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9/16/13

Modern Prefab House Cleans Up After Off Grid Well Drilling, Continues Interior Plywood, Celebrates Pamplin.

It was a beautiful week in the off grid prefab home. Morning fog cleared to blue skies, the air was cool, a gentle breeze drifted... As I often say, we were busy but it wasn't all chores, we did have fun.
 
 

Cousin It, a.k.a. The Hideous Well Cover from our off grid pneumatic well drilled last week, did not stay long. We are fabricating our own solution to better blend in with the modern off grid prefab house.
I am also rethinking the generator with the air pump for the pneumatic well.
It just seemed silly that the generator must draw power from our off grid house during the running of the pump. Discussing it with an Amish neighbor, he said he uses a diesel engine.
That made me think...
And, discussing it with our now retired contractor and dear friend Mr. B, he took it further:
Generator -> Compressor -> STORAGE -> Well Pump

The generator was running the air compressor, which was then running the pneumatic pump.
What we need is a storage tank, to fill up with compressed air, to then use throughout the week. For our purposes, as they are small, we could repurpose an old propane tank (ensuring it is air tight).

He also wanted to make sure we knew to sanitize our well. 
I double checked and ours was sanitized, but you should know this is important and not all well drillers do so. Interesting. (THANKS, Mr. B!)

We Continued On With Lining The Off Grid Prefab House's Ceiling With Plywood
Why Plywood?
Slow weekend progress via scaffolds,
covering up the green of the SIP...

  • More environmentally friendly
  • Easy to remove / easy access behind walls
  • I don't like drywall- it serves no purpose, is a dust magnet, and can leech toxins
    "... when drywall reaches landfills--and it does so in vast quantities, as it constitutes about 15% of all construction and demolition debris--it can leach these toxic chemicals into groundwater. And in the anaerobic conditions of landfills, bacteria convert gypsum into hydrogen sulfide, a poisonous gas.

    Unfortunately, post-consumer gypsum board is commonly diverted from landfills to be used as a soil amendment in agricultural settings. If we have restrictions to prevent these toxic chemicals and heavy metals from being spewed into the air by power plants, is it really a good idea to add them straight into our soil?"

    See more at: http://greenspec.buildinggreen.com/blogs/gypsum-board-are-our-walls-leaching-toxins#sthash.r5g1p27p.dpuf
when drywall reaches landfills--and it does so in vast quantities, as it constitutes about 15% of all construction and demolition debris--it can leach these toxic chemicals into groundwater. And in the anaerobic conditions of landfills, bacteria convert gypsum into hydrogen sulfide, a poisonous gas.
Unfortunately, post-consumer gypsum board is commonly diverted from landfills to be used as a soil amendment in agricultural settings. If we have restrictions to prevent these toxic chemicals and heavy metals from being spewed into the air by power plants, is it really a good idea to add them straight into our soil?
- See more at: http://greenspec.buildinggreen.com/blogs/gypsum-board-are-our-walls-leaching-toxins#sthash.r5g1p27p.dpuf
How did drywall even come about?!? Lloyd Alter explains, here.
In it, he quotes Steve Mouzon:
"They call that boring white stuff we put on our walls "drywall" because so long as you keep it dry, you have a wall. But just as soon as it gets wet, it turns to messy mush. And even if it doesn't fall apart, it loves to host mold and mildew and make your family sick.... . We need to learn how to build durable and resilient buildings like our great-grandparents did so that the summer shower is no reason to call the insurance adjustor; you simply wipe down the walls that got wet and never give it a second thought."
Exactly.

Although the initial cost of material is more than drywall is less, plywood is easier to install yourself, so if you do the labor, you come out even or ahead, and looking good!

Of course we never do anything the way it's supposed to be, it seems...  we are installing our plywood *backwards*, with the "groomed" side hidden, and the backs, exposed. We thought the natural pattern of the wood was more attractive.
On the left is the "front side." Huh.
We like the "back side," on the right!


The Great Room In The Prefab House, now slowly turning monochrome as we cover the SIP with plywood, appears to shrink the room, slightly...
Before, with the maple reused basketball court on the north wall, and the west, east, and south walls covered with plywood, and the darker colored green of the SIP still revealed on the roof, the room appeared HUGE.

So, if you like that enormous look, you can just choose paint colors slightly darker on the ceiling to open it back up.

Here are the colors that were picked out for our own prefab house great room:
These actually don't show up well-
two grays, variations of the concrete color, and blue on the ceiling.
But we'll leave the plywood "as is," awhile...

Handsome Husband also spent an afternoon moving gunk from the well drilling to fill in an area in the field where there is a depression / hole area.  Can you believe the amount of unsightly gunk these "simple" improvement tasks, like drilling a well or excavating to grade or for septic leave behind?

 
He also reused that granite mud gunk as infill around the prefab house.
 

But it wasn't all chores:
We had a wonderful time at Celebrate Pamplin Day!
 
Did you know Pamplin is included in the coolest book, Lost Communities Of Virginia? It is a dubious honor, indicating Pamplin City's life had ebbed. But that's not to say revitalization won't bring Pamplin back!

It is great Preservation Virginia, and Virginia Tech's Community Design Assistance Center, are also aware how great it would be to preserve these storefronts, usually deserted, but this weekend, filled with people:

[Click to see, larger]
Check out CDAC's design suggestions for an entryway into Pamplin:
To view the updated master plan and supporting sketches, click the links below:

What a great opportunity for revitalization- anchored by the old train depot turned into a library, imagine a farmers market, open air bluegrass welcoming hikers and bikers coming off the High Bridge Trail... Seeing the success of this year's Celebrate Pamplin Day, it is possible!

Regardless of the state of architecture, Pamplin City is full o' life!
Here's videos (gathered from YouTube) of some of the music, so you can see the local talent:
Here is Farm Use String Band. I just love 'em:

Here's ShakyGrass. Her voice is so haunting. I wish they'd put out some videos... good gracious that woman can SING.

I also met this nice gentleman who was firing live ammunition in the midst of the unblinking crowd, giving away shell casings as souvenirs, so I had to inquire after his story, of course.
 
 
He began telling me about his train robberies.
"But aren't you the Marshall?" "Sometimes, in the middle, I switch sides."
[If train robberies and saloon girls and scenic train rides through Virginia interest you, you can meet up with these folks on the James River Rambler!]

With such beautiful blue skies, it was easy to solar cook while runnin' about having fun.

Solar Cookin'
"Ok. Y'all clean the table, sweep the house, and tidy up while I work on dinner."
What I didn't say was I had lamb chops, rosemary potatoes, and stewed tomatoes simmering in the solar cooker since mid-afternoon...
I am off to pour myself a glass of wine & relax until they're done and it's time for dinner...!
More recipes from the week:
Solar Stewed Toe-mah-toes (If you're gonna make it you might as well say it right!)
The stewed tomatoes took the longest to prepare.
  1. Open can & plunk tomatoes into pot 
  2. Stir in some leftover bread, torn up, sugar, & salt 
  3. Put in solar cooker and go read a trashy magazine after telling the children sternly to do their schoolwork
Smoky Solar Eggplant
  1. Dice a large eggplant and put into the solar and then go ride a horse or bushhogg or go over to a friend's house and sip wine while you talk about me
  2. Come back
  3. Mince onion and garlic and ginger
  4. Dice 2 SUN RIPENED juicy tomatoes, put into a nonreactive casserole pot or large something. Toss with salt, fresh basil, and some fresh pepper.
  5. In a large pan start frying up the onion/garlic/ginger in good olive oil
  6. Get the eggplant from the solar cooker.
  7. Drain off any eggplant liquid, stir it in with the tomato mixture.
  8. Liberally sprinkle it all with KimKim Sauce which gives it the smoky spicy taste. Let it sit awhile.. (If you don't live in the south and can't somehow get KimKim sauce then you can try to make a smoky korean sweet tangy spicy sauce yerself... Oh, just get the KimKim...)
  9. It would also be delicious if you also glugged in some dark, delicious sesame oil...
This is not solar cooking, but the children loved okra like this:
Saturday Movie Okra "Popcorn"
Wash and *dry* okra. Drying it is key. Cut into slices. Get a skillet nice and hot. Coat with olive oil, add in the okra, and let sit on one side awhile before stirring and turning, to then let sit awhile, so it gets nice and crispy.  Sprinkle with salt, serve while watching a movie. Better than popcorn!

And then, so happy in the off grid prefab house, we went to bed.

In the great green SIPs room...
...And goodnight to the old pink-haired lady
whispering "hush"
Goodnight stars
Goodnight HRV air
Goodnight off grid noises everywhere

Hush, coyotes, hush...
#GoodnightMoon  

Reading Club:
Homeschool:

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