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5/31/16

The Net Zero Prefab Heads Into Week FIVE Of Rain With Bay And Hounds And Foxes

What chaos at the off grid net zero prefab house and homestead.
A starving hunting dog was found in the chicken run, collapsed, too weak to eat!
Welcome, starving dog, to the modern prefab house.
Here you'll be fattened up... but not by my hens! Poor boo...

We do celebrate long weekends right up until the somber moment where the designated day begins and we stand and remember why it's a long weekend.
This year, we headed to the bay.
The rain held off awhile...
No matter where we are, some things never change:
When the rain began in earnest, on its FIFTH week, it POURED.


Looks like Deltaville got its water pipeline after all, and for free!
Snapping Turtle X-ing

I say that in jest but I do sincerely hope that they will stick to their fourth or fifth "deadline" if they don't get the number of subscribers for their "public" water line that only serves two points and not the whole area. I can only imagine how much community money has been funneled away for this issue that might have been better spent on the community over these 3-4 years. Think of it- in staff hours alone, how much?  Then all the branding, signage, ads, web site, engineering fees... all for people on the point, not the whole community...

All this time, they never even bring the word "elevation" into the conversation- as in, "You want copious amounts of expensive water so you don't have to conserve resources? You say that without it your business won't grow? Maybe instead you should be focusing on building a sea wall if you want your business around, longer..."

From the county website: "Middlesex County’s Water Authority and the Bowman-Sydnor team have re-opened the incentive connection fee period for subscribers located within the public water deployment area of Deltaville. This is the last chance to save $5,000 or more on connection fees. This new incentive period will end June 1st, 2016. Recent public meetings with the MWA and the Bowman-Sydnor team presented information indicating that more subscribers are needed to fully implement a planned water system for Deltaville. The below revised deployment map shows the first phase of the water distribution system. An additional 190 subscribers located along the routes of the deployment area are needed to make the project sustainable. Adding safe, clean source of water will increase property values and decrease insurance premiums. All residents and businesses located along the deployment area are highly encouraged to subscribe, we are close, every subscription matters.

The Middlesex County Economic Development Authority voted last week to appropriate $100,000 to create grants for businesses and commercial property owners located in the water system deployment area to sign up for water service. Under the EDA offer, individual businesses and owners of commercial properties will receive a credit of $2,500 for each connection if eligible."

Meanwhile, they're cutting ALL FUNDING for the community YMCA... So... they want the YMCA to stand on its own, but are propping up vacation homes?

They say it will decrease insurance premiums. But still there is no mention regarding how elevations affect insurance- if the insurance premium goes down because of water for fire issues, how about FLOODS?
Chasing pots of gold while, look closely, the road is under water.

Elevations of Supporters On The Points:
Average elevation of Stingray Point: 0-3'
Average elevation of Stove Point: 0-10'
Sample elevations of businesses on the points that want this:
Norville Marina: 2'
Stingray Point Marina: 6'
Deltaville Boat Yard: 26' (not bad! but worthy of such expensive infrastructure?)
Norton Yachts: 16'
Broad Creek Marina On Timberneck Rd: 2'

Of the 33 businesses who have subscribed, how many were given "grants"? I'm betting 100%.

YOU WANT MORE WATER ON THE POINT? HERE'S YER WATER! It's free!
(If only the Deltaville points' residents would embrace the more affordable option- collecting and treating their rainwater like we do at our off grid prefab... it wouldn't be a drain on the community...)
Anyhoo.
Back at the off grid modern prefab, after the bay fun, the week did not end quietly. First a starving hound, now a FOX has discovered the poultry. 
This time of year all the Mama Animals are desperate for food for their almost grown pups/kits/etc. And so, this Mama Fox came closer than she would.

The chickens are now locked up and not free range as usual. But not before Mama Fox was able to make off a favorite pet. That's the downside of free range. EVEN WITH electric fences. This is the second spring a fox has broached the fence, and killed.
A boy and his buddy, Redneck. : (
Would you stand idly by as your flock disappears?
Sorry, Mama Fox. If you don't move on... I will take you.
You took our beloved Redneck... our kids' best feathered pal, and protector of the baby chicks, whom you'll probably take next. So...

Stay tuned.

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5/23/16

At The Net Zero Off Grid Prefab, Four Weeks O' Cloud Cover Don't Scare Me None, Y'all.

Are you kidding me? FOUR WEEKS OF CLOUD COVER?
Honeychiles, it's ok, we're still smoothing sailing at the off grid house.
We equalized the battery bank at the off grid prefab house three days in a row to boost up the battery. Once a year this might happen... and so, when it does, we do.

(Boy it makes you appreciate the months and months of regular sunshine the rest of the year!)

At least it's washing away the pollen...

With the rain, the pastures are growing like crazy.
Happy in lots of grass...
To my surprise and delight, I recognized some seedlings popping up in the garden, something I have tried (and failed) to grow for years... ARTICHOKES!
Clearly now that we have brought the horses home our garden, thanks to the manure, is reaping the rewards! Now, where there used to be red clay, asparagus garlic potatoes kale cabbage and more now grow. Food production slowly expands at the off grid modern prefab house's homestead.



With the fencing in of the second pasture done, we could move our horses and donkey over into the new pasture... they are so happy to be there! With the horses over, it was time to bring home...
THE PROJECT PONY.

This sweet pony is perfectly trained, a perfect ride. So why the project? Because he has been in a field for over two years and has forgotten how to like humans. Pip 2's project is to Little Girl-ify him. In time, he will adore Little Girls, follow them around, and beg them to ride. And then we can find his Forever Family.

In the meantime... he's just sad.
But she's working on him!
"I'm also
just a girl,
standing in front of a pony,
asking him to love her."

She: "I think he likes me!!!"
The other horses:
"HEY!!! THAT'S **OUR** LITTLE GIRL!!!!"

Welcome to the off grid modern prefab crazy family, Trigger. We're glad you're here.
Whelp, I'm heading back out into the rain. As always in population 40, I'm gonna have to deal with traffic.
Have a good week.
P.s. This week is in honor and memory of my sweet cousin Ben.

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5/16/16

Net Zero Prefab House Has Another Rainy Sunny Week With Home Butchering

For the third week, it rained with bouts of sun at the off grid net zero prefab house - when will it end? But when the sun came out... we got busy!

Now that we see the light at the end of the tunnel- the modern prefab house pretty much complete, the fencing finished... instead of kicking back and relaxing... we start new projects.



With rain, the animals worked especially hard, keeping the modern prefab house cozy.



Wow, y'all, time flies: four years ago, we changed our lifestyle from the city... to living at the rural off grid prefab house / and city / and bay!
The prefab shell was up, weather tight;
however we still had a lot of finishing to do!
Note the SIP before being clad!
An early picture of the modern prefab
before we added solar systems.

Our version of traffic.

Even with this gypsy life we have put down deep roots. We love it here (all of them, lol).

Handsome Husband works in and telecommutes to DC via train, to a job and work culture he loves (vs. having an "ok" job elsewhere). Then he comes home, strips off his suit, puts on his beat up boots and climbs on his tractor.

We go back and forth (and forth, and back) between the off grid prefab house & homestead, the city and the bay.

Living in motion IS stressful- it takes planning, organization, and, this time of year, you're always cutting grass somewhere. But here's another way to look at it: in the country, most people have to travel over an hour a day to get to work. In the city, unless you have awesome high speed train and bus options, you're *always* driving. We just drive from Point A to Point B every few weeks, then sit. As long as we pack our car with Gypsy Caravan provisions, no matter where we are, we're good.

And, for thought: although we live a Gypsy Life, we don't do nearly the driving our city and country friends do.

We prepare now for the season of Back And Forth- from the prefab to the bay- so we are now frantically finishing random projects...
Fencing is DONE!

I endure the local traffic as best I can.
Well hello there!

With these weeks of cloud cover, it made sense to not just equalize the battery bank early, but to boost the batteries by doing so three days in a row. HOWEVER, when I went to check on the battery water levels / begin the monthly solar maintenance...
Oh my.
Sorry Mama Mouse!

The sun came out.
I found the Pips in the pasture- didn't feel like tacking up, so they just grabbed a lead rope...
It was too nice of a day to let your feet touch the ground when you could ride. I think they only got off to have Star Wars light saber battles.
 He even napped on his horse!
The Pips also took advantage of the dry spell to camp out because... y'know, they need to get back to the basics and nature and all...

She turns at the door: "I'm homesick already..."


Homestead Notes
I regularly help neighbors butcher on their farm, usually about 50+ birds at a time, for their CSA. However, when one rooster went rogue here and began to attack the Pips, I found I was intimidated to do ONE (bad! mean!) bird myself, because I was used to "having a process." A dear Amish friend walked me through her own method. So if you don't want to know / are vegetarian, skip this part! If you're interested to see how my own homestead poultry butchering was made much safer / efficient, then read on!

Tip 1:
Instead of a tall "butcher block" and a hatchet, therefore taking off your arm as well in the process, my friend has a low block of wood with two nails, close together. She took Stewy (he was a bad seed from the start so I named him appropriately) gently, threaded his head between the two nails so it rested on the wood- his body was on the ground, then lifted the axe high and... it was done. No fingers or hands near to amputate, very safe, effective, he passed immediately without discomfort.

Tip 2:
Butchering many birds let me to believe I needed all sorts of pails and cones and knives... She just let Stewie rest on the grass and considered him "bled out." Then she took not a vat, not a humongous vessel as I would have filled, but a regular sized pot of scalding water, and dipped him in, swirling him so it went over him in all places. You would not believe how easy it was to pluck him!!!!! I knew I'd scald, but as I had always used a professional plucker, I was amazed how easy this backyard method was!

Tip 3:
She lit a little newspaper then held him over, rotating, to sear off any feathers. Neat trick!
I then took him home and finished butchering at my kitchen sink, no big deal.

It looks like another week of rain is moving back in over the off grid prefab house... we shall see...

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