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Modern Off Grid Prefab House In Rifle Season And Heartbreak.

As we now confidently know, even with the temperatures this week vacillating from a crazy 70 degree day to night lows in the teens, the off grid prefab house is cozy, solid, and easy, of course.  I'm quietly typing in the comfortable stillness within the modern prefab. It says indoors it's around 70 degrees, yet outside there is high wind and temperatures in the teens!

I just throw on one log, one at a time in the cook stove, and at night, let the cook stove burn out, because we don't  need to keep it going- we are still comfy each morning thanks to the super energy efficient SIP (structural insulated panels).
The prefab is so energy efficient, so extremely tight, that when Pipsqueak 2 starts lighting candle decorations she created from recycled old Halloween pumpkins I had near the front door last month, the match smoke just hangs in the air.

Even though we have an ERV for fresh air exchange, critical in such tight, energy efficient homes, I still open up all the windows and let the icy air blast through at least once a day. I think, like many mothers before me, that it is healthy to let in outdoor cold air, sweeping out germs, before the cook stove turns that icy air cozy, again.

In fact, many Scandinavian parents still put their babies outdoors to nap in sub-zero weather!
Speaking of wood heat, the Wood Stove Decathalon was held  this week in D.C. Wood is not the greenest heat, but they are actively improving the product. Take a look:

It was on that crazy 70 degree day I earlier mentioned when I returned home to the prefab house from the barn, heart breaking, in shock.
I was trying to pull myself together for what to say when I entered the house... but instead, the children skipped out to meet me.

"What a *BEAUTIFUL* day!!!!!! Let's ride!!!!!!"
I had to tell them that their beloved leopard appaloosa, Riata, was terminally ill.
Riata, literally, last week.
I. am. floored.

Eye to eye,
cheek to cheek.

Cancer in horses is rare. But with lymphoma, it travels via the bloodstream, feeding off nutrients... it is aggressive, and fast, starving the horse quickly. Three weeks ago I noticed her hips were a tad bony. "I'll just up her feed- it's probably because the pasture grass is waning so she needs more feed and hay, maybe I need to add more..." A week ago, I saw two vertebrae between her shoulders. The vet was already coming out to check out two lumps, so I thought I'd ask him then about what to do.

Appaloosas often get fatty lumps, it's no big deal. But just in case, we sent the lump off.
When the vet called this week, I thought it would be to tell me, "Congratulations, you have a lumpy horse, ha ha..."
He didn't.
He was blunt, but compassionate.

Just days later, I can see Riata's entire backbone.
This is not Riata as she should be.
I don't want you to think of her like this.
I will not post any more current pictures of her.
I might even take this picture down.
I can't stand this.

The terminal diagnosis was shocking enough, but I thought we'd have at least a few months.
It was clear quickly that we need to cherish every day.
Riata this summer... Silly and patient.

Nephew 3 was hoping to head out for a visit.
Sister wondered if that was a good idea.
"No, no, please do send him, he will keep the children busy and normal."
His visit this weekend, and thanks to all of our dear friends, he and all of our friends have, in our grief, made these days bearable.

Nephew 3 not only kept us normal, but laughing.  I really didn't think it would be possible to even smile, much less laugh. Thank you, Nephew 3.
Saturday we started out hunting... a blind that was WAY too small for the two of us, hence even more giggles...
"This blind is TOO SMALL FOR MY, uh, curvaceousness and this kid!"

...and finished the day helping our good friends & neighbor retrieve his deer. This young man is helping to pass on his knowledge to another generation: Pipsqueaks and Nephew.

The kids were fascinated as S. gutted it- it really was a great lesson in biology and how things work.  Most kids their age are maybe dissecting worms, so it is always a great opportunity for children to see chickens and deer up close as they're butchered respectfully, to learn where and what each part is, how it works, how it is all connected.
M. and Pipsqueak 2, keeping warm.
Nephew 3 lying on the deer hide for warmth.
S. doing it all in freezing temperatures, his cold hands working hard.

Despite being numb with the shock of Riata's news, we had a...a weekend filled with love, and the chaos that erupts with three children, a passel o' cousins, together.

When things are still, grief seeps back. Riata is going really, really quickly, faster than I ever imagined. It's deeply shocking. I try not to fuss over her too much, to make things her "usual routine."

Every day, I enter the pasture and she nickers... then: her eye is looking deep into mine, eye to eye, cheek to cheek, as always.
Eye to eye,
cheek to cheek,
this summer.

Every day, I ask her how she is.
And one day, much too soon,  she will let me know it's time.
Until then, we are eye to eye, cheek to cheek, as always.

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