Small Wind Turbine Construction In Process

Well, the small wind turbine construction project continues. Dan and Bill from Residential Wind Power are looking to complete the project before Christmas. The tower from Rohn tower is now manufactured and on its way and RWP has the turbine from Ventera Energy on hand, ready for final connection to the tower.
First Dan dug a really deep hole, about 14 feet across and 10 feet deep for the foundation. This step is obviously important, considering the foundation not only needs to hold up a 110-foot tower with a 500 lb turbine on top, but also keep that tower up nice and straight in some major winds.

After some serious digging, Dan and Bill poured the foundation. Since this is a tripod tower with three legs, three pylons were put in place with mounts on top to attach to the tower. After putting in the foundation, Dan and Bill ran the wire about 300 feet down to our woodshed where the inverter will be placed. Power will run down the line to the inverter, become transformed into usable energy and then run the short distance to our main junction box. This was done just in time before freeze up. Once the ground froze, this would have been impossible.

Small Wind Turbine Construction

After figuring that if the organic vegetable growers weren’t willing to buy into wind energy in this environment, then nobody would, we decided to take the plunge and purchase a small wind system. Our system is a 10 kW Ventera made in Duluth, MN and our installers are Residential Wind Power from New York Mills, MN. They started construction this October and I’ll be sharing some pictures from start to finish.

This is our pre-turbine picture. The tower will stand behind the barn at 110 feet, so should clear these trees pretty easily.

Right now this area is home to our sheep pasture. The orange flag marks the spot the tower will go. It probably won’t be till the first of the year that the tower and turbine are in place since it takes 12 weeks or so to construct the tower…they only start manufacturing the tower when they get the order.
The excavator is in place…Dan and Bill figure it will just take a few days to excavate for the foundation, trench the wire a few hundred yards to the electrical box, and pour the foundation.

The End of the Line

Well today is the final CSA delivery of the season (although we will continue Sunday deliveries every other week of dairy and fall crops in the off season).

This is always a bittersweet moment for me. I’m typically worn out enough to be happy that the last CSA box is going out the door, but I’m a bit sad that the season’s over too. These times often make me reflect on how we did. Although we had some nice warm weather this year, I was not terribly impressed with the way things grew. At the end of the day, the weeds loved the weather, which made them terrible to keep up with, and the serious rains we had all summer really stunted the growth of the plants. If I were grading the season, I would give it a C+.

Now I’m looking forward to next year, shooting for a B+ or A- at the least. We have a lot of time now to prepare the field for next season, spreading manure and disking in this years crops so they begin to break down. This should make the fields have better soil texture and greater fertility. I will also be ordering a big high tunnel (hoop-shaped greenhouse) in the next couple of days, which will allow us to grow early greens, tomatoes, and peppers. I’m sure I’ll also dream up a few more projects to make 2011 great!
Lastly, I would like to thank all of you for being members this year. Maree and I could not do what we do without your commitment. All members will be receiving a survey by e-mail; please let us know how it worked from your end.
In the box:
A couple peppers
Celeriac (the ugly bulb which has a celery top): you can use this in place of celery in any recipe.
Red Kuri or Blue Bonnet winter squash
Spaghetti Squash: Oblong Yellow Squash
Two Pie Pumpkins: Yes, these work well for pies! Typically you cut in half, bake on a cookie sheet upside down, and scoop out after it’s soft.
Red Potatoes
Bunch of Carrots
Parsnips: the ones which look like white carrots

Friday Harvests

I’ve noticed this season that it takes me longer and longer to harvest the produce for the box on Fridays. I typically wake up early, get out harvesting, and wrap up the boxes by noon. Sometimes when there are a lot of time-intensive crops like peas or beans, it may take a while longer or we get going on Thursday night. That’s why it’s been so frustrating this season to be finishing up at 2 or even 3 pm and dashing off to get deliveries done before 4.

Each week I think I’m just getting old and slow, but, reflecting back over the season, I think this weather is what has been killing me. Today, like a lot of Fridays, I’m going to have to harvest in mud and puddles of water. Getting stuff out of the ground, however, is only part of the problem. In order to get produce clean, I spend lots of time spraying, soaking, and scrubbing produce so it doesn’t look like a mudcake. I bet 75% of Friday harvests have been in the mud after a recent rain and about 25% of the time have been done in the rain. No wonder I’m getting slow…maybe it’s not aging (although we all know there’s no gettin
g around it)?Reminder: We’re having our Lida Farm get together this Saturday evening, starting at 6:30. It’s a casual event with snacks, drinks, and a bonfire. If so inclined, bring something, but just bring yourself. Meet other members and check out the farm. Hope you can make it.

BTW we also had the Pelican Rapids Early Childhood class out this Monday (see picture):
In the box:
Norvalley White Potatoes
Rutebega(s): root with greens on top.
Butternut Squash: all winter squash should be stored in dry, sunny location (don’t refrigerate)…winter squash actually will get sweeter with time.
Acorn Squash
Garlic
Harelred Apples
Collard Greens
Eggplant
Summer Squash

CSA get together September 25th

Every year we have a little get together at Lida Farm for the year’s CSA members, so you can check out the farm and meet all those other people who have also been receiving a waxed box periodically in their garage or porch. For the last few years we’ve been having a potluck thing for Sunday dinner, but we thought we’d change it up this year. So we’re going for an after dinner snacks, drinks, and bonfire affair. Casual, no need to make a hotdish or anything, stick around as long as you’d like.

So, this is the lowdown:
  • Time: 6:30
  • Place: Lida Farm (44593 275th Ave. – corner of Otter Tail County Highway 4 and East Lake Lida Road-there is a map on the website to the right)
  • Activities: Ryan gives his typical farm tour, drinks, bonfire
  • What to bring: mainly just bring yourself, but, if so inclined, bring something to drink or some kind of snack/appetizer (your homemade salsa, etc.) We will be providing a mix of drinks and snacks ourselves.

Late Season Slump

Well, it’s terrible out there. I just came in for some coffee to get a little boost to harvest and just plain warm up. I hope this monsoon slump we’ve been in will finally turn around!
I always find this a pretty tough time of year to carry on. There are only three more weeks of the CSA after this week and we’re realistically about a week from a first frost. Lots of stuff still needs to be harvested, but, having been at it for quite a while, I’m down right tired. I don’t think I could pull it off without the caffeine. Still, I’m always a bit sad when that first frost comes.

In the box:

Celery
Cantaloupe
Buttercup winter squash
Yellow onion/red onion
Garlic
Juliet tomatoes
A mix of peppers
Cucumbers
Green zebra tomatoes: these are ripe now….don’t wait for them to change color just because they are green.

Fall Weather

This weather has been a nice change from dewpoints in the 60s and temperatures in the 90s. The change has made me appreciate the oncoming of fall, which is just around the corner. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but summer is almost over.

How does this affect growing at the farm? What I find fascinating is the effect fall weather has on growing time. In the summer, something like salad mix can go from seed to full-sized mix in 3 weeks, whereas it will take twice as long in fall weather. It seems like its still somewhat warm and sunny, but we just don’t have the full strength of the sun and length of day to move things along. This all reminds me to get that fall salad mix planted. Gotta go!
In the box:
Green Zebra Tomatoes
Red Celebrity Tomatoes
San Marzano Roma Tomatoes
Watermelon
Cantaloupe
Sweet White Onions
Green Peppers
Little Red Cabbage
Kale or Collards
Thai Basil: pretty nice variety with a hint of licorice
Parsley
Summer Squash