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Off The Grid, Secretly Y'all... Prefab Home Plumbing And Southern Storytelling

At the prefab zero energy home, plumbing continues.
Faucets are installed, plumbing for the tub is laid out, vanities placed, and next is the pressure test, which, if it is fine....we will be able to turn on the WATER!

I can not *wait* to sink into a hot shower not from water boiled on the wood cook stove (then precariously poured into the flimsy camping solar shower to heft up above the tub, hoping the tube won't disengage as the water eeks out, at times a spray, at times a drip...).

And thank goodness, thank goodness, thank goodness, the seed I strew atop our recently graded, valuable soil is beginning to germinate. You can't really see it in pictures yet, the grass is just sprouting; but thank goodness for the gentle rains that fortuitously traversed Virginia in this dry season.

I'm excited to see the big picture of what zero energy / off grid can mean when all the systems come together and actually WORK!  The prefab house kit will be an entirely different experience very soon...

Speaking of off grid homes, there's a neat story telling event in Richmond coming up called, "Secretly, Y'all... Off The Grid."
You're supposed to tell a story about an off grid experience and my friend, who is organizing it, thought I'd have something to add.

This is where I admit... I'm no storyteller. What would I say?

I don't think I'll do it. I mean, the first rule states, "...five to seven minute true tale (no fiction, no monologues, stand up, poetry etc.) with a clear beginning, middle and end."

You lost me at "clear beginning, middle and end" honeychiles, not to mention the FIVE TO SEVEN minutes. Y'all know I tend to ramble!

I don't even know where, or how, to start to tell a tale about being off grid with a zero energy prefab in the middle o' nowhere, surrounded by copperheads, coyotes, bushels o' ticks and a pack o' wild dogs lounging on the sunny road next door...

Off grid is more than a beloved, energy efficient, zero energy passive solar prefab home.
Off grid can be as impersonal as any McMansion suburbia, just with different technology. 

For many in the world, on grid still hasn't arrived, and for many in rural Virginia, we can still remember when "electricity came to town."

Off grid can be  unnoticeable - save for a solar panel, it might not occur to guests that all the running water and electricity are provided by the sun and rain.  

From our prefab cottage line,

Our own project, built pay-as-you-go, was not that way. 
Immediately, we were off grid. Every home is off grid in its first days of construction, we just stayed that way.
Off Grid Zero Energy T'Ain't Hard When You've Got No Systems! ; )

Here's some pics from The Off Grid In Tha' Prefab Early Days:

Much later came electricity, now finally, plumbing.
Next: Close up all the walls and get cookin' on modern interior design.
A.k.a. The Fun Part.

For ourselves, off grid living is also about enriching soil with compost, no-till fields, counting water as precious, backyard hens scratching freely and learning to enjoy the slightly-longers rather than the time-savers.

What about...
  • The time we dropped our kids down the underground rainwater cistern
  • The time I waited until the cell phone died of my Vera Wang VP ex-roommate who came down from New York Cit-tay to visit to tell her she'd be using a COMPOSTING TOILET during her stay? (I think I saw her soul scream a little, for a moment... and yes, she ended up having a *blast* and can't wait to come back!)
  • Non-electric tools...
    • the solar shower... Oh, the solar shower. Until plumbing arrives, I use a solar shower.

      You know, those camping bags you fill with water and hope it doesn't run out?
      Slung over an oak branch in the open air, it's a delicious respite from the heat until you realize that 'round here people just Come A' Callin' if they see your gate open - and hence, the Showerin' In A Sundress was born...

      Later taking that solar shower indoors to hang over the clawfoot tub, heating water on the wood stove, until we can get the plumbing to work... and yes, off grid doesn't have to mean dire: plumbing, heat, electricity are all easily attained, thoughtfully, when off grid.
    • how when Pipsqueak 1 drives me crazy with too much energy I order, "Go grind me some coffee." It takes a lot longer than you think.
Keep grindin', chile...

One of my favorite off grid tools is the broadcast seed spreader.
We're just programmed to think we need BIG IMPLEMENTS when it comes to farming.
Give me a day of casting seed with an eye on a provocative rain cloud, hoping it will gently descend as soon as I finish the field... and that's time to myself a mom rarely gets, with the occasional company of an enthusiastic dog, or child, tagging at my heels...

Off Grid Amish: Everyone is talking like Off Grid is some newfangled idea. Our Amish neighbors wouldn't ever consider being on grid... Mrs. Esh and I like to compare notes on what our families do.

Off Grid Cooling: Cooling means opening the windows at night, shutting the off grid zero prefab in the morning, embracing the passive solar design...
but often, in mid-afternoon, cooling means: LIME BEER.
And pump-spray hairspray cans refilled with water, cooling in a fridge or stream to mist oneself on an especially hot day.

Cooling for many Virginians means, "Get thee to water."
Isn't that what summer is all about?

With Holliday Lake just down the road, if the mid-afternoon heat wilts you, head for the hills and the 150 acre lake until evening arrives to cool things down.

And yes, the natural pool will be slowly built...

IF I were to tell a tale... what would you want to hear?

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At 6/29/11, 9:31 AM , Blogger Lillian D said...

You mention at the end that you will be putting in a (swimming?)pool, off grid... How will you aerate it and clean the water etc? My understanding of swimming pools is the maintenance is laborious and costly.
I love watching the process of your off grid home. Your two brood are going to grow into very interesting adults some day... No hurrying that though...

At 6/29/11, 10:45 AM , Blogger Passive Solar Prefab Homes said...

Here's an article on natural pools -

*Thank you* for following our progress!

At 6/21/15, 6:39 AM , Blogger Lisa Jones said...

You mention at the cease that you may be putting in a (swimming?)pool, off grid... How are you going to aerate it and easy the water and so forth? My understanding of swimming swimming pools is the upkeep is exhausting and steeply-priced.
I like watching the manner of your off grid home. Your brood are going to develop into very exciting adults a few day...
Redmond Plumbers

At 6/21/15, 8:17 PM , Blogger Passive Solar Prefab Homes said...

It's a natural pool we never finished (we will return to the project, later, right now we're working on fences and the off grid well / field pumps, etc.)- aerating would be done via it's own solar pool system + natural plant filtration.

Thank you for your kind comments!

At 1/7/18, 4:33 AM , Blogger Thomas Venney said...



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