The Weather Station
Not long after we bought Straight Creek Valley Farm, we purchased a weather station.  I have
always loved monitoring the weather, and can happily watch the cable weather channel for
hours, but our purchase of the weather station had a more practical basis. We wanted to
monitor the sun and wind over the course of a year before Greg designed our solar and wind
power systems.

As always, Greg did some internet research, and we settled on a Vantage Pro weather station
manufactured by Davis Instruments at  We obviously needed a station that
could run off of its own power supply.  It includes a battery operated indoor console that allows
us to read exactly what the outside station monitors.  The console allows us to track
temperature,  wind speed and direction, rainfall and rate, barometric pressure as well as solar
radiation.  It also monitors inside  temperature so that we can see both how well the wood
stove is heating the cabin in the winter, or how cool the cabin has stayed in the summer, when
compared to outside temperatures.  We also thought it important that the console records and
graphs the various data functions for up to a year.

We mounted the station on top of a galvanized pole in the middle of our upper field, close to
the eventual windmill  site.  It could have been placed anywhere within four hundred, line of
sight, feet of the remote sensor, indoor console.  The station itself runs on its own solar
generated power, but it has a back up rechargeable battery to keep it transmitting overnight or
on cloudy days.  We mounted the station  at a height of about eight feet off the ground,
knowing that the anemometer’s eight foot elevation would not accurately track wind speed and
direction at the ultimate forty four foot elevation of our wind generator, but we wanted easy
access to the station, and knew that, even at eight feet, it would still give us a basic idea of the
valley’s wind conditions.  It taught us an important lesson, not to invest too heavily in wind

After tracking the weather station for a year, we learned that we really would have more than
enough sunlight to generate electricity, but that there would definitely be times when the sun
would not shine for as long as a week.  We reasoned that the wind generator would back up
the solar panels, but we also learned the wind was fickle and would blow sporadically.   The
wind would not be a good primary source of power.   Over the summer the breezes would
barely get up to five knots, but during the fall, winter and spring there would  be times when
the wind gusted up to fifteen and twenty knots.  We also learned that the wind typically blew
from the south, up the creek valley form the Ohio River, three miles away.

Thus the weather station taught us from the outset, that solar would be our primary source of
power, and that the wind would give us only an occasional, and unreliable, back up.  Even so,
armed with our weather station information, we still decided to  put up a wind generator.  We
believed that having a windmill at Straight Creek Valley Farm would provide us with an
opportunity for us to learn about, and experiment with, wind technology.  But I must make a
true confession.   As you can see on the windmill page, the windmill also gave us an excuse to
build a windmill tower, and perhaps building the tower was the  main reason we decided to
have back up wind energy.  We are very proud of that tower, but we are also proud to look up
from the fields and see the windmill spinning, even if it only is on rare occasion.
As you can see in the photo above, I planted some lavender around
the base of the weather station. The lavender seemed to thrive in the
full sun.  I also hung two Martin bird houses from the weather station
pole.  I purchased  the gourd shaped houses from
Keim Family
Market, an Amish Store in neighboring Adams County.  You can see
my yearling grape vines, down hill, and my apple trees, up hill, in the
background, just beyond the weather station.  This photo is a few
years old and the grapes and trees are substantially larger now!
Straight Creek Valley Farm