Posts Tagged ‘rocket mass heaters’

Do you remember how glowingly I spoke of rocket mass heaters? How excited I was to have one as the primary heating system in our home? And it wasn’t just me- Shane was equally enthusiastic about the technology, possibly even more so. The potential to build our own heating system, for relatively little money, the possibility of storing heat in mass- that would in turn provide a cozy sitting area, the efficiency of the burn, our very positive experiences with rocket stoves– all of these qualities made rocket mass heaters extremely attractive to us. Add to that the fanfare, oh the fanfare

Well I can’t stand rocket mass heaters. I would never build another one, unless I had an immense amount of time on my hands with absolutely nothing better to do and wanted an outdoor bench as a novelty item to be used periodically in the cooler fall months. And I’ll tell you why…

They are extremely finicky. It can be exciting during the build: getting the measurements just right, reshaping the bell chamber, getting the length of run perfect for maximum efficiency. Sure, it wears on a person after a while, but there is immense satisfaction in finally getting the bloody thing just right. That rocket sound when everything is working perfectly- WOW! But don’t get too excited- just because it’s perfect, doesn’t mean that it will work all the time.

If there is a strong wind, or say very cold temperatures (hello Canadian prairie!) all bets are off. Now you’ll have to fight a down-draft, or a nice column of very heavy cold air. Good luck getting that thing started. Oh sure, you can open a window to rebalance the air pressure, install a fan in the pipe to try and combat the problem- and if you’re persistent (like Shane) you may even get it started. This time. But try again the next morning when your wife has already moved out in frustration and you’re feeling blue- and very cold.

And then there’s the fact that you must not have any other occupation. This is perhaps appealing to some- say monks, or hobbits- who might have all day to contemplate life and feed the fire. But the average person cannot sit by the feed tube all day long, feeding the endlessly hungry beast little pieces of wood lovingly chopped down to (again) just the right size. I can only imagine what was going through Shane’s head (because again- I wasn’t here) but I’m betting it wasn’t, “man am I glad to have all of this time away from all of the other tasks on my list. I hope that I can do this every day.”

And then there are the marvellous fumes. You can’t actually close the top of the stove, for very long anyway, because you need to keep feeding it (remember?) and it needs a bit of air. This is no sealed unit you’re dealing with. So if you have breathing problems to start with, or allergies, you’ll enjoy hours of feeling like someone has your lungs in an iron grip and is slowly squeezing the air out.

There are positives. The mass does actually retain the heat for a good while. And since you can’t leave the heater during your waking hours you will get to enjoy that cozy warmth under your bum, periodically, when you’re not up and feeding the thing more sticks. But that mass does relatively little to add heat to a cold room. And it is indeed efficient- there is hardly any ash left over after burning piles and piles of expertly chopped sticks. And you can shape it to look like a dinosaur, or a mermaid, if that’s your thing.

Unfortunately the negatives far outweighed the positives for me. We tore the f*cking thing out and replaced it with a Blaze King Princess (thank you Analogman, for the very helpful advice and support). Guess what? The house is perfectly comfortable now, and it’s only been in two days. Last night, in fact, I was broiling while we watched movies in our new home and had to strip off the layers of clothing I was convinced would become my new second skin. The fire was still going this morning and kept the temperature of the house comfortable enough that I don’t even require layers. Shane didn’t even need to add wood right away- he just increased the temperature and the fire burst back into life. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

There’s been no fumes, no leaks, no fighting down-drafts, no fighting air pressure, no swearing and threatening to leave the country for warmer climes (though I could use a vacation after all of our troubles)… Imagine that. Just warmth and comfort.

And before any rocket mass heater fans (I know you’re out there- and fanatical) write me about how we should have stuck it out, or tried a few more things- save it. The reason we embarked on this experiment was because- between a technologist and scientist- we’re game to try out just about any neat sounding idea. And we understand that no experiment goes right the first time, or the second time, and sometimes not the twelfth, or the twentieth time. We’re perfectly comfortable with reworking a project dozens of times to get the predicted results. We’re very accustomed to making adjustments, and careful measurements counting. The build was perfect but this idea does not deliver. Not in our climate and not, in my opinion, as a safe and effective indoor option. And no- I wouldn’t use it in a greenhouse either (as we at one time planned on doing) because I don’t expect to want to sit in a greenhouse long enough to get the mass up to the right temperature to be helpful.

I have a lot of cleaning to do now. Taking out a huge section of the mass heater made quite the mess and there’s dust everywhere. But I can comfortably do that now- in my underwear if I so choose. 🙂


*I’d be remiss if I didn’t say a special thanks to Chad at Fireplace Stove World, in Edmonton, who was immensely helpful and patient with me, even though the road conditions (and lack of heat in days, feelings of total hopelessness, etc) had me in a terrible state by the time I got there. Thank you.


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I have never struggled with knowing the right thing to say. Quite the contrary, I believe I’d have been a wonderful speech writer or political strategist. Someone behind the curtain as it were. And that is because though I know what to say, how to spin something, I have terrible difficulty actually getting the words out of my mouth. I get much more credit for speaking plainly.

So. We moved into the new house this week. Three long, hard years of building and at last we’re in. This is where I should say that I am so grateful that all of our hard work has paid off and I absolutely love the new digs. Especially as compared to Mouse-House (named for the plentiful rodents that keep making their way indoors) where we’ve made due during the construction phase.

“I’m enjoying not only the fruits of our labour but the pioneering aspects of our new life, such as hauling wood and starting a fire in the morning to cut through the chilly air.” But that would remind me of the time a good fellow in Oregon told me that we would “fall in love with the healthy and abundant vegetarian fare served during the course of the weeklong workshop.” A special way of describing the pots of beige and of green mush served for every meal, all week long. I have (almost) never been so desperate for a steak or something- anything- that I could chew in my life.

The fact is- I am not happy, yet. I’m f*cking cold to be brutally honest. And I cannot stand to be cold. Many (many) years ago I spent a period of time on the streets, homeless. Not a lot of people know that about me and I don’t spend much time thinking about it, but I did make myself two promises all those years ago. That when I finally made my way out of that situation I would never go hungry or cold again. (I’ve since added I will never again live with rodents to the list.)

The rocket mass heater that worked so beautifully last year is completely useless at the moment. And it was our main source of heat for the living room, which borders our bedroom. It is brutal in there. My shoulders are sore by mid-morning from crunching them up to my ears. I’ve taken to warming bricks on the wood stove and packing them inside of rice sacks so that I can at least keep my feet warm in living room. But I hate it. Hate, hate, hate it.

Now I’m pretty rough and tumble as a general rule. I can work like nobody’s business, I’m fine with injuries, long hours, the sight of my blood has never bothered me- or slowed me down for that matter. I’m who you want around if there is a serious crisis, or if you’ve suffered a severe injury. Unless you’re looking for a nursemaid, or require coddling- then I’m definitely not your girl. But if it falls into the category of “hungry” or “cold” (and now “mouse-infested”) I am one of the most vocal, whiniest b*tches you ever want to meet.

I don’t know how many times a person can say, “I can’t live like this” in four days but I’m sure I’ve already hit a record and the day’s not done yet. This morning I actually said to Shane that, “I guess my new retirement plan is just to die young because I’m sure I’ll be completely crippled and useless by 50 at this rate.” It was a struggle to get the words out without my own mouth dropping open from the absurdity and overblown nature of the statement but I kept a straight face- because it’s important to me to look earnest when I’m in full-on whining mode.

You might wonder how Shane is holding up to all of this. Remarkably well, but he is the strongest person I have ever met- and I say that having very high standards of what rates. He has a higher tolerance for cold than I do, by a long shot. And he’s very easy going, so he’s sure that we will solve this problem. I’m probably wearing on him more quickly than any other hardship will. And if I’m being honest- I’m only partly bothered by that, because I need him to fix this and now. There’s not a lot that I need help with, or will admit to, but by the time I get to seeking Shane’s help it’s because I want it done yesterday.

It’s a lot of pressure to put on one guy. Before you send me comments, you should know that I’m aware of that. And I do- somewhat- feel badly about that. I have bursts of, “oh we can do this- we’ve handled tougher” and other sunshiney bullsh*t moments. And those are strictly for his benefit. So I’m trying as best as I can. There are some things that I’ve even enjoyed about the new house- and once I’m in better spirits I’ll share those with you. But in the meantime, I’m cold. (Well, not at this very moment because I’m back at Mouse House, with the heat cranked so high that I could easily walk around naked.)

So- not exactly a ringing endorsement for this pioneering lifestyle that we’ve embarked on. As I started with- I could tell a different, and still true, story that might make you want to join us on this quest for a more simple, environmentally friendly life. And I’m sure over time that I will. But it doesn’t happen to be what I’m feeling in this moment, so you’re left with the harsher side of reality for today.

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When we first embarked on our investigative journey into natural building and sustainable living, we were amazed by the diversity of people involved in the lifestyle. I suppose I went in with a lot of the preconceptions that we encounter ourselves today. I was somewhat surprised to find that there are as many ‘types’ of people involved in sustainable building and living practices as there are in any other field, or belief system.

The one common refrain seems to be concern for the planet. Whether they came to it by necessity, passion, practicality, or concern, everyone we have met has claimed a deep concern for the planet, for our environment and our impact on it. Similarly, many claim an equal concern for the planet’s inhabitants.

That all sounds very good but it didn’t take long to realize that self-concern rates higher for a lot of this group than many would like to admit. I would argue at least as high as that of our consumer-minded brethren that many would like to distance themselves from, and are happy to point out the differences between.

I understand the need to make a living. Everybody has to get by, though the means may differ. But then don’t hold yourself up as a paragon of virtue, wandering around chanting in breathy tones about saving the planet and concern for your brother-man whilst your hand is in his pocket.

I could go on to list the number of individuals, organizations, cooperatives, and ‘movements’ that exploit their money making potential to the extreme- to the point that they exclude not only the poorest among us, but those below the upper-middle class. All the while wearing “save the planet” t-shirts and hemp friendship bracelets and tsk-tsk-tsk’ing after those mainstream sorts who are “all-about-the-money”. Puh-leaze, they’re just begging for an article all their own. But instead I’ll focus on those individuals who really walk the talk and make a real difference in the world, without requiring payment in advance…

Topping my list of oh-so-awesome world changers are Dr. Owen Geiger and Kelly Hart. These guys are amazing! With a wealth of natural building experience between them, they host several extremely informative sites (the Earthbag Building Blog is one of several) that answer pretty near any question you may have about building. And if you don’t see the answer to your question on one of their sites, ask away. They will actually answer you rather than directing you to “buy the book” or “take the course”.

Both Kelly and Owen show a real concern for the environment and for people and it shows in everything they do. Their hard won experience and wealth of knowledge is readily shared and easily accessed. Now that, to me, is integrity.

Ianto at work on a fireplace

Another, more elusive but no less altruistic individual, who immediately comes to mind is Ianto Evans. Ianto is a natural builder (with a definite preference for cob), landscape architect, ecologist, wild inventor and just plain all around great guy. You won’t find him online but you can take courses with him at Cob Cottage. Right, so this sounds like a contradiction, “I have to pay to talk to him??” Yes, yes you do. Unless you can’t. In which case you’re free to tag along on courses in exchange for work trade.

We went down to Oregon a few years ago to take a (very reasonably priced) course and it remains one of my most cherished experiences. We came away with more than simply new skills- it was a new way of looking at the world and our place in it. And while there were quite a few other ‘paid participants’, I was amazed at the number of people who dropped in for a day, or six, and simply pitched in with work. Time spent with Ianto is rich with information about not only the subject at hand, but his experience in building communities, alternative heating, permaculture gardening, and much more.

In connection with Cob Cottage, we met Kirk Mobert (aka Donkey), another natural builder and rocket stove enthusiast. While Donkey’s building experience is extensive, what he is at least as well known for is his experience with and passion for rocket stoves and heaters. You can often find him at Cob Cottage teaching or assisting in the Rocket Mass Heater course, he also has a forum online. Here you’ll find a wealth of information, questions and answers, based on his own experience and that of others all available *free of charge*.

One of my husband’s favourite sites is OtherPower, a site dedicated to informing people about alternative energy, primarily wind turbines. Taken directly from their home page, this says it all: “We could never have made it to our current level of electrification up here without the help of friends, neighbors–and folks we’ve never met, thanks to the internet. Our goal is to share our information about experimental successes and failures alike, free of charge, with anyone who is interested.”

These guys bring together an abundance of knowledge and experience that they readily share with the public. They’re informative, enthusiastic and friendly. Everything you’d expect of people trying to make a difference in the world. In fact- that’s true of everyone I’ve mentioned in this article.

Now, as I’ve alluded to, all of these people have books, services, courses and/or DVDs on offer for sale. Among the many offerings are Kelly Hart’s DVD Building with Bags: How We Made Our Experimental Earthbag/Papercrete House, Owen Geiger’s Earthbag Building Guide and accompanying DVD, as well as many (many!) building plans, Ianto Evans has the Hand Sculpted House and Rocket Mass Heaters: Super Efficient Woodstoves, Homebrew Windpower is available by Dan Bartmann and Dan Fink (the “OtherPower guys”), along with hands-on courses… and much, much more.

There are too many things to list here, all to help you in the course of becoming self-sufficient and sustaining. However, if you are unable to afford products and/or services offered- all of these people have made their assistance publicly available in the interest of serving the community. How absolutely fan-frickin-tabulous are they? So guess who’s stuff I’m willing to pay for? I hope that you will too.

Feel free to list your favourite people who offer services and/or support for *free* (or close to it) in the comments section. Let’s support the people who support the people.

Donkey & a rocket water heater

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I’m full on into my post-season slump. We finished the final roof on October 23rd and moved onto building the mass heater right away. We finished that and had a fire last Thursday, just in time as we had our first snowfall on Friday. The building season is officially at a close and both my body and my mind have decided to take a long overdue break. I just can’t seem to muster any energy for the endless tasks that lie ahead; stuff I’ve been putting off because I’ve been too busy with outdoor work.

While I recuperate, I’ll leave you with some pictures of the building. Hopefully my faculties will be back to full strength some time this week and I’ll have the mental aptitude to write a blog detailing some of the work. At the very least I will get some pictures of the mass heater up in the next few days. It works like a dream by the way. I’m pretty impressed.

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We intend to go entirely off-grid. I can’t say exactly when we’ll hit that goal, or what the final system will look like quite yet. Redundancy is important to us so that if a component fails or is down for maintenance it’s not an entirely dire situation. So is efficiency. Ideally, we want the greatest return for the least input- particularly where fuel is concerned. We’re confident that the rocket mass heater we’re building to heat our main living space meets this criteria.

A rocket mass heater burns (wood) fuel extremely efficiently. Seriously efficiently– which is important to us for several reasons not the least of which is that we live on the prairie. There are lots of systems that make this claim but I have never seen anything like the rocket stove. When we were in Oregon, one of our projects was a rocket water heater. When we fired up the system to test it we were encouraged to go around to the exterior of the building and put our faces close to the exhaust. (I know, I know- apparently I’ll do anything for a lentil burger.) I was utterly amazed when instead of a face full of smoke, I was greeted by a cool steam. The wood was burning so efficiently, and the system using all of the heat, that there was nothing but a light steam by the time it reached the outdoors. This is the promise of a rocket mass heater.

That’s the other very important feature of the rocket mass heater- efficient use of heat. When you think of a traditional forced air system, or even a regular wood burning stove, it’s clear to see that a lot of heat is wasted. The mass heater, on the other hand, stores the heat for slow release in easy to build, dirt cheap furniture. Excuse the bad pun. The heat travels down a course built into the furniture (in our case, a combination couch/day bed) transferring its heat to the cob that encases it and slowly releasing it. Essentially, the chimney is inside of the furniture exiting only when it has had a sufficient run to use up the heat. For example, a standard 6” system would have a run of about 30’ and be enclosed in about 3 tons of material.

When you hear talk of rocket mass heaters, you’ll hear frequent mention of the combustion unit and the thermal battery. The combustion unit is roughly J-shaped, and is made up of the feed tube, the burn tunnel, and the heat riser. Measured precisely, and with good mortar and insulation, the combustion unit burns fuel very efficiently and draws well. The thermal battery, as mentioned, is in the furniture itself (or the floor, though it’s not a recommended first time project) in which the heat is stored.

It’s important not just to get the measurement of the combustion unit right, but to carefully consider the run. You don’t want to place the pipes too low into the furniture (or maybe you do, for a much slower bleed and perhaps warming the floor in front of the bench) but you don’t want to go to high and risk a burning hot surface. About 6” from the top of your bench is recommended for a nicely toasted bum. Your initial run will be the warmest, with every length doubled back running slightly cooler- assuming that you’re doubling your run (we may be tripling ours).

You’ll also want to insulate underneath the combustion unit and behind your bench (couch, daybed…) if it sits against a wall. No sense bleeding good heat into the wall. Vermiculite (industrial, not agricultural), perlite, or pumice are all good materials. Use your imagination but avoid anything that may off gas, like foams.

For all of this you’ll need only the most basic materials. Bricks (which you can reuse or make), clay soil, sand, straw, urbanite or rocks (for heat storage) and a couple of barrels and stove pipe, or metal duct. The size of your barrels will vary between 15 gallons for the feed tube, and 30-55 gallon for the heat exchanger- depending on your specific design. Most, if not all, of your supplies can be found and reused.

If I’ve made it sound complicated- it isn’t, but there is some patience and tinkering required. You can’t (or rather shouldn’t) just throw your system together and encase it in cob. You build the system, and fire it. Check it for leaks, or a weak draw, or any other issues, rework your design and fire it again until you have a leak-free system that draws well and burns efficiently. You’ll know it draws well because it actually sounds like a rocket. I’m sure I’ll eventually tire of the sound when it first catches but I’m still just amazed every time that I hear one start. You’ll also want to decide how much radiant heat you want as that will decide how much of the barrel to leave exposed. Myself, I’d like to boil water for tea on top of the heater, so I’ll need to position the heat riser to within 2” of the barrel to create a hot spot.

Once your design is perfected, you’re ready to encase the entire thing in cob and wait for your new furniture to set. (It’s a good idea to test it once again, before your furniture is rock hard.) If you’re a patient person, you’ll have a mass heater that will last you for years. If you try and rush this, you will regret it- it’s not as easy as throwing out an old couch.

Now, having said that it’s efficient and simple to build- I’m not going to go through the entire process on this blog, nor could I without writing a book-length piece. Pick up the actual book- “Rocket Mass Heaters” by Ianto Evans and Leslie Jackson- it’s well worth it. You can buy it in book stores but for the (small) profit to go directly to the authors, you can order it at http://www.cobcottage.com/products . The book will walk you through the main components of the system, layout, calculations and exact measurements. And, apart from the fact that you won’t be able to build a mass heater based on my brief overview, the book also provides alternative models and adaptations, including a rocket hot tub, a Guatemalan cook stove, and an ingenious little coffee rocket.

As a prelude to building a mass heater, try your hand at a pocket rocket- a very simple rocket stove. It is really easy to build and throws an amazing amount of heat, but most importantly it will get you started, build your confidence and have you well on your way of being as hooked on these wonderful heating systems as we are! I’ll provide full details and pictures so that you can build your own pocket rocket in my next blog.

The combustion unit of the water heater

The combustion unit of a mass heater

Note the clean-out

Super cozy rocket mass heater, Cob Cottage, OR

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Long cold winters are a major consideration when building on the bald ass Alberta prairie, where we live. It is not at all unusual to hit temperatures as low as -40 C for extended periods of time, sometimes even colder. Even a slight wind at temperatures that low can bite, but we don’t get slight winds– we get strong, sustained winds and sometimes dangerous gusts. A calm day around here sees winds of less than 20 km/hr, but not much less than that. Warmth in our new home during the long cold season is paramount.

Thermal mass has its benefits but is not the obvious choice for an extreme climate such as our own. It was suggested that we might choose a different building method for our home, straw-cob and straw bale being the favourites, but we were determined to go with earthbags for several reasons- ease of construction for first time builders and (very) low cost topping that list.

With that in mind, we’ve tailored our plans to accommodate the weather. The first consideration was to keep the rooms small. That in itself is an interesting concept given our propensity for big, open spaces. For big, open spaces we’ll have to go outdoors; a new habit that- to me- meshes well with our new way of life. I like the idea of spending more time outdoors and good thing, because we won’t have the power capacity to sit in front of the computer or television what with going off-grid.

Windows are an important aspect of our plan. The bulk of the windows are south facing and low in the building, to best maximize our winter solar gain. They are regular glass, as opposed to the ever popular low e variety, in order to make the most of solar heat. (And here’s one area thermal mass has the advantage, absorbing and storing the heat for slow release later.) The couple of windows (in the bedrooms) that are not south facing are low e, however, and very small. As we wouldn’t be getting much solar heat gain from either of these windows, it’s important that we minimize heat loss.

Landscape features further protect our building. The backside (north side) of the building will be bermed to near roof level, and we have plans for a surround-garden on the south side to window level. (The house itself is also sunken into the ground several feet.) The south facing garden has the additional advantage of being a slightly different zone than the rest of the property- because it wraps around so much mass- and we’re quite excited to see what we can grow.

A section of the living room has been dedicated to a greenhouse/sunspace and will be double glassed (i.e. we will have sliding glass windows on the inside of the building to access the garden). This will add to the natural warmth of the living space quite nicely, as well as extend our short growing season.

Also in the living room, we will build a rocket mass heater to wrap around the entire north wall. If you haven’t heard of these entirely efficient stoves and heaters I highly recommend you read Ianto Evans book (Rocket Mass Heaters: Super Efficient Wood Stoves You Can Build), or better yet- head to Oregon and take a course with the man himself as we did (visit http://www.cobcottage.com/ for information on courses, or to order the book). The mass heater will serve as a toasty and comfortable sitting area. If you live in a standard construction home, as we currently do, you can quite possibly imagine how nice it would be to heat your body rather than the air around you and this is one of the advantages of a mass heater. I’m always amazed at how often our heat kicks in and how cold it remains in the house- one of the (many) disadvantages of a forced air heating system.

The kitchen will house a wood stove. Not nearly as efficient as a rocket stove, but it throws a lot of heat. We are considering putting in a small rocket stove in that room as well, for days when we don’t want to use the wood stove. The plan that most interests us for the kitchen can be seen at http://cato-projects.org/ArLivre/EN/RocketStove3.htm .

Finally, there’s the roof. Admittedly, we’re fly by the seat of our pants kind of people and this whole thing has been a great big experiment- on us. So some things we’ve come to late in the game. Originally we had planned on building earthbag domes. There’s easy, cheap and require absolutely no construction experience. Roofing a structure requires a little more skill. But at this stage of the game, we are leaning towards roofing at least the larger (18’) rooms. Primarily because so little of the building is actually exposed to the elements that should we add a highly insulated roof, there really is nowhere for the heat to go during the winter. Sure, it will bleed slowly through the walls- but it’s a bleed so slow that it’s negligible. If we continue on with the dome plan, there will be considerably more space to heat and more room for heat loss.

That’s not to say that we won’t change our minds- again. We do have all winter to consider our options. If we do revisit the idea of domes though, it will be with a plan of having a second floor in each of the main domes and plenty of insulation. Another option that we’ve all but ruled out is scoria filled bags. If you live in an area where scoria is cheap or reasonably priced (we don’t), scoria is excellent bag fill for providing that little bit of extra insulation without changing your building plans.

So that’s the plan as it stands and how we intend to deal with our extreme climate. Build small rooms, sink the house into the ground and berm as much as possible, maximize solar heat gain by keeping windows on the south side plentiful, place only two windows that aren’t south facing and keep them small and low emissivity, have a sun space for additional heat gain and a nice garden area, build a rocket mass heater for the living room, use a traditional wood stove in the kitchen, and keep the roof low and well insulated. Ah, and we’ll tint the finish lime plaster a darker shade, in order to further enhance heat absorption. Our house is not simply a shelter, but a system that needs to consider and work with all components.

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this is the site, dug to foundation level with trenching started

We broke ground the second week of March. It’s been, well… It’s been real. Don’t get me wrong- it’s exciting- but digging has been hard going, what with a small hill to move and enough rocks to build yet another hill. We finally hit foundation level last week though, and really that’s not all that long considering there’s just been the two of us, a couple of shovels, and a pickaxe. 

We’re on to trenching, and if digging was a chore before I don’t even know how to describe it now. The ground is ridiculously hard and weather has not been cooperating. We had several days of weather warnings in the last week, with winds ranging from 60 km to 100 km/hr. And snow- plenty of snow. Thankfully it melted fairly quickly but they’re forecasting another 20 cm will fall in the next 24 hours. 

I’m finding some days (like today) a little discouraging. Hard to find the motivation when you can only scrape the earth bit by bit into a wheelbarrow. It makes for a long day when the progress is so slow. But I remain determined, and committed, so an off day here or there won’t throw me off for long. Shane, in the meantime, is focusing his efforts on our rocket stoves. We’ll require three in total- one for mass heating, one for water heating, and one for cooking. All variations on the basic model that will have to be built and tested prior to the actual build- so he’s got his work cut out for him. When I start to feel badly about all the digging I’m doing, I remind myself I could be stuck with the heating systems which seem- to me- to be a worse assignment. 

So that’s where we’re at. Sorry so long between updates. It’s a busy time. For those of you interested in steadier (albeit short) updates and the opportunity to interact with other natural builders, please see our Facebook page and sign up. The address is http://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Brigden-Alberta/Canadian-Dirtbags/128912733998?ref=mf

A clearer view of the rubble trench

And so digging was delayed for a couple of days...



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