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5/23/11

Well The Rapture Might Not Have Happened, But There Was Plenty Going On At The Zero Energy Off Grid Prefab House Kit!

I  think The Rapture happened!
We're there! Who knew? Paradise is called... Virginia.






Today the sun shone brightly, so apparently *everyone else* left in the world happily made hay, clouds danced across blue skies, we visited, and lovely gentle breezes, filled with sniffs of clover, honeysuckle, and the deep damp quiet smell of tall pines cooled and refreshed us all despite the heat and sun in the fields.


There has been much progress on the off grid zero energy prefab house kit while I've been gone.
While I was whoopin' it up in New York surveying what's happening in the modern furniture world at ICFF, they buried the rainwater cistern, Max has finished connecting the radiant heat loop, pipes lead towards the future natural pool, drain tile is in the ground, sewage pipes have been run.




Prefab House Kit : Off Grid Zero Energy Construction Update

Speaking of that natural pool, as I was telling Mrs. E, our Amish friend: it's our one unexpected extravagance. But we thought about it and considered: With no air conditioning... maybe I wouldn't say extravagance but an investment in good respite.


Prefab Home, Off Grid, With Passive Solar Functionality


But first: Come drive in to the land with us, taking the back roads once you pass (The Real) Farmville! We finally stopped at a stand we've eyed many times as we traveled odd hours, and... this time they were open, and ohhhhhhh myyyyyyy gosh: The Bakery!


A real bread maker, you know, the way it used to be done, the way it should be done, the way it still is done in storied cities like Paris and New Yawk, yet also right here in (The Real, did I mention there's A Real) Farmville.

Take a gander:



In front, here's Thistledown Farm! Offering fresh, local fruit, vegetables, canned goods, honey, Amish egg noodles from a neighbor, sugar snap peas, eggs, cheese... and if you whine, yer fine(d). I'll let the proprietor tell you all about it, herself:


Thistledown Farm And The Bakery, In Farmville.

How can you not love them?!? Again, it's a family venture and A., the ten year old, clearly did not mind spending the day helping his mom and doing his job. Like my children. Like our Amish friends. It's so good to work hard, and enjoy it.

Then we continued on, bouncing and swaying over swingy, sway-y back roads, past Hampden-Sydney...

We arrived at the zero energy off grid prefab house.
Excavation everywhere, pipes and cistern excitement to ooh and ahhh at, and inside, a mess.
In case you're wondering why we are no longer issuing social invitations right now, here's what we arrive to these days:



While we began to clean up, the children kept busy recycling the discarded systems equipment boxes into Kitty Houses and Hats That Can Carry Stuff And Protect You From The Sun.  In our family, we call discarded stuff TOYS.




05-21-2011- 095
They are also using the rainwater plumbing to play a rousing game of "telephone."



SO, while we're digging and excavating and grading and doing whatnot, they have disconnected the solar. 

That means I'm back to telecommuting on mah tractor battery, folks!

I may be disconnected from solar power, but I never feel disconnected from our community here.
Besides: I now have a swarm of stink bugs to keep me company thanks to breezy open doors during construction. Our stinkbugs (I claim 'em because we are resignedly fond of them at this point?) are gravitating to that big light above the dining table as I sit underneath, on my computer, and type. They swarm into the light, wipe out, then skid back out to land... on my shoulder. On my computer. In my hair.

Live stink bugs in my hair: it's like the modern take on the 1920s gecko.
I'm just ahead of the fashion curve.
Dazed from the light, they careen off and do backflips on the table. A faint citronella eroma emits in their distress.


Lessee. We have Frank and Steve and Oscar and... what. Of *course* stink bugs are all male in my mind. But they're really quite friendly; I'm just not a clique-y person and... they are. Disdainfully, now bored, I note: Stinkbugs are like a fraternity. And I have no desire to join. Buzz off, boys.
So, gently captured and carried, out they go, tossed on their rears, into the dark.

In the meantime, I am doing my favorite night thing: listening to the frogs, and the elusive yet always persistent whipowill in the woods. I'm always so glad, and grateful, each spring, when they're back.

The next morning, I conquered The Hill.



As the day progressed, the clouds gathered, then it rained.
It didn't just drizzle, it poured down rain!
Excited, we watched the cistern fill!


Handsome Husband Explains The Rainwater Cistern And Filtration



Later, with dread, we saw neighbors' hay still in the fields. : (
Here's hoping the next days are dry and super sunny and that mold stays away.


Here Pipsqueak #1 explains how the WISY rainwater vortex filtration works:


A Child Describes The WISY Rainwater Filtration
Now back from the weekend away in the off grid prefab house, the sun is out and the day, bright.
It's hilarious, as we pull in and unload, because *every* neighbor that was ever afraid they *might* ever hear a chicken cluck is out for the day power washing, pesticide-sprayin', and weed wacking. It's like they think,

"Wow it's a beautiful day so let's go get out the power tools and gas our way through!"

It's kinda funny except now we're on Hour 2...
I'm glad we were away most of the day listening to birds and cows!

[Later]
It seems the noise and waste and pesticides we witnessed upon our short return to a nice Richmond afternoon disturbed my eight year old and he decided to confront Catherine and Glenn Vanderspiegel directly. From what Handsome Husband pieced together, apparently he decided to stalk them. This is what I gathered from the eight year old, after the fact:

Little Boy: Calls Glenn Vanderspiegel over to the property line to receive his message. Which is carefully written, neatly folded in his back pack, everything construing the Importance Of His Mission, whereupon he decided to stalk then confront them.
Glenn Vanderspiegel: "What is this about?"
Little Boy: "Chickens."
Glenn and Catherine Vanderspiegel: "Chickens are illegal, you can't have them. We don't want to hear about it. When they're legal, you can have them."
(Little Boy, later, to me: "Mrs. Vanderspiegel looked really angry. I saw Mr. Vanderspiegel spraying his bushes with chemicals and on his patio and he got it on the outside dinner table. Those chemicals could get on them. But I saw Mr. Vanderspiegel in the alley and I think we could be friends.")

He never got to hand them his note, but this is what it said:




I see he noticed the Vanderspiegel's backyard fountain and water waste, ha.

I had a big post ready for a few weeks from now, but it appears my eight year old has prematurely let the cat out of the bag, unfortunately, to our pesticide-spraying, weed-whacking, weekly-lawn-service-crew-of-five-or-more-people-at-once-going-full-blast-with-gas-blowers-and-mowers-and-whackers-for-hours neighbors: Local government has 'come 'round.
The illegality of chickens nears it's silly end. At least in our neck o' the woods.

More on that later.
I was just going to get another flock without saying a word, let them discover it, stew on it for awhile, stress out, then indignantly make the call to complain that they *might* have heard a cluck if they listen really, REALLY hard to then find out... Richmond came round.

Keep your fingers crossed.

And p.s. Here's the thing. These neighbors are going to think I'm a witch and sent that child out to annoy them. We have no time for people like this but we believe in politeness.

Where was I? Here I am, on my laptop, like I have been since our return, typing. I just absentmindedly saw him go into the back yard as usual and got the report back, later, from the child.

I *am* supportive of an eight year old's dedication to take (he said it took him two hours to write that note so he spent at *least* fifteen minutes on it, ha, carefully thinking of his argument and writing it down) the time to write down his thoughts, create his agenda, then screw up the courage to approach adults he *knows* does not support him, and with no parents looking over him to protect him.

Pipsqueak #1, I applaud you, sweetie. That took guts and determination and planning.
I admire your cheery outlook, and your determination to hangdog-gedly stalk (you just might make a good hunter yet), thinking you can just educate and it will be better. I love you so much, child.

I am looking forward to passing on this story to Mrs. E, my Amish friend, because she has been particularly bemused by our urban chicken saga *and* we were just discussing yesterday Pipsqueak #1 and his proclivity for being a little too "all over the place, needs to pay attention." He paid attention all right, and is seeing that mission through.

Good luck to ya, kid.

Who knows. Maybe no one cares. But pipsqueak, you'll learn from this, surely, whatever happens.


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