Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Putting Away Equipment for the Year

Now that the harvesting is done we clean and then put a lot of our equipment into the shed, which measures 40' x 120', so that it's protected from the elements.  We'll take it out again next spring.

After some thought, Dad and I came up with a way to pack it all in.

Take a look, before -

The two birds, a guinea and a chicken, that I zoom in on were escapees the day we slaughtered all the other birds.  I missed catching the chicken in the net and the guinea backed out of the killing cone before I could grab it's neck coming out the bottom. It then ran, fast.  It's been at least two weeks since the day we slaughtered and neither of these two birds will let me get anywhere near them. I'm not going to try catching them so they're on their own for the winter. I'm curious to see if they make it.  There's all kind of spent grain lying around, and maybe they'll eat snow.


And after -

The little bit of space left by the double sliding doors will be taken up by the Case 7140 tractor, which has been at the Case dealer in Menomonie,WI since the fuel pump went out while I was tilling this past September.  I was told it would be done in 7-10 days.  That was about 8 weeks ago.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

First Curing Fire in Masonry Heater

It will take three fires a day, starting very small, for a total of 7 days, and ending with the firebox full of firewood, to "cure" all the mortar.  The place I bought the doors and refractory slabs from, Solid Rock Masonry in Duluth, MN, gave me a helpful users guide that I'm following.

It's looking real good. There's a strong draft from the chimney; the fires just jump. The design of the firebox door has a lot to do with that. In the video I put my finger into an air intake slot, located below the glass door panel on the door frame. The door frame is hollow steel tube so the intake/combustion air goes up the sides of the frame and then across the top of the frame where it enters the firebox. Once lit, the flame goes "looking" for air and is drawn, by design, upward, giving the fire a strong reason to head up.  This design also, according to particulate/emissions tests done by Solid Rock Masonry, gives a much "cleaner" (and hotter) burn.

There's quite a distance traveled in internal channels before the smoke actually makes it to the chimney. From the firebox its five feet straight up, then seven down the sides of the firebox. Then around two corners under an eight foot bench, and finally up the chimney through the second floor and attic.

It's been a long time coming. I first heard about masonry heaters almost 30 years ago and the idea really stuck with me. I never lived in a place where I could build one. Here in NW Wisconsin is the perfect spot.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Friday, November 17, 2017

Masonry Heater is Done

My friend Andy came up from Chicago to lay the fieldstone I'd picked and prepped around the masonry heater.

Next spring I plan on applying a clear sealer to the heater so the the colors - blues, greens, yellows, reds, white, oranges, browns - of the stones "pop". You can get a sense of what that will look like by simply spraying the stones with water, which I did in the photos below.

(Click on any of the photos to make them bigger.)

The firebox side, showing the clean stone.

How the stone looks when wet.

Oven side, dry clean stone.

Oven side, wet stone.
 All these stones were handpicked from our fields. Even after pressure washing them it wasn't obvious what they'd ultimately look like. I'm really happy with how it's turned out. Thanks Andy!

There's still one big test to come - Does it work? Early signs are promising, as there's a nice draft from the chimney.

We finished about a week ago, and the mortar still needs to cure for another 10 days until I can start curing it with a series of small fires.  That'll take another week. Meaning I can't really use it to heat the house for a few more weeks.