28 May 2009

Photovoltaic (solar) grid-tied system underway

We are having a grid-tied 5.52kW grid-tied photovoltaic system installed this summer. It will be pole-mounted for optimal performance since the pole-mounted systems can be adjusted seasonally to maximize their performance.

The PV system is being installed on the berm that overlooks the pond where the panels will be tucked out of view. Construction started this week although we don't expect it to be up and running until August.

Flattening out the berm for the equipment and removing the rocks.

Preparing to dig the holes for the pole mounts where concrete foundations will be poured.

Access ramp for the machines up the hill.

One of the holes, which doesn't look very impressive here but it's way over my head. They built in a "step" on the left so a man could climb out of it.

16 May 2009

Quilt-a-long Nine Patch

I've joined AmandaJean's one a day nine patch quilt-a-long to take my mind off of my slow recovery. While William is sleeping I can sit nearby and do some quilting when I can't rest and standing or activity is too much. I'm using up fabric from my stash and making a charity quilt for Camp Erin, a local summer camp run by Hospice for children who have lost someone special recently and need help with the grieving process.

The patches are REALLY bright. I hope it all comes together. The final quilt size will be 42" by 66", the size requested by Hospice for Camp Erin, and the nine patches will each be 6" finished. I had hoped to use small green prints instead of the yellows and oranges but I didn't have any green in my stash to use up. So far I've got 16 squares complete. The idea is to complete one nine patch a day and at the end of the spring to have a complete set for the quilt top.

**Update:** I did find some green in my stash - a Martha Negley fabric, so I'm now using that up too...

This is my warm-up for another quilt project I've joined - the spring blooms mini-quilt swap. I was really excited about this project and then I was paired to create my quilt for a professional art quilter who hand dyes her own fabric, whose quilts win multiple awards, and whose small quilts begin selling at $500. Now I'm really nervous about designing a quilt for this person since she's a professional and I'm a novice...

15 May 2009

Life begets life

"Life begets life. Energy becomes energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich."
-Sarah Bernhardt

Everywhere we look there is new life sprouting up about us,

in the greenhouse...

in the brooder...

in the house...

Savannah is busy learning to be a mommy to her new chicks. We have half a dozen Rhode Island Reds, now nine days old, and they are very easy to care for. They have charming habits like sleeping in a pile of golden fluff with their necks draped over their sisters, tumbling over after trying to balance on one leg while preening, and eating their own poop. They are a happy bunch of girls that make little noise and we'll look forward to receiving their first eggs sometime in October when they are mature. I hope they all make it; one of the six is a bit of a runt and is definitely lowest in the pecking order. We are reserving naming for when their full plumage comes in but I want to name two Lucy and Penny, Savannah gets to name the rest. Rhode Island Reds are an excellent egg-laying breed for Northerners - they are gentle, productive and hardy birds. My second choice if we acquire more next year are Buff Orpingtons. Both breeds are gentle and winter-hardy.

Savannah holds them daily so they learn to be accustomed to their human family and to be handled.

We've borrowed a neighbor's rototiller to help put the garden in this year. Our soil is the most densely packed clay we've ever managed. The tiller takes Kev's full weight to use and after many passes, we have tilled half the garden space we anticipate we'll need and to only 3-4" deep. This year we'll have to use raised beds or mounds with supplemental topsoil until we can better break up and lighten the clay. Without a tractor to do the heavy duty tilling, I may have to reduce my planned garden size...

Sometimes people tell me that I do too much although, I rarely feel this way myself, particularly now with my recovery. When it comes to my life, I'd rather spend the extra energy and time cultivating the things that matter to me, even if it means less sleep at night. Garden, chicks, new baby, all good things that fill one's life with meaning and riches and all worth the energy spent caring for them. Plus, it's not all work, work, work...

Like father,

like son.

05 May 2009

Le petit prince

While I'm getting my strength and energy back, here are a few pictures of the new prince. You'll see that he really doesn't resemble Mom or Dad yet. He's his own little person and we're all curious to learn more about who he is as he grows. He looks much older than a baby - like a wise old man trapped in a baby's body.

William naps in the Moses basket.

Big sister gives baby brother lots of love and attention. All that practice in the Boppy paid off!

William looks around at the world, such a curious place.

Wide awake and alert after a big day and looking more like he's filled with sage advice than just three days old.

Savannah's artistic interpretation of our home birth. The father duck and big sister duck stand by as mother duck hatches her eggs near the pond cattails. Note the title, "Hard Work".

04 May 2009

Everything but fireworks

The long awaited baby William Bacon Eastler was born at home in a planned water birth on Saturday, May 2nd at 7:50pm. Although he looks tiny to us, he weighed 9 lbs even and was 22 inches long. Big sister Savannah cried a few tears when she saw she was not going to have the little sister she had been expecting, but changed her mind right away when she decided that Daddy needed another boy around.

The moment William was born he picked up his head with his strong neck muscles and looked around at everyone with his steely blue eyes. Other than the recessive chin dimple that runs in Kevin's family, we are trying to figure out which planet he came from since he's his own little man, resembling neither Mom nor Dad so far.

Daddy holds his newborn son just minutes after his birth while Mommy is in stage III of labor.

Savannah meets her baby brother William.

My CNM stayed with us for 3 hours after William was born to make sure we were all doing well and at that point we were. Unfortunately, near midnight we discovered that my uterus, which had suffered no trauma and was intact, had stopped contracting normally, called uterine apnea or hemorrhage. When the uterus stops contracting or doesn't contract at all, the blood vessels don't close and fill with blood. I hemorrhaged between 2-3L of blood overall (between the house and the ER) and had to call 911 after losing and regaining consciousness since my midwife was already too far away to treat me for the emergency care I needed. From the floor where I had passed out, I directed Kevin and my mom until help arrived (now I know I can stay calm amidst even my own emergency). Within minutes we had EMTs, police officers, firefighters and a helicopter on scene. All we were missing amidst this parade was fireworks. As Kevin says, we'll probably have some explaining to do to the neighbors, but at least we live where helicopters can easily land.

Fortunately, Savannah slept through having a helicopter land right outside her bedroom window and the excitement of having two dozen pairs of boots running about the house.

Kevin and Baby William followed me to the hospital and stayed with me after I was released from the care of the ER. We are all doing fine now but I'm on best rest for 7-14 days. My blood pressure when I stand up is very low (86/58) and I have to concentrate on not passing out, so until I build up my hematocrit, hemoglobin and iron levels, I won't have the energy to do very much for a while. Overall I feel better than after Savannah was born, I just don't have any energy.

Savannah holds the new prince, her term. She quickly realized sharing a castle with a prince could have benefits, namely, she's the only princess.

Dearest holds her grandson.