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10/6/14

Off Grid System Solutions To Seasonal Dilemmas

Fall settles in at the off grid modern prefab house.
This morning, apparently it was 37°. We woke up, cozy in our pj's, made coffee, breakfast... Got on the internet, and everyone's talking about how cold it was. Lol.  Our reaction to everyone's shocked online protests was, "Oh, it appears to be cold out, we should wait to open the windows... *YAWN*..."
It'll be awhile before I turn heat on... 
#OffGrid #PassiveSolar #EnergyEfficient House
The pirate kids have returned from sailing the high seas and museums.
We're so glad they're home... we missed all the sweeping and chicken-and-dog caring and egg collecting and bed making they do! As I said, "Whew! I've just been tirin' myself out doing all those chores you do!" 

Two ideas to note:
As we prepare for winter, I think about how to go away for a day or two when my chicken's water would freeze. I spent some time looking for off grid solutions.

We had an extra fence charger so decided to repurpose that.
(If you are looking for solar chargers, the Joos Orange Portable Solar Charger looks good because it is durable and waterproof. The Coleman 18watt also looks good.)
We will combine that with a metal base water heater. Yes I've seen the cookie tin water heater with christmas lights inside. But I want the most SAFE, "I can leave here confidently and this is the safest for my chickens while I'm away" solution. Note we will still need to modify the run so that it is dry and covered- keeping rain away.

In summer? 
An easy, can be solar powered simple affordable air conditioner!
I *love* the idea of instead of getting "a bag of ice" you just freeze, and re-freeze, a gallon jug, SO effective to not waste water!

As you know, in the summer we OPEN the windows at night, letting the cool breeze in. We CLOSE the windows at dawn, keeping the prefab cool throughout the day.  But by mid-afternoon, on the hottest days, it's hot, because the night temperature didn't cool down much. Even with the passive solar design and ceiling fans, when it's 100 outside, it's hot. This mini-conditioner seems like a good experiment to try for those hot afternoon hours when the sun (hence energy / battery bank level) is plentiful.

Because we are already off grid I wouldn't bother with the expense of a separate solar panel, I'd just plug it in to our house outlets. I theorize the main living space would cool down quickly if we kept the bedrooms closed, and then we could just move it into the children's bedrooms as they fall asleep. Heck. We could even make two.

Greenhouse Dreams
Remember that (ideal Gypsy Caravan Tiny House) shed on a trailer from The Ramshackle?
Handsome Husband stripped it, and dragged it here. From the Chesapeake Bay. Oh yes, he did.
This picture makes it look small. IT'S HUGE.
He, under the watch of Mister B, is hatching greenhouse plans with low water usage, rightfully so. As much as I fight the idea of my beloved Gypsy Caravan being a greenhouse, they are right.

In the meantime, check out Mister B's incredible greenhouse that now, in October, is bearing the latest crop of cucumbers, delicious tomatoes, swiss chard, bok choy, parsley, and all sorts of crops through winter. He is a greenhouse (and hydroponic, in his garage) master!
 
cucumbers
At the off grid prefab, we continue to prepare for fall.
This week's list includes carefully checking each window to see if anything needs to be tightened / weatherstripping replaced / anything to maintain the windows' energy efficiency for winter. As a rambunctious family, we are hard on windows and doors so need to do an annual inspection.
We collect kindling, Tiny uncollects it.

We actually, finally, due to a birthday cake cooking later than it should have gone in to cook in the solar cooker, got to test out the electric part of our hybrid solar cooker.
Oh, there goes the sun's rays, ebbing!
Eeep!
We plugged it in!
And read the draw... Ahahahahaha!
Yeah, that's about as much as we gain solar-ly maximum in a bright sunny day being *depleted* every second from our battery bank as it bakes...! Nooooo thank yew...

In fall we also clean windows, take upholstered chairs outside to "beat" like you would a rug, still getting out the construction dust each time...

Handsome Husband decided to repaint the bookcases that had also become dingy through construction. I had just cleaned, but came in to the great room to find stacks and stacks of books, still covered with construction dust, plopped throughout the living room.
Since it was a good idea, needed to happen, just not this weekend, instead of saying anything I left to work Zena and take a deep breath...



...and returned to find the bookcases now dragged indoors and two paint-splattered childrenz happily painting in mah living room.
If I were to give advice to another prefab house kit person considering "pay as you go" / constructing the prefab house in stages like we did, it would be... "Ok yes I get it, that's why we did our own prefab house in stages but do know you will be cleaning out construction dust for years to come if you don't put sheets over everything.. and once you stop don't let your husband ever think he can just come back in the house and start sawing or painting anything inside AGAIN."
Deep breath... baby steps...
But going through all the books and reorganizing and rethinking the room layout as you clean is always a good annual exercise.  Pip 1 found a Popular Mechanics from 1954 and was mesmerized by The Home Of 2004!

Let's go visit The Smiths, of Atomville,
in our supersonic airliner!
It was a very interesting article... I'm grateful that by 2004 not all our homes look alike as they predicted... especially mine!

Reading Club:
  • Currently, at the Carnegie Science Center...
    this is what they offer boy scouts vs. girl scouts.

    I thought it was a hoax but it is not.
    http://www.carnegiesciencecenter.org/programs/boy-scouts-workshops-boy-scouts/
    vs.
    http://www.carnegiesciencecenter.org/programs/girl-scouts-workshops/...

    **Read the discussion on Carnegie Science Center's facebook page.**

    But I am perplexed- separating out workshops for
    1. boys / girls
    2. Scouts (does that mean non-Scouts much less gender specific classes) vs. no just general "Kids Workshops." Yes Carnegie has a camp, but look at ALL the workshops museums like the American Civil War Museum we recently toured have- it's not just for Scouts, not gender specific, you just have to get 10 people to go!
    http://tredegar.org/richmond-sols.aspx

    Also: Science with a SPARKLE? The science of
    1. BEAUTY PRODUCTS much less
    2. geared towards girls aged 8-12 years old?!?
    It's moments like this I am really glad I homeschool my girl, keeping her out of this kind of thinking. This workshop... don't even get me started that it says "Girls ONLY" much less that a workshop geared towards 8-12 year olds is all about BEAUTY PRODUCTS...

    But it's not just the Girl Scouts. Check out their "general" program overviews- for the boys it's a detailed list of what activities you can do AT Carnegie Science Center. For the girls it's a list of outbound links to Science For Girls kind of stuff.
Boys: http://www.carnegiesciencecenter.org/programs/boy-scouts/
Girls: http://www.carnegiesciencecenter.org/.../girl-scouts.../

Glad we don't live that way...

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