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11/20/17

Off Grid Prefab House Looks In To Cook Stoves, Hot Water, And Horse Yoga. With Alpha Gal Recipes.

Off grid in the passive solar modern prefab house with the cook stove going, you just FORGET how cold it is, outside. 
When you wake and it's almost 70 inside because of the energy efficient SIP of the prefab house kit exterior, it's not hard to get super toasty once you start breakfast...
Breakfast is barely over and he's already taking a nap.

I remember when we got our cook stove.

A city friend was visiting from Germany to vacation with us and instead I put him to WORK! "Fetch me mah cook stove, honeychile! Shouldn't be much trouble..." A long country drive, a dusty old barn extraction, and two straining, red-faced big guys lugging in this hundreds o' pounds hunk o' metal later... I had my cook stove! Fun!
Did I mention I *LOVE*
my cookstove?



So imagine my surprise when Handsome Husband suggested we look to replace my beloved cook stove. What in the world. I am VERY attached to my reclaimed, reused, antique cook stove! We got it for a few hundred dollars ($300?) vs. the thousands one would pay for new.
But I admit taking a peek at all of the glorious sleek cook stove eye candy. Gorgeous! If I didn't already have a perfectly fine cook stove, I might be tempted- these would look GREAT in another off grid modern prefab house!

From DiscountStoves.net, this is the North Hydro Wood Cook Stove With Boiler.
It is very similar to what my Amish friends have, yet would be appropriate for a sleek modern home!
I really love the MBS Royal 900 Wood Cookstove...


By the way, if you are curious about wood stoves and chimneys in a tight envelope zero energy / passive solar house, this post has a lot of information.

Heating water for a shower.
No big deal if you're not in a hurry.
Then we heat via electric.

See, what Handsome Husband wants to do is have our cook stove pipe in heat for our radiant heat and shower. To see our other solutions for off grid hot water in frigid temperatures, click here. We have several, from on demand to heating water on the stove that then goes into an insulated cube that is then piped into the shower, to heating with electric which I don't use often at all because why run down the solar system? Hence leading to a squabble this weekend when Handsome Husband decided to heat the shower via electric vs. the usual "I don't have to be anywhere at a certain time so let's just use the roasting-pan-on-the-cook-stove then pour into the cube method" I expect when we're not jumping into the shower first thing to then rush off to a social event in the morning.

No, I am not going to toss out my perfectly fine, beloved, reused, recycled, reclaimed coolio cookstove just because you want hot water piped over to the shower! Honeychiles, there is a way to jury-rig this. I'll post a solution later.

Here too is a cautionary tale, tho': 
A dear friend and neighbor was at our prefab house as we entertained a few weeks ago, and reminisced about her OWN cook stove she used to have in their historic farm house. Her son was just a few months old and napping on her chest in a rocking chair by the first cook stove fire of the season when... they had forgotten to drain the boiler / pipes, water pressure built up, and
KA BOOM
blew that cook stove apart and sky high.
Miraculously no one was hurt nor killed.

BUT. Being married to a (brilliant but) absent-minded professor type, do you think I'm gonna give that guy a new way to explode himself? Naw.
Anyhoo.

*I* did not wake up this weekend on a freezing frigid day with 30 knot gusts and the wind just howling through the trees and go, "Y'know? This is a GREAT day to ride!"
But the Pips did.

Pip 1 was very nice and "let" his little sister give him a "lesson" even though most of the time she was doing yoga in the round pen instead... 😂💛😂💛
Then this is what I found when I walked up to the shed late afternoon:
He might drive ME crazy, but in HER eyes he does no wrong.

Here he is, later, using her as a couch.
She's all, "Imma gonna just lay still right here while my human-foal needs a place to sit and think. You go sit and think, my little human-foal!"

With all that blustery frigid outdoors, it is always so nice to come back in to the off grid prefab house- so toasty, and I always try to have something hearty and hot cooking on the stove to warm us up!
Back indoors, to the cozy, bright and sunny, passive solar prefab!

Here are a few recipes from this week, which are also safe for our alpha gal / high histamine / mast cell child:
Alpha Gal Recipes:
If you haven't read our Pip's own alpha gal / high histamine / mast cell issues, go here for tons of links and information to help you.

FYI low histamine herbs that fight inflammation while also giving great new/ different taste vs. "Ugh I'm eating the same thing again" include sage, mint, ginger, tumeric and more. Also read more here, and low oxalate foods and herbs here. NOTE that herbs are fresh, not dried.)

Copeland's Alpha Gal PUMPKIN SOUP: Roast a pumpkin. (Salt and bake the seeds until toasty!) Take the flesh, add that and the other to lots of sauteed garlic, onions, and add really good stock (for our high histamine child, I made her own pot without premade stock, it was still delicious as it made its own vegetable stock while simmering just by adding water). BLEND IT ALL, add salt, pepper, a little coconut milk. You want to soup to not be too runny but on the thick side. Pour into a bowl and drizzle coconut milk on top to make cool patterns, then also add your fave safe sausage (sliced and sauteed and always ask about casings as they are often mammal) and minced fresh sage. We have not tried poultry sausages on our high histamine Pip, fyi, as it just seems the more complicated food is, the more she reacts, even if alpha gal safe, due to histamine. So we just gave her some poultry to eat on the side.

Black Bean Soup For Alpha Gal High Histamine Pips
Simmer onions, black beans, shredded into bite-sized collards, and sea salt for hours until soft. (If your high histamine child can tolerate garlic, add that too. I tried a little and it seemed to do okay.) Add in poultry of your choice.  Remove poultry and shred with a fork. Ladle soup into bowls and top with shredded poultry. For non-alpha gal guests I stirred in chili powder into their bowls and topped with a dollop of chili / lime / sour cream I mixed together.

Alpha Gal Chili
Our high histamine Pip has added red peppers to her "I can eat" list! Green peppers and chili powder are high histamine so you can always add that in to other bowls for other people.
Simmer kidney beans, onions, sea salt until soft, add in diced red pepper and top with a turkey or chicken breast, continue to simmer, flip meat, then at the end when ready to serve take two forks and shred the chicken or turkey, and stir in. Non alpha gal people can also top with shredded cheese, stir in cooked tomatoes and hot sauce if they like.

With Pip 2 we have started yoga which is good for her mentally and physically as she struggles with her medical issues of inflammation and autoimmune issues.

She is REALLY into yoga and stretching these days, WHEREVER she happens to be...

I can't thank the equines enough for all the horse therapy they have provided Pip 2 as she struggles.

And actually, Pip 1 as well.
Well done, equines.
We are grateful.

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11/13/17

Modern Off Grid Prefab Passive Solar House On Rainwater Harvesting, Voting, Pipelines, And Squirrel Odes


Temperatures at the modern off grid prefab passive solar house are now traditionally seasonal- in the 20s at night, 50s or low 60s midday.

Each winter I spot check the off grid prefab's energy efficiency- to see if there is any change in the prefab's performance.

And each year, with relief, even though knowing that it will be fine, because *duh* it's a SIP house, I note that again, it's another fall/winter with the same comfortable temperatures come morning, after another evening where we forget to throw logs on the cook stove at night and it goes out- hence no heat for 8-10 hours until we wake...
When you don't keep the cook stove on and it goes down to 22,
you wake to 25, but with no heat on yet the offgrid SIP prefab is 67.
Cook stove is lit and we're already at 69,
comfy in short sleeved pjs sipping coffee... GOOD MORNIN'.

It is always so comfortable in the off grid modern prefab, even without heat when we wake, that we forget just how cold it is, outside. Here the canines are with their favorite rope bone one morning this week. If you look closely you can see that the rope bone is FROZEN SOLID. It was hilarious to see them tussle over who had the (frozen stiff) rope bone- whoever had it in their mouth dropped it quickly as they realized HOW COLD it was!
Rope bone frozen in an "S" shape!
It might be freezing OUTSIDE, but in the passive solar prefab we were just kicking back all warm and cozy...

We did have one maintenance issue at the off grid prefab house this year.
It would rain, and no matter how much I scrubbed the filter of our rainwater collection system, it just didn't seem to be nearly as efficient. Phone calls to the company confirmed something was amiss- "You really only need to wash the filter every six months or so..." "Did you check if there was settling of the home site? That could cause things to be askew..." No, no settling of our home site, the filter was scrubbed clean... yet every time we had a downpour, I opened the lid, looked down and yep, the rainwater was gushing through but you could see that the system was not performing as it used to.

Rainwater Management Solutions is so invested in their product they were going to send their president down to our little town o' fourty to see what was going on. THANKFULLY, Handsome Husband beat him to it and solved the issue that perplexed me for months.

It rained, the system performed beautifully and efficiently once again.
"WHAT DID YOU DO???" He smiled and gently suggested that if this ever happens again, don't just clean the filter, but also everything around it. OHHHHHHHHHH.

Years later, I can not recommend Rainwater Management Solutions, their products, and their staff enough. We have been extremely pleased with their rainwater harvesting and collection system, and their staff is fantastic.

FYI, here's some pictures from the original rainwater harvesting installation so you can see what it looks like:
Handsome Husband not just cleaned the metal filter,
but around it (black part).

It was election week...
Obligatory "I Voted" pic! Never goes outta style!

Do you know what's interesting?
In Virginia, candidates who won from all parties- Democrats -and- Republicans- had the environment / clean air and water as a platform. Those who didn't? Didn't get elected.

This is so important with what is currently going on at the EPA: ALL THE CANDIDATES WHO WON, HAD CLEAR, PRO-ENVIRONMENT PLATFORMS.

The lone Republican who won in our area says this about his environment priorities:
"Conservation
Three things: Clean Air, Clean Water & Open Spaces"

He listed on his site that he was not only pro-environment but used the word PROTECTOR.
"Protector of environment:

Recipient of Virginia League of Conservation Voters 2013 Legislative Leadership Award in 'recognition of dedicated leadership in supporting and protecting the natural resources of the Commonwealth of Virginia'
Off grid solar prefabs don't

take community's natural resources

nor land from their neighbors...

JUST SAYIN'...

National Remington and Progressive Farmer Farm Pond Management Award
Izaak Walton League Conservationist of the Year Award
Wild Turkey Federation Conservationist of the Year Award
Halifax County Sportsman’s Club Conservationist of the Year Award"

As I type, a PRIVATE pipeline is suing hundreds of private landowners for their legally-owned land, their well-funded lobbyists and lawyers muscling through the courts to condemn family farms for their profit. Environmentalists of BOTH parties need to work together to prevent another private business from taking eminent domain over citizens for their own profits while also wrecking shared community public resources.

Reading Club:
Seriously, y'all:
How about if we start pipeline discussions with,
"Thou Shalt Not Covet Your Neighbor's..."

  • West Virginia Revokes Approval Of Mountain Valley Pipeline As Legal Terrain Shifts
    (This article is a must-read!)
  • A pipeline that would cut through the iconic Appalachian Trail sparks a fight over natural gas expansion
    "The benefit the Mountain Valley Pipeline would bring to those living along its 303-mile route is a point of intense disagreement and opinion does not cut neatly along partisan lines. There are local tea party leaders and Trump enthusiasts who revile the plan, and die-hard Democrats who see it as salvation.
    ...
    Critics, including several national environmental organizations, say the benefits won’t be reaped by residents along the route, but by investors angling for a windfall. Those investors are permitted to collect an impressive 15% return on the project under federal rules left over from a time when domestic gas was not so plentiful and policies were designed to aggressively promote its discovery."
  • Landowners along pipeline route sue FERC and Mountain Valley Pipeline
    "Opposition to the Mountain Valley Pipeline and to the separate-but-similar Atlantic Coast Pipeline to the north has focused both on environmental issues and the protection of private property rights, sometimes creating unique alliances of environmentalists and conservative Republicans.

    Lugar said the concerns about private property rights should be disquieting for everyone.

    Why in the world does anyone
    think it's ok to just TAKE
    something that is not theirs???


      'It’s not a political issue of the ‘left’ or ‘right’ but rather a pure issue of constitutional law and individual property rights,” he said. “The issue of how and when a private entity may invoke eminent domain is one that should concern all Americans, including current and prospective landowners.'”
    • More on the pipeline:
      "...controversial fracked gas pipelines, that, according to recent estimates, will produce greenhouse gases equivalent to that produced by 45 coal fired plants or 158 million metric tons per year, more than doubling Virginia’s carbon footprint.
      ...
      While pipeline opposition continues to grow, the legal terrain has shifted dramatically. In August, two federal appeals courts issued landmark decisions that make it much more difficult for these pipelines to survive judicial scrutiny. First, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reaffirmed that states in fact have the power to stop pipeline development. The decision came in a case challenging a decision by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s environmental regulators rejecting certification of the $1 billion Constitution Pipeline. Cuomo’s appointees took all of 14 pages to stop the pipeline and their decision was upheld by the court."
    Anyhoo.
    The week was filled with friends, but also a loss.

    R.I. P. Tiny's Arch Nemesis.
    A taunting, furious squirrel, we envisioned death by hawk, never that you would succumb quietly to the waters of a horse trough when no one was looking...

    Tiny still waits, eyes studying the oak, for your war cry, chase, and dash beyond the fenceline.

    You are deeply missed.

    Over the weekend, one of my favorite friends, Miz L., came out from the city to pay us a visit!
    Thaz right, WE'RE TROUBLE!

    After a heady Ladies Lunch, I took her hiking on the High Bridge Trail.

    Our favorite moment was standing still on the bridge, listening to the silence... then the slow gathering of wind, channeling and gathering strength until it howled through our clothes and past us... then subsided slowly into silence. A few moments of complete stillness... then birds began to sing.
    Beautiful.

    With the weekend over, guests have left, and our little town has dropped back down to the usual Population 40. But we're never lonely, never alone.
    When yer tryin' to get yer zen on, but the herd won't letcha.

    Hope y'all have a great week.

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