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3/21/11

A Parthenon Moon Rises Over The Zero Energy Prefab Home And... We Make Some Cheese.

The parthenon moon rises over our off grid zero energy prefab home...


Goooooooood mornin'!



YES we were supposed to order the rainwater collection and filtration piece for our final off grid systems purchase last week. I even have the blog post all ready with the product information to be published, telling you all about the systems. If you want to nag Handsome Husband to take the time out of his Corporate Deadlines during a frenetic work week, feel free. Honestly? Our Mondays-Through-Fridays blur as we race through days to get back here. Which is why everything takes so long on our off grid prefab house kit project. The prefab house kit? Up in a week. Everything else? Not... so... fast.


Regardless : You could not have asked for a prettier almost-spring day in Virginia...
 

The peach tree survived!


For ourselves, it has been a hard, hard winter. When the redbuds began to burst out a few days earlier, I felt the old "me" returning... finally.

So. After a long, rigorous workweek, we pull onto the road that leads to the land, and darned if a RAM is running wild with some guys in chase.
We slow, and pass carefully...

When we pass back by on the way to Mrs. Esh's, I see they've caught him, and that he is now happily munching hay in the sun while sporting a jaunty burgundy fedora on his head. I kid you not.
Oh my gosh I LOVE IT HERE...

We headed over to the Esh's, where, while I was gathering bread and whatnot, the 6yr. old found a humongous four leaf clover along the drive! Mrs. Esh and I were both impressed! What a gorgeous day.


A natty mid-century house with *plenty* o'
room for chickunz...


A week later, Mrs. Esh was still chuckling over our Removed Richmond Hens and actually feeling rather sorry for us. (Oh I am so happy my chickunz tragedy gave you a chuckle, Lydia. ; ) ) Honestly, it does make me feel better. She knows I enjoy gardening and that our house is not a junk heap and when she brought it up today we were making window frames with our hands, comparing her neat, attractive front yard dimensions with my imaginary-via-hands Richmond back yard dimensions and how we both like flowers and ornamental shrubs and vegetables of course and then inserting six laying hens into the picture and going, "Wow."

This yard sez, "Gimme chickunz."
And then she laughed all over again. "Copeland, I don't think you're cut out for there..."

(P.s. Oh my gosh remember those "Spring Arrives At The Mid-Century" pictures earlier this week? THAT is the yard my Richmond neighbors detest and are complaining about my violets in, ha!)

After the Esh's, we went off and got some raw milk to make cheese but of course we can't talk about that.

What was fun was that their children don't speak English yet but an old, different version of German, and our children were trying to talk to them and all of a sudden they were trying to communicate in their current German vs. their Old German... and it kind of worked, to the bemusement of we moms!

Then I seeded the eight acre field. And YES it was too windy than it should have been at times. And YES there is not a cloud in the sky. And YES I have no aerator even. But I can at least TRY to improve this dagged field. Someone start humming the theme to Rocky.

By the way- it occurred to me I always look so "dressed" in pictures when doing chores so I'll let you in on a lil' secret- those are $1 reused dresses I buy from Goodwill because they're so darned comfortable! [And the tall boots are for copperheads, of course, yet oh so stylish!] And then I find myself wearing the same clothes to work! It's like pajamas, except I'm wearing them at work and NO ONE KNOWS! So JUST DON'T TELL ANYONE! Let 'em think I'm all fancy-like!

Broadcast seeding an eight acre field.

Next, after we order the rainwater collection and filtration, we finally, FINALLY finish the rest of the interior walls!  So this green marked up SIP will be forever hidden, and I think I might actually miss it! I don't want to get TOO hi-falutin', you know! : )


And then it was evening. We collapsed into our chairs and spent hours gazing at the Parthenon Moon... and no, pictures do NOT do it justice.



And morning returns, again.

A duct taped child.
I'm kind of enjoying the quiet...

After duct taping each other to mid-century chairs, with ducting tape and packaging bubbles retrieved from the hot water tank area, my childrenz are now outside playing a rousing game of "I'm A Raccoon With Rabies" and I am sipping coffee. 

The temperatures dropped quite a bit last night, it is now feeling more seasonally March.

Later, we heated some soup, maybe you would like some?

Copeland's Recipe For Darned Good Blackeye Pea, Kale and Tomato Soup Which Is Actually Quite Perfect For Early Springtime And NOT Tasting Like A Tired Overcooked Winter Leftover!
Goodness. While the hellebores hangs on, the saucer magnolias, jonquils,  quince, cherry, peach, plum, Bradford pears, and that trollop forsythia burst out exuberantly, daring March to snow. But not this weekend, it was 80 degrees!


I know we're all tired of winter greens at this point but IF you were to add...

  • Heat last night's slow cooked rib fat still saved carefully in the pan because you knew you were going to do this
  • once that delicious fat is heated, add a bag of washed black eyed peas and sautee 'em around a bit
  • add water so it can now boil (about 2") and to that add sliced and shredded kale (so it is bite-sized)
  • then, after that gets all hot and bothered, throw in lots o' canned tomatoes (HAND CRUSHED)
  • simmer, gosh, about an hour? So the beans are soft but not too mushy and the tomato still tastes bright and fresh
  • I didn't even add salt or anything, it didn't need it!
This soup should be heavy on the tomato and kale, with the beans rounding it out but not overwhelmingly.  Heated in the wood stove oven, served with grilled cheese sandwiches, it was heavenly.

Bits of grilled cheese can be tossed into the bowl if yo' momma isn't looking...


When we return to Richmond, I always think of the book "Goodnight Moon." 
We slowly, sadly pull away from our drive, and start saying our goodbyes as we pass the places and people we love, saying goodbye out loud in the car, and weave our way hesitantly back.
"Byyyyyyye land!
Goodbyyyyyyye Aults! See ya, Moussali's! 'Bye, ghost town! Goodbye, library-that-was-a-train-depot!
Byyyyyye Pamplin-City-Population-199-What's-Wrong-With-Them-They-Can't-Get-One-Moooooore!"
Sigh... and then all the smiles and laughter fade...



Arrived, we made cheese. I always hold my breath when I do stuff like this because it means I have to FOLLOW DIRECTIONS. And making cheese even involves thermometers. Yipes.
I can understand the terms scalding, simmer, boil rigorously. But tell me to heat something to140 degrees and I'll look at you blankly.

The key for me is to NOT BURN THE MILK. If you do burn the milk, you will not only ruin the batch but get a tenacious layer of UGH on the bottom of your pan, which requires soaking and scrubbing so that is almost not worth it.

Not that I ever would do that.
I mean, really, seriously, what could go wrong?
(I'm SO glad I don't know anyone that would ever cook like this...)

It's not like you can just run out to Kroger for more raw milk... Not that I would ever have extra on hand...

All the cheese recipes are "Heat to 140. Cool. Bring to 90. Heat water to 180." I mean, can't you just say very exact, precise things like, "Gently warm, and slowly heat, stirring, kinda, until it would almost form a skin to pasteurize then reduce heat so it is just steaming, barely."
THAT I can understand.
And then there's that pouring the curds part- I don't know about you but I get stuff splashing all over the place, I mean, it's a big pot! Curds in my eyebrows, curds in my sweater... That's usually about the time I wipe my hands absentmindedly on the cheesecloth-now-used-as-a-dishtowel, look down and go, "Oh yeah..."
I could have molded this ball more attractively but, um, oh well.

Last thoughts on the land: Today we discovered daffodils.
As you know, daffodils are not native to Virginia... this land was an abandoned farm, and all that remains is a chimney about 30 yards away from the daffodils, which are above the breached pond.  Curiouser and curiouser...


Daffodils

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