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Modern Prefab House Is Off Grid Passive Solar And Headin' Towards Fall.

What can I say. This week there was rain, there was sun, plenty of howling coyotes, and a rooster crow-off.  With rain sun sleet or snow, it is beautiful here, and we are so happy at the off grid prefab house, no matter the season: Passive solar, energy efficient, frugally colorful living.


Again, rain came down heavily about the off grid prefab house this week, and again I was grateful for grass having finally grown, so the home site is no longer a mud pit. Have a look at the cistern, natural daylighting, and prefab house in the rain:
I am still so thrilled that now, when I clean this house, it's like cleaning finally *any* house, no longer a construction, mud filled job site.
I: "Wow, with the grass now established,
this prefab house, which I have not cleaned
in a week, is just... barely dusty!
Suddenly, the prefab house, with the children helping, now takes like... twenty minutes to clean: Pick up yer clothes, kids, sweep the floor, wipe down the furniture WE ARE DONE, LET THE WEEKEND BEGIN.

Take a tour! I even made a video. Note that the children's bedrooms are always a pile o' jumble.
Now, Handsome Husband works a little every week to finish covering up the SIP (structural insulated panels), i.e. the green you see anywhere on the ceiling or walls that is not yet clad in plywood.

I love to take pictures...
Tiny mushroom emerging from a hickory nut.

Clouds and sun, finally...

Puppy as big as a hammock?

Laughing. Most likely at me.

Amaryllis from the Amish stand...

However, I'm not the only photographer in the family...
The childrenz take pictures...
Photo by a Pipsqueak.
Pipsqueak 1 is quite the budding "I Am Photographing Youuuuuu, Momma!"...
Who needs paparazzi, lol...
"MOMMA! I am taking a picture!"

Here we are, Mrs. H and I, recently at one of Richmond's food truck events, made even better, as, well, it was at a local brewery, Hardywood! Their success is well deserved.


It was great to see The H's, Sister, her family, and friends... while eating local, and uh, supporting a local brewery. Oh the sacrifices to support local breweries one makes ; ) .

photo via beloved Hardywood Brewery

Here's an article I found interesting this week: Are Food Trucks Siphoning Customers Away From Bricks-And-Mortar Restaurants?  It was INTERESTING who loses- it is not the locally owned restaurants, but the fast food joints that lose customers, by customers who are then eating, often, better, more diverse food!
"Researchers spoke to people who had purchased food from a truck, asking them where they would have gotten their meals had there been no truck. Half of the respondents said they would probably have just eaten fast food, while another 20% said they would likely have just skipped the meal."
The best part was some nice guy walking around in a brown t-shirt that read,
"Ask me about my compost pile."
So I did!
"Sooooo. How's yer compost pile?"
He was awesome and funny and at the end I let the poor guy go, but not before asking, "Well, what would you think if I told you I have a composting TOILET. Do I look like that kinda girl to you?"

"That's crazy!" "Yep, would you believe we live off grid with a composting toilet...?" "Is it a cabin somewhere?" "No, it's our home, and we use that composting toilet evvvvvvery day..."

Right when he became impressed, the children chimed in with COMPOSTING TOILET STORIES and how they dire-ly want a FLUSHING TOILET because it's the first thing new friends, when they come over to the prefab house for the first time, want to see, and THAT IS EMBARRASSING.  He was cracking up and it was just, well, I guess you had to be there.

[Writing this, I said to the childrenz, "So. Why DON'T you like the composting toilet?" Pipsqueak 2 yells to her brother, "DON'T ANSWER HER! SHE'S FACEBOOKING IT!!!!" lol! ]

Dagged black snakes... This time, I glanced down at the coop door and saw his body, languidly sprawled out of the opening...
Furious, I lifted the coop lid:

He was hilarious- egg in mouth, frozen as we, indignant, glared down on the scene... 
"DROP IT, MISTAH!" He did...
"Who... ME?!?" No snake, who I.

We always drive 'em down the road to a cow pasture where they can chase field mice to the end of their days... TRUST ME after our childrenz are done playing with them, they never want to come back, lol!

This transitional weather...
Too cloudy to solar cook, too hot to get the cook stove going...
Hellooooooo sandwiches and non-cooked food...

Here's something the childrenz *ate* *up* this week, in fact I had to make several *batches*:
Tortilla Salad
In a bowl, mix 1/2 minced onion, 2 cans of beans (two different kinds, so they look pretty, of either black, pinto, kidney...), 1 can corn, cubed 1/2 cuke, diced green pepper, diced (small) cheddar cheese. Sprinkle chili powder liberally over it, plus 2+ glugs of balsamic, and stir it up. Add salsa of your choice, enough to more than bind it, but not overly saucy. Fresh cilantro or parsley would be good in this, too, no? Serve over  iceberg, with a few tortilla chips or crisped tortilla pieces.

Unfortunately we had something odd occur today that we need to research:   
Mid-morning, we heard a *pop* and one of our Apricus solar hot water tubes had burst.  It had been cloudy on prior days, and, with the battery bank only gaining to about 80% during those cloudy days, knowing there were still cloudy days to come, I had turned off the solar hot water then so not to draw down further solar energy use.

Now, finally sunny, I had been out spotting my neighbor on her horse, returned late morning, and turned the solar hot water back on, knowing it would be sunny.
Look closely at the far left tube...
 I will research, reach out to Apricus, and report back!

Reading Club:
The second child has been felled by the Scratch Programming virus. I am not complaining a bit. A great introduction to vector graphics, programming... Thank you M.I.T. for creating this!!!
Also I wanted to post the "table nine finger trick" - explanation below, but we TURN DOWN the finger that indicates what you are multiplying, it makes the answer much more visualized:

Hope y'all have a great week. This week at the off grid prefab house will be filled with adventure, as a livestock well is dug!

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Off Grid Life In A Prefab House, I Consider Rural, And Ready Further For Fall.

At Higher Ground, at our off grid prefab house, we prepare for fall.
All this cool, wet weather this summer makes it easy to imagine that soon, months and months of cold await...

We checked the prefab home's solar batteries' water levels...

At The B's, a large oak fell in a recent storm, and Handsome Husband spends time turning it into firewood.
Pipsqueak 1 as comparison as to how huge the oak is...

I can not stop thinking whether there are more tomatoes to can...where goes time?

And the season has been odd: The figs have not yet ripened. The grapes and elderberries were too-quickly-for-their-season gone. This summer warns for winter... Even at the Amish Y's, Mrs. Y rued this season's too-quick elderberries. So I did not feel alone or ignorant in my missed elderberry jam season.

At least, from our meager orchard, we got an apple.

Mid-week, I came to the city, and visited Sister.
She: "You've been in the woods too long." When I started laughing she said, "SERIOUSLY. You have."
Heck. I was just intrigued by people in the coffee shop.
Maybe living in the woods brings back wonder.
I think back over the "mundane" errands I run, and how each conversation leaves me musing, often, for days.

With Mr. Y, there to discuss the off grid pump connection for the livestock well we will drill in coming weeks, we spoke at length about traveling by train, which he, Amish, is considering for a long distance trip.  The Amish do not fear technology, they just decide how to integrate it into their lives without affecting community ties. So for travel, a purpose to travel TO community, hiring a van or taking a train is fine. Discussing the fine points of trains and autos for travel just... made me rethink transportation, a topic again fresh.

His wife and I discussed natural medicine and approaches to health, people's disconnect from nature (and how to re-connect, with children and chickens, for example), and whether the city people had "forgotten everything." [City people: I stood up for you, and told her about the resurgence of food gardens and urban hens and changing zoning! It made her smile.]

At Mrs. E's, I decided to not just stop for bread and jam, but to add more hens to our wild Amish-acquired flock who roosts in trees. Imagine the delight of the children, still finishing schoolwork, when I returned with five new hens...

Then the next morning, all giggling, we expectantly awaited Handsome Husband to wake, and anticipated the moment when he would certainly do a double take at how the hens had morphed... from two Red Stars to suddenly seven...!
"We multiplied!"

Like the first wild pair from our Amish friends, these new additions roost in the cedars, as I continue my experiment of a wild flock for meat and eggs.
[Note: They are surrounded by the electric fence, and their cedar is within, so safer from predators. Unlike many of our farming friends who fence in fields, we leave our fields open but fence in around the prefab house to prevent predators, and constrain dogs and childrenz.]

Whether you are rural or urban, think about how much hens add to sustainability of a homestead.

Pipsqueak 1 spends much of his spare time programming.  He realized, from questions and reactions of others (without divulging specific information about himself), that being a farm kid while programming is kinda unusual. I admit, programmers *are* a little scarce out here.

Heck, out here, we're so rural, Jehovah's Witnesses resort to mail.

After our visit to the city, not one, not two, not three, but TWELVE TURKEYS crossed our path to welcome us home...
We were really glad to be home, not going to-and-fro, at the off grid prefab, as much as we love Deltaville...
"WHAT? Is it fall ALREADY?!?"

School started, and as with any school, the transition from summer to full-on homeschool was rough. But, overall, we had a good first week.

What to say about the rain and summer this year... Last year, it was 100+ in summer, and now, gratefully but perplexidly a tad, we have...
Cool, cool...

Oh, that moment last night when the heavy gray skies that had hung low all day turned to a gentle pitter patter, then suddenly you heard the water's shout and chant of "RAIN! RAIN! RAIN! RAIIIIIIIIIN!!!!!!!" Bring it. I love my off grid comfy home when there's weather outside.  

I wandered out into the dark for a moment, to feel the rain on my face, turning.

With the grass newly grown about the prefab house, all this rain has NOT been a disaster.
No more piles of rags by each door, ready to (ineffectively) wipe off dirty feet and paws, caked with Virginia clay...

With no more mud, it is time to start really cleaning and organizing this house. No more mud, no more construction dust (or at least, minimally), no more layers of grit on everything!!!! Halleluiah!

"Run! She's wielding a mop and a broom!"
It's SO NICE to have all this rain, with finally no horrid clumps of mud tracked through the prefab, when, dried, would dissipate into the air to add a layer of gross red GRIT, on *everything*... The grass makes all the difference between gritty survival through wet weeks, and clean, modern off grid living.
I will also be detailing how I expect this winter to be improved, off grid, in coming weeks, and aim to finally finish fully all construction.

But it didn't rain all week.
With Miz B, we went riding crazy with four childrenz allllll Saturday morning.
Here is Pipsqueak 1 whispering sweet nothings into his beloved's ear. Never get between Pipsqueak 1 and his love.
Later, I just about had a heart attack when I was adjusting something on R., and turned to see Pipsqueak 2 *GALLOPING* AWAY across the field on the B's Rabi- I screamed, "Tuuuuuuuurn her!!!!" and I was instead met her turning towards me with a huge grin: "THAT's called 'Racing To The Gate!'"
"When am *I* gonna go play?!?"
Ergh, you need some work, mister.
And with fall, cooking brings less raw foods but delicious comforting stewing.
Number 24: Readying For Fall But Avoiding Kitchen Heat: Stewed Hen: On a sunny day, SOLAR cook that bird! 
Still too warm for the cook stove, today...

In a baking dish, add the whole bird, *some apple cider vinegar sprinkled over and around it* so that it will be evaporated and steamed with it, and sprinkle with salt and pepper...

Ok, admittedly you kinda have to smush the bird down to get it to fit into a solar cooker (Mrs. B: "OR you could cut it up, y'know...?!?")... Well I smushed it down, left to go riding and swimming, and came back to a mostly cooked bird and then finished it thus: In a Dutch Oven, add olive oil, sautee 2 slivered onions in 1" pieces until soft, then add 2 cans of hand torn whole tomatoes + juice.  Stir in some fresh or organic canned spinach.

Toss in the mostly-cooked bird over the onion tomato spaghetti mess!
Let it all simmer & steam. Turn it.
Break up spaghetti into 3" pieces, and cook in the sauce.
Once the bird is done, remove the bird to rest, and in the pasta & sauce stir in some cream or cream cheese, once it's not hot enough to curdle, and parmesean.
Pour that all into a casserole dish, then add the chicken on top. Ohhhhh yum. Tender bird, savory spaghetti.

P.s. A German friend is in the hospital. M., we are thinking of you...  Y'all recall the visiting H's, you know, the lawyers, one in the corporate world, the other a judge, who were interested in urban hens and zoning?  Well, Mr. H left for a weekend in the Alps and ended in the hospital with a sudden, terrible virus.

The doctor explained the virus that overtook him is a newly emerged virus they are quickly finding common as, "Now that Germany has unprecedented heat waves, unknown viruses are emerging and propagating, no longer killed by cold weather."

So... wait. Did that hospital just tell him he is sick because of climate change?
What's the message?

Reading Club:

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