Tag Archives: barrel

Fall 2014

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.

Rocket stove flue extended through the roofFirewood

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.

Flue Extension

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!

Rocket stove barrel copper hot water heating coilsLast 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.


Groundbreaking Developments

The Solar Shower

I know it’s been too long between blog posts, but better late than never.  I loath using the generator and it seems like we’re constantly busy with something.  Such as…

The solar shower has been done for awhile now.  It works great, the water can even get a little too hot after a sunny day, but for the most part it’s perfect.  I’d like to get a shorter hose from the water barrel to the shower head so there’s not 2-3 minutes of cold water before the hot gets there.  Also, it’d be nice to have a solar panel up there and a couple batteries so we didn’t have to lug the generator up there.

The Solar Shower Room

In the shower room we modified a pallet and dug out a french drain to divert the water away.  I’d have like to divert it towards the garden but the land slopes the other way and it’d need to go through a greywater pond first anyway.  I also built a small bench out of a pallet and hung up a rope and some hooks.  We put some mulch down but we’d really like to get some old carpet turned rubber side up, but we haven’t come across any yet.

We’ve also put in 3 keyhole garden beds using a sheet-mulching technique.  It gives us about 550 square feet of garden right now.  We’re a little late planting some things, and the aged horse manure may be a little strong this first year, but we’ll probably have some good eats in a couple months.  I found a local source for the horse manure if we ever need any more.  The guy, Sam, also told me to stop by for a cold one some time.  We’re making friends already.

The first garden bed, before we put it in 2 more

Liz is still trying to get a chicken to sit on guinea hen eggs.  The kind of hens we’ve got are good for going broody, i.e., sitting and hatching eggs, but they’re too young.  We didn’t realize that they usually don’t do that until they’re a year or more old and ours are still in their first year.  She’s still looking for someone to buy an older broody hen from. Also we had a large animal break into the coop and eat our rooster about the 3rd night we had them. We moved them down to the camping area and haven’t had a problem so far. Liz is reinforcing the coop.

We had some great help from Justin a couple weeks ago, he spent 5 days out here and helped with a bunch of tough jobs like shoveling gravel for the garden road, digging some french drains around some bad areas of the camping area, etc.  Daniel has also been mulching like crazy and made the mulch for all the garden beds and covered the main tent areas really well.

The cleared rubble and cement posts

I’ve also built a new tent platform and hung a tarp over it for visitors when they come.  The platform is 8’x8’ which is about the size of a regular square 4-person tent.  I also hung a big tarp over the shower area so now hopefully we can collect some water for the shower and the garden when it rains.  Right now we’re filling 55-gallon drums at the city power plant where you put 25 cents in a machine and it floods out about 75 gallons in a few seconds.  It’s pretty impressive really, although the water has that chemical city taste so we’re using a Brita for drinking water.

We’re researching plans on how to build a bio-sand gravity fed water filter.  It seems pretty simple, we mainly just need to spend the time to do it.  The rain water we’re collecting right now is brown with pollen from the canopy of oaks we’re under.  We’re trying a couple of ways of filtering the water before it even gets to that point so we can use it for dish-washing and things like that.

Dragging away the cement pillar after being wenched

Also, I guess the big news is that we’ve finished clearing the building site out and are now in the process of digging the rubble trench.  That’s right, we’ve broken ground!  Clearing out the site was quite a task.  After removing all of the buried bricks and flag stone and then cutting back a lot of the trees and shrubs, we had to dig out about a dozen cedar posts and 6 cement foundation pillars.  I don’t know how we would have done it with out the come-along and chain graciously donated by my dad.

The digging is going better than expected since there are hardly any rocks at all, the roots are a little annoying but not too bad.  After almost 2 full days of digging, Daniel and I have the rubble trench about 80% dug, but it still needs to be level and tamped down.  We also need to dig the sub-floor and level it, which is probably going to take at least a couple days.  We decided to do a split-level floor so that we wouldn’t have to dig nearly as much dirt since one corner of the building site is about 2 feet lower than the upper corner.

Daniel looking over the first section of the rubble trench

Once it’s all level and tamped down good we’ll put down the drain pipe and tamp down gravel until a several inches below the surface and then start on the stem wall.  It’s amazing how far behind schedule I thought we were going to be right now but it’s looking like we’re only about 5 days behind schedule at most.

I also spent a day and cleared out about half of the tour route trail.  I got half way through the field slinging the weed whacker before I finally wore myself out.  It’s hard to say when I’ll get back to finish it.  It’ll probably be before one of the Saturday tours that have a lot of people.