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6/30/14

Off Grid, Modern Prefab House, Happy, Check Check Check We Are Back Home!

WE'RE BACK! BACK AT THE OFF GRID MODERN PREFAB HOUSE!!!! The bay is great. But oh, it is so good to be home.


We were horse sick.

And turkey sick.
And just... everything about this special area, sick.
 
 
 
With summer... wow. Everything is so... lush. We are grateful every day for the beautiful rolling views here, the wonderful friends...

But the pond is low, it hasn't rained.
The garden hasn't grown, neither the grass, barely.
Anxiously we peeked into the rainwater cistern to check its level- it was 60%.
Phew.

In our off grid passive solar SIP house, we open windows at night, embracing the cool night breeze, then close them to trap that cool air in the morning. Our clerestory windows release hot air, risen to the roof.

Mid-week, heavy clouds unexpectedly turned into a DOWNPOUR. It was one of those great summer storms with no thunder- everyone ran outside, running rampant in the rain.

 
 
But. When we first returned to the modern prefab, we anxiously scanned the fields for signs of Mister Gobbles. You remember the story of Mister Gobbles, right?

So, unloading from the bay, the chickens, dogs, and childrenz flew out of the car and dispersed happily across the land.

But where was Mister Gobbles?
I saw some feathers, and my heart sank...
Yep, he's probably eaten...

See, everything around here gets eaten eventually by predators which is why I'm ok with eating what's here. BUT having said that, Mister Gobbles was "off limits." Heck. If he could escape a turkey farm fencing and live on his own for a year before getting kicked over to our house for being an obnoxious tom then HE DESERVES A LIL' BREAK!

Evening came. I heard a gobble. MISTER GOBBLES LIVES!!!!
I *never thought* I would be SO THRILLED to see this turkey again.
We love stinky, irate, awkward Mister Gobbles... we are so glad the coyotes didn't get him!!!!
An escapee on a friend's turkey farm, foraging his entire life, he now roosts safely within our electric fence- A REAL LIFE FREE BIRD!

He *was* roosting underneath my bedroom window- A REAL LIFE PEEPING TOM. I moved him close to the chicken coop at night. I mean, I'm flattered, but turkey poop STINKS!

Yes, unfortunately no push mower
when you have to cut through briars,
queen's anne lace,
 and other tough terrain.
Yes, Mister Gobbles has us smitten. It's pretty sad when one finds oneself writing POETRY FER TURKEYS... but here ya go:
Turkey lurkey shrieks like a bespeckled cartoon grandma lifting her bloomers to flee.
Until he sees, like a child blowing bubbles, that the lawnmower's roar lofts grasshoppers-
and he waddles, now content, an amiable companion to my chore.
On Saturday, we visited The A's.
I love the magical days we spend there- great, dear friends, children playing for hours, wearing themselves out while we adults relax and always have the best conversations...
And there's always food.
Always a homegrown feast.

Picture a cool pool (Chris notes that they do not use chlorine but natural chemicals), and from the pool you look out to acres and acres of pasture, with sheep and cows happily grazing on grass. Overhead, the sky is endless.
Just beyond: sheep grazing, and even more pasture.
And can they cook!
I won't reveal his secret ingredients, but James *does* make The Best Hamburger, Ever.
Here's his tips on how to do a burger right:

Chef James's Best Hamburger Ever
Don't get him started on the delicious ingredients. He's just helping us out by talkin' the process:

Chef James.
He forms the burgers with an indentation, and *slow roasts* them.
See the juices forming and not running off? Yeah, that!
He takes bacon and renders lard in a cast iron pan.
Oh yes, that bacon is used later as a topping...
And then he quickly sears those slow cooked burgers in BACON GREASE / LARD!
Oh yes, HE DID. And it was everything you think if you are in reverie at this point.
Pip 2's Blackberry Supreme
Pipsqueak 2 pours milk into a bowl, and if she's lucky the jug hasn't been shaken so gets a lot of cream. Into it she stirs a little sugar, then dumps in just-picked blackberries.

Homeschool:
Geography is my summer focus.

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6/23/14

Season: Sailors. And Back To Restoring A 150 Year Old Farm House.

*PHEW.* Another year of sailing camp has passed, with lots of cousin-ness and friends galore, where little sailors launched onto the sea, successfully.


We are very grateful to have the In-Town Ramshackle as refuge... 
Handsome Husband and I reviewed the "to do" list to save this 150 year old structure, to shore this madam up for the next 150 years.

Grading around the In-Town Ramshackle is complete, the non-toxic Concrobium mold fogger was effective, and with sailing camp finished, I now have time to finally clean the house from top to bottom after a winter accumulating dust and dead spiders.  UGH.

Next, we install gutters, and foundation / crawl space vents to help circulate air.
It's weird, after conditioned crawl spaces, modern HVAC knowledge, etc. to be going back to 
the basics, yes, but our poor 150 year old farm house has neither a proper crawl space (it is only about 4" off the dirt floor), nor modern HVAC or conditions, so this rudimentary solution is the best we can do, for now.
"Modern crawl space thinking has reconsidered the usage of crawl space vents in the home.[2][3] While crawl space vents do allow outside air to ventilate into the home, the ability of that air to dry out the crawl space is debatable.[4] During humid summer months, the air vented into a crawl space will be humid, and as it enters the crawl space, which has been cooled naturally by the earth, the relative humidity of the air will rise. In some cases, crawl space vents can even increase the humidity level of a crawl space and lead to condensation on cool surfaces within, such as metal and wood.[5] In the winter, crawl space vents should be shut off entirely, to keep out the cold winter air which can cool hot water pipes, furnaces, and water heaters stored within. During rainy weather, crawl space vents bring wet air into the crawl space, which will not dry the space effectively."
So the current thinking is that one should
1. cover the dirt floor with a vapor barrier, running it up the inside of the footing and 2. seal off all vents. One could go farther and actually condition the crawl space i.e. include it in the conditioned space of the house.

The extremely low height of the crawl space and the fact that houses in this area were built on pilings in the 19th century doesn't help because it will be a challenge to spread the vapor barrier to say the least and we can't seal off the pilings which would expose them to trapped moisture underneath the barrier.

Hand-in-hand with this goes radon testing...
Here's some pictures of where we are with the In-Town Ramshackle restoration:
With summer, we often chase chickens, in every direction, every which way, before they're quite ready for bed. 
It is not as an efficient process; plus, the chickens are never quite ready for bed, when we try to meld them to our Sailing Schedule. In normal life, they put themselves to bed. So chicken-chasin' in daylight to get them to bed in other locations outside of Higher Ground is always... highly entertaining!

Neverless, I do reign as the Chicken Chasing Champion.
"MOMMA. You are The Ninja Of The Night. Again."
I don't quite know what that means, but I'll take it.
Sailing Camp Ended, But The Season Has Just Begun.
I'd like to give a virtual hug to my old sailing camp friends, who went through the same program as I, here, who are now teaching our kids, the next generation, to sail.

This year meant the world to the Pipsqueaks. They went from years of sailing foundation and uncertainty to really LOVING to sail.

Now, you should see them go. Whooping and hollerin' as they cross the bay, maneuvering and out-maneuvering each other, tossing water at each other with their bailers...
PERFECT SUMMER FUN.

Reading Club:
  • Have you heard of A Mighty Girl? I hadn't, and yet was suddenly led to it by over five links this week, all on different subjects! One was researching good historical fiction for the Pips- and thus found, on A Mighty Girl, Code Name Verity. Similarily I found Fly Girls there. I am looking for WWI and WWII media / reading, as Pip 1 will advance to that period in history in the coming year.
Homeschool:
We are now on summer break. Ideally that means "Do a little 1. Duolingo 2. math 3. science -or- social studies each morning!" And some extra creative projects along the way.
Who is bigger? I... don't... know.
SOMEONE is messin' with mah egg bowl.
And... it's a pool party! #SaveMe

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