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Packing For Another Prefab Home Visit, Now With Solar!

The shock that our prefab home is now powered with solar energy is still sinking in.

We now have solar working in the passive solar,
net zero off grid prefab home!
Heck. We've been off grid, net zero, ZERO energy relying on solely the passive solar and energy-efficiency of the SIP prefab home for a looooooooooooooong time. But now: SOLAR. It's here, it's working, it's a permanent change to our home environment.

Suddenly, we can just... turn on a light.  Hook up a computer.  It's... so... easy.

For the first time in years, I am not charging lanterns, tractor batteries, night lights and such in preparation for a trip to the land (then later, the zero energy prefab home). Oh, no, instead, I'll just pick up my laptop, head out, walk into the prefab home, and PLUG THE COMPUTER into the solar energy system working and installed in the passive solar prefab house kit.
This is... so... strange.
No more... telecommuting off a tractor battery.
We can... flip on a light switch.

And it's a weirdly sad feeling, but a good feeling, because, as a friend on Facebook mentioned,

(Technically, Jackie, we still have batteries. It's just now a BATTERY BANK.)

It's true. We've been focused on Survival On The Land for so long I didn't realize how much it wore me out.
First, actually: We had a picnic blanket. And sticks.
Then, the camper: No insulation, when dusk arrives I would frantically make sure
EVERYTHING was in place, beds ready...
there was NO ONE that knew we were there, on that land, then, if something happened...

Ok, here, at least I can offer you a folding chair. In a field.
No tractor yet : Copperheads included.
This was actually where the home site ended up being!
WOW! I remember when THIS made me feel like we had real shelter!

First, we camped on the land in a 1960s Scotty camper. No heat, no toilet, no insulation, no local friends we could call if there was an emergency, no ANYTHING... I wrote a dire and critical checklist on the "camping box," a container in which we packed everything each weekend, and critically reviewed it in preparation for each trip because to forget *anything* meant you were *screwed.*

Yet... boy did we manage to have a great time.
Our friends even came out to visit for the day, driving over an hour to spend time with us doing... NADA! With NOTHING!  
I remember how happy I was when we finally dragged out a picnic table, so friends would have somewhere to sit.

There we were, in a field, with a picnic table. And not a durned other thing else to offer our guests. BUT WE HAD A TABLE.
And we were happy.

Although our overnight visits were limited to the seasons, we really did camp March through December...!
With really young children!!!!

Then the prefab house kit was built. In a week.  And oh, what Kings we were.
Surely it would be finished in another two? Or three? Weeks? Months?

Having the prefab house kit structure up allowed us more shelter, and with that, the ability to clean up a bit, stay longer, and venture off the property a little more and so... we made friends, locally. GREAT friends. Still makin' friends. Lifelong friends, like our good friends elsewhere. People here are *great.*

The construction hiatus was our fault. Or not fault, but the decision to adhere to NOT put our money where our mouths were (which hungered for an insta-Mod Prefab Coolio House, immediately) but instead to rest steadfast where our brains and heart lay - to live up to what we espouse: a frugal approach to responsibly save for each step, to not put ourselves financially at risk, to lay a strong foundation that will pay off in the end for our family.

So now the prefab home has solar power. Off grid net zero just got a whole lot easier, and we can progress with a many more steps through the spring.

So last weekend, as the snow melted and the fields turned to mud, I took a little time off from sweeping the concrete slab (actually, I gave up. It was a Mud Avalanche of chillunz and dogs bounding in from outside to cake the floor with clay) to consider what I've squirreled away in the prefab house kit that might have been critical to survival but now belongs back in that '60s Scotty camper to be reused for its original purpose: CAMPING.

I retrieved the sleeping bags that are supposed to keep you alive at -30 degrees.
(They're from the 1980s, that I stole from my parents. Hey Mom and Dad: After being used so long in the prefab they now no longer smell like "basement!")
I put aside (*sob*) the battery charged lantern of which I had carefully guarded its wattage each weekend to ensure we had light for an emergency (and mental battery power notes of hours, divided by number of days we intended to be on the land, divided and frantically considered by whether we were stopping by a friend's farm where we might gently ask if we might possibly recharge, or not...)...

And finally, we put the tractor battery... back in the tractor.
To no longer use to telecommute with when powering the laptop.

But you know... just because we have power doesn't mean we have to waste it.
We've already eliminated a lot of daily electric needs.  And having a few more solutions that are throwbacks to non-electric ages certainly can't hurt.

I've mentioned I had added some rocks to the wood cook stove oven. The idea is that when we put the fire out at night, we can open the oven door and let those rocks radiate heat a little longer. ...Why not?

Pat Root mentioned his dad used to have a "bed warmer box." "Exactly!" That was my original intent - to take some stones from the cook stove at night, wrap them in thick woolen covers, to put at the end of each bed for a little extra warmth.  But the box approach makes great sense - the wood prevents the heat from burning the occupant, the metal allows it to radiate.
Antique bed warmer.
I bet we could get a small wooden box from a wine store and...

And then I realize: Wait a second! The prefab home is holding heat again, now that the penetrations are re-sealed! The wood cook stove gets the prefab home easily up in the 70s, quickly!

It might make a good project, but would only make sense for those of y'all who have a wood cook stove actively already in use. And how many of y'all might that be?

And I think, "Wow."
I didn't realize how exhausted and frantic I was about survival.
Maybe now I can relax a little.

...We all know better than that.

You could take a prefab house kit anywhere, in an urban lot, infill, a rural setting, wherever, and with the right conditions, fiscal and lifestyle choices, along with your changes in electrical use and outlook, for about the price of a traditional house of the same size (again, it all depends on your choices), be totally off the grid, autonomous, debt free...

It all depends on your choices.

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At 1/7/11, 9:28 AM , Blogger George said...

This will be a very positive improvement in the lives of both you and the tractor!
I was getting very worried about the poor battery-less tractor!
I know how it feels to be without energy!


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