Settling Down For the Winter
Progress is slow at our city homestead. The cold weather is upon us, and our inspiration to work on our house is dwindling. Instead of wielding a hammer or screwdriver, we’re busy making our holiday plans and deciding where we’d like to spend the winter.
Building a Rocket Stove Fireplace Insert
As the weather here in north Florida got chillier, Little Lotus and I began to look with longing at the fireplace we uncovered in our little house. During my extensive research for our city homestead project, I came across directions to build a brick rocket stove. According to my research, a rocket stove, or biomass heater, is a small stove that can be built using as little as sixteen bricks, is fueled by small pieces of wood or kindling, and is virtually smokeless. I had also seen rocket stoves used as fireplace inserts to make a fireplace more efficient.
During my research I had learned that the main concern for using a fireplace that could be in disrepair is a threat of carbon monoxide entering the house through the cracks in the chimney, so I decided to supplement our rocket stove insert with a carbon monoxide detector and, of course, a smoke detector.
Before purchasing the supplies for our rocket stove, I inspected the chimney for cracks with a flashlight. I couldn’t find any, so we journeyed to the hardware store in search of sixteen bricks and a carbon monoxide detector. We had already purchased a smoke detector at our local Habitat for Humanity store for two dollars.
We built our little rocket stove, which actually required eighteen bricks, and it’s been a wonderful source of heat. We had lots of small pieces of wood in our storage room as a result of the wall we removed.
Here is an interesting video produced by the Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage that details rocket stove variations http://youtu.be/235m0EzZF4U.
Our New Toilet
Although our ultimate goal is to install a composting toilet, we decided to install a flushing toilet as a meantime measure. Upon noting the condition of our little house, I assumed we’d need to replace the plumbing, which would require a permit. After an inspection by a friend who is a licensed contractor, we found out that our plumbing is intact, and we only needed to replace the fixtures like a toilet and sink—what a relief, no permit required!
We purchased our first toilet, and our friend installed it, although he assured me that it’s something I could do myself. Of course, Little Lotus made good use of the large box our new toilet came in.
There are some blockage issues we’ll need to address, but it looks like our plumbing it in pretty good shape considering that our house is almost 100-years-old and that it has sat empty for a number of years.
Removing the Glass From a Broken Window
Out of our house’s seven windows, two are broken. We keep the broken windows boarded up and rely on the remaining five windows for light and fresh air. We’ve decide to replace the broken window glass with plexiglass as it’s a hardier alternative to glass.
I began to remove the broken glass from the front window of our house, but it looks like this is a project that we’ll most likely complete when the weather warms up again and our will to work is at its peak.
Since work on our little house is waning, we have the freedom to decide where we’d like to spend the winter. An adventure is sure to ensue…we’ll keep you posted!