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Our family's passive solar zero energy off grid house kit construction blog.
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Off Grid Systems For The Prefab Home Continue, Soil Testing, And Potlucks

We are still tweaking and adjusting the solar system for the off grid passive solar prefab home.

The battery bank has not recharged as quickly as expected, so we are measuring and reviewing the electrical specs to see what might be an issue we can correct. Backwoods Solar has helped immensely with troubleshooting; we highly recommend them.

Of course, all this rain didn't help... but at least our rainwater cistern is full!
Even with the roiling clouds as the rain began to hit... check out how brightly lit inside it remained (without turning on the lights!) within our prefab modern home.

The soil engineer came out, again... with nothing new to report.
We just wanted to make sure we explored responsibly everywhere- because if we can avoid a pump for septic, that would be one less drain on our energy usage.
The Pipsqueaks "helped."

We Emptied The Composting Toilet Instead Of Heading To The Blues & Brew Fest in Appomattox.
This was by far the worst episode of emptying. Often I have claimed, "Well, it looks like soil, and aside from the black water in the pan, doesn't smell!"
 Not this time.
We will be wracking our brains as to why it was different. Adding the bacteria that comes with the toilet, again. Adding more sawdust. And if YOU are considering a composting toilet, you must ask yourself:
"Is there someone in the family that is 1. willing and 2. STRONG ENOUGH to carry out that pan repeatedly when emptying?" It is not an easy task. When we did it every few months and it didn't smell it wasn't so horrible (although carrying that black water in the pan through the house was always a tense, breath-intaken (and held) moment.

I Also Gave FedEx A Tour Of The Off Grid Prefab House
I had an unexpected package.
It is so startling to be at your laptop, typing quietly in the middle of nowhere, to then hear gravel crunching, look up, and see a shiny FedEx truck!

"Is this a solar house?!?" The driver asked, excitedly.
"It is! Do you want a tour? It's still under construction..." but they had already jumped out of the truck.
"Well that just means I get to see the updates each time I deliver!"
We walked through, I showed the day lighting, the structural insulated panels, the passive solar design, the clerestory windows, the cook stove... I'm looking forward to their next visit when I can show progress!
Someone send me a package!!!!
I want to show progress.

It T'ain't All Work, Here
Thanks to our Amish neighbor's greenhouses, I am enjoying thick messy ripe tomato sandwiches... for breakfast. Pure hedonism, they're so good.
And we had our first blueberries...

We've Had Plenty O' Fun This Week, Visiting Friends

So we worked and we worked and we worked, still surrounded by boxes because no closets are built, but there was always time for laughter and friends. Although weekends are filled with lots of projects, they are also filled with lots of unplanned potlucks.

We Began The Chicken Pen
So that when we leave for a weekend, chickens can range, but be safe in smaller confines.

To be continued...

I even tried my hand at golf.
Oh no, I would never stroll a sterile golf course laden with pesticides! But here, surrounded by horses, a beautiful wild landscape and a huge, rising new moon... what fun.

"Redneck golf!" P joked.
I: "How could you *ever* enjoy a boring golf course after growing up driving balls like this."
(He must have been doing something right because now he's on the PGA Tour, whatever that is.)

We Began Homeschooling
Once finished with school, we launched Summer Homeschool, which means just 45 minutes - 2 hours a day.  Aside from the initial whining, it works very well. While following the general SOL curriculum, it allows us to explore in depth so much more... and I was rewarded: Lunch conversations with my children included Leif The Lucky and whether he met Native Americans, King James's anti-smoking sentiments, Amelia Earhart, and how to build a missile. And that night?
Well, that's a first: never had to break up kids fighting over who would read MATH BOOKS in bed... #LifeOfFred
I can see how Life Of Fred could never be taught in a classroom... It has been a great segue into related science, history and practical applications... Don't dismiss it as hokey! It fostered many teaching moments. 

The weather ranged from hot and clear to roiling skies and rain.
Accordingly, it affected our recipes.
I love it when I can use the solar cooker...
Solar Cooker Meatball Pasta
Mince 1/2 an onion, and mix with 1-2 slices of diced old bread, some milk... blend with a fork until mush. Add a packet of local ground beef, kosher salt (I am on an organic tamari kick. I add dashes and dashes of tamari. And dashes of hot sauce.) and some cumin. Ok fine I add a lot of cumin...

Roll into balls and place in the solar pots, cook until done. Then I add a tomato sauce (your choice, spicy or not) to the pasta, and drain in the meat juice from the solar pots to blend flavors and mix with all that yummy juice before topping with meatballs,  and more sauce. Yum.

Tamari Coleslaw
Still on my tamari kick, I finely shredded most of a small head of cabbage, mixed with the other half of the onion (diced), and tossed with tamari, celery seed, some sugar, and good olive oil. This would be delicious with shredded carrots and fresh ginger, I just did not have any, on hand. Think: that great side salad you get with sushi and miso soup, except coleslaw-ized.

We ended the weekend watching a beautiful, HUGE new moon rising while, over a friend's pond, the sun set, while children skipped stones, bats skimmed low, and the whippoorwill sang.
Tomorrow the electrician for the off grid prefab home's systems returns, in the nick of time.

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At 6/6/12, 3:33 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Oh my! You don't know how excited I am to stumble across the plans to your home and your blog. It is just what I have been looking for. We take possession of our 89 acres of beautiful land in August and I have been searching and searching for shed roof designed homes that would incorporate passive solar and off grid living. Our home will be in Canada, so we will have to figure out the best colours and whatnot to stay warm in our chilly winters and not too hot in our glorious garden growing summers. I look forward to reading your posts.
Happy today,
Sasa Sunshine


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