Jonah and the Whale

Although we have made it most of the way through this winter relying on passive solar heating, there have been a few cloudy days that have tested our reserve and forced us to get out the electric heater. None the less, our power bill remains under $30. But for a long time we have planned to install our second hand Schacklock 501 coal range (“multi-fuel stove”) in the kitchen. In true permaculture fashion, it will serve multiple purposes. We plan to use it for cooking and space heating. (I bought it on Trade Me even before we bought the house.)
Working closely with Building Control, we embarked on the process of building a full foundation and hearth slab. This first entailed cutting a hole in the floor…

… and determining where to build the foundation using the enamel stove top as a template.

To make a long story somewhat shorter, I spent a lot of time under the house digging, building boxing (form work), placing steel, pouring concrete and setting concrete blocks.

Then my little helper packed all of the cavities with pumice from the beach to support and insulate the bottom of the hearth slab.

After the building inspector checked our handy work, I poured the slab.

Enter Jonah, man of many talents.


He can move heavy objects.


He can pray.


But most importantly, he can lay bricks.

We used the stove top as a template again to get the first course laid.


And by tea time we had the whale in place.


But we ran out of mortar before Jonah could finish the brick work up the sides and back. So we had a nice curry and went to bed.


To be continued…
Peace, Estwing

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