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10/16/17

Modern Off Grid Prefab House Is Chock Full Of DIY

Modern prefab house off grid and alert!
Oops nevermind, now they're back inside taking a nap...

At the modern prefab off grid house, I'm a tad cranky this week.
Wake me when it's over.

I've been eating pickled garlic like it's candy, and, while not getting sick, I have been achy for days, hence laying low...
(And fyi, how to make pickled garlic is at the bottom of this post.)
Solar systems dismissal is fightin' words 'round here...
whadda ya want, COAL?

Then there was the silly Facebook discussion (of course I knew better) on off grid / solar / conventional energy I crankily got into... So, fyi doubters, regarding our own off grid / solar system setup, here is what I have to say:

To the naysayers: there already is a market (I know y'all know this!) and solar technology already exists. We happily live completely off grid on an 8-year-old solar system that cost $11,000. 

Let's do the math:
11k divided by 8 years = $1,375 annually (and this will lessen as each year increases) which is already LESS than the average Virginia electric bill, which is $124/month, thus $1,488 annually. Plus our power is always on despite the hurricane, tornado, or storm!

So to the naysayer Facebook dude who said it was out of reach financially and not possible: WHO'S MAKING SENSE, NOW?
YEAH. THAT's what I'm talkin' 'bout...

But I was still cranky. Don't forget there still was the "our freezer circuit breaker got tripped while we were gone and we didn't know it" fallout / continuing fiasco:
Like a tree falling in the woods with no one to hear it, if the circuit breaker to your off grid freezer trips when lightning hits the internet antenna when you were gone for two weeks, did it really happen?

Oh, our off grid freezer disaster assures you it did.

Note the off grid freezer airing out...

I just want to curl up and make it
alllllllll go away.

If you recall, a few weeks ago we came home to the off grid modern prefab house modern prefab house to discover... *EW.*
So here's what I am doing to get the disgusting rancid vomit-inducing smell out so we can use our off grid freezer again:
  • bleach and scrub scrub scrub
  • spray vinegar all over the inside, then wipe, repeat
  • air outside in the sun once clean for days
  • close up and put in bowls of 1. baking soda 2. coffee grounds 3. bags of charcoal (not briquets) Pro tip: have a shallow box on the bottom of the freezer and into THAT pour the charcoal instead of getting it all over your just-cleaned freezer!
Ew. This is what I feel like when thinking about this ongoing project:
Mood.

I am under pressure now to fix that danged off grid freezer. It works, thank goodness, but it still smelled like: PEEEEEEEE YEW.

These past weeks I've been idly working on it as I can, airing it out in the sun, tossing in coffee grounds, baking soda, spraying it down with vinegar...
but winter approaches.
Normally in a snowstorm, I can happily get by (for weeks!) with pantry items, summer-canned vegetables, a full freezer and the fridge. But the freezer is out of commission until we get that AWFUL smell out. For emergency purposes, I need that freezer working because I need to ENSURE we have plenty of food and options for our medical-needs child, the alpha-gal girl.

In the end, we were able to get the smell out of everything EXCEPT the rubber ring that seals the top to the body, and gasket. I called SunDanzer about what to do with our 5.8cu Electrolux Off Grid Freezer.

Here is what I feel really made the final, successful difference: CHARCOAL from Simple Truth. I am not a fan of charcoal bags so imagine my surprise when, because of the disgusting freezer issue, I picked up a bag of Simple Truth lump charcoal and saw... "Whoa. It's like... actual charcoal made from tree limbs like the embers we get burning after hours on the cook stove! It looks like... actual charcoal made after you burn CAMPFIRE WOOD! WHOA... I bet this will be a VALUABLE ADDITION to my cookstove when trying to get a dinner quickly together from nothing! WOW!!!" (So, yes, save this as an off grid cook stove tip! Clearly use in a cookstove *sparingly* and in small bits and pieces, but still!)

Sun Danzer also recommended Lysol and Mr. Clean Wall Cleaners, and I succumbed to the Lysol to finish getting every last smell out of that valuable, expensive, off grid appliance.

OFF GRID NOTE: If you are curious about when to use AC and DC power, here is a great overview.

Chicken coop rose.

While I'm on the topic of SMELLS, let's move on to GREAT SMELLS instead.
You can add witch hazel/vodka + distilled water + something great (like lavender) to make your own scents (I love scented sheets!). But you need to keep it in a GLASS, not plastic bottle. They're hard to find in local stores, and expensive. Here is a great article on how to make your own! Super, SUPER easy!!!

While we're on the topic of PLASTIC, as if it wasn't bad enough in our oceans and wildlife, if you have ALPHA GAL like our kid, guess what? Many plastics (think: red solo cups, plastic containers) contain mammal. WHO KNEW??? MORE REASON FOR GLASS- environmentally, medically...

We spent all weekend at the off grid prefab house on chores. Not the exciting kind like chopping wood or building something, but the super boring kind like fixing the hinge on the solar cooker's lid, washing windows and repainting the front door.
Repainting the front door meant in the temperate weather tons of flies flew inside the off grid prefab house while the door dried. UGH.

We also dug up potatoes!
Here are a few favorite ways to get rid of them:
  • heat up some apple cider vinegar, add some sugar, let cool and pour into a mason jar. Top the jar with a funnel shaped lid.
  • you can also use wine but WHO WASTES WINE?
  • set the jar on your sink area and let the light shine at night- with your dishwater in the sink, this will also drown any gross stink bugs that came inside as well!
Reading Club:
I'm sure many of you read articles on how millennials don't even know how to use tape measures this week. Here are two articles on the same subject, one from the (literally, ha) TREE HUGGERS and one from the right:
When the Pips drive me crazy I give them more chores.
Chores = Skillz


Same topic, two very different attitudes, but both articles contain great nuggets for thought... I personally salute Home Depot for addressing an issue for an entire generation that could either be an educational and business WIN than allowing it to sink their business model!

From the TreeHugger article:
"...'They grew up playing soccer, having dance recitals and playing an Xbox. They probably didn’t spend as much time helping mom and dad out in the yard as their predecessors.'

What's unfortunate is that not expecting kids to do things around the house has resulted in a generation that's slower at achieving independence. When one lacks the skills to survive on one's own, it makes the world seem like a scary place.

'In 2016, just 24% of 25- to 34-year-olds had experienced all four of what the Census Bureau called major life milestones: having lived away from parents, having been married, having lived with a child and being in the labor force.' (Compare that to 45 percent in 1975.)"

Pip 2 had a hard week, too.
Even if she's not feeling well
she can work on her horse a few minutes...

When she's feeling well, she's almost a little girl again! But when she's not... lethargy, depression, constant aches overwhelm her. Her joints and muscles have been really bothering her these past days. She stopped walking, much less running, midweek, and just lay on her bed...

This is where I thank the equines, every day. When she has a *moment* where she's up for it, she disappears, into the herd.
Midafternoon, she tossed out that she was going to the pasture:
"...just for a second! I just want to hug Zena. I haven't done anything in DAYS."
"Well, I'll put her bridle on, just in case I want to hop on her back." I step back and give them space.

They move off, then: "Wheeeeeee!" They're trotting about the pasture bareback (in this heat!), giggling, hooves pounding at a fast clip, both of them, one. Her energy is back! Her personality is back! She still doesn't feel well, but she does feel great in this moment. Zena tries to pull a trick! Pip gets after her! Zena listens to her girl! They both go on, one! Now she feels not just not focused on her pain, but is instead relishing her success! Go Zena, go! Thank you for helping my little girl.

The horses have been lifesavers.
Here she is, fussing back at me just because
I suggested that MAYBE most people don't enjoy
riding in a DOWNPOUR
in yer PAJAMAS...
and that MAYBE she should come inside.

Looking back, we see her symptoms began years ago, probably high histamine / mast cell activation reactions, and... everyone thought she was just being... difficult / fussy / doctors couldn't find anything wrong with her even though I would take her back, and back, and back...

Then, last winter, everything reached a crescendo with contracting and diagnosing alpha gal- and suddenly those vague symptoms of "something wrong" and "I hurt" went into overdrive.
But at least with alpha gal, came DIAGNOSIS. And suddenly we had medical data to show it isn't all in her head.

Picture this: with alpha gal you're now anaphylactic to dairy and mammal (which is in everything- your soaps, shampoos, detergent, medicine, rice/sugar/and yes even water believe it or not!). High histamine/mast cell issues means what you can eat is even further restricted.

Inflammation consumes you. Your joints are inflamed. Your stomach, inflamed. Intestines, inflamed. Throat, inflamed. Brain, inflamed. Which affects not only your school, but how you interact socially, and: did you know inflammation causes depression?
Nothing like going to an Edvard Munch exhibit after
being diagnosed with alpha gal diagnosis to depress ya...
Jasper Johns didn't help, either. Geez.

So maybe this wasn't the most cheery post about off grid living.
But there WERE beautiful moments!
I couldn't take a picture of the space station so here's the house.
Oh, whoops, you can't see that, either, can you.

Wonder is watching with your family the international space station fly from one corner of your field, appear to steadily climb the sky, to disappear FIVE MINUTES LATER over the southeast trees. We watch it regularly but THIS was magnificent.

After a long autumn drought, blessed rain arrived:
Our off grid rainwater cistern is once again full!

And, always, even with all the chores, there was plenty of time for play.
Hope y'all have a great week.

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10/9/17

At The Off Grid Modern Prefab House, Drought, Harvest Moons And Sailors Visit

Passive solar off grid prefab house surrounded by dry land.

At the modern off grid prefab house we have had an extremely, concernedly, dry autumn.

The earth is hard as granite, the pasture crackles under your feet. You can follow a car down the drive by the gritty yellow trails that billow from the wheels. What was lush grass is now standing scrub.
The off grid prefab's water cistern is 1/3 full... we are hoping for rain!

The harvest moon rose, with no relief.
With the strong lunar pull and bright nights, I only lightly napped the day before, of, and after the full moon.
Pfffft harvest moon, IT'S A CORNBREAD MOON, Y'ALL.
Mastiffs playing in the moonlight.

Still playing...

EVERYONE's playing in the dark.

Nature is so full of beauty...
I love walking, and the things I see on a walk. While out and about this week, we came across beauty, in this case, a stunning tiger moth:
I thought how cool it would be to have a gown like this...

Biomimicry
Great design mimics nature. Check out this cool algae-filled chandelier, it really is gorgeous:
"Called the Exhale Chandelier, the design consists of custom-made glass 'leaves' that are populated with green algae, which absorb carbon dioxide from the air, while simultaneously providing extra oxygen for you to breathe.
...
...the designer-engineer is exploring how synthetic biology, biomimicry and biomaterials might come together to help solve the sustainability crisis."

At week's end, we had the German sailors visit us in the modern prefab house!
It was nice to have Deltaville sailing friends visit us in the foothills before they continue their world journey.
For those who enjoy following sailors' travels, here is their route.
They put their boat back in next week, then they go down the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (so jealous), to St. Augustine (very jealous) to finish waiting out hurricane season, then on to the Bahamas (super jealous), with Christmas in Jamaica (I'M ON MY WAY!)!

Our sailor friends enjoyed seeing the off grid modern prefab house in person, checking out our off grid systems (and comparing it to their boat's off grid systems), exploring the area, and trying our southern traditional food one serves this time of year, brunswick stew, simmered for hours in a vat at the local church, sold to raise money for a roof!
Brunswick stew made for a fundraiser is always the best.

While showing the sailors nearby Farmville, Nephew 3 called.
"I'm BORED in the CITY, can I come out?"
Always.
I am not a fan of dirt bikes, but they are.
😬

Zena told him to wear a helmet.

For breakfast the next day, we had backyard eggs, Amish cinnamon buns, and savory items like toast with pimento cheese and even tomatoes from the Amish auction with a dash of balsamic. SO GOOD...

Milestones
I can't *believe* that last week, our chicken-chasing, snake-catching, donkey-napping, standing-on-his-horse-riding, lanky-leg-running, sailboat-tipping, feral-animal-taming, wildlife-saving, potato-cannon-building CITY KID turned FIFTEEN!
Happy birthday, kid.

P.s. I just love this spoon lady. Thanks to my friend Scott for passing it on!
Hope you enjoy, for a good start to your week:

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