Sunday, October 4, 2009

Nebraska Farm Family

Today's picture shows a family farm in Custer County, Nebraska. The picture was taken in 1886. The family is the William Moore family. I love this picture, and can not think of ever seeing one that better captures the unshakable spirit of the people of the American West. To be honest, I think we need a little more of that spirit today. You can believe that this family completely provided for all their own needs. Notice that their house looks like it is made of mud, and has a sod roof. Yep, I really admire these people.

It is funny that since I started this blog, I have never done anything, or expressed any opinion that did not make SOMEONE mad. You see some of it in the comments, but the really juicy messages come right to my inbox. Always, someone is offended . . . that is, until last Friday. That is where I showed the picture of my new Solar Panel installation. To my surprise, EVERYONE was happy. Lets break it down. First the tree hugging neuvo-hippy types were flooding me with email, "way to go man, you are saving the earth". It was like I had been on the dark side and suddenly joined the elite enlightened. Then the Democrats were happy because I had gotten a government incentive to pay for part of the installation. They were happy because Big Government had spent money . . . that is what makes them happy. The Republicans were happy because a small business had done the installation, and that will help the small business, will spur the economy, and jobs will trickle down to poor people looking for work. The survivalist were particularly excited, saying that I had a pretty fair looking compound started, and I would be ready when the big one hits. The union men were happy because looking at the installation, they were pretty sure it had been done at least in part by a union shop. The anarchist were really happy because looking at those big sheets of glass, they could just see themselves trashing it with a bat in about 2 minutes.

Could it be that Solar is the one thing that just about everyone can agree on? As you all know, I was very much against the trillion dollar government stimulus, but wonder, if they were going to waste a trillion dollars should they have just used it to build solar farms across the west and midwest, and built the power grid necessary to power the country from solar. I don't know, but I bet that could have just about been done for a trillion. They could have held back about $50 Billion and used that to develop a better rechargeable battery, which would enable practical, affordable electric cars. If they had done that with the trillion, we certainly would have created jobs, stimulated the economy, become energy independent, and we could stop sending hundreds of billions of dollars a year to countries that hate us. Just a thought.

20 comments:

  1. Interesting how they are all standing so far apart from one another. Why do you suppose that is? Could it have anything to do with the lack of opportunity for regular bathing? That's what would be hard for me...I could do all the hard work, enjoy the simpler life, but I want my daily shower or bath, and I want everything to smell clean!

    I think you are definitely on to something PJM with the whole lets-all-get-solar-panels-and-we-can-all-get-along thing. Have you ever thought of running for office?

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  2. I agree. That frontier spirit was what made us as a country great. Neat photo. I never get tired of these.

    I also agree with what you said about the spending. Where do you go to get the money to do solar power? I figure as long as I pay taxes, I might as well try and get some of it back to benefit me.

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  3. There is so much in the picture that I didn't see until I clicked on it. Beautiful windmill. Challenge? Can't quite read it. Elk antlers on the roof? Great photo. Thanks. Judi

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  4. Mikelo,
    Solar costs are about like this. The turnkey installed cost of the system was about $5.50 per installed watt of capacity. This includes the panels, inverter, monitoring equipment. The whole price is $5.50 per watt. The government will pay 30% by a tax rebate. Your tax guy can show you how this works. Very simple actually. This gets the installed price down to $3.85 per installed watt. Then, since I am producing solar energy, I am considered a green energy producer. This gives me carbon offsets. I was able to sell my carbon offsets to the utility company for $2 per installed watt. This gets the system price down to $1.85 per installed watt.

    Of course, a big part of this was that my power company would give me the money upfront for the carbon credits. I am sure this varies with power company, and they only have a budget of so much per year for this, so you have to make sure before moving ahead that you can get this. I was not able to sell credits on the wind turbine, but the federal rebate will also apply to the wind turbine.

    This is what worked for me. Be sure to talk to experts before moving ahead, as you can see it is quiet expensive if you are not able to get the credits and rebates.

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  5. Great breakdown, PJM. Hope this inspires others to actually install a system on their property. If enough did it we could finally reduce the use of gas and coal generators.

    If the Government would fund the development of the batteries you talked about and designed a "simple" nuclear electric generator system that large cities could afford, we would be set for the next 40 - 50 years while better sources of power are developed.

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  6. Al,
    Another important part of the math is potential hail damage. From my research, the panels should be able to withstand golf ball size hail without damage. Baseball hail would damage some panels, and grapefruit size hail would wipe the panels out. I checked with state farm, and they said the panels would be covered under my existing home owners policy with no increase in premiums. (of course check with your own agent for details for your particular policy)
    PJM

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  7. What a great photo, and really does capture the spirit and lifestyle of that era.

    Like Heather, I also noticed that the subjects in the photo appear to be standing rather far apart, and I wondered why. Also, it appears that there is another child (or animal?) clinging to the girl on the far left, but the image is blurred (probably due to movement). I wonder how many of those children actually lived to adulthood?

    PJM:

    Although I haven’t had time to comment lately, I’ve been checking your blog every day. Congratulations on being able to go “off the grid.” I wish that was possible where I live, but it isn’t. I’m in the middle of some significant renovations to my house that included a new furnace, so I did get an energy rebate for that.

    And, with regard to those who don’t like your comments or surveys, too bad. It’s YOUR blog. Keep up the polls, they’re fun.

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  8. Your breakdown as to why various groups were happy with your solar project is bound to sponsor negative comments here and there.

    You likely love that. ;-)

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  9. I just tried to vote on your poll, but it would not take my vote.
    I wanted to vote YES.
    R

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  10. R.,
    Please try and vote again. Results are turning decidedly against me. Perhaps people have tired of my tractor saga and are turning against me.
    PJM

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  11. I know very little about windmills, but the blades on this one look unusual to me. Does anyone know anything about this windmill?

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  12. They splurged on the windows for real!

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  13. Oh I bet you pissed of those in the coal and oil industry; but they just didn't want to give you the satisfaction.

    By the way, that tractor will help you live a longer happier life. You won't be beating yourself up doing what could easily be done with the help of a tractor. AND you would have more time to do other tasks.

    Godk luck

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  14. How about trying a solar tractor?

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  15. Judi, yes, the name on the windmill is hard to read. Might I suggest the "Field Guide to American Windmills," by T. Lindsay Baker.

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  16. I think they are standing far apart to open up the view. The "farm family" photo includes equipment and livestock. I don't think there is any special meaning - just a more panoramic view.
    Just because someone didn't have the luxury of a modern bath or shower doesn't mean they did not wash regularly. Maybe a bath was a luxury, but they washed with a bucket or sink.

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  17. A very nice site to visit again and again. It is unique. Old is gold.

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  18. How does anyone mention Nebraska and not mention Willa Cather? :)

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  19. As was already said, if you want to know this life, read Willa Cather.
    She lived it and wrote about her actual neighbors.

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