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Prefab Homes Seasons Swirl: Sustainable Cities, Hunting, Seed Saving, And The Suitcase Of Spice.

After the holidays, it sure is great to come back to Higher Ground.
We cozily crashed. We cooked. We hiked.
Thank you for nurturing us, land...

We are SO happy to be back at the prefab house, enjoying the prefab's off grid, passive solar function combined with the cheerful, restorative qualities of the land we aptly named long ago, Higher Ground.

We are showing the Richmond Mid-century Modern home to two couples this week... and it's not yet even officially for sale.

Who knows, maybe we will have some news, sooner than expected... in the meantime we continue to pack and organize to officially put the mid-century on the market this spring.

We will miss the mid-century house, terribly. If we can, I'd like to ensure this lovely, loved home is passed on to really good stewards...

By selling our mid-century home we will then finish the off grid passive solar prefab house, get our certificate of occupancy, move in, *and,* at our age, be mortgage free. While loving our jobs. And allowing the experience, for a year, to have a foot on the land and a foot in DC. Independence, and adventure, await!

I am keen to finish these last little things to make this prefab home officially habitable! Septic, solar heat... and to *finally* hide those green walls, paint, and hang lights!!! 
Actually, we *did* hang another light this weekend... a puddle lamp... one of three over the kitchen island...
For the kitchen island area... two more to go...

Because we just can't help ourselves, even though we know better. #ConstructionDustAwaits
In case you're ever wondering, that's why we still have the lamp shades & art wrapped, where possible.

Now before I go all agriculture-y on you, I'm also thinking about sustainable cities and zoning... and what Richmond has yet to do before it even gets close to what these DC, Baltimore, and Boston officials are discussing.  From the Urban Land Institute, they discuss the success of Hamburg's (Handsome Husband's hometown!) sustainable initiatives:

"Public officials representing the planning departments in Boston, Baltimore, and Washington, DC respond to a presentation on the success of urban sustainability initiatives in the city of Hamburg. They address the problem with motivating U.S. citizens to take climate issues seriously when energy prices are lower than other countries along with what each city is doing to be more green."

More DC Urban Initiatives:
Pedal to work for $20 a month: Federal agencies boost bikes with subsidy for workers
“ 'The purpose of the Bicycle Reimbursement Program is to reduce traffic congestion and pollution, as well as to promote wellness among federal employees,' says a memo circulated around the department."

I'm already envisioning Handsome Husband on his bike pedaling from Dupont Circle to the Orange Line...
I'm looking forward to connecting with colleagues there in green building, starting with DC's EcoWomen & DC Green Drinks, and being closer to many old friends in NY...

I had a great time speaking to DC EcoWomen in 2009, I'm very much looking forward to connecting with them again.

Stripped To The Essentials: As we will be The Casatis Of No Fixed Address awhile, it occurred to me as I cooked tonight that not only will I have a constant suitcase, but also a little traveling case in which I will carry my spices. No matter where I land, daily, I will have fresh underwear, a tidy dress, sturdy boots, and jars and jars and jars of spice.

I'm going to look like a drug dealer, aren't I. Pssst: Yo, yo yo: I've got yer coriander, I've got sticks of cinnamon, whatchoo looking for. Fresh ginger? Easy, right here, hold on, I know I've got a packet of that stashed somewhere...  Flour? Got that too, fresh milled.

At the passive solar prefab home, our indoor temperature recorder (Oregon Scientific) tells us the lowest temperature the prefab home experienced within (with NO heat just the energy efficient SIP and passive solar design) was 45... this when, earlier in the week, we had Arctic weather coming down from, I don't know, the Arctic, and the reading outside had lows in the teens. That's consistent with other readings we've taken when it was in the teens outside.  (Note: We are now in a different scenario- it has wildly vacillated by the weekend, into the balmy '60s!)

Handsome Husband: "You could survive in this prefab house, without heat, in a harsh climate, even without adding thickness to the SIP, and the house itself, even without heat, doesn't get hurt!"

NOT that I would be comfortable at 45!... I prefer 68 to 45 any day, ha, but consider that's the house *without* any systems heat when temperatures are in the teens.

[And when you add a simple, beloved cookstove, still without true working systems, which then, once lit, quickly brings us into the 70s indoors?!? Niiiiice.]

Anyhoo. Before I start talking country, I just wanted to show you something this guy I like to read on the internet dug up this week:  Stars, animation, Orson Wells and Plato.
*ONLY* Stefan Boublil, only Stefan Boublil could ...
[Commentary: ]
And right when I was thinking about how much I am looking forward to gazing at the winter sky this weekend.

Ah, stars, galaxies, worlds away... 

Big news in our world, DEER SEASON ENDS!!!!
"Arrrroooooo, last day o' deer season...!
Now to find those carcass parts left by
hunters in the fields
and ROLL in 'em!"

Don't get me wrong: I strongly support deer hunting by responsible hunters. There is an overpopulation problem. I *love* venison. [And note: Donations of venison sausage are eagerly, always accepted to help continue to keep this blog running. ; ) ]

This Deer Season? We've got about 15 more minutes... We're now drinking a toast to The Humongous Ethereal Big Buck We Admire, that we might see him another season. The Big Buck is bigger than a horse, fer real (kinda) - we've seen him twice... May he reign another year.

However, there is an overpopulation problem we need to cull, and I am grateful always for the gift of meat whose life was quickly ended so it could nourish my own family.

But you can't live through deer season without having firsthand exposure to IRresponsible hunters. They run their dogs across your fields (don't they realize that fearful chase ruins the meat?), shoot into your perimeter (usually from the road), power ATVs through your woods... and basically prevent responsible, intelligent people from safely working in their own fields, on their own land, from riding their horses, from getting work done, therefore affecting many rural BUSINESSES and families who can't let their children safely play... except on Sunday.

That's why, as an environmentalist, I support the Sunday Ban. 

Delegate Pollard opines, "Environmentalists Should Help Repeal Sunday Hunting Ban" 
[Read the comments! ]

Prefab house is hiding, y'all!
Sheesh, you illegal poachers, begone!

I think the real issue here is that most hunters now (thanks to development, hence loss of nearby land on which to hunt) have to travel so many hours to hunt, almost always on leased land, so have no connection with the neighbors, the local community, and just want to shoot... something. They're antsy to make their travel hours, limited therefore to a weekend because they're not willing to give up a work day, "worth it" - and reckless.

Rural landowners don't have this inconvenience and can certainly crack a shot any moment they legally want in a season. Except Sunday... and I assure you most local landowners have little desire to hunt on Sunday because you're off doing everything else you couldn't get done that week because of deer season.

Six days a week is plenty, local hunting interferes little with work schedules because it's dawn and dusk you're active. Sunday isn't the real issue, it's loss of local hunting habitat.

During deer season, Sunday is the only day many local rural businesses can responsibly do business that depends upon the weekend without endangering their clients during deer season - like riding lessons, businesses catering to outdoors tourism on the weekend (think of what a pretty day it would be for this town to potentially rent bikes and sell food to those hiking on the High Bridge Trail!)...

Our friends don't even do trail rides on Sundays during deer season, just in case. That's lost revenue to rural local communities because of hunters traveling from afar. As I mentioned, if you're a *local* hunter you can hunt any weekday dawn & dusk you want without taking time away from work or family to do so. Hunters that come in from afar hurt local family and business activity for months while leaving no money in the local economy. (And no, to be fair: it's not just visiting hunters, there's plenty of local IRresponsible hunters too around here...but the ATVs and dogs are overwhelmingly coming from afar.)

I also don't understand why, every year, irresponsible hunters are not held accountable when they do kill someone. From this week, just a town or two over, one man shot a neighbor on the road: "Chatham Man Killed By Neighbor"

Why are incidents like these dismissed as "accidents" and not labeled, "The idiot *chose* to shoot at something that was not clearly identified as a deer and so now, through that bad decision, someone is dead"?!? These incidents are not "accidental." People should be held accountable for their choice to not identify what their target is.

And as deer season ends, it's now that time of year:
Time to pour over the seed catalogs.

Santa brought us grape vines, mushroom buckets, an olive tree... but now I'm looking towards what to plant in early spring. Here are some of my choices this year for *early* planting- mache corn salad will be new this year, and then the tried-and-trues: more compact lettuces, tatsoi / bok choy varieties, carrots (especially as we clearly have a 7yr old Rabbit Pipsqueak), creases, onions, onions, onions, garlic, garlic, garlic and new: ginger! Can someone please tell me how I went a winter season with no kale? I still can't figure out how that happened. Plenty of mustard greens, bok choi, cabbage, collards... but where the hale is the kale. I have no idea. I can't believe I'm actually going to have to buy that stuff, because with winter full on, I'm craving it.

Moving Thoughts: I will really miss our peach tree when we move... We've already planted peaches, apples, blueberries, and more on the land, but our urban peach tree was positively prolific, and we have a year's worth of jam to thank for it. None of the fruit trees on the land are really producing... yet.[2011 Apple tree harvest? Two apples.]

I am hoping to cart out cuttings from the urban elderberry bush... and resolve to increase my elderberry jam output this year, as three delicious jars filled with super anti-oxidants just didn't cut it. That stuff is nectar.

Harvesting peaches with the H's...

Apparently, we have a 7yr old Elderberry Monster in our midst, who demands it on everything she can.

I have been gathering, since the end of summer, as always: seed.
I casually save seed. 

When I say "casually" that means I dry it, throw it in a big bowl in a dark, quiet drawer, then, come spring, carry the drawer outside and throw it all into the dirt and say, "Fly! Be Freeeeeee!"
Surprisingly, it usually works. But I've decided, with my disgust of Big Ag and people who don't get Urban Chicken Keeping, that doing things like this are a duty, and resolve to take it more seriously this year.

Here's a neat lil' pdf on the basics of seed saving.
And it even makes you feel punk rock. Enjoy.

And I love this Seed Saving Handbook, so easy to use!

I'm also thinking about where to put a root cellar...

We Recovering Family-olics: As expected, they're still scurrying in the walls, out of sight. We've regained our cheerfulness, actually already forgetting them all, again. This happens routinely. Except... no longer, because have you really broken the cycle if you're still exposing them to the still healthy, next generation? Having a lifetime of many healthy, lifelong relationships (including my oldest friend, Pipsqueak #2's Godmother, who visited over the holidays), with healthy people who have seen up-close-and-personal what I will just call, *that*... and having them support us, reassuring us, "No, you're not crazy..."...  We're now more than ok.

Copeland's You've All Lost Yer Meatballs Linguine

1. Meatballs:
Combine minced onion, bread crumbs (when you start a boule, or cut a crust, just dice & throw that in a small container in the freezer until it's full and then you make stuff like this. Cut 'em up, minced. Deeelish, with all those sourdough / rye / sesame unexpected breads, yum!), basil, oregano, kosher salt, ground beef -> into meatballs. Fry in olive oil, set aside. (If you still have breadcrumbs left, I do, save them in a bowl... you'll add them in a moment.)

2. Sauce: I brought up two jars of onion / garlic / *sliced* not diced tomatoes. You do what you need to do if you don't have that on hand. Heat it up to simmer (always careful with self-canned goods), while boiling yer pasta. Add salt, basil, oregano, etc. to taste.

3. Pile It On: Butter up a baking dish. Drain pasta in colander, return to pot, throw in lots juice from the sauce in with the pasta, so you have seasoned pasta in juice in one pot and now a chunky pasta left in the sauce pan. Layer the pasta into the baking dish, sprinkle with Parmesan.Top with a layer of sauce. Then add meatballs. Then sprinkle with parmsean again, then top with any breadcrumbs left over, then another layer of sauce-mixed-in-with-anything-left-over-from-the-meatball-pan. Refrigerate if you want, then bake to serve for guests.

I hear more Arctic weather is a-brewing. Our advice? Hunker down with your friends, i.e. family, get cozy 'round the cookstove. Bitter temps are a great time to warm up with loved ones- gathering and storytelling, cooking and eating, everyone staying up too late, then slumbering in through a cold winter morning, children and dogs sneaking in the beds, and hot coffee passed around with blankets still around you the next day.
Once forces are slowly gathered: a hike.

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At 1/13/12, 12:28 PM , Blogger WyomingGreen said...

Hi Copeland,

It is Nora from Wyoming... While I have been "blog-Silent" I am continuing to move forward with a green modular plan... I am really leaning towards the Casa Ti, if we can work with David Gray to modify the plan? We are happy to pay for the additional design services. We have had only one person look at our house...

This is discouraging, as we do not want to buy land until our house is sold... We do not want to put any unnecessary financial pressure on ourselves.

Until we know the sight, sloping, flat, etc, I can't move forward with working with David on modifications. But, I am taking heart in reading your blog and watching your new and exciting venture. It happened so out of the blue and so quickly, and I know that is how life is, so I am confident that is how it will happen for us, once it gets going it will be lightning speed.

Wishing you the best and keep on blogging, I read and enjoy them all. Also, loved the Mid-Century Mash-Up article.

Best in 2012!

At 1/13/12, 4:39 PM , Blogger Passive Solar Prefab Homes said...

Hi Nora!
Thanks for your kind words. We may absolutely discuss involving David Day for an added fee, but often the changes people ask for to better fit their individual lifestyle are easily made with their own contractor. I am happy to discuss this further with you, when the time comes!

In the meantime have a great weekend, and thank you for reading The Construction Blog That Is Not A Construction Blog At All! : )

Kindest regards,
Copeland Casati

At 6/13/12, 5:55 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Those are really lovely and exquisite homes! I wouldn't have believed those are prefabricated ones until I scrolled back up to see the pictures showing the view from the outside of that house. Amazing! That would go well with prefabricated trusses for easy assembly and removal. That said, I hope that will also be built here in Oregon.


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