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11/18/12

Passive Solar Prefab Home Canters Into Rifle Season

Passive Solar Prefab Home, meet Rifle Season.
Rifle Season, meet Passive Solar Prefab Home.
The Passive Solar Prefab Home Cantered Into Rifle Season!
First, a baby walks.
Next thing you know, THEY'RE CANTERING.
#AllSheWantsToDoIsCanter

Yep, The Passive Solar Prefab House Faces Rifle Season Again, With Pumpkin Pie, Bantams, and The Thanksgiving Fairy!

Off grid notes: The passive solar prefab home in winter is warm and toasty. But we all already knew that, from past winter adventures.
What changes, now living here full time, off grid? 

My showers... are not so hot. I knew we had undersized the solar power system and solar hot water (purposely, thinking we'd be weekenders for another 5ish years so wanted to wait for the latest technology when we moved vs. suddenly permanently here, now), but... I am taking 80 degree showers.

NO it's not fun and if you think that 80 degrees isn't bad I want YOU to take an 80 degree shower on the next winter morning. No, really, try it. I want you to be as irritable and cantankerous as I. No, I courteously insist: DO IT. Then imagine doing that every day in winter and get steamed. Except that your black mood won't help heat the water, no? So y'all cheer up and just know, happily, that you are not I this winter during shower time. Or at least until we order more solar hot water tubes.
One collector two collector three collector four...
#Solar
When we finally looked into why the water wasn't heating as expected (because we have copious amounts of free time these days so yes, it took a few weeks... : ) )  it seems the solar hot water array heats 60 gallon tanks and we have an 80 gallon tank. Plus I'm not convinced there's not something not-quite-right between the solar collector and the tank. SO. My message to you is: if you are considering going off grid, is DO NOT SKIMP on the solar hot water potential. #GlancesAtHandsomeHusbandMadderThanAWetHen
I will be calling Pat Root of Root Electric tomorrow to get the hot water booster installed, asap.

On a happy note, finishing the septic yielded extra GOOD! LOAMY! DIRT!
To place WHEREVER I WANT!
Why helloooooooo there.

Remember the terrace o' Virginia clay on the north side of the prefab house (yet with full south exposure)? Oh yes, I am decidedly turning that into a lush garden. Or... working on it. Continuously. Now with a nice pile o' dirt at the top, to then rake down and re-terrace.
Dirt, you will be terraced.

And we *did* get the Bantams from our Amish neighbor.

A pumpkin gave me attitude, so I made pie.
"Oh YEAH, Lady? Oh YEAH?!?"
Yeah.

All dolled up and nowhere to go.
IT'S RIFLE SEASON!

On Saturday, rifle season began. What that means for us in the off grid passive solar prefab home is that blaze orange is mandatory at all hours, everywhere, not just dawn and dusk in the woods like in muzzleloader season. Maybe rifle season will mean we focus once again on the interior of the off grid prefab home - Saturdays spent painting and wallpapering versus bush hogging and cutting trails, perhaps?

Again, I am grateful for the contentious Sunday hunting ban. It was not intended to, but this ban allows families around here one day a week to at least do something somewhat safely outside. We local hunters support the ban.

"'We killed that 7-0.' Edmunds, an avid hunter, has nonetheless stated his opposition to Sunday hunting 'People in rural Virginia especially recognize [Sunday] as a day of peace, and hunters who hunt in that area didn’t want it,' Edmunds said. 'It’s been up before us the past 15-16 years, and it’s died every year.'"

Guard chicken.

Avid local hunters insist upon the ban not because it's Sunday but because we know all too well what it means for the Drive For Hours Hunters to come and recklessly endanger our communities and lifestyle. Against the ban? Come here and walk my property on any Saturday and ask yourself if that sounds like safe hunting.  These are not your Upright Hunters. As I type, I am listening to an assault rifle tat-tat-tat. So yeah, come out and walk my field, but don't hold me responsible. And make sure your will is current.

We may be on our own property, but we are surrounded with Come Here deer hunters with rifles on fleets of ATVs who just don't care. They've traveled hours from Virginia Beach to leased land to shoot something, anything. It sounds like a war zone.

Those hunters are all out on the back ridge, facing OUR FAMILY.  They have no idea about the herd, no idea what animals should be culled... They have no idea the S's dogs took out all the fawns this spring. They don't care: They just want A BIG BUCK. And they are desperate to get SOMETHING, so if they want to shoot into your field or, trigger happy, mistake a child playing at the edge of our own field, their heads bobbing up and down as they play in the dirt... I don't even want to think about it but my hackles are up and I am ready.
Ferocious Guard Chicken.
Bring it.


Oh, and by the way, Virginia Beach "Hunters"? If you have to shoot six times in a row like you do? Then, uh, you probably should be working on your aim, honeychile, and not hunting.
Their fun and dogs or my kids... no comparison, no choice.

So. While the Not From Here Hunters rode ATVs and shot at anything that moved in the woods surrounding Higher Ground, we helped the Thanksgiving Fairy.  You know the Thanksgiving Fairy, don't you?

The Thankgiving Fairy comes along and sprinkles stardust and suddenly you have pretty, trussed, grocery store turkeys! 
Look! It's magic!
Thank you, Thanksgiving Fairy!

Speaking of Thanskgiving, here's the easy pie I made this week:
Pamplin Pumpkin Pie
Pie Dough
Depending on the size of your pie pan...  In a bowl: mix: 1 1/2 - 2 cups of flour, a few shakes of salt, 2ish tsp. baking powder. Then get the cup you have in the refridgerator of leftover grease. It is flavorful, delicious, and if you plop 4-5 tbs. and work that into the flour you will have a yummy totally different crispy crust than if you added butter. Now at this point it should be tiny balls of flour. Finish the dough by working in a little ice cold water - just enough to turn it into dough! Off grid, I just get two ice cubes in a cup, add some water, swill it around in the cup until that water is ice cold, then add it, a little by a little, kneading it in until there's dough.

This is the point where normal cooks would roll it out nicely and smoothly to then line the pan. I don't. I stick that dough in and smush it around and push it out and stretch it up to the rim, tap it around the edges and call it a day. #CountryCookin'

Filling
Cut pumpkin into wedges. I only used about 1/2 of the pumpkin - so expect to make several recipes out of every pumpkin... (remember the savory buttery sage pumpkin last week?). Carefully peel the rind and immediate hairy inside layer off... simmer the pumpkin until done. Drain the water, then mash in sugar (I like brown), two beaten eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, a little raw milk (or cream). Pour into the pie dough, even out with a spoon, bake.

I would have taken a "Taaaaa Daaaaa! Cooked and finished!" picture but the Pipsqueaks dove into the pie like coyotes on a dog.

Anyhoo... this week, I had a strange dream.
I dreamt it was Christmas, and.... I went onto Facebook... and suddenly all these Richmond women started changing their profile pictures to: each of them sitting proud, carefully posed in upholstered Queen Anne's chairs, in their varying living room or dining room, to showcase behind them:
Long windows just clad with heavy tasseled, draped curtains.

As I relayed the dream to Handsome Husband over steaming coffee the next morning, I chuckled as I looked around at my aluminum clad, sleek modern house where one wouldn't ever dream of adding curtains to the angular expanses of glass: "Man, boy did *I* grow up in the wrong home town!"
Sad Notes
Frog Bottom Farm friends.
A lot of our organic farm friends are really struggling. It seems medium sized cities aren't as willing to pay for better quality yet smaller farm products. Friends and neighbors L&A dropped the bombshell this week that they were leaving their beloved Frog Bottom Farm for New York. Bigger cities like NYC, DC... they support and understand why organic food from small farms costs more...

These next years are watershed moments in farming.  Why are so many smaller, natural, upstart farms not surviving? Will Big Ag Used-To-Feedlots-Of-Grain finally break under the out of control grain prices and turn back to pasture raised animals?  Much less what about the data emerging on GMO?!? These are topics we discuss around dinner tables here, and if you are in the city think about how it impacts your own food supply.

My own thoughts are that now more than ever is a great time to grow your own vegetables, summer *and* winter, and have backyard hens, whether you are in the city or country. 

Tomorrow, I'll be watching Ken Burn's The Dust Bowl.

Watch The Dust Bowl Preview on PBS. See more from The Dust Bowl.

Homeschool:
Music ties into history. You can reinforce what you learn about a period historically by listening to and learning music. Here's what we enjoyed:
  • http://www.yacubaddy.com/wynton.html  Wynton Marsalis & Yacub Addy
    "Congo Square was the only place in America where African slaves were allowed to perform their own music and dance in the 1700s-1800s, establishing the roots of American music."
  • Please send any history-ties-into-music videos if you know of any good ones, I am searching for them!
Thanksgiving nears, and we are thankful.
Thanksgiving is a good time to re-evaluate assumptions, using it as an opportunity to turn negative experiences, into postive.
Like... for example: security cameras, set up to catch all the bad stuff that happens.
Sometimes, they catch the good.

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