighter, they have a much wider viewing angle, cheaper per amount of light output, more efficient, and give a nice white light. As you can see in the picture, these new LEDs need to have a big heat sink. So far we really like them.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Staying warm when it's cold

It was -20F this am. I have both woodstoves going, and it's a balmy 85 inside. The generator wouldn't even turn over this morning, but there was enough juice in the batteries to keep us going all last night and today. Finally got the generator fired up about 9pm so Linda could get the laundry done. I'm on call for the Hospital, but I'm hoping it's a quiet night. We have about 6" of new snow in the last few days. Not enough to make life difficult.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Peak Oil Action Group

This past weekend our local Peak Oil Action Group got together at Patricia Greene's home for a potluck dinner, a movie on sustainable agriculture, and discussion. Someone brought a delicious squash soup, we saw "The Power of Community – How Cuba Survived Peak Oil", and had some wonderful discussion. Jim Juczak of Woodhenge had this to say:

There were some major topics and minor topics discussed. Major ones included the fact that there are other groups that are overlapping some of our efforts and it would be good to combine forces to reinforce and take advantage of our mutual interests. Cooperative extension was one example, the historical societies and hands on museums were another. Minor ones included a sign up sheet at Richard and Aimee's Arc neighborhood party later this month. The list would include topics people would feel comfortable teaching to small groups and topics that you wanted to learn about. Patricia also wanted to get a women's skill study group started that would cover topics such as woodworking, home repair, home wiring, plumbing and welding. I offered to teach them with her.

At Church this morning, Pastor Ken was talking about watching out for our fellow man, instead of being centered on ourselves, in a sermon called "Live and Let Live", part of his “Ten Cultural Myths that Drive America” series. This section was called "COMMUNITY TRUMPS INDIVIDUALITY", and I saw a lot of parallels between the religious and the secular concepts we try to promote in our sustainable circles.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Veggie Oil Press, Filtering, and Ice Houses

Melvin was over today for some help on his website, and to tell me about their new oil press. It's a Chinese unit with a Changfa engine. His brother also picked up 3 new Hatz diesel engines. He related some stories about their veggie oil filtering experiences, and their ice house. I helped them cut ice from the pond last winter and it was a fun experience. Read about their experiences in their quarterly newsletter, The Boys Bugle.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Email Newsletter Re-Instated

At the suggestion of our readers, we are re-instating our outgoing newsletter for those who do not want to participate in the discussion forums. This means you will get email from Green-trust without the additional commentary from our readers. You can manage your subscriptions to our newsletter at

Today we are getting together with family to celebrate the new year. Last night we had friends over for snacks, games and fellowship. We discussed building community, sustainability, and our different ethnic backgrounds, tried new foods, and had a wonderful time.

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