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11/20/11

More Thoughts On The Off Grid Passive Solar Prefab's Fencing, And The Very Interesting Year Begins

We stayed in the city this weekend, but that didn't keep me from musing on the off grid passive solar prefab... 
At the passive solar prefab house, we'd been busy posting rifle-totin' trespassers OUT: Yes, folks, it's that time o' year:
Rifle season has begun. 
From now until January 7th, blaze orange, with more blaze orange, is our favorite, favorite, favorite color scheme.
[Note to family confused by my freakishness because sure we wear blaze orange but what's the big deal?: Our property backs up to where a hunt club leases with members that travel 3+ hours to hope to bag something. Yeaaaaaaaah, now you get it. At the ready.]

We may be thinking about how to keep crazy rifle-totin' trespassers out, but around the off grid home, I'm thinking about how to keep things IN.

Beginning with the landscape architecture plan for the off grid passive solar prefab home, we now tweak it a tad, with the documentation on that beginning here.  We rethink the gorgeous hard lines of the original landscape architecture for a more realistic, organic feel as we now know, two years later, how our family really uses that living space surrounding the off grid prefab.

Considering boundaries of keeping things within, and keeping things out, I consider solar fencing.

Now all of our farming friends use fencing to keep livestock OUT. Think: Squares or circles of fencing penning animals in the fields to keep them contained AWAY from the house. What if we, instead, use fencing to keep animals WITHIN the house site area?

Consider: We have an old, old feral cat we captured adopted years ago that expects outdoor time, but we would prefer for him to not be eaten by coyotes. And our 14 year old toothless, hairless dog is not getting any younger and I suspect sometimes that his mind might (hence he begins to...) wander.

Consider: When we had urban hens until our city neighbors took them away (Don't. get. me. started.), our fenced in back yard was perfect for a small flock to freely roam, improving our back yard soil, reducing pests and weeds, without mess, giving us great delight as we'd look at them outside, they'd look in at us...

Containing our hens in an urban environment via a backyard fence worked great. But in the country, you've got more predators...

Consider: A solar fence, easily turned off for toddlers when they visit, still would help contain childrenz from the One Day This Will Be A Natural Pool even though we know visiting parents would not take their eagle eyes off a child, it just helps to make us all feel a smidge more safe.
At Richmond's 2nd Annual Coop Tour, I was inspired by a great coop & pen built among the trees - it gave me some great ideas for keeping chickens happy and healthy yet secure from predators when we're gone.

I also found two plans for automatic coop door openers / closers for weekends when we're away:
Now you can't talk fencing without calling up the Aults. 
So I did.

The Aults are our wonderful friends and country neighbors who raise 
chicken,
pigs,
Scotties,
sheep,
grandkids
and more
on their sustainable, natural farm
.

So they have a LOT of experience penning stuff up.


We spoke about the lay of our land, our plans...
...and this is what I've come up with: (Click to see the larger image)
Red = Solar electric fence
  • Contain animals and childrenz so tha' baaars don't eatz 'em.
  • Maintain clean, modern lines with the fence visible as little as possible by connecting the fence strategically: 
    • With the berries / Food Hedge: It wraps so that the fence along the north is on the south side of the hedge, hiding the fence from a visitor's approach, and on the east side of the hedge, it hides the fence from within the home. Note about that berry area: That area rises then descends to the field, to prevent water from going against the house. So we 
    • On the southwest, that part is actually downhill so it won't be as much in vision within the home as you think, and that west part won't be seen unless you're standing right there looking out from the southwest window
  • Connect the fence in a way that you can enter the prefab house without having to shut off the electricity. 
  1. Barn faces south, sheltering from the north wind.
  2. Fencing around the food garden is higher, to try to prevent deer 
  3. White fencing / Barn = Phase 2: Depending on what livestock we have, this will be altered.
I'm looking forward to hearing what our seasoned farming friends think about my fencing plan!

By the way: Handsome Husband began his new job in DC. 
Daily, he commutes by train... Our journey of The Very Interesting Year has begun. Already, a pattern emerges: Hearing the train toot gently in the dark as I sit, working at the laptop, children asleep, as it pulls into Richmond now has special meaning for me- Handsome Husband is home from DC!

In the morning, he leaves the children love notes to discover in their breakfast bowls...

This isn't easy; but we can do it, even love it, with a lot, a lot, a lot of love.

Speaking of bowls... at some point over the holidays you'll likely be cooking up some roasts and stuff. Here's an idea on how to turn leftover gravy and meat into an Imitating A Fast Food Idea That Then Is Done Healthy that you and your children will love with items you probably already have on hand.
Have y'all seen those KFC Mashed Potato Bowl commercials? Oy, that "cheese," much less the chicken nuggets, doesn't even try to look real.

Copeland's Take That Fast Food, My Mashed Potato Bowl Rocks! Lazy Comfort Dinner
  • Bake potatoes. While hot (use a mitt!) slice 'em up (cut the skins small so they're not bulky; don't forget the skins have lots o' vitamins!) and mash with salt, some butter, and then fold in whatever gravy / tasty yummy leftover sauces you might have.
    That's Layer 1.
  • Layer 2 is shredded mozzarella, montery jack or cheddar cheese, depending on what you like / have on hand in the fridge.
  • Layer 3 is leftover bits of meat - tonight I used sirloin from Boxwood Beef!
  • For the adults: Fry up some onions, until carmelized. Top your bowl with that, mix it in, and you've got serious gour-metz comfort food goin', honeys.  You could even add in some cooked green beans or corn as a layer over the potatoes... Yum!
I'm thinking a lot about our The Very Interesting Year of change. 
For too long, we toed the line, and now we're set free to return to our gypsy roots while maintaining a firm footage in our homestead, and our hearts.

Really, is this what you want your life to be: Just birth, school, work, death?



Staying in town this weekend, we had the opportunity to visit some entrepreneur friends that have made this city GREAT. Despite itself. This is the Richmond... the wonderful Richmond dear to my heart, MY Richmond:
We went up to Church Hill to a friend's art gallery / opening night at her Eric Shindler Gallery... and saw lots of friends. : )

I met a great gal (and talented artist, see above) who just canoed from the James River all the way down the Intercoastal Waterway to Key West. (What?)

Went down to a friend's bar, The Camel, who has always supported local musicians and community, to see the No BS Brass Band raising money for the **food bank**... And saw lots of friends. : )
Never heard o' No BS Brass Band? No video does them justice.
Think: A wall o' brass. This comes across as a-tad-off on video.
It's not.
Just... GO. They are freakin' FANTASTIC!!!!!!
   
(...And I am dedicating this part of the post to Justin Anthony. : ) He will Loooooooooooove them.)

We went to a birthday party for friends at Cocojo's, which showcases local artisans. : )
"Cocojo & Co is an artisan business. The products, jewelry, art, and wares found at Cocojo & Co are produced locally by local artisans. ´╗┐Artisans at Cocojo & Co are able to grow, sell, market and promote themselves at their pace." [Happy Birthday, Jo and Sherrena!!!!!]

The next day we brunched at another dear friend's sassy restaurant, Banditos! : )

Look at all our amazing friends who are entrepreneurs making this city great!!! Go, they!

I'm still so shocked when people say they'll miss us... we never go out. We have spent these past years with any waking moment focused on The Land. We're grateful our friends still speak to us, much less traverse the mileage to see us on the land, that people even remember us. Usually we have no babysitter, no nights out...

So to be here on a rare Richmond weekend, speaking to people when they ask about Our Plan For The Very Interesting Year, I expect them to say "Good riddance!" To instead, come home, glowing, over the lifetime of kind, kind, kind friends we have in this community who actually told us they felt our departing would be a loss... Richmond y'all are still a part of us, but honeychiles this city needs to get with it. That is my gentle soon-parting-for-now advice. I can't continue to penalize my family for being here.

I love you I love you I love you so Freakin' Grow Up and see what Every Other Livable City Is Doing.

Late night out... too much fun...

Saturday we awoke, bleary after a waaaay-too-fun night, to leaf blowers here in Non-Culture-On-The-Edge-Of-The-City-Almost-Burbia...

Apparently not-a-one of our neighbors knows what a rake is.
Their "Leaf Problem," pre-blowout, is hilariously sparse.
Yet the leaf blowers have been going, non-stop, since 7a.m.
(These are the same neighbors who fly up in arms, concerned they *might* hear a hen cluck.)

[Cluck *them.*]

Anyhoo, I am off to the grocery store. It just occurred to me that in 8 years (8 years!) of "living" here with a grocery store three blocks away, not once have I ever seen a neighbor shopping for food.
Suddenly, my mind is struck-
OhMyGosh OhMyGosh -- Wait.
Could my neighborhood be filled with...
Zombies?

From How To Kill A Zombie:
"To kill zombies, you need to destroy their brains. The most surefire route is simply lopping off the cranium with a chainsaw, machete, or samurai sword. Mind the follow-through, however-- anything less than 100 percent severance just isn't good enough."
Dag. So they can't be zombies, because clearly they're *already* missing their brains.
So I won't blame them no' more... they cain't help it.


[Why has no one started a Zombie Neighbors With Leaf Blower meme yet?]
These folks are not zombies but they're bluegrass players, that's almost as effective, maybe?


But if they're not zombies... and they don't eat real food... then what ARE they?




"...People tell me there ain't no use in tryin'...
We have got to get outta this place / if it's the last thing we ever do!
'Cause there is a better life / for me and you!"

Wait.
It is not just our neighborhood.

What is happening with the United States?!?


Police officer pepper-sprays seated, non-violent students at UC Davis.

Handsome Husband, ex-European military, appalled:
"I'm pretty sure that is not allowed in the rules of engagement."

I have mixed feelings on the actions of Occupy Wall Street movement but I empathize with the feeling that... that we are losing our culture, our community... that things are not right.

When you see this video, something crystallizes: A recognition - We Have Seen This Before.
Dumbfounded Disgust... Opening Into Horror... And Resolute:
Shame On You. Shame On You. Shame On You.
Shame.
On.
You.
(Who do you serve? Who do you protect? Who do you serve? Who do you protect?)

This would be a good time to re-read Voices Of Dissent: Critical Readings In American Politics.

And...
The Idiot.

These tumultuous days are emotionally and politically hot. And sour. We're working towards the sweet.
Here's Hot & Sour Soup except I call this...

Copeland's Centipede Soup
Not quite following this recipe, I instead...
  • Sauteed in sesame oil some meat bones and minced ginger.
  • I walked into the winter garden since I have no bamboo shoots on hand and instead got some nice big leaves of bok choy, washed and shredded them, then added, with plenty of water to create broth, to what will now be the soup.
  • I sliced oyster mushrooms up & threw them in.
    Heeeeeeey:
    They look just like centipedes!!!!!
That them thar is a centipede.
  • Slice and dice up some firm tofu. Throw that sucker in!
  • Add barbequed pork (remember that arm roast beef BBQ I made earlier this week?)
  • In a bowl, I mixed up sugar, soy sauce, and sweet & sour chili sauce. Then I threw that in.
  • I had a quart of chicken stock I had made last week in the fridge... I threw that in, too.
  • When everything is good & cooked, stir in some corn starch & a beaten egg to thicken it up, then glugs of rice vinegar to sour it.
  • I have not yet won over the childrenz to this culinary masterpiece.
    As I place steaming bowls on the table, Pipsqueak #2 is chanting,
    "Centipede Stew, it's just for You!"
From https://www.facebook.com/TheOther98.
As much as I have been skeptical... Girlz Got A Point.

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2 Comments:

At 11/21/11, 8:42 AM , Blogger Copeland Casati said...

P.s. For those shocked by the treatment of non-violent students at UC Davis:

http://www.commondreams.org/further/2011/11/20-0

This video is a must-see.
"We have called for a silent and respectful exit."

 
At 11/26/11, 10:56 AM , Blogger Justin said...

Love the band, thanks :)

 

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