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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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,ย  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 ๐Ÿ™‚ ย food is ready … off to eat and unpack ๐Ÿ™‚


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. ย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚


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 ย 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 ย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚


the sun came out today … how pleasant ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 nextย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ I worked almost passed the sunset … there was barely enough light but I got it done. Tomorrow I plan to bring out the planer ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ Good night all ๐Ÿ™‚


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.

Construction Water Infrastructure

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.


Yesterday we did something worth noting … but I couldn’t get an Internet connection and was too tired to figure out why … and now after another tiring day I don’t remember what happened yesterday …

Today was cold and in the morning it even rained a bit … a dreary day. Not very inviting to exit the house … but exit we did. We started with a visit to the rocket stove model. We were able to get a good though not consistent enough side-burn going … I think the burn tunnel was too long considering the diameter of the vertical burn chamber. I started playing around with it but then our wood order arrived and that became the theme of the day.

6 cubic meters is a lot of wood. We purchased it as a long term investment … as it will naturally dry and eventually (and gradually) we will have dry wood … which was impossible to find. Anyways … moving 6 cubic meters is a huge task … the first half (or so) was moved into the barn attic … the second half (the heavy half) only made it into the barn itself … slowly we will work to move it up into the attic. We are dead tired.

Food is ready, house is warm … remembering that 6 cubic meters of wood is not only a lot of work but also pure abundance … looking forward to working with it in the coming weeks … creating much needed furniture to carry us through the winter and then some ๐Ÿ™‚


This day started earlier then usual when we went out to meet the second truck of stones for our section of road. I thought we would have spare stones left over but there was just barely enough (we could use a few cubic meters more to fill a few weak spots). The really friendly and professional tractor driver (from our village) called us back soon after the stones were delivered (just in time!) and a couple of hours later he was here to flatten the piles of stone into what looks more like a road. We now have a relatively rain-proof access road – how wonderful!

We took advantage of the tractors visit to also bury a couple of large tractor tires that were lying around (we arranged them as a small two level pond – Andreea’s brilliant idea – our first constructive landscaping intervention), to pull out a few large cement and wood posts that were stuck in areas we had already cleared, to close a part of the water supply pipe that was still open (there is still more to be closed … long story) and to dig a shallow ditch for rerouting the electric cable that goes to the pump towards the main house (where we hope to soon have a decent electric panel).

I did some more wood chopping … then Andreea and I continued to work around our new pond. Rains are expected this weekend and it would be great if we could already channel that water into the ponds.

I drove out the village to change some euros but both banks were closed so instead I got us some ice-cream … made the trip worthwhile ๐Ÿ™‚

Tomorrow we are heading out to the city to do some shopping (materials for the rocket stove, a rain-water collection barrel to feed the ponds, etc.) … Friday evening we are expecting delivery of our wood order … which we will have to stow away promptly to keep out of the rains.

Oh … and I forgot to mention that the day before yesterday we had a surprisingly fruitful visit from the long-expected Internet provider technician. He was surprisingly useful and constructive (not typical of Romanian service providers) and if all goes well we will have last-mile-wireless (we don’t have any communication cables that reach our place) Internet sometime during next week. They will be setting up an antenna in the town center, a second antenna on an electric pole along a road that leads to our place and from there there should be the required line-of-sight to place an antenna on the roof of our house … so all in all … almost everything is coming together and it looks like (given a lot more work still ahead of us) we are heading comfortably into winter.


Wrapping up an odd day. Started with a visit to the market … mostly for some local cheese but we picked up a few other things – including three! kinds of tomatoes. The prices of food are ridiculous here … it is a huge value gap between the value of food in our lives and the amount of work that goes to growing and making it. I am reminded again and again that I would happily grow and process my own food but given the value gap I am not very likely to do so for anyone else.

Oh and we were lucky to run into a market seller who had only cauliflowers … large ones … and we purchased another batch to cut up and freeze for the winter. We missed the local produce so we were happy to run into him.

We also picked a package I ordered with a good saw and a couple of quality chisels for wood working … great to finally have these tools at hand. They arrived just in time for the wood that should be arriving any day.

I did some wood chopping after two days of rest. We then proceeded to build a first simulation of our intended in house rocket stove. We did not yet have the materials for the burn chamber and without that there’s no point in testing it. We stuck in an old metal pipe for kicks and that did part of the trick.

We finally put in the order for stones to pour over the road to our property and a first truck arrived. Unfortunately the brought wrong size stones – they brought small pebbles and we need ย larger river-bed rocks. So the first truck went back and another one came back later and poured stacks of rock down the path. Tomorrow a second truck will come and then we need to fin a tractor to level the road for us and that will be done … finally … and it looks as if just in time because long awaited rains are expected this weekend.

Indy tried to kill Harry again and that really puts a veil of agitation over us … only now the nervousness is beginning to fade. We aren’t doing what we should be doing to keep the dogs in check. Even Loui (the puppy) is starting to act up … also showing aggression towards Harry!

Finally we went on a short walk to pick up from fresh milk (still warm from the cow) … back home … warm stove and warm soup await us.



Rest … today was a much needed and much appreciated day of rest.

Yesterday we finished the last 2 Zakuska … the last of the big cooking efforts.

We were extremely happy to not-cook today.

We’ve been having a hard time finding a steel barrel … so we’ve decided to build our rocket stove from almost all firebricks. I spent some time at the computer redesigning the rocket stove … and it’s looking good. We now need to get ~60 more firebricks, two steel pipes and a steel top plate … and we are good to go.

I hope the wood we ordered arrives soon … I’d like to get back to working on the things we need. It’s already October, fall is in the air … then November gets cooler and December is freezing. It feels like there isn’t much time left and still plenty of work to do.