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11/24/14

Off Grid Modern Prefab House Through Rifle Season, With A Gun Tale

At the off grid prefab house, we went down to the mid-teens. Granted, during the day it was often seasonal temps, but it only rose into the 20s on Monday/Tuesday! It... was... cold.
...But not in the passive solar prefab house!

With cold weather, we noticed our solar hot water wasn't working so... hot. (Ba dum, dum.)
Handsome Husband slowed the flow of water, and better insulated the pipes on the outside AND  inside. So if you are on an undersized off grid system like we are, take note, it helps!
Solar hot water on the left, solar panels on the right.
Passive solar rays on thermal mass...
Passive solar...
Arrived back from the barn and walked in to
COOKIE MAKING, EVERYWHERE.
The new neighbors have 7 children so there
were lots of cookies to be made!
(Our town's population of 40 just increased dramatically!)
Why yes, that'z fried green TOE-mah-toes...
Delicious on a toasted ham & cheese sandwich
for a quick lunch!

Despite the cold, there are (thanks to the B's, whose farm is more in "farms" country vs. "cattle farming and leased hunting lands") safer places for the kids to play during rifle season, which has been eerily quiet this year.
Carey of New Horizons Equine Services
working with Miz B & Pepper.
Lots of peanuts in the peanut gallery!
Handsome Husband on ZeZe!
Don't worry, we don't want (wouldn't expect!) to turn her into a jumper;
she was getting bored of our routine so we're mixing things up.
With mid-November, the kids are back in shooting club, starting with archery, moving on to .20 / small bore.
Handsome Husband: "The archery program has kids shooting at 30 foot distance and has 3 coaches for our 15 participants. We attended the kick-off session which included an introduction to safety rules and initial shooting practice and missed the next 2 sessions to return to a now very competitive meeting, where scores were kept (the score cards indicate that you shoot 4 sets of 5 arrows). We went through the set and learned a lot from the coaches who will dial in on kids that are in need of adjustment. Pip 2 went from left handed shooting (she is left eye dominant) to right handed shooting as the coaches tried different approaches that paid off quickly.

The final competition included a paper stapled to the target.
Every arrow that didn't hit the 8x11" sheet was out for the next round, in which the paper would be folded in half so you had less and less arrows to shoot at an ever smaller target. Under the directive of the wonderful coach, Pip 1 made it from at the beginning of the evening missing the entire target, to being a finalist with this shot:

Speaking of guns...
(My guy friends had a good time with what I will relay next, because they too have daughters, so let this be a warning!)
If you ever gift your daughter a gun, then, years later (*years!*) want "your gun"... "back"- just fyi: NEVER GIFT A PRETTY GUN TO A GIRL.

(Hypothetically on this imaginary tale, my theoretical dad is so not getting it "back" she is mine, mine, mine, MINE ALL MINE. Sorry. Plus it's not like the hypothetical person doesn't have enough.)

I have created a lot of memories with that gun... 
I think I know what happened. 
He went on a buddy camping trip and I bet they were all sitting around the campfire talking hunting when someone said, "Hey, what ever happened to that pretty gun?" And in a flash, that discarded gun was now wanted.
Nope.

I kindly offered to *loan* my beloved gun, but that was unacceptable.
SO I NOW BEQUEATH IT TO MY DAUGHTER, PIP 2, so the next generation of GIRLS can appreciate it. 
Girly girl girly cooties on that gun. So there, hypothetical imaginary dad gun situation. 
You're gonna have to pry Clarissa (yes she has a name) not only out of my, but Pip 2's fingers.
Good luck with that.
I don't think she'll go for it.
#MyDadDeservesMe

Anyhoo, we're in weekend #2 of rifle season, the deer are sparse and shooting is eerily quiet. We never mind legal hunting, but this road has had a bad spate o' illegalness so we are very diligent.
"I'm going to play. During the week we just wear hats. 
But on the weekend we wear hats AND vests."
I, calling out: "Come insiiiiide, it's raining...!"
I heard a squeak from somewhere- "WHO CARES?!?"
I found her in the rosemary, with a chicken...
#MyLittleMudChild

Even with the stern reminder to always wear blaze orange during these times, even on our own property, we have to be careful. But there is lots of laughter, and plenty of time for play.
 Either Zena is ready for rifle season
or that's a fez she's sportin'.
 
 
"She takes selfies with her nose!"


Recipe:Pomegranate And Coconut Delight: A Soup. (That'z it's name, officially named by Pip 2)
We are bored of pasta. We are eating pots and pots of beans. We wanted something different.
Sautee minced garlic and cubed (very small) neck pumpkin (crookneck winter squash). Add in whatever broth you have on hand and a can of coconut milk, then shredded small kale, salt, pepper... Simmer... In a pan, cut up homemade bread into cubes, toast, lightly sprinkling with sage. Ladle soup into bowls, sprinkle parmesean on the top, then croutons, then pomegranate seeds.

If you're still reading, I'm going to throw in another thing to think about:
I saw another farm go down this week...
Another small farm who turns to homesteading vs. market.
I spoke with another farming friend who has turned homesteading. It's not worth it for small farmers, they are homesteading, one by one. What does that mean for you? Think on it.

Reading Club:
From NewsPlex.
"...of the people, by the people, for the people?"

  • Fracking To Be Allowed In George Washington National Park
    Don't... get... me started.

    Granted it's a "compromise"... but... ergh.
    "Local conservation and community groups expressed support for today’s decision from the U.S. Forest Service to make the George Washington National Forest (GW) unavailable for oil and gas drilling, except for a small portion of the forest already under gas lease or subject to private mineral rights.

    The long-term forest management plan, released today, makes clear that no additional GW lands will be opened up to leasing and drilling, while existing gas development rights remain unaddressed by the plan. On this 1.1-million acre forest, only around 10,000 acres are currently under gas lease and 167,000 acres are subject to private mineral rights. There is no gas drilling on the GW currently."
  • VERY COOL RT @USGBC: #LEED Dynamic Plaque Provides Real-Time LEED Ratings ow.ly/EBuMB via @gbelements
  • "New York City's Pay Phones Will Be Replaced By Free Wi-Fi Mobile Charging Stations" bit.ly/1FaIooE
Homeschool:
WHEN things are going well, WHEN things are harmonious as we begin breakfast and home school, the Pip's conversations set the tone for the day and are delightfully magical.
I always love our conversations...
Aside from the usual subjects, Pip 1 is knee deep in a Java AP class; both are taking html, and enjoying it.

She wiped her wet face on his sweater.
As G said, "It's the shroud o' Pamplin!"


Now it's raining, a downpour in the dark. 
We are about to settle into slumber, safely in the off grid prefab house.
Rain is comforting when you're cozy. The cistern is filling...

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11/17/14

Lazy Passive Solar Prefab House As Fall Sets In, Deepens Towards Winter.

At the passive solar modern prefab house, the week began so pretty...
I have been busy with proposals, quotes, following up with progress... but was able to slip away out of the office during the early week GORGEOUS days in the 70s...
Before it fell to the seasonal 40s-20s.

I was concerned I was not set up properly for winter, but it now looks like the wood will do.
I feared it was not seasoned enough; and we still *need* to hook up the radiant heat! (Which is on "the list," along with about twenty other "critical / to do now" items... siiiiiiigh...)

Here is something I will try next year- a Holz Hausen.
From Backwoods Home, here is more on building a Holz Hausen:
From Backwards Home
"One boast of the holz hausen is that it dries wood more quickly than a traditional woodpile. The theory goes that its cylindrical form causes a chimney effect, in which air entering the holz hausen is drawn upward by the heated mass of wood in the center, speeding the drying effect. My experience backs up this theory. We live in an area that has short summers and is typically wet and cold in the spring, and our wood does not have much opportunity to dry out. Nevertheless, with only a few weeks' worth of drying time I have seen very green wood in a holz hausen dry out until it cracks. With a few months of hot weather, even wet wood dries to a cracking dry state, perfect for winter burning. When it reaches that stage, I move it into the woodshed where it's stored for the season."
So they are seasoning not in the traditional long 4'ish high / width rows in prime wind and sun exposure, but in a circle... the other item to note is that stacks are used for seasoning (regardless of rows or circles), then transported to a wood shed.  This fits into our next project:

Modern chicken coop with run.

OUTBUILDINGS.
We want to have our chicken run better function for a larger flock, as we usually have a flock of 15-25 birds.
We want to bring our horse home.
We want to make sure that any outbuildings reflect the modern simple tastes our own off grid prefab house exemplifies.

We are toying with designs... maintaining the same galvalume cladding... yet with specific functions in mind.
Chicken coop from the east view...
North side of chicken coop, with rainwater collection.
Windows are already lined with chicken wire but then
have sliding slats to protect against cold,
yet open up and embrace the breezes
/ cross ventilation in summer.

VENTILATION FOR RUN-INs / BARNS
...or, actually, the tack room be on the east
side and the wood access be on the west.
That makes more sense... as the
prefab house is west of these outbuildings.

From extension.org, an article from Penn State:
"...failure to provide adequate ventilation is the most common mistake made in construction and management of modern horse facilities. Why would such a universally agreed upon feature be overlooked in stable design?"

Here is a great overview on run-in sheds for horses if that is something you are thinking about.

The north side of the run in would be the
1. tack room, opening on the side
2. wood shed, with opening on the north side
3. small random equipment area for shovels / a lawn mower
and thus protect the run in from the fierce north winds and cold in winter...

Our boo.

In the meantime, we headed into the city for the weekend.
We were ping pong balls. We bounced from dinner with family to a morning marathon, an artist studio,  playdate (...with horses! In the city!) to cotillion, to a slumber party, to breakfast (with homemade Papi pancakes for our guest and children as always), to hitting the road again, skedaddle, to head back to the off grid prefab house, to dear Zena, to ride, to let the chickens and cat out of their safe-from-predator containment, to run again, free.
The artist himself...

He is showing Pip 2 what he is creating with her image...
Coming soon... both Pip 1 & 2...
http://www.tomchambersphoto.com/
They are talking talking talking while riding riding riding.
It was wonderful but we are so happy to be back home, to the cozy off grid passive solar prefab house, to Zena, who deeply appreciated the carrots we brought her, the dogs running free and wild again, to our dear friends here!
Home.
In the woods, I met up with Red Riding Hood!
My what big teeth she has!

Exercise where you have to stay above the saddle. Ha.
While we were gone, the high was 52, the low, 17. With no heat on, we arrived to the passive solar modern prefab around noon (not enough time for solar gain) to the off grid prefab registering:
Dag. That's about where I woke up in Richmond, to, in a house with heat.
Not bad, in a house that was not heated at all over 72 hours, after a 17 degree evening...
I fired up the cook stove and the temperature shot right up, from "comfortably warm with a sweater" to hot and toasty.
Home again, home again, jiggedy zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
And now, I will snuggle down and pass out after a great week.
Have a great one, y'all.

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