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Enjoying Energy Efficient Off Grid Modern Prefab SIP Home Passive Solar Design And Muddy Concrete Floors

How can one not love the energy efficiency of these modern SIP prefabs? Earlier this week, temperatures went down to "feels like 12," but in the off grid modern prefab house we awoke to 68, without the cook stove going at night- the dogs were strewn sleepily about the room, the sun rising on another beautiful day.

There were even some not-so-beautiful days:
Sleet. Snow. Mud.

Yay for passive solar design that lets in beautiful light, cheerfully filling the prefab house on frosty days!

Because it's not consistently frigid, with temperatures rising during the day to "normal," in the 30s-50s, we just use the cookstove for dinner pretty much... sure it's in the 60s when we wake, but once the sun comes up and we're moving around you don't even think about putting on a sweater in the passive solar prefab house, as indoors, without heat, it's in the 70s, just by the sun!

Last week I discussed intergenerational living and how our Amish friends saved family property and homes by moving about the houses according to their extended family's need.

Forget mobile Tiny Houses, they also picked up and moved The Amish Store! We've been going to the store for years, and then our Amish friends decided to move to their grandparent's farm, so they picked up and moved the store!

So here we are on another farm, but in the familiar old store we love so well.
I feel very Dorothy in Wizard of Oz-ish, ha!

Toothless The Street Dog Has Settled In With The Herd.
It's as if this little guy has been a part of our family forever. Everyone in our pack adores him, he makes my life easier, not harder, and is always cheerful and enthusiastic about whatever crazy thing the children and dogs want to do. We all love him. Even cranky Mister Chuckles.

Egg Season Returns.
We can't bring ourselves to buy store bought eggs so when the chickens start laying again after their winter pause we celebrate with quiches, omelettes, frittatas...
Hence, with eggs' return, we know it's spring.

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A Prefab Passive Solar House Thinks On Inter-Generational Living.

The off grid modern prefab house has lotsa glass. 
In winter, it is delightful how the passive solar design of the off grid passive solar prefab house streams in the sunlight, making everything so cozy and cheery!
...and napable.

However. Here's one reason all that glass is never, ever, ever never clean...
This week I spent a lot of time with Amish friends.
Our Amish friends are moving houses, literally!

...they moved the little house,
and on Tuesday they move her store!
They literally pick it up and move!

Here's how our Amish friends approach multi-generational stages and living:
Our friends the E's have raised their children in the main house. One of their children (A) built a small house a few years ago, it was built on blocks about 75' away from the main house, where he has lived with his wife and started a family.

Now that most of the E's children are grown and married, the E's are moving two farms away to Mr. E's parents' farm, i.e. the grandparents' farm. A and his wife and growing family are moving in to what WAS the E's house.

THEY PICKED UP AND MOVED A's HOUSE with HORSES, on SLEDS, down to the new farm, where the grandparents, E's parents, will now live in A's old house that was just moved, and the E's with their remaining almost-adult children will move into the grandparent's house.
The E's store, which will also be moved!

The property all stays within the family, it's just that according to each life-stage of needs, determines who lives where. Everyone takes care of each other.
Makes sense, doesn't it?
How to accomodate multiple generations
while keeping farms in the family, and intact?
The Amish have it together.

I was going all over this with my Amish friend B, who is the E's daughter-in-law, and comparing it to how we "English" live. 
"Wow. My parents live in a house so big they have to pay a salary to someone else to clean it!"
"Just the two of them? What do they do with it all?"
"Um, I guess they look at it, although they're rarely there. And THEN when they get old, they spend the rest of their money to go to a place where strangers are paid to put up with them and their children never visit, ha!"

B. is looking at me amused. "What do they do? Do they just sit around?" "I guess it's just a bunch of old strangers playing cards and golf to the end of their days."

B. sniffs, (could it be possible that the Amish can politely drip sarcasm?) and mutters,
"Sounds like 'progress.'"

My Amish friends never envy my culture, ha... I can tell B's always looking at me when I talk about how "people these days live" thinking, "Dang that sounds wasteful, backwards, and BORING..."

"What will YOU do when you age?" she asked. "Well, I rather like the way the Amish do it! I do think more people are realizing the retirement business isolates you, no matter how much golf and games."

Hence, the rise of Tiny Homes, Mother-in-law backyard cottages...
The Dogtrot Mod from our Green Cabin Kits-
note that guest unit / studio / home office space.

The retirement home industry really tricks those Baby Boomers. 
Our modern addition from Green Modern Kits.

Think about it- what words are most often used in their advertising? INDEPENDENT LIVING. Congratulations! You're "independent" as in, not part of your family or community fabric! You are Captain of your ship! No one needs you! You don't need them!
You don't need them because you are snookered into paying strangers $100,000 a year to be around you! Your kids are paying strangers to care for their children! You're all going broke and working your *** off to make money to pay other people who don't even know or like you!

Until your money is gone, of course...
The fallacy of "independent living" is that you just gave them your life's income to go live with a bunch of people you don't know. Would you have worked that hard and long knowing you were just making money for the retirement industry? Dang. I would have worked less and played more!

I'll have to ask Mrs. E how that small house they moved worked, regarding plumbing. I'm curious.
When we socialize in the country, we work.
My afternoon with B. was spent in her greenhouse. As we amused ourselves comparing our cultures, we were mixing soil, gently lifting seedlings, repotting plants. It was so nice to spend a winter day in the cozy greenhouse growing things with a friend.

At The Off Grid Prefab House, We Do Have Teens.
Why yes, Pip 1 is a teen...
Someone's language needed some cleanin' this week.
But it's okay: It's alllllll sanitized and properly minty fresh now...

With being a teen, also comes more responsibility.
Pip 1 now brings me the horses. But not in the way I intend...
"Hey go bring me the horses."
I look out and he is riding all
over the pasture with no
bridle, no saddle...

Now with fresh, minty, proper-language breath, this self-proclaimed City Kid sure is doing an amazing job breaking in a green horse.
Zena nickered when they finished their ride, claiming them both and saying, "Good job, my boys..."

Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. *Teach* a man to fish...
and if he makes bread, that's great too!
I've handed the bread making on to the next generation. My immigrant husband always made our bread since Wonder Bread tastes like you're eating cotton. Thankfully USA bread choices have dramatically changed, but we still make our own bread.

He didn't start easy: "I want to make CRESCENT ROLLS just like Grandma!"
I didn't mention that grandma buys pop cans... um, yeah, from the grocery store...

Pip 1's crescent rolls were delicious!

Albeit a teen, he's not a bad brother.
We are relieved and thrilled Pip 2, suffering alpha gal and high histamine intolerance, is stabilizing, although she does have bad days. Here's a few pictures from when she was finally having fun this week.
Her horse had fun, too. 💛

Because she can't touch saddle soap or oils thanks to her alpha gal, she is making her brother clean her tack and he IS DOING IT!
We continue with seasonal chores- clearing trails and noting weed trees, which turn into next winter's firewood.
Pip 1 made a contraption to keep the mastiffs busy. It's a ball attached to a pole attached to his bike. Hilarious.

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Modern Prefab House Off Grid Thinks On Concrete Slabs, Frugal, and Big Dog Fun

In the modern off grid prefab house this winter, the cook stove is slowly fed one log at a time, often just for dinner- and at night, it's always out. With average high temperatures this past month in the 40s, and lows in the 20s, our standard package prefab house kit holds in heat easily without any work, and as the temperatures rise with the sun, the passive solar design works beautifully to warm our modern home.

It's SO warm in the prefab house that you are shocked when you step outside and realize, "Wow! It's cold outside! Put on a jacket! No, wait, grab a COAT!"
Warming up with the equines outdoors!

Living off grid in a modern prefab house means we embrace doing more with less.
We also think about good investments vs. wasteful, a frugal lifestyle vs. incurring debt... I am always thinking about practical, frugal investments that will be useful for a lifetime, and it carries into my gift giving.

My poor nephews.
Each Christmas, I try to get them something practical that will last a lifetime that they would never think to buy for themselves. One Christmas, it was crockpots- so they could turn it on, go off to college and work, and come home to a healthy delicious dinner ready after a tiring day. Another, it was baking cookbooks with bread pans. One year, good pans that would last. Hiking sticks with compasses and flashlights. Camping gear. Cloth napkins. All those tools you don't know you need until you desperately need it!

Well... I know what they're getting for Christmas this year.
It's something not found in Targets or Walmarts that you never think you need until you do and are miserable, and will save them hours / a costly bill.

Yep, you guessed it:
A plunger with a flange.
Ever notice that all the big box stores just carry cup plungers?
They aren't even made for toilets! Why don't we all know that plungers for toilets need a flange?!? Now you know.
Concrete slabs work great
for dirt, dogs, and dancing!

At our off grid prefab house, we put our prefab on concrete slab, which works GREAT for radiant heat, thermal mass, ease of rough living (hello, children, dogs, and chickens!)... but not emergency plumbing.
If there ever is a clog, it's dire, because we can't break up the concrete to fix it! Of course we avoid a clog like the plague, but we also practice water conservation, and a few times enthusiastic children with big wads o' toilet paper + water conservation did not go well.

Once, I plunged the toilet (and a few other tricks like kettles of hot water) for over TWELVE HOURS before the clog gave way. And then, I discovered PLUNGERS WITH FLANGES.

My life was changed. And hence, I will gift my nephews!

Speaking of concrete slabs, here are some reflections if you are considering doing a concrete slab for your own prefab house:
  • as we are off grid, if I had thought of it, I would have added plumbing from the cookstove to the shower for hot water during winter, an easy way to convey hot water without using up power
  • it would have been cool and practical to have an area underground that could be a root cellar / double as a storm shelter indoors
I mentioned him last week, but... Let's Talk About The New Rescue Dog! We jokingly call him Toothless, after a certain dragon... 
I don't think anyone now ever recalls a time when he WASN'T part of the pack. 
Here is his progress:
Day 1: Dogs meet and like each other at the SPCA. We drive home in separate cars, so our dogs are super surprised when Toothless hops out of the second car once home- "We *LIKE* him but I didn't know he was STAYING?!?" 

Toothless walks in to the prefab house, looks around, and promptly pees on my beloved, prized cookstove. I explained to him you can't pee in the house! SO HE NEVER DID IT AGAIN.

Day 2: On a leash, we introduce him to the chickens and equines. By the end of the day he is off leash lying in the sun sharing his water bowl with chickens. 
He is also doing "sit" and "down" and then we teach him "stay" and he remembers it. He no longer is pulling on the leash. He is the smartest dog I have ever met- you just have to explain something and then he knows it. Tiny discovered that it was actually super fun having him around because now he has someone to tug at logs with instead of dragging them around by himself!
And then... they would come in and take looooooong naps.

Day 3: Thanks to the passive solar design of the prefab, it's one big ball of napping beasts and children in the sunbeams on the floor. 
Passive solar design = great naps in sunbeams
this time of year...
Tiny and Toothless are like Lightning McQueen and Mater. Not only are they a pack, they are BEST FRIENDS and don't remember a day without each other. 
Even Mr. Chuckles is cheerful, to my shock, because Mr. Chuckles is always grumpy. 
Even mean ole Mister Chuckles is smiling.
Ironically, instead of more chaos, the house is QUIETER- because Tiny & Toothless have their fun OUTSIDE, then come in to flop on the floor and nap for hours. 

Maybe they'll take Pip 1 with them... oh wait, THEY DID!

How Does One Mastiff In A Small Footprint Modern Prefab House?
Their combined weight: 85 + 110 + ? (he's underweight at 110 I am fatting him up) = TOGETHER THEY MAKE A PROPER PONY! Here's some tricks to maintain a modern home with multiple mastiffs:
- Don't let the drool fly in the first place! We feed Toothless outside, then wipe him down before he enters
- During the day, keep the water bowl outside when you're home. I'm always there to let the dogs in and out at will, so slobbering over the water bowl in the yard is much nicer than slobbering over a bowl next to midcentury modern furniture, no?
Here Tiny is CRYING for me to
please let in his BEST FRIEND.
"Not until he loses that 4' long droolcicle! EW!"

Tiny and Toothless in front of the mid-century modern
hutch where he flung a droolcicle high onto the glass.
The drool struggle was real, until I figured out
the food and water outdoors trick.

So... life goes on... some things change, some things don't:
Tiny in his usual place, in a chair...
 Off grid seasonal chores continue with more crop tree release which then yields us off grid firewood.
But with years of DIY finishing of the off grid prefab house and slowly over years setting up the homestead, these seasonal chores are not just doable, but enjoyable.
Have fun.

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