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12/21/10

"Great Ideas" In Freezing Weather On Vacation With An Off Grid Zero Energy Prefab House Kit

Zero Energy Prefab House Kit, Under Construction.
Again.

We had, what they call in science and higher learning, "A GREAT IDEA."
And then somehow, our local quarry, Luck Stone, upon hearing our Great Idea, gave us ROCKS!!!
Luck Stone. The place that gave us rocks. : )

My dad with... rocks.
(He: "Don't tell them I shoot with Mr. Luck, ok?
Take the rocks and run.")
My request was simple:
"Hi! My name is Copeland, and I was wondering if I could buy some rocks.  See, we have an off grid prefab house, but it's still under construction, so we have no solar or radiant hooked up yet, and we camp in it in like, ten degrees, but I found an antique cook stove, it's kinda working, yet since there's also all these holes in the house now, the prefab house is not holding the heat as well as it used to, and I was thinking if I could buy some rocks from y'all, I could fill up the oven with rocks, and then it would radiate heat even longer after the fire is put out!"
I paused, brightly.

There was a longer pause.

"Ma'am, you may have a few rocks for your cook stove... for free."
"Oh no, I'm willing to pay for them!!!"
With a strange look, they insisted.
I think they either felt *really sorry* for me, or just wanted to get me as far away as possible, as quickly as they could :
Give the Crazy Lady some rocks, maybe she'll go away...

Rocks. For a cook stove. *Thank you* Luck Stone...

Day One Of Vacation: Saturday.
I awoke at 6:30, wrote an article on the right to sustainable business, then we somehow convinced ourselves that rushing to the off grid prefab house kit in frigid temperatures, still with no electricity or radiant heat installed, on a soppy snow sodden home site where you KNOW within seconds the children & dogs would be immersed in icy wet water and mud (happily?)... was another great idea.

Arrived, the children and dogs became dangerously soaked-to-the-bone-in-ice within seconds.
Jason Dorris sealed up the cook stove more (with some help from Pipsqueak #1)... and the cook stove was quickly fired up... with the sun setting soon.

The indoor air temperature rose.



Pipsqueak #2 helped put together bunk beds...

Architects and Engineers take note: Pipsqueak #1 did some serious automation of the bunk-building process. He inserted nails into the slat holes on either end, flipped the slat over, then slapped the nail heads on the floor hard to drive the nails through, before quickly handing them up to be inserted into the frame. We were impressed.


Night fell...
And the temperature? Once it warmed up, we were fine.

And Oh: I love my rocks. Thank you, Luck Stone...
(I put the rocks on a baking sheet so not to scratch the enamel of the oven.
I'll be careful... And yes, now the rack is a bit tipsy but that makes it interesting, no?)

When we awoke, it was...
On To The Greenbrier!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In the morning, we bathed with water heated in a dutch oven on top of  the cook stove, then placed the steaming pot in the livestock trough so we could bend down to wash our hair (it was too cold to contemplate even a water-heated solar shower within the livestock trough - in the morning, indoors, it was about 60 degrees before we got the cook stove going, and I was ON VACATION and not in the mood for SURVIVAL SHOWERING that day, dag it).

We then drove from the po' house... to The Big House : The Greenbrier.

The drive was mighty purty...


We meandered up 29, then onto 60, for a beautiful rural drive through Amherst, Buena Vista, Lexington... over the mountains and through the woods / to The Greenbrier cottage we go...

Here's our cottage:


(I know... I knowDon't you remember when we saw it for the first time last year?!?
***CLICK*** on that "we are entering the cottage" video, it is *amazing*!!! Also click on the We Are Going To Die video. Let's hope we don't die tomorrow, please cross your fingers as we pass the mountains again in snow. Drat. I just jinxed us, didn't I.)

And while at The Greenbrier... It snowed!!!!


We had tea, we meandered, we hiked, we sat by the fire, we ice skated, we went sledding...
IT WAS HOT in the cottage. I... had... hot showers.
I appreciate that...

Speaking of ice skating, there was something extremely, secretly rewarding about lounging on a wooden bench, by the fire, as my offspring teetered and skedaddled unsteadily around the rink...
Every few seconds they'd go
*WHAP*
onto the hard, unforgiving ice,
and I'd think, from my warm perch,
"Yeah. THAT was for not listening to me when I wanted to go hiking this morning..."
*WHAP!*
"And *THAT's* for whining and whining when I wanted to take pictures of trees..."
*WHAP!*

...Ahem.

I broke open the rillettes I made a few weeks ago for hors d'oeuvre... delicious.
*And* the bright, lavender infused tomato soup I canned earlier in August... and the Mexican chili, and the hummus, and the eggplant carpaccio...
We were not wanting for food.

And then, in a flash, it was over.


We will be back...

With a snowy forecast, we traverse the mountains again, down to Appomattox.

We had planned to stop in the small towns as we drive through - there is a Railway Museum in Clifton Forge, the VMI museum, Lee Chapel, Stonewall Jackson house and more in Lexington, walking around Buena Vista... and Amherst was *absolutely beautiful*... but we will need to save these leisurely moments for summer : SNOW APPROACHES.
(When we return I also want to spend time in Lewisburg, WV. I had many recommendations from people saying it is a wonderful, historic place to visit, and apparently has a great Irish pub.)

Pat Root was supposed to have been continuing electric on the off grid prefab house this week, and we are still trying to track down the plumber so we can *finally* close up these walls, re-insulate holes, flip the switch, and have radiant heat and electricity... LIKE "THAT."
Although I appreciate and relish "like that," it has not been so easy, and our children have grown up knowing so.
Zero Energy Prefab Hous Kit - Under Construction...
This may be one of the last times you see the zero energy house kit truly off grid / no automatic power at all... so take a good look this winter...
Or, maybe... realistically?
We. Shall. See.

In the meantime, I will leave you with some Nice Boys With Whom I Grew Up,
Aw, Look: They're Singing Christmas Carols.
Isn't that sweet?!? Y'all enjoy, y'hear?



I'll catch y'all on the other side of the mountain.

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