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4/8/13

Off Grid, The Passive Solar Prefab House... Peeps.

Hey there, passive solar off grid prefab house peeps! With spring, we traveled home after Easter in Richmond to the off grid prefab home in a car loaded with suitcases, two Very Large Dawgs, three children (Pipsqueaks + Nephew 3 On Spring Break) and TWENTY-FIVE BABY CHICKS.

Yes, you heard that right: Three children, two huge dogs and TWENTY-FIVE CHICKS. Driving. In a car. Not a mini-van. Together.

We laughed so hard... Every time we'd hit a red light I'd egg (ha) on my nephew to take more pictures. He did. 

Settled in quickly, I realized we might be seasoned poultry people, having raised day old chicks and numerous flocks, but... this was the first time we were raising a flock from the start, OFF GRID.

What energy consumption! You know that innocent little heat lamp? Yeah. A .35kw draw. More of an energy guzzler than our large appliances, actually, of the entire house, and we're supposed to run this 24/7? We have clouds due at the end of the week!

So, in the off grid prefab house, I realize: starting chicks with a heat lamp? Extremely UN energy-efficient. Which I would never do anyway except these are meat birds I wanted to raise all at once.  LESSONS: Get a solar appliance charger for projects like this or, go broody, honeychiles, and not raise chicks en masse.
I hear peeping at the prefab...

In three days of baby chickdom, the passive solar prefab's battery bank, during sunny days, dropped from a happy 100% to 74%. After three days of cringing, watching the solar battery bank deplete, the way I got around running the heat lamp 24/7 (which takes TEN+ PERCENT OF OUR BATTERY BANK, a day, for ONE LIGHT BULB) was to move them against and crank up the cookstove. No matter how warm outside.

With Nephew 3 and 25 baby chicks, the week at the off grid prefab house passed quickly.
Nephew 3 kept busy, hugging equines.

They cut trails. And spent hours sweeping them.
Maybe they'll sweep my house, next.
I *think* this is a lean-to they are building.

They hiked the High Bridge Trail.
"High Bridge Trail is ideally suited for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. Once a rail bed, the trail is wide, level and generally flat. ...Its centerpiece, the majestic High Bridge, is more than 2,400 feet long and 125 feet above the Appomattox River."
And at the top, a High Bridge Yogi?
Ommmmmmm...

And then the rain/snow/sleet came.
Blobs of snow, with rain.
You have got to be kidding me.

Back to living in a rice paddy.
If I had an Indian name it would be SheWhoParksCarsHighOnField

So now the modern prefab house is not only peeping, but sweltering and reeking of baby chick feed. Siiiiiigh... Vraiment Chic.

ShopDawg assured me he would be happy to take a few chicks off my hands...
He's not guarding, he's salivating.

Thank you kindly, but NO thank you, ShopDawg...

Heating Chicks With Cookstove Night #1: We did not lose any chicks, and the battery bank went only from 74% to 72%, vs. ten+ points! And yay, the next days will be sunny. Bring on the solar gain.

Reading Club:
  • Thoughts On Modern Design
    RT @Dezeen "Extending copyright for design condemns us to mid-century modernism," says @_SamJacob http://bit.ly/YUI1ek

    "...Sam Jacob argues that the UK government's plans to extend the copyright term for design 'protect existing interests instead of promoting innovation'."
    >Interesting.Thoughts?
  • And today's construction products: How Much Energy Is Wasted on Cheap Crap Made in China?!? (If you are an electrician / in construction especially you will appreciate his great points...)

At the passive solar prefab, after another shocking round of "spring" snow and rain, the next day was sunny. 

The first day heating baby chicks via cookstove vs. heat lamp, the solar battery bank jumped up to 80%.

Hellooooo, back to turning on the solar hot water. THANK GOODNESS.

Here's some pictures of the sun returning to the off grid prefab house!
Check out the natural daylighting, and thermal mass of the passive solar house this time of year:
 
 
 
 

Ah, the sweet bouquet of bouquets!

Ahhhhh, spring. Pipsqueak 2 picked dandelions, and made all sorts of bouquets.
via Frugal Farmers, Here's a friendly reminder that dandelions have benefits.
"While many people think of the dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) as a pesky weed, herbalists consider it a valuable herb that can be used as a food and medicine. Dandelion is a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc. Dandelion leaves are used to add flavor to salads, sandwiches, and teas. The roots are used in some coffee substitutes, and the flowers are used to make wines."

Spring also means that about 150 years ago, our nation fell apart, then, in spring, was reunited.  

With friends visiting at the last minute, we attended Sesquicentennial Commemorations in Appomattox.

Practicing morse code...


[The guards left her in charge.]



















 
Recipes

Spring Lamb Pasta
Make lamb meatballs: In olive oil, lightly fry meatballs: ground lamb / bread crumbs (homemade cubed old bread) / diced onion / coriander / cumin / egg.

Pasta: Boil spaghetti, drain, set aside. In glugs of olive oil, sautee onions (lots) until soft & carmelized in places. Add in meatballs, now quartering them with your spatula, stirring, then add in pasta, lemon juice, lots of parsley, oregano, more cumin... and if you like, hot sauce at the end.


Corn Shuck Pasta

Named after Sister, who played the washboard in the band Tiny And The Corn Shucks. You've heard of 'em, right?

Sautee diced onions in lots of butter. Add in organic canned corn. Chile powder. Lots of salt and pepper. Cook spaghetti, drain, toss hot noodles with several eggs until the eggs are cooked. Fold in the onion/corn/chile mixture. Add lots of Parmesan, and, if you're brave, a little tahini and/or sriracha. This pasta needs a little salt/heat as it does not have, like a traditional carbonara, the bacon.

Angie's Macaroni Salad
With unexpected guests, Handsome Husband ran to the country store for provisions. The owner, Angie, makes a macaroni salad that is delicious. Cook macaroni, drain. In a large bowl mix Duke's mayo, sugar, some vinegar, salt, pepper, dry mustard until sugar is dissolved. Add: minced onion, diced: cucumbers, red pepper, shredded cheddar, cut small: fresh tomatoes, and some sweet relish. Stir it all up, let it set at least a day before serving. YUM.

Dusk. Our guests departed. We, glowing from the day, cleaned up, then sank into bed.

Coyotes howling, tree frogs trilling, and 25 baby chicks quietly peeping against the cookstove. It is a glorious night at the off grid prefab, with spring, finally, here.
"Wheee! It's SPRING!"

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