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11/11/12

Passive Solar Prefab Home Digs It

At the passive solar prefab home, septic and a conventional drainfield were finally dug.

As I have previously mentioned, a traditional septic / drainfield was the most inexpensive solution to meet code for an off grid passive solar home... whose family-of-four's 1,800 gallon cistern is always almost full due to our water conservation. I find it kinda silly that apparently typical families of four waste SO much water that you need a drain field THIS HUMONGOUS to meet code.
This area is just HUGE.

...I also find it crazy that, if our drain field needs to be this vast, that means a "typical family" would run through our water cistern in about two weeks.

Pictures do not do justice to how huge this septic / drain field is.
Do note we still plumbed for separate gray / black water (see picture) for future accessibility.

I am still shaking my head over the average person's water consumption.

We Also Filled The Radiant Heat Tubes In The Passive Solar Prefab's Slab! We were so excited. Handsome Husband had children stationed throughout, monitoring the progress as the floor gurgled and replaced air with liquid...  The suspense as to when we'd start overflowing was overwhelming. We didn't overflow. Yay. The air gurgled out, the tank pressurized, and held. BRING ON THE RADIANT HEAT.

Water is not the only thing we conserve or reuse around here...


An Amish neighbor offered us some extra bantams, as they had multiplied. I have never wanted bantam chickens- sheesh, they're SO TINY! I'm all about purpose. But their cuteness factor as we stood in her yard admiring their cuuuuuute teeny chicken-ness softened me... and suddenly, I fell hard for bantams. But our current coop is full...

I called Handsome Husband.
"We need to build the stable, asap."
"Um, we don't even have horses. What's your hurry?"
"We're getting two bantams!"
"YOU WANT ME TO BUILD A BARN FOR TWO BANTAMS?!?"

Ooooo-kay, on to Plan B.
Building a coop is cheep if you're creative... We reused a moving bin to make a bantam coop for the bantams we are getting from our Amish neighbor. A free, easy, windproof solution! 
NOTE: NOT for standard sized hens, and the coop is *within* a predator proof run.
Nesting box, roost, door on side.
Lid can pop off for easy removal of eggs / cleaning coop.

Honor.
A lot of our farm friends who vend vegetables, meat or milk also allow customers to conveniently access the stash of food on an honor system.  Almost a lost privilege, eh? Today, we stopped by our friends The Aults of Ault's Family Farm to pick up sausage.
Because... 
At The Passive Solar Prefab Home, It Is Officially Cookstove Season. So Honeychiles, WE COOK.
Thanks to our Amish neighbor Mrs. E, we had lots of green peppers on hand this week.

Here's some of what we cooked:
Copeland's Cookstove Chili

  • In a cast iron pan: Dice onions and peppers, sautee, then as they soften add some minced garlic and olive oil.
  • In a large pot: Simmer a package of washed red beans. I have a rice and beans rule with water: for rice, add enough water over the rice to be the height of your pinky's width. For beans, add about an inch of water, adding more if it gets too thick throughout the day.  Add salt/ hot sauces now because it really makes a difference in taste for the beans to cook in salted/ hot pepper water.
  • I was too lazy to dig through the freezer for ground beef or venison. As I mentioned, I instead ran over to our friends The Aults, of Aults Family Farm, and grabbed some zesty italian pork sausage from their freezer.
  • Empty the pan of nicely soft and getting crisp onions & peppers pan into the bean pot, and fold it all in.
  • Add a large can of hand crushed tomatoes and the juice to the pot.
  • Shake that big can o' chile powder you have in yer pantry over the pot. Shake shake, that's it, keep going... Ah. There you go...
  • Into that pan now sautee sliced sausage, then, when done, add to the pot and stir.
  • Add sriracha, salt, pepper to taste. 
  • Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimmer simmer simmer, stirring occasionally. 
Top with grated cheese if you like, serve with grilled cheese and a nice dilled vinaigrette salad!

Savory Pumpkin With Sage Butter
  • Murder the Halloween pumpkin you forgot to carve and just discovered hiding in the corner of the living room. 
  • Bake the seeds, with salt, and munch on them while you're doing everything else.
  • Slice up the pumpkin like a cantaloupe, slice off the rind and the strand-y inside, then dice into 1/2" pieces. (Note to chicken keepers: cut the strands into 1/2 inches if you are feeding them to hens- we had a hen die last year from gorging herself on Halloween pumpkin innards!)
  • Add butter to the cast iron pan, then the pumpkin. Sautee until the pieces are nice and crusty on the outside, add more butter, run outside and grab some sage, mince & add it and some salt to the mix and stir.
  • As you stir the mixture is becoming mashed-mixed-together and soft, with bits of seared moments, kind of like a pumpkin equivalent of a great hash.
  • Stir again before serving to make sure everything is nice & drizzled with sage butter.
Beef Brisket
  • When you order a quarter of a cow for your freezer, some of the pieces can be huge. This beef brisket is an example of a huge ole slab o' beef that you can do multiple thangs with without getting intimated. 
  • Thaw, then marinate beef in a vinegar, brown sugar, good mustard, and tomato mango salsa sauce (or anything with a base of pureed or finely chopped tomatoes with a bit o' heat and a bit o' sweet). Think: Sweet and tangy, sweet and tangy, with bite. I am really trying not to add sriracha for my protesting children's current heat index. I really want to add sriracha. Must... resist...
  • Ok fine, drizzle the sauce with srachia, smear it over the meat, and stick that mess in the cook stove. I can't talk temperatures, use your judgement, just think: not on scorching heat, cook evenly, adjusting the time with the temp, and make sure it's fall-off-the-bone tender.
  • Pull beef out of the oven and admire it as you let it sit.
    Regret eating all the pumpkin seeds because now dinner looks fantastic and you've filled yourself up.
  • Slice up half, then use the rest to shred & turn into barbeque. My work here is done.
Handsome Husband's Neighbor Pasta
This is neighbor pasta because it uses sausage from The Aults, peppers from our Amish neighbor Mrs. E, and raw milk from an unnamed source.
  • Sautee green peppers, onion. 
  • In a separate pan, saute sliced zesty sausage from the Aults
  • Add a bunch of raw milk at the end to the sausage, stir in some flour to thicken it, swiftly stir in the peppers and onions... then, off the heat, grated cheese
  • Sprinkle and stir in nutmeg, paprika
  • Before tossing it into just cooked pasta.
And Of Course, There Was, As Always, Handsome Husband's Fresh Baked Bread and Pancakes.
Reading Club:
  • Video: Spend An Hour In 1920s NYC  >So cool...
  • What happened with California's GMO labeling and the Colorado fracking ban?
    A moderate, I am not thrilled with either political party, and in general avoid talking politics, as I can't please anyone fervent for either side.  But. I will say this, considering we just held our Presidential election: I want to hear both parties talking green.

    In MY MIND, green is neither Democratic nor Republican, although from year to year one party or the other may have it more in discussion. It should be a universal concern, and at the forefront of politics, for how can we move our country forward, sustainably, without protecting our resources for which future generations must rely? It is not limited to a party line, although I could never vote for  anyone who does not share my concern on this issue.  My parents, staunch Republicans, stated, "Well, now 3.5% more of your inheritance will be taken away." I don't think anything should be taxed multiple times, it doesn't seem right. But I can't help but weigh 3.5% vs. the infinite costs for generations if a President who doesn't believe in climate change or is supportive of alternative energy were elected... 

    AND, while I'm on mah soapbox: Shouldn't consumers have the right to know if their food contains GMO? Why can't renewable energy be a good thing for our children, and their children? Can't it be possible to build dams that help humans but also wildlife?
    This just makes sense to me.
  • What is unschooling? I empathize with this article but prefer to adhere to a more classical foundation- I want my children to know what other children are studying this semester. However, I allow the "unschooling" *after* they master the SOL foundation to follow their thoughts. For example, this semester we study the USA explorers and founders. Pipsqueak 2 wondered what their European counterparts were doing and what was important to them during that time. So he read books with a more world view, and European view, covering The Crusades through The Enlightenment, which, at that point, tied it back into his USA history studies.  Reflecting, I believe we do a LOT of unschooling, just after class hours, lol! I have no fear of raising my children as entrepreneurs, than Sheep Who Just Follow Directions. That is the *least* of our worries...!
This week, I realize: The Holidays near.
I'd like to say how grateful I am to have moved to Paris in my 20s, into the O's home. I think I might tell some of their stories, and how, thanks to them, I saw how *I* would want to be, as a family, one day.  I remember sitting at the kitchen table each morning, windows open to Paris, laughing and loving... and laughing... (usually Mr. O, laughing at us, most often, at what we were planning on wearing to go out to clubs that night...)  The Os had that "thing"... that bind... something you can't really define except that anyone near them is drawn in and welcomed... the Os had "that."

So. I would like to dedicate this upcoming holiday season to Mr. and Mrs. O., and to all those who spread love to others.

Now, with things ever changing during The Very Interesting Year living between the off grid prefab home and DC, this song is so relevant. I dedicate it to My Beloved, my everything, who traverses from DC to home, weekly. He is "that."

I have been very fortunate to know other families with... "that." 
Our neighbors, the W's, have it.
On weekends, their teens and their friends gather at the W's, just as we gathered at the O's, children and parents and friends of all ages... Whether sitting around a farm bonfire or a Parisian atelier... laughing and loving, together. We're struggling, but hope that one day we'll be sitting around with OUR 20-somethings and their friends at the dining table laughing and talking and... that.
Speaking of "that"...
I would like to quote an Appomattox friend regarding Veterans Day (with an end quote by Edmund Burke):
"I know a ton of people with thank the veterans today, and they certainly deserve our thanks! But take a minute and truly think about what that means...what those who fought and are fighting gave up and still give up every day...and their families too. And though it's hard to say it, we need to look around and see what they are fighting for. It's the greatest country in the world, but we're tearing ourselves apart from the inside out. More citizens should stand up and claim that freedom that our veterans have fought so hard to attain.
I know it's said many times over, but the quote is so true:
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
♥   "

We have experienced When Good Men Do Nothing in our prior neighborhood, in our own families.  Handsome Husband and I discussed often how, having had these experiences, how easily we now could understand how Nazi Germany, how Somalia, how so many other horrible moments in history happened...
We are grateful EACH DAY for those that DO.
Thank you to the DOers. We are grateful to be surrounded by them.

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