Thursday, June 24, 2010

Downies Feeding and Cheap Solar

Downy Woodpeckers
I've been seeing lots of birds feeding their young at the birdfeeder--cardinals, downies, and red-bellied woodpeckers. This photo is of a downy father who had cracked the sunflower seed in the hole of the tree and then fed the baby. Later I saw the pair on the suet cake, the baby not feeding but waiting for the dad to give him his meal.

Solar Projects and the Gulf

With the disastrous oil gusher in the Gulf, I have been thinking a lot about the poor state of the environment. The Gulf will take decades to return but never to its former pristine state. With over 4000 oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and companies suing the government to stop the deep water drilling moratorium (which only affects 35 drilling rigs!!), I feel helpless.

However, I was browsing some blogs (mainly Green Gal--see blog roll on right) and looking at several of her listed blogs. They made me feel a little better--lots of young people are trying to lead a green life, building their own homes, gardening, cycling, and recycling. Further, there are a lot of elder folks who have lived that way since the 70s. I was privledged to meet at few at the Naturalist Rally at Mt. Rogers (see post).

This solar water heating system was made by a retired man and was demonstrated at the Mt. Rogers Naturalist Rally last month. The two photovoltaic panels power the pump. The water flows through the PVC tubing against the black background, heating it quickly and then flows into the green water tank.

The elderly man said that this basic system is made of materials available at the hardware store. These solar systems were common in the 1930s before electricity was cheap and heavily promoted by industry and the government.

His wife demonstrated this solar oven, made of cardboard and aluminum foil. She and her husband travel to Africa to promote using solar ovens as a way to decrease deforestation.

I bought a sun oven a few years ago and have used it sporadically but did use it when I came home from the rally--it will bake brownies and make a good melted cheese sandwich but it's too small for much else. The highest temperature I recorded was 350 degrees.

Spurred by the oil spill, I also bought a battery-powered electric mower (Neutron). I figured I had to do something to use less oil. I ended up liking it much better than the gasoline mower--lighter and quieter. Also, there is no chance of spilling gasoline or oil which can leak into the ground.


  1. post! Loved the green tips, and the photo of papa and baby downy is adorable. Last year I watched a papa feeding his babies. He worked really hard!

  2. You might enjoy this blog:

    Am not sure I did that right. If you can't get there, go to my blog and look for Solar Cooking.

    Great downies!