Using permaculture ethics & design principles to transform an old energy guzzling bungalow into a showcase of sustainable design. It's about energy cycling, building community, self-reliance,creatively using & reusing materials... all without spending heaps of money.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Our house warms to a new life

Principle 8: Integrate rather than segregate

We decided to purchase the 'Gourmet Cooker' wood stove, getting a great deal through Sun Real, which I picked up from the factory in Albury. They are one of the few all Australian made wood stoves available on the market. I like it's integrated design, as you can cook, heat the home and hot water at the same time. The other stove that I was considering was the 'Bakers Oven' from South Australia, which is a similar but smaller design. It was a challenge moving the Gourmet in, as it weighs about 160kg. Using levers, rollers and the help of my ingenious friend Dylan, we slowly moved it into place. The plumber then fitted the flue and hooked up the wet-back which is used to boost the solar hot water system.
With our baby due in a matter of weeks we decided that now was the time to move in.

Moving the 160kg 'Gourmet' wood stove into place using levers and rollers

The big move

House warming on a winters day

With the success of the homebirth of our first son, we decided to try again. Our experienced midwife, Kusum, detected that the baby was prosterior (babies back to mothers back) early on. Some friends of ours were forced to have an emergency caeser just a few weeks earlier because of a prosterior baby. She used a technique called 'the mexican shawl' to help turn the baby, moving Kunies hips from side to side. Kunie was asked to spend 20 minutes on her hands and knees, six times a day to help ensure that the baby returned to anterior position (babies back to mothers belly). Kunie remembered a story of pregnant women in Japan scrubbing floors to help with an easier birth, this is because the babies back is heavier than it's front and so using gravity and movement you can change the position.

Midwife Kusum and doula Melissa helping Kunie move the baby from it's proterior position using a 'Mexican shawl'

First contractions begin, Kai offers support in the early hours

Another complication arose during the early stages of the birth that was quickly sorted out by Kusum. The baby was in the correct postion, but it's head was not fully engaged because it was on an angle. Kusum has delivered hundreds of babies, but had never experienced this before. She remembered a story of a midwife who just pushed the babies head into the right position, which she did. Everything was fine and the long downward journey began. Of course this would have been an emergency caeser if we were in a hospital, especially because Kunie is now 41.

Kai give mum a drink while in the birthing pool

Baby Sen born at home, the family grows

Sen and Kunie warm by the fire

Sen, a boy, was born at home on winters solstice (21st of June), 3.77kg (8 pounds 5 ounces). The name 'Sen' means spring (as in spring water). We also decided to give Sen Kunie's surname, rather than mine, which is a bit unusual.
The 'Gourmet' got a real work out. It was used to heat the water for the birthing pool, the water for the 'hot nappies' (to ease the pain), cook lunch and heat the space. It has been fantastic. We always have a big pot of hot water on the stove while it's going and a small metal teapot with Roibos or Dandelion tea bubbling away. It has been on most of the time during these few weeks, excepts during the day if the sun is out.

4 comments:

jonesy said...

Congratulations on the new baby and the move into the house. Still a bit of work to do I suspect but it's all looking great, well done.

Chris said...

What a warm story and beautiful pictures. I especially loved the family pick, just after Sen was born.

May you all enjoy many cuddles from your little bably boy.

Well done everyone! :)

nigel said...

Hi Richard,

2 years on I was just wondering what you think of your Gourmet Cooker and in particular about how much heat output it gives? Websites are telling me that it only gives 8 squares of heat which doesn't seem like much. Any opinions would be gratefully received. Thanks

Richard Telford said...

Hi Nigel,

Overall I am very happy with the Gourmet Cooker for it's intended use in our house. It works very well as a heater, heating our living space (living / dining room / kitchen) quite comfortably.
If you want to move that heat around the house then you are going to need fans or a hydronic system. We just open doors.
The Gourmet can be fitted with different size wetbacks depending on the use. The bigger the wetback the more wood you need to heat the water.
I'm not that impressed with how well the Gourmet heats water - but it is great at multifunction. Cooks pretty well (hot plate great, oven is an art to use), looks fantastic, heats very well, okay at heating water. The old chip heaters are much more efficient at heating water with wood, or search for rocket heaters using an old gas hotwater system. Nick Ritar at Milkwood did one of these.