This Fall was relatively uneventful, but I did get a few minor projects done that have made Winter much more pleasant. Also, I hosted wine-making workshop, which didn’t draw as many people as I imagined it would. My volunteers from Chicago left at the beginning of October heading to another farm in Georgia. They took my long-term volunteer, Billy, with them and as far as I know he’s still at that farm.
The volunteers helped me split a good bit of firewood before they headed out, and I spent most of the Fall preparing for Winter in one way or another. After they left I hauled some more logs, split them, and stacked up about a chord of wood. I also cut down a big oak tree that had died over the summer and was leaning precariously towards the shed. I cut that up, split it, and stacked it to cure for next Winter.
I also finally extended the common house rocket stove flue pipe up through the porch roof. The exhaust from the stove had been getting hung up under the porch and the moisture was condensing on the rafters to the point it was practically raining underneath the porch. I used a dremel to cut a precise hole for the flue and a butyl rubber to seal around it. The draft on the rocket stove has improved and I haven’t seen it back-smoke at all since the improvement.
Rocket-Powered Hot Water!
Last winter I combined a couple of ideas and came up with a plan to have hot water year-round. I built the solar hot water heating panel and installed the hot and cold barrels earlier in the spring, but the panel will only work in above-freezing temperatures because the water would freeze in the panel and burst the pipes.
I came up with the idea of using the same thermosiphon principle that worked on the solar panel, but wrapping copper tubing around the rocket stove barrel compared to the sun heating up the water in the panel. It was a little tricky getting the copper wound tightly around the barrel, but luckily when you buy large sections of copper tubing it comes in coils to begin with making it easier to avoid crinkling the pipe when I bent it around the barrel.
After running the stove the average 6-8 hours it takes to heat the common house up for several days the water in the 55 gallon hot water barrel will be upwards of 120F. The mass of the water and insulation on the barrel keeps the water hot for a couple of days, so it holds the heat almost the same amount of time as the house does.