In 2017, we checked off one major item on our bucket list; with the installation of a solar energy system at our farm.
This system provides the electricity for us to:
- power our home,
- keep harvested vegetables cool and fresh in the walk-in cooler,
- run the freezers for long term chicken and produce storage,
- keep the brooder lights on and the baby chicks warm,
- run the banks of grow lights we use to sprout seedlings,
- and power the pump to supply water for all our farm’s needs, including poultry raising and processing, and the irrigation of our fields and high tunnel.
Another way we are taking advantage of solar energy is with our high tunnel. A high tunnel is another name for a plastic covered green-house like structure, with high sides. The high tunnel will provide us with a few more months in which to grow vegetables, we can plant earlier in the spring, and harvest later into the autumn.
The high tunnel also has it’s own solar panel. That electricity is used to open and close louvers and roll up the side walls as the inside temperature fluctuates. It also powers the blower that inflates between the two layers of plastic covering, which in turn provides for a more rigid structure. Here you can see tomatoes and salad green still alive and snow on the roof.
And how could we forget these very important solar items. Each of the electric fences on the farm has its own solar energizer. There is a fence around the vegetable garden to keep the deer out. There is portable poultry netting around the broiler tractors to slow down the bears. Another fence around the bee hives, to also protect them from the bears. And more electric poultry netting around the hens’ pasture to deter the coyotes, dogs, and bobcats. All of these fences are electrified by the sun.
This spring we hope to add an electric powered lawn tractor to our farm. It will be a quieter and “greener” mower than the old gas powered one.