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5/28/13

Modern Passive Solar Prefab : We Plant, Slay, Play.

At the passive solar prefab home, we wait.
The well permit is here for the off grid well we want to put in for horses. There is nothing left to do but wait, hoping to get on the well driller's schedule, soon...


At the passive solar prefab, we are used to waiting. For things to happen. Here.

The air smells of nectar.
On spring's breeze, you can just *smell* the honey in the air...
With the rains this week, you have to watch out for clouds of swallowtail butterflies sipping water from the wet roads, and to keep a particular eye out to help turtles cross safely.

Last week, at my neighbor's The W's, doing barn chores, my friend Mrs. W asked,
"Did you see the Amish drive by today?"
"No--! Our house is so off the road, we never see anything!"
"There was a buggy going by earlier... You know, sometimes the Amish teens come down this road, driving their buggies and socializing, too!"
I thought that was pretty neat...

Then today, when picking up something from an Amish farm down the road, the wife said, "Oh, we saw your husband last weekend when he was on the tractor, mowing!" Suddenly I put the two together- "Wait! That was Y'ALL out last weekend? You should have stopped by!" She hedged, "Oh, we didn't know if you were ready for guests..."
I was so surprised- "Please *do* stop next time! And what were you doing out on our road?!?"
She smiled, "We were just out... taking a pleasure drive..."

We chatted a bit and I mentioned which horses were ours, over at The W's, so that next time she is on a pleasure drive they can stop by and see us, and see the horses (her husband is a real horseman and loves horses)... and pointed out what the W's farm looks like.
Amish neighbor: "Oh, yes, there was a woman on the porch, I remember that farm!"

This made me chuckle:
  1. Just as we try to be respectful of our Amish neighbors and not encroach on them too much when we go to their farms, here they were doing the same thing to us, not just barging in for a visit! (I told her please do so, next time!)
  2. We all smile, wave, and try not to ogle Amish neighbors when the buggies go by... You'd think we'd get tired of seeing all the buggies, but as many years that pass, we never do... Yet: I realized that just as we enjoy our Amish views, here are the Amish out for a pleasure drive ogling US and thinking WE are picturesque! : )  So my Amish acquaintance was enjoying seeing Mrs. W sitting on her porch, reading a book, enjoying the pretty spring day!
  3. Wait. Does that mean our road is AN AMISH TOURIST DESTINATION?!?
I love moments when your perspective flips unexpectedly, and you consider what it's like from a different viewpoint... and find surprising commonality... : )

The cicadas are out; so are the stinkbugs.
FYI IF a stinkbug lands in yer wine, it DOES taste like citronella. In case y'all wondered if it was just a smell. #NoLongerSipsWineInTheDark

As spring ebbs towards summer, another cycle in another year, it was an exciting week:
Apple trees were planted.

A broody bantam's first chick hatched.
We named her Ping Pong.

The horses happily rolled themselves from white/light gray to Historic Virginia Clay Red.
That's supposed to be a light gray horse.
Down to our last lamb chop, it was just in time to put the twenty-five meat chickens into the freezer.
Will we raise Cornish meat birds again? Maybe not.
I was appalled by how freakishly different they were from our wonderful, agile laying hens.
There's just something not right about an animal that can't survive on it's own past 8 weeks without breaking legs... Even naturally bred, I guess what I'm saying is I am not sure if we are quite fans of meat "designed" birds.

It was interesting, data said to expect 30% loss, but that must have been factory farm conditions (ew), due to "piling up on top of each other, hence suffocation" (ew). We did not lose a one. But from the start they were not... like real chickens. I prefer wilder / more predator proof birds.

In fall, I will try a truly free range flock- from breeds that forage well, avoid predators, that I can cull, a few at a time, as needed, when needed.

The prefab's new window is here!
The prefab's new window is here!
THE NEW WINDOW FOR THE PREFAB HOUSE IS HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Remember the extremely energy efficient and expensive window accidentally shot out of the modern prefab home by Pipsqueak 1's ricochet?
Modern prefab home, with broken window.
More lovely broken window pics.
Endless broken window pics.

But instead of finally replacing our shot-out-by-the-ten-year-old energy efficient window in the off grid passive prefab home, we... returned to the Chesapeake Bay, for Cousin Time.


Cousins had Cousin Tea Parties. And cousin tea party picnics... And more cousin tea parties.
Cousin 1: "Let's have a tea party!"
Cousin 2: "AND a picnic!"
Cousin 3: "In our clubhouse!"
All: "O-K!"

Cousins drew beautiful portraits of everyone.
My portrait...
This is either Handsome Husband or Pipsqueak 1.

Cousins fished.

And? Every little girl should have a big, tattooed-up, brawny bald uncle to haul her off and patiently teach her how to paddle board.
We ate very, very well.
Po' Folk Pheasant
Lightly batter pheasant (flour, s&p, season-all) and fry. Cut into bite-sized pieces. Serve on crackers spread with cream cheese & pepper jelly. To *die* for...

How To Roast Oysters Marty-From-Seattle Style: 

Flat side down until you see one drop of water coming out. Then flip, so that the oyster, now opening, preserves its moisture while *also* opening the other side. Not over cooked, perfectly done.

Reading Club: 
P.s. In the United States, it is Memorial Day. If you have served, we are very grateful for your service. Thank you.

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5/20/13

Passive Solar Modern Prefab Home Celebrates A Birthday, Files A Well Permit, Is Off To Shooting Club.

At the off grid passive solar prefab home, the off grid well permit has been filed, the Amish air-compression pump is purchased. Now we wait to get on the well drilling company's schedule. The Department of Health came out, and placed the potential well location extremely advantageously for potential piping into our rainwater cistern, if we ever needed to- on the south side of the modern prefab, near the tire swing... quite close to the modern prefab house.

Yet...
How will the well company, with their *extremely* heavy machinery, reach the well location?
I eyed my new, hard-earned, baby grass growing delicately in clay soil... and the fruiting and flowering shrubs and trees I have invested in and been working at SO HARD to not to kill... AGAIN... My summer vegetable seedlings, just emerging...

*Sob*: I have a bad feeling about this... whichever way they approach the target...
(My poor grass...! Noooooooooooooooooo not again!!!! Please don't kill my grass!)
About here, where we're standing in this photo,
is where the well would go.
Hopefully, without the cicada in hand.



Prefabulous Finishing Of The Off Grid House? Not yet.
Unfinished prefab house.
Note exposed SIP on the ceiling, not yet hidden.

All the money we had earmarked for *finishing* the interior of our off grid prefab home this summer now is to be spent instead on equine infrastructure. 
Note that, but don't regret that.
So: Don't expect the "taaaaa-daaaaa finished beautiful interior photoshoot of the prefab house" until equine infrastructure is done. 


Speaking of the soon-to-be off grid well being dug to bring the horses over, when I went to the Amish distributor to pick up the pump I noticed all the cool, cool machinery he has:
The one on the left is for threshing.


"Is that a TRAIN?!?"
"Ah, no, it's not a train, it's a steam engine."
Oh. Ok, steam-engine-not-a-train... cool!
Not a train.


Love the John Deere, Amish-ized.
Groovy music lounge.

The week began with The Pipsqueaks discovering radio channels.  Maybe, with more music, they'll clean their rooms more energetically.
10 Year Old:
"I. *LOVE*. Music.
It makes me feel good all over. Like this song?" (Insert random pop ballad on the radio) "THIS SONG is breaking my heart. I have no idea what they're saying, but THIS SONG just, you know, it just breaks my heart."

I note their enthusiasm, and start to intensely research solar battery chargers. Pipsqueaks will need their own energy supply for stuff like that. #RefusesToLetPopDrainHerBatteryBank

We also had a BIRTHDAY PARTY at the off grid passive solar prefab!
Pipsqueak 2 is now nine!
It was raining. How does one have a birthday party in the rain in a small footprint home? Bring yer slickers and galoshes and a dry pair o' clothes to change into: Rain does not deter childrenz from playing outdoors for long, and, as always, be grateful you have a CONCRETE FLOOR vs. bamboo. Let the mud commence.

The birthday party raged on for over five hours. Even with rain.
We had a blast, and, my favorite part always: We enjoyed introducing wonderful people to wonderful people so they all could become fast friends.
Pin the tail on the chicken run.

Our guests even brought us gifts!
Delicious fresh lettuce and kale from one garden, a Kombucha tea scoby from another, AND *ground cherries* from yet another.
I am so excited!
Kombucha tea scoby

However, Pipsqueak 2 was NOT excited about having new children over to the prefab house. Oh, he was very excited about the new children and meeting new friends... Just not having them over... here.

WHY was he not excited?

"Momma. We *have* to get a toilet that *flushes.*"
Awwww.
It's hard being ten. With a composting toilet. And new guests.
Being a helicopter mom overly-sensitive to my poor sweet dears, I rushed to assure my angel:
"Oh well, too bad.  
Get over it. You have a composting toilet.
If they're your friends, they'll like YOU."

The New People arrived. Children introduced themselves; fast friends were made...
The first thing The New Children wanted to do?
They wanted to see that composting toilet their parents had told them about.
A birthday party full of children, all together, crowded into the bathroom, to inspect the toilet closely.
It was exciting. For about a second.
Then they wandered off, outdoors in the rain, to play and catch pneumonia.
And play they did. For hours.
One young child, after the day: "THIS WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF MY LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!"
#It'sTheSimpleThings : )
"It's raining!
Let's play,
'Wrap Someone In The Hammock In The Rain!' "
Before our guests left, we had the *privilege* and *honor* to introduce some children to The First Horses They Ever Met And Petted.
R. kept gently nuzzling each one...
sensing they were new to equines...
I kept humongous J. busy while the little ones loved on R.

I hold that honor in my heart.

From a puppy to a, er, larger puppy
all within a year.
#TheVeryInterestingYear

With Pipsqueak 2's Birthday Party, I realized at the passive solar prefab, The Very Interesting Year has ended.  
Here is what we now know:
    • Year 1 of living at the passive solar off grid prefab home rocked. We never looked back, and love every moment here.
    • The DC Apartment was unsustainable. As weird as it sounds, turning DC rent into an RVA mortgage for Handsome Husband's work will make it *much* easier for us as a family to visit mid-week, to be closer when one of we parents need back up.
    • Handsome Husband loves what he does. So we will now invest in a mortgage for him vs. pay lip service in rent during the work week, expecting to recover costs vs. throwing money away on rent when he retires, and sell The Workweek Abode.
    • I'm looking forward to the rest of my life here at home at our off grid prefab house.
      Y'all might recall Pipsqueak 1 unexpectedly won the shooting competition last week for his age group in front of the Grand Opening of Tractor Supply. Well, what else do you do but join the 4-H Shooting Club. Today, we had a blast shooting trap... Literally.
      He enjoyed shadowing this young lady...
      #GetUsedToItKid ; )
      We arrived back home just in time to see cloud cover move across the valley, quickly towards us- I jumped back in the car to feed the horses *before* it arrived... but instead arrived just as the downpour began... At least the off grid modern prefab home's cistern is filling... Always an upside to dreary weather.

      End notes:
      Who can sew. I LOVE this. Modern, yet oh so chicken-y fabric, lol.
      I need a cool modern sheath dress piped in gray made out of this:

      "RT @designsponge: I neeed this chicken wire fabric. So adorable:
      http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/item/8297-Moda-Chicken-Wire"


      And in case you haven't heard: The 17 Year Cicadas have emerged.

      The sound of cicadas reminds me of endless Indian dancers-
      Beads flying, bare dusty feet pounding rhythm into earth.

      If cicadas were a band, they'd be My Bloody Valentine, strumming hard.

      And the Gi-Normous Fireflies are here!!!!
      Appearing at night, I can't get them to show up on film. They're beautiful. They seem to be 4+ inches long. They glow red, green, blue... They dance along the ground, yet rise even higher than the tree tops...

      It's magical, here.
      Reading Club:
      • LOVE this brand re-adjustment. Guy Gives Abercrombie & Fitch A Brand Readjustment By Giving Their Clothes To The Homeless

        Although I do have reservations putting a "despicable brand" on marginalized people, as well intentioned as it is, to helping homeless people... what do you think? Is clothing just clothing, in this? Also note that Abercrombie & Fitch would rather burn product than donating excess / damaged to the needy.

        Commenter touchmeinthemorning1:
        "he's not belittling homeless or poor people at ALL. he is a) giving homeless people clothing which is never, ever a bad thing and b) making people think twice about buying clothing from a man who is so obsessed with image that he only has tiny sizes and attractive people wear it. take it as you will but he is doing a world of good with this"
      • China is running out of water - eight of its 28 provinces are as parched as countries in the Middle East
      • Jamestown: With Rising Seas, America's Birthplace Could Disappear tinyurl.com/ag9bf2w #Jamestown #VA
      • Solar Mamas And Their Wild Idea: "They can’t read or write but a couple of brave Bedouin women from Jordan travelled far and wide to help their villages become solar powered. The biggest struggle yet may be with their husbands: We’ve covered this hopeful story of Solar Mamas, Bedouin women from Jordan who went to Barefoot College to learn how to solar power their villages. We’ve interviewed the women from solar mamas, and have reviewed the film Solar Mamas, a documentary movie about their journey. "
      • World War II Week:
        I have been reading, completely randomly yet of course tying in together into a theme, some interesting World War II articles, and one book: 
      Homeschool:
      • My kids LOVE Crash Course Chemistry and History. This episode ties in the table of elements, the Hindenburg, making fire with cotton, Hitler. Like I said, it has been very randomly World War II History Week, not intended, but cool-ly tied into everything:

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