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10/31/16

Thoughts On Water At The Off Grid Prefab House

Water is precious.
We are grateful to have rainwater collection at the off grid modern prefab house and a top notch water filtration and treatment system, the WISY rainwater management system, where not only is water safely collected and stored, but just in case anything contaminates that precious water it has the further safety of going through 1. a charcoal filter to then be 2. zapped with a UV light.

We were supremely grateful for those safeguards when...
we discovered to our horror...
that the overflow pipe from the cistern that leads to the pond...
had allowed a frog in.

We promptly put a critter-proof screen on that overflow pipe.
We drained the cistern, caught the frog, and cleaned the tank.
We were grateful that in October, it was a rare 80 degree day.
We ensured it will NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.
But. As the Pips gagged with revulsion that there had been a frog in the tank, I explained that every city reservoir had more than one frog in it, and that our water treatment was the same and as good as any city tap water water treatment, just on a smaller scale.

Let's look at water, and Standing Rock.
I think the ethical and legal concerns over water are valid.
"The pipeline has united a number of different interest groups with a variety of objections, but Native Americans have been at the center of the opposition. The pipeline would travel underneath the Missouri River, the primary drinking water source for the Standing Rock Sioux, a tribe of around 10,000 with a reservation in the central part of North and South Dakota. Builders of the pipeline insist that they have taken extraordinary measures to safeguard against disaster, but opponents point out that even the safest pipelines can leak. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has reported more than 3,300 incidents of leaks and ruptures at oil and gas pipelines since 2010. And even the smallest spill could damage the tribe’s water supply. The Standing Rock Sioux also argue that the pipeline traverses a sacred burial ground. And while the land being used for the pipeline is not technically on its reservation, tribal leaders argue that the federal government did not adequately engage the Standing Rock Sioux during the permitting process—a requirement under federal law."
Reading Club:
At the net zero modern prefab house, even though it dips into the 30s it is still too hot to turn on the heat. 


 Meanwhile, we're still hard at work mowing our lawn and whatnot.
Have a good week.
Mowing the lawn...

Another lawn mower...



While we're working hard mowing the lawn,
passive solar is keeping the prefab nice and cozy.
 
Training a lawn mower...
Recycling packaging
into a 15' long braided wig...

Still not too old to have fun with a box.


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10/24/16

Passive Solar SIP Prefab House Has City Sister Visit


Net zero off grid modern prefab house.

Sister and her family came to visit.
Why is that important to green building or the future of energy efficient modern prefab house design?

Because Sister is not a green building or passive solar prefab or solar anything enthusiast: she is pure city girl I-like-the-grid-don't-talk-to-me-about-your-solar-or-rainwater-anything kinda gal.

Sister couldn't care less about small footprint living.

Sister doesn't give a fig about energy efficiency or energy independence.

Yet the impact was there.
"Wow y'all must have cleaned for days!"
No, while we did pick up, it was our usual "weekly clean and get ready for the weekend" chores.
When you have a small footprint house with clean modern design, and nooks and crannies so everything is efficiently stored away, it is easy to do! The prefab house can shine up quickly after a week of abuse because smaller spaces are easy to clean and need no housekeeper!

When we clean the modern prefab house, it is done so quickly... leaving us the weekend to do what we want to do.
Passive solar allows the sun rays in during winter
to help heat. The small footprint design allows
minimum maintenance and maximum fun!
JUST DON'T GET IN MY CHAIR.



Multitasking riding and chores.
From the Wall Street Journal:
"U.S. Houses Are Still Getting Bigger
The median size of a new home is 2,467 square feet, 61% bigger than 40 years ago"
Our old house, the mid-century modern, was about 3,000 square feet. Even with a weekly housekeeper all we did all weekend was clean it.

Over the weekend, the temperatures dipped into the high 30s at night, and were brisk during the day. But mid-afternoon I had to crack the windows to cool the passive solar down from the bright sunshine's thermal mass and passive solar heating plus body heat from people.

Playing board games in the cozy prefab house.

We went to a festival, and when we returned, cold from the windy festivities, walking into the cozy prefab was something to be remarked on. When we awoke, we had only lost two degrees over the evening. I explained that this time of year, we really don't even lose heat overnight, even when there's frost on the ground outside- that only in the bitter winter temperatures do we lose heat, and even then, with the cook stove out and nothing heating the house, only about one degree per hour!

The "heat" of the SIP passive solar house compared to the frost on the fields was impressive to even someone who doesn't care about green building. "Yep, still too warm to turn on the cook stove!" While outside there was frost, inside it was so warm in the passive solar prefab house, she said they threw the comforter off the bed... in a house with "no" heat!

Sister was relieved that, off grid, she could flush a toilet, run water, be comfortable, turn on lights... just like any city house!
I think after this weekend, seeing up close how living off grid can "be like any other house," they will hopefully come back more often!
In the meantime, great family memories were made.
If you're ever in the area, Autumnfest is so much fun. Think: a FREE festival with bluegrass, brunswick stew, cornbread, roasted corn, hay castles, pony rides, ginormous cannons that shoot pumpkins across the cow fields, and all sorts of fun.
Riding the bull like a boss!
Pumpkin sling shot!

 Photos by Sister:


Have a great week.



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10/17/16

Solar Over Coal Works At The Net Zero Off Grid SIP Prefab As Do Equine Lawnmowers

It is timely that as Presidential candidates in the USA discussed coal, solar panels surpass coal-fired electricity in previously ‘unthinkable’ feat: for six months until September, more electricity came
from sunlight than coal-fired power stations in the UK!!!
"Research by the Carbon Brief website found that solar generated nearly 7,000 gigawatt hours of electricity between April and September, about 10 per cent more than the 6,300GwH produced by coal during the same period.
The figures represent a dramatic turnaround in the UK’s electricity supplies.
The first ever day when solar produced more than coal was only on 9 April – when there was no coal-fired electricity for the first time since 1882."
At the off grid modern prefab house, we are using this beautiful weather to work on outdoor projects.
But guess what?
For the first time in four years, we are not frantically finishing an off grid project. Our solar systems are installed, the battery bank is fine, cistern and rainwater collection seamless, septic installed, fences up, shelters and hay barns and wood sheds built... our wood shed is full of wood, our pantry full...
LIFE IS GOOD.
We worked and worked and worked for years to get to this point, since we did most of our homestead construction ourselves with help versus paying someone to just do it.

I can't believe we're at the point where we're just doing easy weekend chores vs. critical construction projects.
"You mean we can actually have weekends
with REST?"

I spent the weekend mundanely washing windows, taking out screens, while Handsome Husband installed a door to the hay storage area of the shed...
He went to Habitat For Humanity's ReStore
and got this great metal door for $15! Score!
And *while* at ReStore, he ALSO found this
mid-century modern lamp for $15! SUPER SCORE!

We got out the lawn mowers.

Here we are hard at work trimming the fence line with our weed whackers.
These lawnmowers are great on dangerous inclines.
This teen is hard at work mowing the lawn with his lawnmowers.

Our three pasture system.
I love our "three pasture" system where you have two high tensile pastures on either side, and in the middle is your home site / yard, and connecting the top of the three areas with a gate, and the bottom with fencing connecting the two livestock pastures.

The middle pasture, otherwise known as your yard, is great for grazing when you're all out doing chores- your animals are safe because there is the gate at the top and fencing connecting the two pastures, below.

The set up reduces greatly YOUR pasture maintenance work- the equines graze difficult areas (steep inclines around the pond for example) and along the interior fence lines so you really only need to mow yourself the outside of the total-of-three-pastures perimeter. It works REALLY WELL.

That lower fence that connects the two side pastures is pretty much invisible. We regained beautiful views and sweeping openness that the old "keep the dogs in so they don't get killed by coyotoes" fence marred with the cheap ugly but functional step in fencing.
With the three pasture system plus equines, you no longer also need to weed whack around your house, either.

So, yeah: with this three "pasture" set up, you could say we are a Net Zero SIP Prefab With Environmentally-Friendly Lawnmowers And Weed Whackers. ; )

Aren't we all against loud, gas-powered weed whackers?
We LOVE our EQUINE weed whackers! (And they never run out of gas!)

However, sometimes the lawn mowers and weed whackers CAN be distracting.
"Little humans! Don't do school! Come out to play!"
"Come out and PLAY WITH ME my little humans!"
"I know yer in there! I can seeeeeeeeeee you..."

We also had lots of help with our equine lawnmowers pulling weeds in the pasture.
"I will KILL this weed!
I am the mighty Cocoa Puff!"
Does YOUR lawnmower also pull weeds?

If you are familiar with the Chinese Tree of Paradise (otherwise known as tree of HELL), you know how horridly invasive it is. People usually cut down the grown tree and fight the resulting legions of sucker seedlings by dousing them with RoundUp (ew).

We discovered the seedlings are super easy to pull up!

So we spend spare time pulling patches whenever we can, and even the equines joined in! No poison needed!

Zena had already done her job for the day but Cornbread and Cocoa Puff were enthusiastic.

The one thing you need to know about equine lawnmowers is that although they do not run on fossil fuels, you do need to clean them regularly as their enthusiasm leads to frequent dust baths.

The Hunter's Supermoon rose.
We cooked out and hugged equines in our nightgowns.


Reading Club:
For thought.
The Most Important WikiLeaks Revelation Isn’t About Hillary ClintonWhat John Podesta’s emails from 2008 reveal about the way power works in the Democratic Party. (And *any* political party...)
"...Who gets these cabinet-level and West Wing advisory jobs matters as much as policy papers or legislative initiatives. It will inform executive branch priorities and responses to crises. It will dictate the level of enforcement of existing laws."

Have a good week.

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