Oh heyyyyyyyyy, modern prefab house enthusiasts! I've been quiet, because at this time of year at the modern off grid prefab we are busy with new projects, back and forth to the bay sailing, and... seasonal projects! But I do have a new prefab project ...

Off Grid Prefab House Has A New Prefab House Project, Seasonal Projects, And New Projects. With Moomins And Turkey Hunting.

Oh heyyyyyyyyy, modern prefab house enthusiasts! I've been quiet, because at this time of year at the modern off grid prefab we are busy with new projects, back and forth to the bay sailing, and... seasonal projects! But I do have a new prefab project to announce. 

But first... our homestead projects continue at our own prefab house.
Her first engineering and project management experience!
Of course it is for her horses.
Also: WHO ASKS FOR EARTH WORK FOR THEIR BIRTHDAY?!?
She does.
He haz stick.

There are ALWAYS seasonal chores...

I do have news:
There Will Be A Modern Prefab Cabin Built From Our GreenCabinKits.com Line Of Modern Prefab Houses, Stay Tuned!
What can I tell you for now? 
A Dogtrot Mod modern cabin will be built on the West Coast, in the north. 

To adapt to the Pacific Northwest, the roofline will change, as well as some other details.
After I ask permission of the client, I can say more, but they are *super interesting* for many reasons- their expertise, understanding of SIP (structural insulated panels), worldliness, the future prefab house's modifications and lot placement... 

In The Meantime, I Am Back And Forth Between Our Off Grid Prefab House And The Bay!
There hasn't been much to say because it has just been a very rainy *very* wet spring and start to summer. Hence I haven't had much to say because, well, IT HAS JUST BEEN RAINING.
 
Remember "the hole" Teen 1 dug? It's full.
No more dreams of root cellars...!

I'm sick of these rain pictures! We read lots of books, okay?!?

Let's see some other moments.
 

 
 
Off Grid Permaculture Project: Hugelkultur
Permaculture Hugelkultur in the beginning...
I have been so impressed with hugelkultur. Before we bought the land, it was used for tobacco and corn, not great for the soil to say the least. AND it's on the top of the highest point in the county. For YEARS after growing up with a great soil farm, after having thriving city food gardens, it was a disappointing shock to struggle to grow anything on our land (and the back-and-forth to the bay we do during summer didn't help!).

Just in the weeks since planting I can see how thriving things are now in the hugelkultur. Yes we have had tons of rain but do note I have not watered at all and even on the rare weeks we didn't have rain you could just sense the soil's moisture. I have been extremely pleased.
Looks great despite the neglect of our back and forth!!!

Ohhhhhhh the rain. Ohhhhhhhhhhh the moisture. Ohhhhhhh the old 150 year old farmhouse on the bay.

It made me think:
Mold In Tiny Homes (And Mildew In Old Bay Homes)
As we are back-and-forth on the bay now, I am dealing with the annual "we have a 150 year old leaky farmhouse on the bay" issues, namely: mildew. The first thing I do when I arrive on the bay is 1. air that house out then 2. wipe everything down with a mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide. This might be the year we finally climatize vs. window units.

In my research for our 150 year old house, I see that a lot of Tiny Homes also have this issue, because they do not install ERVs / HRVs (which is why I always emphasize FRESH AIR EXCHANGE for ANY energy-efficient home!)... 
So don't forget your ERVs / HRVs!!!!

On The Bay, It Was Time To Volunteer At Sailing Camp And Visit Cousins.
Coach Handsome Husband and a niece!

Cousins in the kitchen, making berry pie!


We are also volunteering at a horse camp!

All this volunteering makes me yearn for a long hot bath at the end of the day. Soaking Tub
Even though it's summer, I'm still thinking of winter. One of the things we miss, conserving water and living off grid, is a deep steamy soak. Here are a few links and ideas for a DIY Japanese soaking tub I'd like to build this fall. Our Amish neighbors even have a cedar sawmill so getting local cedar for this project will be easy!
https://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/one-person-hot-tub-zmaz95djzgoe  
https://www.dwell.com/article/japanese-soaking-tubs-33c62e59 
Because every now and then it would be nice to have an awesome winter bath without wasting water.

This spring my dad came out to turkey hunt. 
Here I am talkin' trash to turkeys in my pj's without even trying:
 
 
 
My dad left the HRV running (easy to do when you don't know that bathroom switch turns on and off the HRV, which we run several times a day for about 30 minutes in winter or when the windows are closed to keep out the summer heat), I found myself putting up ANOTHER sign for those who don't know our off grid ways.
On one hand, I'm trying to be helpful and prevent damage to our modern prefab house's solar system. On the other, I feel like I'm turning into the Park Keeper in Finn Family Moomintroll, gah!

If you've never read the story about Snuffkin and the Park Keeper, do. In fact, read everything Moomin. This chapter is one of my favorites, I hope you can click, zoom in and enjoy.

Another one of my signs in the prefab house...

Recipes:
  • Alpha Gal Non-Dairy No Nut Parmesan: Cook garbanzo beans until ALMOST tender. Drain, then stir around in the pot until they're not only dry but "roasted." Cool, then in a food processor add the beans, sea salt, garlic powder and nutritional yeast (all to taste- start with an amount you feel good, blend, taste, add more salt and garlic or whatever until it tastes like parmesan to you!), pulse until it looks real. Keeps a few days or you could be smart and keep in the freezer, take out as needed.
Have a great week.
 
 
The evening tussle.

 She's southern so of course she's curtsying on her horse...
Meet Buddy the fox, who steals my socks.

Modern Prefab House Gets AC Off Grid On A Tiny Solar System! With Tornado Proofing And Permaculture At Our Off Grid Modern Cabin.

Yes, you heard that right. We have outfitted the modern prefab house for AC despite being on a tiny solar system- four 210w panels. Yep folks, we run our entire HOUSE off the power of just 840 watts.

For years, we didn't even consider air conditioning at the modern off grid prefab house. Ok well fine we *considered* it, researched it, mused upon it, but never found anything we felt good about implementing.

Plus when it's super hot, you will find us at the bay! Air conditioning was never a huge priority for me, off grid, because my philosophy was, "Hot? Honeychile, sip some sweet tea and spend the hot afternoon at the lake!"
Solar cooking, mowing the lawn, all at once!
I'm working HARD!


This changed. Our daughter (and I) have alpha gal. Unfortunately, like many people who suffer it, alpha gal also triggered high histamine intolerance and mast cell issues in our child

You might think of high histamine intolerance being just a food issue, but it also a TEMPERATURE reaction. Hence, no extreme heat and cold.  So I wanted a PLAN for when it's 110 to keep our child safe.

In the end, I presented my strategy to Handsome Husband, who again did that special imperial German dismissive chortle he does so well when I present him with a great idea that makes me want to backhand him hard across the face. "NOOOOO it ezzzz not POSSIBLE, ve arrrr OFF GRID!"
Don't call me grumpy, I'm beautiful.
This is the look you get when you pluck my nerves.


But. There was a point last week where he was in SO much trouble for something else, that I suggested he not come home... without a small, energy efficient AC wall unit.

He came home... with an AC unit. I tersely told him to get out his oscillating saw and cut me some plywood to fit the small square window in the east, and to stick that AC in, stat. 

He did. It works. 

Off Grid Solar Notes On AC On A Small Solar System In An Energy Efficient Prefab:
Now WHEN the AC is running, I make sure to turn off the water pump / anything that's a big draw! I keep a careful eye on the battery bank to see if we need to run the generator at the end of the day if we run it! 
BUT IT WORKS.

This AC unit is supposed to cool a 10x12 foot room.
It cools the entire 1,200sf modern prefab house.
Good work, boys. Oh by the way I have another job for you...
Just like in winter, when in extreme cold our tiny firebox on the cook stove heats the entire energy efficient prefab house, this little AC unit, which is only supposed to cool a small room, makes extremely hot days bearable (even cold!) in our off grid house.
We're cool, even in blazing heat, thanks to energy efficiency,
passive solar design, and the final kicker on those sweltering days: sparingly-used AC.

Here is Handsome Husband's synopsis:
"When we run the window AC unit we draw on average 350 Watts more than normal for a total loss in the low 500s. On a sunny day in early May we have a net effect of -4 amps of draw from the battery bank which at 24 volts is about 100 Watts so if we increase the capacity of the solar panels from the current 840 Watts then we will be able to offset the increased load from the window AC unit while continuing to recharge the battery."

Here are my own notes on using AC in an off grid prefab house that has super-small solar systems: 
DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT AC UNTIL TEMPERATURES CLIMB PAST THE 90s. 

(Side note: seriously people, why aren't y'all dressing for the seasons, even at work. Actually, especially at work as this is where you will spend the majority of your "high heat" time over the week.)
  • As usual, sleep with all the windows open
  • As the sun starts to heat everything in the morning, close the windows
  • When it starts to be uncomfortably hot, turn on the AC (in the small square east window of the great room) set to 78, energy saver. It says 78 but in an energy-efficient prefab house it feels like 70. I'm already fighting Handsome Husband who wants to set it to 76: "That's crazy, can't you see I have goosebumps?"
  • As soon as the temperature slips under 90 outside, turn off the AC, open up the windows and let the breeze in. 
  • If it's a super hot day in the mid to upper 90s and no relief in sight, feel free to run the AC with the generator so you don't stress your solar systems.
  • PASSIVE SOLAR NOTES: The casa ti is designed passive solar to work as is for most of the year BUT in extreme heat / sun feel free to hang strategic seasonal curtains or awnings!
The installation and testing of AC could not have come at a better time. Sweet spring suddenly switched from breezy and pleasant to summer temperatures in the mid-90s.

I watched our alpha gal high histamine intolerant child flush, and start dragging, weighed down with headaches as the heat rose. "It's okay," I soothed. "Let's just turn on the air conditioning awhile."

We only felt the "need" for AC in the blazing afternoons. But for a medically impaired child, the relief the AC provided was invaluable.

At the modern prefab house, we are also in tornado season.
Mid-April, EF-3 tornadoes touched down in nearby towns, with wind speeds of 150mph.
This is the third time we have ridden something out like this in the area in the past four years.

At the off grid modern prefab, we were not among the over 19,000 locally left without power.
Over 25 homes were demolished or severely damaged in nearby towns.
 

This time I didn't see a funnel clouds touching down from the sky. (Last time I did!)
But the pressure drop was insane. You could just feel our house turning into a pressure cooker!!!! Thankfully nothing happened aside from the crazy pressure barometric drop.
(At that point I tossed the teen in the bathtub!)

Here are some tornado safety tips, and here, off grid in our small footprint home, is what WE are doing:
  • Now you know a SIP house is structurally strong, so there's that!
    • From SIP School: "A structural insulated panel’s standalone strength, the fastening details, and the design of the structure itself all combine to create a safer building envelope.  Credit to both designers and engineers should not be discounted.  A 140 + mph wind event requires that all parties be at the top of their game. "
    • And this: "As  you see in this video, stick framing is incredibly vulnerable until the sheathing is properly nailed off.  A stick framed wall has no resistance to shear until the sheathing is nailed, making it vulnerable to collapse from wind or seismic loads.  When structural insulated panels (SIPS) are used as the framing method you have the full sheer strength available immediately as soon as the SIP is installed and nailed to the sill plate, top plate and adjacent panels.  Risk less when you build with SIPS."
    • And from an area that knows much about high wind, read about another SIP case study in Florida.
  • BUT if you are a mom like I, nothing is ever good enough. As we do not have a proper official storm shelter, I looked at the layout of the casa ti modern prefab house and determined the bathroom would be our "go to" place as it was in the center and had the least amount of windows.
  • The bathroom is clad with plywood. 
  • This is by no means an intentional storm shelter (FEMA details here), but an "on the fly" approach "for the meantime."
    This is a great picture because it shows:
    1. unclad SIP on the ceiling
    2. maple floorboards on exterior to the left
    3. thick plywood lining the bathroom
    4. and note the south wall of the bathroom
    is thus covered in maple

    • Here is a proper way to build a wood storm room, and from this we are adapting the bathroom as we can which is better than not having anything at all (and at least we're a SIP house!!!!)
    • And this article notes, "Above-ground safe rooms can be built in a basement, crawlspace, or on a slab. They can be constructed with standard building materials—though beefed up considerably. Basement lean-to rooms are built with 2x4 framing; each stud is doubled-up and the wall is sheathed with two layers of 3/4-inch plywood over a layer of 14-gauge steel sheathing.

      The main point of weakness is the door; the hinges and latch are the critical links. To secure the latch, FEMA says to use "3-locking pins, dead bolts, or slide bolts with min. 1-inch throw surface—mounted to astragal with #8 x 3-inch wood deck screws." (The 1x3 astragal is fastened to the double 2x4 framing with 3-inch deck screws)."
    • This article (click the pdf) goes into more detail on a wooden storm shelter!
So: we have a slab, we have a SIP house, we have a thick plywood-clad small room (bathroom) with one window and door.  But wait! Not only do we have a slab, a SIP house, a bathroom clad in plywood... but the EXTERIOR of the bathroom (walls shared with adjoining bedrooms and hallway) is... clad in THICK HORIZONTAL MAPLE BASKETBALL FLOORING nailed in!

Not only is it nailed in to the plywood, but the maple flooring interlocks vis tongue and groove, making it further strong and secure!!!
Exterior of bathroom's west wall (thus
the inside of the center bedroom).

Exterior of the bathroom's east wall is maple as well...
...and the north wall of the bathroom is 1. SIP and 2. further covered with plywood.

So to even get to the bathroom, a strong storm would have to FIRST penetrate the SIP. 
THEN it would have to penetrate the maple, then the plywood... and yes I'll be adding a steel door vs. the wood door we currently have, and cladding the plywood window cutout we have with steel.

And finally, we brace the window covering securely with simple metal bar holders found in any hardware store:

From USDA's Tornado Safe Rooms From Commodity Wood Products:
"Results indicate that a nailed and glued wall section constructed of three layers of 2 × 8 lumber and sheathed with 23/32-in. CDX plywood can consistently pass the impact test. "

Did we unknowingly create (a great start to) an efficient storm shelter? 
I think we did.
So if YOU are considering using plywood, and using horizontal boards to clad your SIP prefab house interior, think about these applications for 1. doing something you want to do anyway: clad the SIP without using drywall that 2. also strengthens a possible storm room ALL IN ONE STEP!

Permaculture At The Off Grid Modern Prefab:
We are again doing some excavating work on our property and would like to mention how USEFUL logs and brush are to improving your soil. So instead of making a humongous bonfire, use them for your garden! I highly recommend Sepp Holzer's Permaculture book not only for these raised beds but for its wealth of information on improving soil, and you can also read a little about his methods of raised beds here, and here.

Basically, we followed Sepp Holzer's methods and cut two trenches at 45ish degree angles on a slope.
Sleeping on the job!

Into that, we put in some rotting logs...

...then piled up brush on top of the logs...

...added a layer of topsoil... (upside down)
...then over it all dumped good soil we relocated from the bottom pasture.
Now we plant.

Permaculture notes: Y'all know we go to and fro and back and forth in summer. So I expect nothing less than to grow plenty of weeds these first years. HOWEVER I made sure to seed these hugelkulturs with plenty of things that are 1. perrennial or/and that we can 2. harvest in late summer / early fall after our sailing season of back-and-forth is over. That included swiss chard, onions, kale, asparagus, salsify, sorrel, and then annuals that take time like plenty of sweet potatoes, potatoes, beans, artichokes and peppers.
Two of these hugelkulturs were plenty.
See how high they are?!?

We continue with homestead projects: To our chicken run, we added a downspout and rain barrels (which also has wood & tool storage; the wood helps insulate the coop in winter, climbing roses & vines provide shade in summer) = even MORE functionality in one structure! Holzhausen in foreground. We have a few more barrels to add but it will be great for watering the garden. Note we put the rain barrels on a base to aid in gravity-fed water for the down-the-hill hugelkulturs.
Recipes:
This time of year I heavily rely on my SOLAR COOKER. It is especially useful for cooking potatoes, beans, slow cooking meat and vegetables... without using anything but the sun.
I have been really enjoying making all sorts of savory (and sometimes, sweet) pies in ceramics in the solar cooker. The crust is totally flaky, the pies, delicious. It is so important with a child who has medical food issues to present food that is colorful, nutritious, and even fun. These ceramic experiments do all three.
For this "pie" first I poured a "batter" that acted as pie crust in the bottom and seperately cooked the filling in the solar cooker. Then I poured the cooked filling onto the "crust" and guess what? It was SO flaky and delicious. I am omitting more traditional eggs to bind things together in these pies due to Teen 2's alpha-gal triggered high histamine intolerance, fyi.

White bean, onion, kale, and ground turkey soup.

Solar cooker is cookin' while the passive solar (with sparing AC) kept us cool!

Oh! I know my friends will be SO excited I can still make molded food despite alpha gal thanks to this vegan algae-based powder! YOUR DINNER PARTIES ARE SAVED! I just KNOW y'all are excited!!!


Reading Club:
Well, I guess we'll go back to work on more homestead projects, and in the meanwhile, have a great spring.

Cornbread thinks he's handsome.

NO YOU MAY NOT BRING THAT IN THE HOUSE.

 


Off Grid Modern Prefab House Settles Into Spring With Snow Shakshuka Fiddleheads And Cattle Wrangling.

Off grid, at the modern prefab cabin, snow became spring, then snow again.




Then it was 80!

Then frost again. And back.
 
 
 
 
 
There is change in the air.
And yet, like seasons, and weird fluctuating springs, it is a reassuring cycle where everything is new, yet known.

A few weeks ago, I took an Amish friend on an errand to a nearby village. I could not stop exclaiming over the interesting cottages, ornate Victorians and darling shops. For fun, I dreamed: "Oh L., LOOK! What is that brown house??? Is it now a bank? Let's buy it and live there!" "L. Look at THIS Victorian! Imagine when it snows and we could be reading a book in that bay window all cozy by the fire... let's move THERE!" "Look at these cute stores! We could live in this house on the Main Street and WALK over for ice cream!"

We were giggling and having a grand adventure but after awhile L. turned to me, wearing of dreams, and ended it:
"OR. You could BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED."
And with that, our own beloved homesteads flashed open in our hearts as we happily, appreciatively drove back home.

I am now in the city. Again, doing errands, I stopped in my tracks in the dish towel aisle when, way in the back but somehow calling to me, literally waving at my cart, I spied a lone green potholder and towel in a sea of flowery pink patterns... and as I lifted it I knew... I KNEW to whom I was going to gift this dishtowel.
My friend L. is wise. (In fact, all of my friends make me a better person.) I could not stop thinking of my friend's words these past days because maybe this message is meant for me.
We.

You see, our family, like everything in life, is changing. After six years of homeschool, it is time to step into high school, to be not just farm, but world citizens. I am awed by the teens' hard work and diligence that has allowed them to choose from schools that want them. I am thrilled they can be with a herd, in a culture that will make them even better for this planet. I am excited for them as they grow.

While I appreciate our back-and-forth and make sure to see the best of what the city and farm offer, my gravity, my peace, is on the land. But as tumultuous as change is, it is also natural as seeds carried in the wind: drifting, spirling, wafting down... to bloom where you are planted.
Even if it's not in your own earth.

We have a lot of change going on... and yet it's the same, and centered.

And not. How do we go more back-and-forth and embrace it, while also keeping our homestead happy? NO ONE wants to rehome our fur and feathered family. But I can't schlepp a rooster, no matter how beloved, to town! A teacup donkey would kill her canine neighbors in the city. We are creatively trying to balance the chaos while also allowing us all to grow our own way.

I will say that after years of making something-outta-nothing, of step by step, of a little here and a little there, the off grid prefab and homestead is FINALLY coming together. Off grid living is routine, the fences and run ins are solid, the chickens and horses and teacup donkey are thriving, the garden areas and cold frames and... everything is gelling! Set up for the rest of our lives.
And so...
?

In the meantime, I sit in the pasture and wave madly at the international space station as it flies over... cycles of the earth, cycles of rockets, cycles of seasons and years. Each one new and never experienced, yet old as infinity.
 
 
I also have received news that I too have alpha gal, for which I have been caretaking our daughter for over a year.
Life is interesting.

What this means are ALL MY FAVORITE WINES HAVE MAMMAL! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
(Good news: most of my fave summer sailing beers are fine!)

Ok serious (well I was serious!):
TO START, ALPHA GAL 101:What it means is...
1. that I have to read EVERY inactive ingredient because more than not they have a mammal ingredient no matter what your doctor thinks
2. that I can only have vegan rice, sugar, flour or WATER because often they are processed with filters made of BONE CHAR
3. no dairy (I live for cheese), pork, lamb, beef, venison much less gelatin vintage molded food of which I love to experiment!
4. we will run from summer cook outs, and often, holidays: fumes are dangerous.
5. a restaurant can kill us (it's just not worth it, bring your own food to discreetly snack upon), and so can grandma
6. my makeup, moisturizer, soap, shampoo, detergent, and dish soap must be vegan
7. animal exposure must be a minimum. No hugs, no bedrooms, and sweep sweep sweep.
8. travel: no international unless food and water on the airplane are safe, no hotels because all the carpet cleaning/sheets/towels are cleaned with mammal. AirBnb + wash and bring our own sheets, towels, soaps, pans, utensils is the only way we can go...

We have navigated this with our daughter for over a year now. She usually wears gloves when she rides or pets her dogs. As the caregiver I have to be just as vigilant because now I'm taking care of two of us.
We ALWAYS wear tick repellent + check after + shower + check for the next 24 hours after the woods.

Recipes:
Each fall, I pick a little sumac along the fields for Middle Eastern dishes. Because when you get a hankering for Middle Eastern food in a town population of 40, you gotta be prepared.😂 
Every summer, I can a basic tomato/onion/garlic sauce I use for EVERYTHING, including Middle Eastern food. I also can roasted red peppers. All of this comes in handy to make the BEST white bean soup, ever.
Copeland's Ka Pow Middle Eastern White Bean Soup That Actually Has Flavor!
I am ALWAYS disappointed when I order white bean soup at restaurants, no matter the ingredients. This stew, however, actually tastes AMAZING.

In a pot, simmer your favorite white beans for hours until tender. Drain, and salt, stir gently, set aside.

In the bottom of a pan or pot, sautee a bunch of onion and garlic in olive oil.

Once done and a little crispy, add in some cumin, then roasted red peppers with juice it is canned in. Stir. Add in a bunch of my tomato/onion/garlic sauce. Add in the beans, a bunch of hot sauce, more salt, lemon juice, and carefully mix it all together.

Simmer until it looks so delicious you want to eat it. Pour into bowls, top with ground sumac and fresh parsley (if you have it), and eat it!

Copeland's Shakshuka:
 
This time of year I crave shakshuka.  For breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it is SHAKSHUKA SEASON.



There is something about a *perfectly* poached egg in a stew of savory deliciousness that makes this the perfect comfort food as the chickens after a winter break start laying again!
It's fresh. Savory. Stewed. Creamy. PERFECT.



First, in a skillet, I make the harissa. I never bother making the harissa a paste in the blender because THINK OF IT for hundreds of years nomadic Africans have been making harissa and do YOU think they had a blender? Naw. Just chop that stuff up and get to work in the pan.
(Also: I always add a ton more caraway/cumin/coriander/hot spices than called for, ha.)

To that, I add in a bunch of the roasted red pepper I can every summer, chop it with the spatula, then I add in any other extra ingredients to customize the shakshuka- grill some eggplant? Stir in olives? THEN I dump in a half quart of my tomato/garlic/onion sauce, get all that simmering, and add in salt/hot sauce/spices/lemon juice.

Add the egg, put the lid on... and taaaaa da: once it's PERFECTLY lightly poached (it will continue cooking), spoon the sauce into a bowl, then the egg, then sprinkle with sumac. Often I don't add in thick yogurt or feta, and just have the savory sauce and egg. (Note: now that I have alpha gal I certainly don't add dairy!)

It's great by itself, but super good with fresh homemade bread or naan.
 Fiddlehead Pasta

Dice onions, chicken in a pan, add fiddleheads if you promise not to destroy them by GENTLY turning them, otherwise cook them in a separate pan with a little broth so the onions soften. You can add a little duck fat at the end to finish them with an edge if you like.

While THAT is cooking, cook and then add very al dente pasta and gently stir so that the pasta absorbs the rest of the broth / flavor, then add sea salt and pepper to taste.

Fiddleheads have both a light (like asparagus or artichoke) yet strong flavor so you don't need too much.

Confusing I know but if you've had them you'll understand. If you don't have alpha gal like we, feel free to toss in a little parmesan!

Reading Club:
The next weeks are busy with gardening.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy your spring!
Here's some more moments from ours:
HAS ANYONE SEEN MY LAVENDAR SOAP???? I can't seem to find it.
(Why does the breeze smell so good?)



(Rule is you can't dig past your waist.)





They have worked on this hole for weeks. (Not allowed to dig deeper!)



We were called in to help a friend wrangle vicious longhorns.
We are always here to help, folks.
Wrangling a VICIOUS longhorn.
(Yes I was careful not to touch the milk / wash hands!)

My friend C and her vicious longhorn.

The girls are wrangling cattle, too.

Vicious longhorn.


Modern Net Zero Prefab Maximizes Comfort In Winter Wind And Weather.


At the net zero off grid prefab house, this time of year during "normal" winter weather (20s-40s/50) we keep the cook stove running intermittently so not to overheat the house. If you have been following this blog, you know that in "normal" winter weather, with our prefab house completely off grid, we are cozy, so there's not much to tell! The energy efficiency and structural strength of SIP, which is what our prefab house kits are made of, rock!
Our prefab house kit architects have some news... 
This month, there were some nice articles written on the architecture firm 3north that designed our two story modern prefab house, the R1 Residential!
The R1 Residential prefab house.
Dezeen noted 3north's small footprint cabin is about 800 square feet, yet open and embraces (like our own prefab home site choices) being hidden yet also having moments of reveal: the 3north custom small footprint project hides the waterfront home down a long drive, and only do you see the water once you arrive!
We too enjoy privacy, not placing our own off grid prefab house up on the road to be seen, but hidden back beyond the fields. Yet when you look south, you can see the view for miles. LOVE IT.

I love how they clad the modern house with black on the waterfront side- 3north notes: "When viewed from the river, the black siding gives the impression that the house is receding into the landscape."
They did a really beautiful job. Check it out:
For 800 square feet, 3north certainly maximized the clients' living!

Back to our own modern small footprint house and off grid living!
Off Grid Seasonal Maintenance:
This is the time to not only cut weed trees for firewood (thus improving the health of your woods) but to build holz hausen, and if you want to move any firewood into the wood shed, now is the time to do that, too. Why? Well of course you know you want to cut wood before sap rises. But there are many reasons to take advantage of this season for wood- when hauling out the wood from the woods, snakes and ticks are less. When stacking (or unstacking) wood, black widows / snakes have not yet come out. It makes it waaaaaaay easier to handle, no?
For many of our friends, power is still out days after the nor'easter hit the east coast. Over 1.5 million along the north east (not counting the south!) lost power.
At our modern prefab cabin, winds gusted to 60!
But I wasn't worried about the prefab house, we had already been through two hurricanes and I know the SIP prefab house is rock solid.
 

HOWEVER I did worry about our structures- wood sheds and run ins and fencing...
Thankfully, due to our great friends who helped us build these simple structures that many people don't think about enduring extreme weather, they reminded us to always use hurricane straps for everything, even simple wood sheds.

Trees were down, roofs blown off, low-lying areas flooded, many are still without power here.  When outside, we stayed away from the tree line while doing chores in case the wind would knock something down.

But otherwise, we sat in the net zero prefab, cozy, cooking food on the cook stove and enjoying the indoors until it passed.
Local Dominion Energy noted the severity of the nor'easter, and its impact more severe than even Hurricane Sandy:
"This storm was particularly damaging as it lasted so long – with our system experiencing significant winds more than 24 hours including gusts of over 70 mph. It ranks as one of the top five most damaging storms in the number of Dominion Energy customers impacted, topped only by hurricanes Floyd, Isabel and Irene, and the Super Derecho of 2012."

After ten years of off grid modern prefab house blogging, I will now write intermittently, because you have seen the off grid modern prefab through all sorts o' extreme weather and now know we're fine, we're cozy, we're happy!

We also now an off grid family with teens.
Not all moments are fun.

I noticed Teen 1 was constantly sulky, dark, glowering.
I took away electronics.
Taaaaaaaaaaaaa daaaaaaaaaaaaa! Look how bright and shiny he is again!
He spent the entire day DIGGING THIS HOLE just fer the heck of it!
Look at that beautiful smile! 
I am so thrilled to have my teen back!!!
He hugged his equines, played with his dogs, was SO much fun to be around...
I love our Pips so much, and my heart aches when they're not putting smiles in the world, much less wiping them off my face.
My smile is back.

Here are some favorite moments from these weeks:
He loves him so much he's sleeping on his feet.
"DONE WITH SSATs,
SCHOOL INTERVIEWS AND TESTS!"

Hanging out with some chicks.


Cornbread: "Tell me yer troubles, kid..."
Teen 1: "They took away the electronics! There's NOTHING to do! She's so MEAN!"
Cornbread: "You think she's mean to YOU? You should see how she moves ME around all day!"

Dogs: "LET'S CHASE A BALL!" Teen 1: "Ok! Doggie KICKBALL!"
Teen 1: "I'm bored. I think I'll spend all day long digging a hole."
Dogs: "AWESOME!"
And so, at the net zero modern prefab home, we move forward.
Towards spring.

Off Grid Modern Prefab House Enters Its TENTH Year of Prefab House Kits And Construction

You can tell spring nears, not by the groundhog's shadow, but by how my email suddenly explodes with people asking for quotes of our prefab house kits.

For ten years I have been writing about our own modern prefab house kit construction! Yes, it was ten years ago that I was waiting for the weather to warm up so we could pour the foundation of our own modern prefab house! 

This fall, ten years ago, our structural insulated panels arrived on a flat bed truck... 
The SIP arrive! November 2008.
Day 3
Day 4
Day 7
This fall, TEN years ago, our contractor (with an Amish crew) assembled the SIP, added cladding, windows, doors, plumbing, electric, built the interior walls...

And then for over TEN years we have been, weekend by weekend, sloooooowly finishing things, building a farm, and enjoying life in our off grid prefab house.
We can now attest that the standard package SIP perform fantastically in average conditions, and impressively even in extreme weather.  
Here we are snowed in, -2 degrees, totally happy and warm!

Of course, if you live in an area where you regularly get daily 0 and negative temperatures, or 100 and more above, then you would want to consider thicker panels. 
But DANG! Off grid has been fine with just that tiny cook stove's firebox! 
Firebox is the length of my arm,
width of my hand,
and heats the entire prefab house!
Each winter, each polar vortex, each dire plummeting weather condition... the standard SIP prefab house kit package has outperformed any of our other friends' new construction homes!

So yes, ten years down the road, I can still enthusiastically say how much I love using SIP as a proven quality, energy efficient, affordable solution for optimal performance home construction.

Our off grid life is good, and easy, even with minimal panels.

With winter ebbing and ten years of proven off-grid prefab house kit performance under my belt, as we ease into the "easy seasons" I might step off this blog a bit more. 
UNLESS YOU LIKE HEARING ME RAMBLE.
(I can ramble away.)

In fact, I can not only ramble, I can SING and ramble at the same time like we did in the city this weekend at HamilTUNES. If you like Hamilton, but citizens doing a sing-a-long (including women with babies and men in kilts!), I would definitely go.
 
 
 
 

In the meantime, I'll be relaxing, cozy, and quiet in my off grid modern prefab house.
Here's some pictures from the week.
Another morning where we wake to 68
even with no heat (note the system says off) overnight
yet outside it is in the 20s.

One last tussle before bedtime.
Have a good week. xo


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