Friday, January 23, 2015

More Mountain Snow

I'm watching the first sun rays heating up the overhead door and the water vapor it was producing and the snow from the top of the round tower fell.

On the bridge over the creek.
So why don't his feet freeze and fall off?

Right back to mountain desert by dinner time! A little snow left in the pine branches. It's been a regular one day blizzard.

Monday, January 12, 2015


"The wild and remote Davis Mountains is considered one of the most scenic areas of Texas.  Indeed it is one of the most biologically diverse.  Rising above the Chihuahuan desert, the range forms a unique “sky island” surrounded by the lowland desert. Animals and plants living above 5,000 feet are isolated from other similar mountain ranges by vast distances. These are true ecological islands, preserving living remnants that occur otherwise nowhere else in Texas.

Mountain dwelling wild animals include the black bear and mountain lion. The group of birds in the higher elevations, including the common black-hawk, golden eagle, dusky-capped flycatcher, and Montezuma quail, is more closely associated with western mountain ranges than birds across the rest of Texas. Some species nest here and nowhere else in Texas."


I knew we lived in SkyCastle cause we named it after we built it. But who knew we lived on a "sky island"!

WINTER TWENTY FOURTEEN (+1) you do the math ;) i couldn't.

It's on at SkyCastle and time to turn up the thermostat...

 First sun and snow then the dreaded 'polar vortex' ice fog and high altitude frost. At night the 'teens' come out!
Front after front blows in. Log after log is reduced.

   12" X 24" oak barely fits in. We burn whole logs one or two at a time when ever we can, if it's cold for long. 60 pounds of fuel to hold off the 'super vortex ice fog'.

The 'thermostat' is wide open on a home made wood stove my good friend and I made some 12 or15 years ago from a flat sheet of steel. My friend, being from the age of iron is quite exceptional, a Master, if I may, in metal work. I, being from a more primitive age of stone and bronze, am only 'journeyman' quality in the realm of modern steel. My friend cut and formed the 3/16" thick sheet into a steel box and welded it air tight. (we joked about pulling it down into the sea to crush depth be for I cut into it) I cut and fabricated the two layer door and riveted hinges and a air control and installed a hole and collar for the 1/4" thick flue pipe.
Back ten years ago, I had it connected to a horizontal, central heat duct for good heat distribution. It had a second lighter steel jacket around it with a belt drive blower to push the warm air. Just like anybodies central heat but fueled with wood rather than gas or electricity. Now living off grid with out the unlimited power to run a big blower around the clock for months, I'm designing a way to put it under the castle and use a much smaller blower to do the continual pushing of air. The duct will be much more vertical than in most designs and larger vents to take advantage of natural convection to the upper floors. My grandfather had a coal burning furnace system in his basement. (I could go on for awhile about that). I wish he were here! I digress. Anyhow it sets on the second floor right now and is operated like any wood stove, all the heat being concentrated. But that day is coming when we will have a high thermal horse power, BTU's to some, vertical flow central heat system. Mountain Style!
Stay warm everyone.