As promised, here’s a report back on the carp. After it had been frozen for a week, LSS cooked it in the oven using a stuffed carp recipe. Mixed results: I’m pleased to report that there was no muddy taste; in fact the taste was very nice indeed. Only one problem remained: all the tiny little bones. Now if anyone knows of a way to get rid of these please let me know!

On the renovation front I’ve made a start on the conversion of the little outhouse which used to be the external toilet; it’s going to be used as an outside shower room. I’ve bricked up a large hole in the end wall which was apparently used to empty the latrine bucket, and have turned my thoughts towards waterproof render. Because one wall of the outhouse is the exterior wall of the barn, this wall needs to be made waterproof, and yet remain breathable. I don’t particularly want to use ceramic tiles as they’re not that cheap. So I wondered, “How did the Romans do this sort of thing? They were very fond of baths, but did not have access to modern chemicals for waterproofing, and I don’t recall seeing glazed ceramic tiles on the walls in Aquae Sulis.” (Today this city is called Bath, of course.)

Well, after a bit of research I discovered a process called tadelakt. Originating in Morocco, it uses hydraulic lime. In simple terms, the wall is rendered with the lime (which can be coloured), and then floated smooth. Before it’s totally dry, a soap paste is rubbed into the surface and then polished with a flat stone. The chemical reaction between the lime and the soap forms a compound called calcium stearate (which repels water). So I’m keen to give this a try.

I’ve also finished constructing an extension to the woodshed complex; there are now three large bays, so this should be sufficient space for all our firewood needs. Now I just need to collect more fallen trees/branches; there are still some at the aged FIL’s farm.

The solar panel is still working fine; if we have three overcast/partly cloudy days in succession the thermal store does not quite get up to a satisfactory temperature for sufficiently hot water; but then lighting the boiler stove for an hour (three or four logs of wood suffice) is enough to bring the thermal store back up to a comfortable level (over 50 degrees). We’ve only had to do this once since the solar panel was commissioned. However, I have noticed a slight design flaw. Once the sun is no longer hitting the panel, the temperature of the panel drops. No, this is not the design flaw. The design flaw is that after a while, the panel temperature starts rising again whilst the temperature of the bottom of the tank falls. This is very gradual; about 0.1 °C every few minutes. Because the panel is higher than the thermal store, I think that convection is occurring within the pipe.
Although the positive aspect of this is that the panel will not freeze during winter, it does mean that the thermal store is losing more heat than I’d like. I will therefore install a swing check valve in the pipework where the heated solar water enters the heat exchanger, and see if this makes a difference. I will also be adding some insulation to the PEX pipework.

3 thoughts on “22/06/2014”

  1. Finnished your book,now Nina is reading it.I did enjoyed it very much and are following you daily! Give me the GPS co-ordinates of the farm please! I want to google earth you.
    keep well and greetings to Caroline.
    this is our factory’s last production week,then i start to brake it down

  2. Hi Rob,
    Did you consider using waterproof PVA in a lime render mix for the outside shower? I have used this before, in fact I put PVA in all my mortar and concrete mixes, and it produces an excellent, strong, and very resistant substrate. I constructed a path in our garden 5 years ago using a PVA mix and the following winter the temperature dropped to -15 some nights, and never rising above freezing point for over 2 weeks. The mortar is still spot on (the bricks are falling apart, but the mortar’s fine).
    I understand you would like to experiment with tadelakt (wasn’t that the title of a song in the 60s?), sounds like fun, possibly, but if it doesn’t work out then maybe the PVA route could be a plan B.
    Will the Parsnip wine be slightly sparkling? It’s gorgeous slightly sweet with a bit of fizz in it, my Mother used to make it years ago.

    1. Thanks Roger, I’ll bear the PVA in mind! (The idea may come in handy when we construct a bathroom!)
      The last batch of parsnip wine was still, but yes, very slightly sweet. With a lovely aftertaste of whiskey, bizarrely enough!

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