Friday Shorts

RECYCLED: I’m thinking lately about water–that until yesterday’s and last night’s deluge, we were sorely without for quite a while. But it’s beyond today, larger than Goose Creek’s flow I’m thinking about. The water goldrush is over; the vein is played out. So we’ll need to be rethinking how we get water, what we do with it while we have it, and how best to return it to be replenished for someone else to use. So: two items from–a solar water bottle; and the Daily Dump.

RECYCLED-2: I keep saying we need to move closer to the process of photosynthesis for our future “alternate fuels” energy–something that uses less fertile soil and far less less water than sugar cane, corn or even grasses. When I read about the merits of using algae as a source of combustible oils a few years ago, that seemed so on target. Others think so, too, and are developing “Simgae“. Here’s a place to put to use all that CO2 from coal-fired electrical plants. “Algae has been shown to produce 30X more oil and require 1/100th the water to grow per surface area compared to other terrestrial crops.” And hey, this could be done on spoiled land good for nothing else–like the flat-topped “reclamation fields” up in the coal mining country.

FLIPPED: Be prepared to flip and flash on September 2, declared as International Rock Flipping Day. Read Dave Bonta’s explanation of the event, and send you flippin’ blog posts to him (bontasaurus (at) yahoo (dot) com, with “Rock Flipping” in the subject line) and we’ll see what happens when we venture where the sun don’t shine.

MOVING MTS: “The coal industry uses one million metric tons of explosives a year to blow up the mountains in this region. This explosive force, equal to 58 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs, has wiped out more than one million acres of forests, 1,000 miles of streams and 475 actual mountains.” Marketplace/NPR

“According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a scientific advocacy group, annual emissions from a typical coal plant include 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, the major cause of acid rain; 10,200 tons of nitrogen oxide, a major contributor to smog; 500 tons of small particles, which cause lung damage and other respiratory problems; 225 pounds of arsenic; 114 pounds of lead; and many other toxic heavy metals, including 170 pounds of mercury, which can cause birth defects, brain damage and other ailments.” WaPo

OLDIES for the OLDIES: “Take a trip and never leave the farm” sings Jim Stafford about that Wildwood Weed.  Man, I haven’t heard that one in a while. Since we get only one AM and one FM station on our kitchen radio, I listen frequently online, and Oldies 104 is a favorite. Speaking of which, net radio is (surprise!) in jeopardy of being screwed out of existence. Save Net Radio.  Write Your Senator.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. On water supply. We have an interesting setup for our home and horse farm. We have one well for both. The well water supply T’s, with one line heading to the barns and the other to our basement. In our basement, water is pumped into a 300 gallon sealed spherical cistern. The cistern has a float valve. When water is required in the house, the cistern (with its own pump) pumps water into our expansion tank and supplies the house with regulated water pressure. For us the chief benefits of this setup are a) we only require one well for farm and house because b) when water is being heavily utilized in the barns water pressure in the house is not affected in the slightest.

    In your case, were you to have, say, a 100 gallon water cistern in your home fed by what I assume is a spring, then overnight your cistern would replenish itself and your expansion tank would help provide even pressure for showers and such. The reserve in the cistern would be constantly replenished when water isn’t in use, so you’d be able to live with a very low volume water supply of even 1 gallon per minute.

    I don’t know how deep our well is but it must really be in the money spot and set pretty dang deep, because even during this dry summer we have gotten at least 15gpm at the barns. Our new neighbors property, now under construction, is only getting 4gpm from his well, and his is 400′ deep! But he’s decided to take the well drillers up on their offer of 50% the second well. His theory is that he might be able to use the first 4gpm well for some sort of a geothermal system.