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3/9/15

Modern Off Grid Prefab House On Solar Systems Maintenance and... Musing

At the off grid modern prefab house, it began to sleet sideways, with moments of snow. 
We curled up and read, ate, worked, studied.
And yet, that night, I let the cook stove burn out... all night long.
With wind chill, it was in the single digits. ALLLLLL. NIIIIIIGHT. LONG.
Unheated for 9+ hours, when I finally dragged myself LATE out of bed...
it "feels like 5" but indoors it was 60s!
Gah! I'm usually up HOURS before this!
Is it the time change's approach?
I've been dragging all week!

*Yawn*.. I fired up the cookstove for breakfast, and we were quickly warm!
"Good mornin'!"


While everyone else cursed the icy sleet, we were glad: THANK YOU sleet, for not being another snow! Our 1,700 gallon rainwater cistern is FULL, the pond is full, we are happy.
With the sleet and ice bouncing off the modern prefab house, we, inside, were languidly cozy, curled up with books and good food, and... relaxed.
A great week for soups!
This one is lentil.

We equalized our new off grid solar battery bank for the first time this weekend...

If you are off grid / have a solar battery bank make sure to equalize it monthly and check its level with a battery hydrometer. Buy the highest quality hydrometer, not the cheapest, as its accuracy affects your battery bank's lifespan / health if you don't get accurate readings! These two simple things are critical to helping your batteries maintain a long, healthy lifespan.

With the snow finally melted, we celebrated with a soup party.
A big pot o' cowboy chili for my cowgirls!
One of the guests had never been to our off grid house and peppered me with questions. In answering her, I mused... that I guess our biggest issue, living off grid on minimal solar systems is... water.

I explained that water is precious, with a 1,700 gallon cistern... so that when we're alone, we recycle the sink dishwater into the toilet because I can not bear to literally flush down perfectly fine potable water literally down the toilet! But when we have guests, I,with chagrin, turn the toilet back on.

The other water issue is HOT water. We have solar hot water tubes, and a tankless water heater, but, in the winter, being water conscious, I dread even reusing perfectly fine potable water into a watering can to reuse on plants just because I'm waiting on... hot water.
A great week for soup! Keep melting, snow!
Ahhhhh but with the snow gone, we now are knee deep in mud.
In case y'all wonder what spring looks like, 'round here...
Even with all this snow and mud, you sense spring creeping near.
As the end of winter ebbs. Around here that means...
FARM EQUIPMENT AUCTIONS- two in one day, one of them Amish!
Pickin' up potato & onion sets...
...good friends!
-and-
Some of our current chickens...
BABY CHICKS.
I am trying *desperately* to hold back.
Thankfully this year the coyotes/ starving abandoned hunting dogs didn't get 1/2+ of our flock as usual so I'm actually good on my chicken numbers for now. But it doesn't feel like spring unless I have a bunch of chicks in the living room huddled against the cook stove! Looks like I will have to ban myself from entering a Tractor Supply or Southern States awhile.

Speaking of chicken...
McDonald's To Use Chickens Raised Without Controversial Antibiotics
A step, but still won't convert me / educated people who avoid industrial food...

I wonder if it's not because their customers care about this (do we really think the average McDonald's customer thinks about what's in their food?) as much as liability.
A few current chickens,
drawn by Pip 2...

Yep,
I've been musing.
Stuck knee-deep in all this melting snow and mud I've had plenty of time to muse in the off grid prefab house...
Stuck, AGAIN!, in commuter traffic this week...
; )
...I mused on
Pamplin CIT-TAY's Top Ten Traffic Sources:
  • Amish buggies
  • horse trailers
  • loose cows staring at you from the middle of the road
...well, we didn't make it to ten, did we.

With winter ending and spring's approach, we are busy with chores. 

This weekend the Pips were especially helpful and one of the things I love about homeschooling / living off grid is how everyone pitches in together.
They work hard, but it, together, is pleasant.
Oh look, the dog, as always, is "helping"...
Reading Club: 
"...Remember some of the slum areas of today were the suburban hopes of yesterday..."

At the off grid modern prefab house, we ready for our nation's sesquicentennial
We have invited city friends to camp on our field.
As I quipped to potential guests,

"The restaurants will be packed
the hotels full
but if you camp at Copeland's
we'll not eat gruel!

Potluck together
so we can do history
bring what you bring
it can be a mystery!

Lug here yer tent yer cooler yer friends
plan yer visit now
and commemorate makin' amends!"

Ok maybe not gruel. How about...
BBQ'd Lima Bean Soup? (Adapted from Mary Margaret McBride's Encyclopedia of Cooking. This was not a soup.)
Saute lots of minced garlic, diced onions, zucchini in leftover grease, add in hand-crushed large can of tomatoes, stir in some hot horseradish mustard, worcestershire, soy or tahini sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice and lots of chili powder. Add in a bag of lima beans presoaked, then pull broth out of your freezer and add that in too. Simmer. Adjust seasonings to taste. DEElish, a different way to serve lima beans!

Note on the above cookbook- it was gifted to my via my good friend Mrs. B- and if you ever get your hands on one, ENJOY.
This book is over 4 inches high. It is not a book; it's a TOME.
Handsome Husband and I noted all the sections you'd never see in a cookbook of today- of note were how to feed children of different ages...
There are sections for pickling, preserving, canning, cooking for crowds, how to carve meat, freezing guidelines for food, outdoor cookery... a food saver's guide for how long and at what temperature to store food... all kinds of useful fun stuff for us to enjoy at the prefab house here. I adore vintage cookbooks, filled with practical nuggets!

I know everyone is sick of the incessant snow and arctic blasts we've had, lately. 

But I sense spring, and already miss the full-on cookstove season when we're knee deep in drifts, eating our way happily through the freezer at the off grid modern prefab house.

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