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11/10/14

At The Off Grid Modern Prefab House : Black Water, Gray Water, What Water.

Our modern passive solar off grid house!

At the off grid prefab house, we're busy.
Busy readying for fall freezes and winter, knowing rifle season starts next week, thus beginning the illegal loosing of dogs to run our property ("Uh, I wuz jest catchin' mah dogs..." as I catch them letting the dogs OUT of their trucks, to purposely run through property they have no permission to hunt...), the drive-from-afar not-knowing-nor-caring-about-property-boundaries hunters from NOVA and Va Beach who, after 6 hours to get here, Jest Wanna Git A Buck kinda people. Now, thanks to their legislators who don't have to deal with this where they live (where, ironically, an actual overpopulation of suburban deer exists, than, say, here) Sunday hunting has passed, which means Rifles All Week Long by out-of-towners or purposely-trespassing locals who don't care what that is in my field it is moving and they just want a buck
I WANT TO HUNT THEIR YARDS... 

The people who actually LIVE here, on this road? Hunting is done by the end of muzzleloader season so not encounter these jerks. But we still have to endure them, thanks to absentee-owned property owners who rent to far away guys who Jest Want Ah Buck.

Sundays were the only day we had, prior, to get chores done safely outside or to just... play. Knowing that one day, even in blaze orange, we wouldn't have people shooting into our field from the road... endangering us all...
Ugh.

Anyhoo, let's talk about the off grid prefab house's plumbing. If you recall, last week our not-a-composting-toilet, Flushy, got clogged.
Here are my thoughts, if you are considering plumbing separately for gray and black water like we did, are considering a composting toilet vs. regular eco-friendly flushing toilet, or are considering a rainwater collection system.

As I was discussing with a potential client in North Carolina (yes, more on that, later), what we did in our own off grid prefab house works but IF I were to do it all over again, here is what I would do differently:
  • We plumbed separately our gray and black water, thinking we would use the gray water for irrigation. Because we are so water wise, our black water pipes dried- hence the stoppage. Knowing how little water we actually use, I would consolidate those pipes if I were to do it again, for we do not use the gray water for irrigation, and the black water plumbing could use more water to fully flush things through.
  • IF I wanted to spend the expense (I don't) in consolidating the plumbing now, having a concrete foundation is quite the drawback. I really like the idea of the radiant heat in a concrete slab. I don't like the idea of removing access to pipes. A properly insulated, conditioned crawl space allows access yet energy efficiency.
  • Our 1700 gallon cistern is not getting filled enough by rainwater these days for a family of four who are extremely water wise. Food for thought, if you are considering cisterns. 
  • We are definitely going to connect the livestock well to the cistern at some point to provide both our animals and our household with enough water, because being this water wise isn't healthy for our plumbing! (How sad is that?)
The week passed a traditional fall, crisp evenings, cool afternoons with yellow sun on your face.

Great daylighting in the prefab,
no matter the season.
You can see how this time of year
the sun hits the thermal mass of the concrete floor...
Mornings with pancakes, coffee, and hot chocolate...
Gathering hickory nuts...
Eep! PURPLE GERMAN FOOD!
(Handsome Husband is cooking!)

Handsome Husband spent the day splitting wood.
(With a log splitter, the ax was for dramatic photo effect. : ) Honeychiles, he *did* his time with an ax; we are grateful for log splitters.)

These logs were old, but it is still incredibly important to make sure your wood is properly seasoned.

FYI: Apparently, Lumbersexual is a real thing which now means I'm married to the sexiest man on the planet, lol.
From GearJunkie:
"He looks like a man of the woods, but works at The Nerdery, programming for a healthy salary and benefits."
Oh. My. GOOOOOOSH...! Hahahahahaha!

Ahem. Anyhoo, I did my Amish errands, and thanks to a generous Amish friend who decided she doesn't have a taste for swiss chard, ended up with an armload.
She gave me enough chard to be the size of a small child, no?


Recipes:
I told my Amish friend about the delicious sweet potato / kale combo from last week. 
She told me she loves a kale stew of kale, garlic, broth, milk, and hard boiled egg, minced.
So, my Amish neighbor does not like swiss chard.
I LOVE SWISS CHARD.
Almost as much as collards.
But with that huge heap in front of me, each frond larger than my arm, I was intimidated I would make "the same swiss chard recipe" over and over. Friends shared their favorite recipes! And I found this- 15 amaaaaaazing swiss chard recipes that are creative; and here are some more suggestions:
No pictures of swiss chard here.
HERE is a picture of Zena, a Zena selfie.
WHY are there no pictures of swiss chard?
Because we ate up EVERY SINGLE
RECIPE before I could take pictures
they were that good. Dag.
Lillian and Leni suggested using braised chard as you would grape our cabbage leaves, stuffed.
Rachel and Leah attested to chard in delicious quiches & omelets;
Robbin put forth a recipe with traditional yet delicious combos of garlic, onion, parmesean, lemon paired with chard...
And Skeeter did the country traditional- fried in bacon or salt pork, onions and some stock to simmer simmer simmer.
Cary, Justin, and Melissa reminded me that swiss chard is awesome in pasta...

For lunch I made EXOTIC Swiss Chard.
Mince a bunch o' garlic, slice thin an onion and cut into 1" pieces, cut also thin bacon similarly. Fry that all up in olive oil then add in a huge amount o' swiss chard cut into bite-sized pieces. Sadly, the chard cooks down so be really generous. Add in cooked chick peas, water as needed to keep it simmering and when everything is simmering well and cooked sprinkle it all with cholle masala -or- cumin and coriander and ginger -or- lemon juice with a little something something exotic you have in yer pantry.

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