Archive for January, 2012

Of winter heat and summer cold

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

With all the clearing work we’ve been doing in the woods, there’s now a need to get all the firewood-to-be under cover to season well before use. The log store we’ve been constructing next to the main building at last has its roof – a patio area – complete. We just need to relocate the things presently occupying it – like the washing machine – which, as is the way of these things, ideally requires completion of another couple of stages in the project beforehand.

Log store patio roof under construction

Log store patio roof under construction – membrane goes down on screeded roof



Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Since the beginning of October, we – or, more precisely, Duncan with the occasional help of Wayne – have been working hard in the woods above the terraces. These steep slopes of predominantly Maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) have been neglected for a number of years and were overcrowded with self-seeded saplings, wind-blown fallen trees and sparse but flammable understory of Carqueja (Genista tridentata), tree heath (Erica arborea) and bracken (Pteridium aquilinum).

Woodland management

The woods before clearing began



Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Finally! After a lot of trial and even more error over the last 2 years, it looks like we have the hydro generator we need for this site. As I write, it’s contributing power to the batteries, something that none of the previous generators have managed to achieve. Not a lot, because of the present meagre flow of water – for the second winter in succession there has so far been very little rain – but the wheel IS contributing for the first time.

Not only that, but it’s a supremely funky addition to our power generation capacity and is also, like the water wheel, proudly made in Benfeita! (Benfeita means ‘well made’.)

Hugh Piggott design axial flux alternator

The axial flux alternator on the back of João’s quad bike in its green and orange paintwork