Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Solar Sharing Now (2020) and Then (2014)

Overview of major changes in Japan's FIT system and solar sharing over the past six years.

It seems that many readers of this blog are interested in solar sharing rather in goats and chickens. I certainly get more inquiries about solar sharing. (Actually since we stopped selling eggs, I've got, unsurprisingly, exactly zero inquiries about chickens, while I got dozens about solar sharing.) 

Our farm, which started generating solar power in 2014 and pasture-raising chickens in 2015,  was one of the earlier solar sharing farms. The situation surrounding solar sharing have changed a lot since then. Now, in 2020, things couldn't be more different. The many developments in Japan and around the world in the past 6 years are quite exciting.

I summed up the major changes below. They are presented as a comparison between then (2014) and now (2020) .

Five major changes:

1. Solar sharing is finally in the global spotlight.

2. Number of solar sharing farms in Japan surged.

3. Feed-in-tariff (FIT) plummeted.

4. Many new rules and restrictions were added to the FIT system. 

5. Solar sharing is now part of Japan's official policy.

Below is each point in more detail.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Happy Birthday Dear Chickens!

Our chickens celebrated their 5th birthday last week!

Justin the Rooster turned five.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

The most amazing toilet paper in Japan

Where to buy your toilet paper when supermarket is empty. 


I have always wanted to talk about our toilet paper because it's fabulous, but goats and chickens don't wipe their bottoms so the topic never seemed relevant enough for this blog. (Nobuo and I use this toilet paper at home.) But now with the coronavirus panic, it seems toilet paper can save lives. Or bottoms. So I decided to share my extensive know-how here.

We haven't bought a single roll of toilet paper in the past few months, but the shelf in our bathroom still looks like this (picture taken today) :

toilet paper from Kyodogakusha 共働学舎のトイレットペーパー

Where does it come from?

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Interview for Thai TV

"What have you gained from this project in the 5 years since you started it?"
The director asked Nobuo and me through interpreter. 

The interview

The original question was in Thai, translated via interpreter to Japanese, and here I'm trying to articulate the memory of it in intelligible English. It was the kind of question that makes one pause and think. It was a good question. 

Sunday, January 5, 2020

May there be many mice in your straw in 2020!

Happy Belated New Year from Chickens and Goats!

Solar sharing, chicken, free range, Tsukuba, ソーラーシェアリング、ニワトリ、放し飼い つくば
Mabuko, representing all Chickens

Tobi-chan, representing all Goats

However, if chickens and goats knew that 2020 is the Year of Rat in Chinese Zodiac, I'm pretty sure their wish would be much more specific, something like:

May there be more mice in your straw bags this year!

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A Miracle Egg

Awww, what a miracle! One of our long-retired hens laid an egg this morning! 

Here it is.

Free range chicken farm, egg, Tsukuba, solar sharing, power plant Oo, Chickens Playground, おお発電所、とりの遊び場、ニワトリ 放し飼い
When I went to the farm this morning, this is what I found.

There are two eggs in the nest, but only one is real. 

Free range chicken farm, egg, Tsukuba, solar sharing, power plant Oo, Chickens Playground, おお発電所、とりの遊び場、ニワトリ 放し飼い
We always put a fake egg in the nest box
so chickens have no doubt where to go
when they're in egg-laying mood.

Today morning, there was a real, beautiful, still warm egg in the nest box, right next to the plastic one which is there all the time. 

And why is this a miracle? 

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Can tofu be too tasty? (Yes, it can.)

This is almost an existential question.

Can tofu be too tasty? 

The answer is:

Yes, it can.

To some people, at least.

Here's how we came to this conclusion.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Photo report: Chickens and everyone in Autumn 2019


It's been two years since we stopped selling eggs and our chickens officially retired. The farm is now living a quiet life while Nobuo and I are trying to figure out how to revive the chicken business. 

Solar sharing chickens eating breakfast on an autumn day. Tsukuba, Japan.
Breakfast time! 
October 2019

Meanwhile, here's what the farm looks like now.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

How to make weeding a popular blog post


I have a problem.

I wrote an interesting blog post the other day, but no one reads it.

Even though the content is dazzlingly captivating, almost no one clicks on the link.
It's about weeding.
Here it is:

The Perfect Weed Is ...

I think it's a super exciting topic. 

I posted it on FB too.
In one week it got 6 likes. The first one was from my husband Nobuo, who gave it a like after I was lonefully complaining "Why is no one liking my post?" (He has not read it.)
The remaining five likes too were all from compassionate friends.

And so I noticed that, since it doesn't even get clicked on, there must be a problem with the title.

It's not only about this latest article. Topics like what kind of weeds we have on the farm; that sparrows come to the chicken coop and drive us crazy; that goats don't work (don't eat grass) as much as we want them; that spiders build huge webs all over the farm overnight - these are obviously the most exciting topics  in the world and something must be wrong if they don't get read!

So I decided to do some research about article titles that inspire.

Here are some of my research findings applied.

Title 1

Ranking: The handsomest face in the world.

(Original was in Japanese.)
The Handsomest Goat in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan

Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Perfect Weed Is ...

While everyone else spends their summer weekends on the beach, in the mountains or at summer festivals, we do mostly weeding. 

Goat weeding on solar sharing farm in Tsukuba, Japan
Worktime (front: Tobi-chan, back: Nobuo)

Solar sharing, goat, Tsukuba, Japan
Breaktime (left: Tobi-chan asking Nobuo 
for a cold drink; right: Haru-chan and Momo-chan)

It's the fifth summer since we built the farm/power plant, and every single year the vegetation has been a pure, unchallenged life force swallowing everything and everyone who doesn't fight back. Without intervention, in a matter of few weeks the place becomes a jungle. 

Goat weeding on a solar sharing farm in Tsukuba
Jungle in the making

Of the 1150 square meters of land, 1000 square meters are the goats' and chickens' run. We expected animals to take care of the greenery in their run, leaving only reasonable 150 square meters outside the run for human management. 

Alas, men plan, goats and chickens laugh.  

Now there are too few chickens to scratch the ground sufficiently to disrupt the plant growth, and goats get so many delicious treats from outside that they don't bother to eat what grows inside. This means that the entire 1150 square meters need human intervention to avoid junglification.

And we only have weekends for this.

Goats fighting on a solar sharing farm, Tsukuba, Japan
Instead of weeding, Haru-chan and
Momo-chan are fighting again. 

So we need a strategy.

Our current strategy consists of two approaches: