Today started off as an unknown .. and now that is is over it is much clearer.

While the day was still trying to figure itself out in the morning I managed to place (no mortar) yet the first layer of bricks for the rocket stove in its designated location in our bedroom. Great stuff πŸ™‚

Then they day decided where its going … mostly that Andreea needed to get to Oradea to support (as a Doula) her first home-birth here in Romania. Very exciting for her … as I am sure it is for the couple (our friends Ina & Sabin). So we decided to make a few arrangements in the city that would include dropping Andreea off at the train station.

Just before we left a small red car appeared in front of our house and honked … a rare and amusing appearance in our parts. It turned out to be a courier (working for a local subcontractor who delivers for UPS in our area) who had a package for us – a pair of quality axes we ordered from Germany (sadly we gave up trying to find them in Romania) – great surprise – super fast (and amusing) delivery.

We picked up a package (I will unpack soon after this short update is published) from my parents containing all sorts of practical goodies … most notably Tehina … which we can’t fin here in Romania. Also,Β  we found a flexible steel chimney pipe that is needed for the rocket stove. The rest is uninteresting.

I left Andreea at the train station, made another stop on the way home and now I am home alone in Romania πŸ™‚ Β food is ready … off to eat and unpack πŸ™‚

today was a strange day … very shifty … sun, wind, warm, cold …

started the day with pear picking … great fun … got a nice load (and plenty more is still on the trees) … planning to make both compote and jam.

spent a few more hours figuring out final construction details for the stove … this time also taking into consideration some subtle aesthetic qualities. Β Everything except the 1st level of bricks is disassembled. I then carried the bricks over to the house porch (lots of work!) and sorted them into 3 piles depending on their condition (pristine, ok, dirty). I then played around with maxing a first mortar mix with sifted clay (available all around us) and sand (left over from the initial house renovations). It’s a strange mix … I think I’ll be adding a bit more clay to the mix when I actually build with it.

Our neighbor came by and gifted us with a huge (at least 20kg) sack of potatoes … just as we ran out and were contemplating getting a large sack to store as a winter supply πŸ™‚

Amidst all this I also shortened the chimney for our existing wood stove … hoping that would improve the smoke situation (the house getting all smoked up from the stove … terribly unpleasant and unhealthy) … doesn’t look like it helped much.

Then rounding up and feeding the animals (dogs tried to kill each other again) … and dinner is almost ready too πŸ™‚

Today was surprisingly sweet … started the day planning out the (hopefully) last things we need to finish the running water project. We then went to the village center to pick up the things we needed. Returned home and as Andreea prepared breakfast I connected the last pieces needed for running water in our sink and … there it was … woohoooo water running into and out of the sink. It’s now the end of the day and we find ourselves one of the overlooked luxuries of western life … a pile of dishes in the sink. I’ve never been so happy to see one.

The rest of the day was wood chopping day. We went at it together. We prepared a smaller pile of wood for the existing stove and a larger pile cut to size for the soon to be rocket stove. I pulled pieces out of the huge junk pile (because that’s where we have dry wood … the fresh logs we bought are not yet dry enough to use comfortable, reliably and efficiently). I cut them to size with the mitre saw and chopped up large pieces with an ax while Andreea worked on slicing up the products from the mitre saw into the thinner strips needed for the rocket. We are happy with our productivity today πŸ™‚

I hope we are able to build, or at least start building, the rocket tomorrow. Our bedroom is getting to be very cold at night.

The wood stove is burning soon Mamaliga will start cooking and we can call it a day πŸ™‚

Rumors said today would be sunny and warm … the day didn’t start like that at all … frost was covering everything … outside had a unique (to me) pale look to it and it stayed that way until the sun found its way through the haze and revived everything.

I started out with the rocket again and after more modifications we have reached what looks like a final model. The only thing we can’t test is how all that thermal mass we added to the rocket itself will warm up. We are ready to bring it Β home.

We then went out to get more parts we knew we needed for the indoor water project. When we got back we were in for a surprise. We spoke to the guys who fixed our house initially and asked if they could help us with the holes in the walls (really thick walls) that we needed to bring water in and let greywater out. They sent us another professional plumber who was really nice and friendly (the first one was less so and very expensive which is why we decided to do it on our own). As he was drilling the holes we asked how much he would charge to complete the job and he quoted a decent price … plus he was a really nice and friendly guy.

So … we now have running water in the house … we can’t do anything with it yet because a few small pieces are still missing. We’ll get those tomorrow and then we should have a wood/electric boiler working, a sink and hopefully in a few days Β I’ll be able to complete the shower stall … and that will be a huge leap forward (though Andreea in her optimistic spirit and feminine excitement believes we have already made the leap).

Feels like everything is coming together πŸ™‚

the sun came out today … how pleasant πŸ™‚

I started the day at the rocket stove model again … widened the burn tunnel and the heat riser … got a much better and consistent burn and draft. Another experiment planned for tomorrow morning. Again, as the rocket was burning I continued to move into the barn attic more of the wood.

After a breakfast break we made an excursion to the village to get some of the parts we will need for the water installation. On the way we stopped to say hello at neighbors we recently made acquaintance with … that turned out to be a long stop even though we tried to keep it short πŸ™‚

At the hardware store we found most of what we needed … and we were surprised by a large pile of trash cardboard boxes waiting for us … so that visit turned out to also be longer then planned. Our fashionable car looked silly totally loaded with cardboard … we got quite a few glances.

We stopped next to the post office to check for mail (where Andreea found a surprising package … stay tuned for it’s story at iamronen). As I waited for Andreea by the car I was greeted by a man who’s house I parked next to. He tried to inquire about the cardboard but my Romanian was not enough to have a conversation. He gave up and invited me into his yard … there he was busy squeezing loads of freshly picked grapes from his property. He dipped a large cup into the freshly squeezed juice and handed it to me … delicious. Andreea then arrived and continued to down the generous cup while she struck up a conversation. Now we know where to get fresh home-brewed wine … he said it will be ready around by Christmas.

We came back home … I dropped Andreea off at our nextΒ door farm neighbors continued home and unloaded the car. It was already late into the day but I decided to persist with my plans to cut to length the pieces for another kitchen cabinet (the one that will house our gas cooker). I setup the mitre saw and started pulling out lumber from my own stash … very comfortable and great fun πŸ™‚ I worked almost passed the sunset … there was barely enough light but I got it done. Tomorrow I plan to bring out the planer πŸ™‚

We lit the stove, fed it with wood and set food on it then went on a short walk to get some more fresh milk (its getting to be very cold at night!) … and now we are back, this daily update is written … time for food and a movie πŸ™‚ Good night all πŸ™‚

Another uninviting wintery day … spent most of the day with the rocket stove … redid the base in an attempt to better align measurements to get better and more consistent sideburn. Some success. Then completed building the model to test the thermal mass behavior … not efficient enough – yet! As I was waiting for the stove to burn and warm up I continued lifting some of the heavier pieces of wood into the barn attic … slow but good progress.

Tired (breathing is challenged due to both smoke and sawdust) … calling it a day earlier … at the computer now … doing a bit of writing and then preparation for some woodworking.

Water – Sourcing

Water is something I’ve taken for granted all of my life. When we started out here we had a well which had been mostly unused for some years and needed cleaning. As I write these words we have a faucet with running water next to our front door. We still have a journey to make until we have running water (hot and cold and drinkable) in the house. We thought this would be resolved much faster but there were/are many details involved.

This is intended to be the first of a series of articles about the installation of our water infrastructure. Yet before I get to the technicalities and lessons learned in our process I feel that it is important to dedicate this first post to the most important aspect of water supply – making sure you have it available to you.

Having lived (when we moved out to the village) for a couple of months with water carried in a bucket from the well and then with a single running faucet outside the house I no longer take water for granted. It should be one of the primary considerations when selecting land. You need to have a source of water before you can do anything with it. We had hoped to have a natural source of running water on our property but that didn’t work out. A natural source can be a spring or a river. It is preferable to have a source that is higher (the more the better) from the location where you intend to live as that will provide you with, to some degree, with a gravity-driven flow of water (no pump required) and potentially an option to generate hydro-electricity.

The next option was to have an accessible water-table, flow and good water.

    • The water-table indicates the level of water beneath the surface – this can change throughout the seasons of the year. Ours seems to be about 4m below the surface (where the well is located at the lowest point of our property … this can change in different location on the property). A next door property – slightly elevated from ours where one of the two wells has been known to dry up during drought summer weeks.
    • Flow indicates what volume of water a well can hold. Our well is round and about 1 meter across. When we had it measured it was ~1.7m deep. That means that we have about 1.3 cubic meters of water in it which is about 1300 liters of water. When we had the well cleaned (next post in the series) that water was pumped out in less then 30 minutes. Near the bottom of the well there is a spring which fills it and it took the spring about 2 hours to fill back up.
    • Drinkable water is a complicated subject that covers a diverse range of things including chemical, biological and mineral composition. Many things can effect the quality of water. Our well seems to be well known in the village to have good water and our neighbors were using it slightly.

We were fortunate to arrive at a property where there was an existing well – which made assessing some of these things easier. If you arrive at a property that does not then you should be prepared to do some tests to assess these things. This also meant that we did not have to deal with drilling a well (though we may need to in the future – depending on where and what we choose to build). So we have no practical experience with drilling and I won’t be addressing it in this series.