Clawing Our Way Back

By , October 24, 2014

This week I’m continuing the process of catching up with homestead tasks after visiting family Outside. I’m cruising back into some jobs; others, I’m having to claw my way back.

We should have equalized our battery bank sometime around October 16. We do this every 60 days, overcharging the batteries for a couple of hours, then checking the fluid levels in the batteries. I take responsibility for this job in our home. My absence highlighted the need to decompartmentalize essential tasks.

We often think of our family as a team, working together as a unit (see “Everyone’s Okay.”). Each of us specializes on specific tasks, but we try to ensure overlap in skill sets, so that if one member can’t perform, another can step in.

I think a lot about this, because of my childhood experiences. Dad has always been a tinkerer. A modern Renaissance man, his skill set encompasses auto mechanics, plumbing, electrical systems, and more. A natural teacher, he loved to demonstrate and lecture upon his skills. My brother and I would often be called from our play to attend to him as he repointed the spark plugs on the car, or repaired the house furnace. These episodes should have been edifying, but, I confess, I found them tedious. I learned a little bit, but ultimately, the sessions turned me off to these tasks. I’ve learned many of these same tasks as necessary as an adult, aided somewhat by an early familiarity, but mostly, I’ve needed to teach myself these skills.

For this reason, I try not to call family members over to “see what I’m doing.” Instead, I tend to the needs of the “homestead” quietly. If a family member is nearby, I might ask them if they’re interested in seeing the process, but I’m respectful of their decision. I also try to keep up with Michelle’s work around the home, particularly the garden.

Since Aly went away to college, I try to summarize a new process for her via email or letter. I’m concerned that should something happen to Michelle and me, she might return to the land and have to start from scratch. I want her to be able to draw on the knowledge base we’ve developed here, and not have to . . . well, claw her way back to full functionality.

Before leaving on my trip, I reviewed my planner, and saw that we should equalize while I was gone. Michelle and I talked about it, and I tried to walk her through a few aspects of the process. I wanted her to at least be able to cancel the flashing notification on our controller that starts on the 60th day.

While I was away, she had some issues with the electricity. When I returned, I found that the equalization would be necessary to bring our electrical capacity back to normal.

Unfortunately, equalization needs cooperation from the weather. I need a good charging wind during the day, when I can monitor the equalization and dissipate the sulfur fumes the batteries emit in the process. Lately, we’ve had about a half day of wind at a time, not enough to finish the job.

And so, I wait. The weather forecast predicts a good charging wind Sunday or Monday.

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