Sunday, June 01, 2008

Above the roof with stone (Fireplace part XV)

Working on the chimney is hard sometimes because of the heat and smoke coming from it! Seriously, the fact that the chimney is not complete has not kept us from cooking lots of yummy food in the pizza oven. The other night, I seared home-grown rib steaks directly on the bricks next to the fire, while this loaf of bread cooked further off to one side of the oven, and broccoli steamed in a cast iron skillet in the back of the oven.

One of our four children (the youngest boy) has an extremely high metabolism and can therefore out-eat the other three children combined, at most meals. To say that he enjoys food is an understatement. I don't often post personal pictures, but his visual endorsement of this meal was too engaging to keep to myself. It was he that insisted I take a picture of the first loaf of bread. For desert, he roasted marsh mellows over the coals left in the oven.

Instead of building scaffolding on the slate roof, the stone mason and I have been working from the end of the crane, with my wife at the controls of the machine. We load two buckets of mortar and a few courses of stone on to our working platform each time we fly up to the chimney. We precut the quoins and field stones while we're on the ground, so minimal trimming is required while we're perched above the slate roof. And to make things easier, I have chosen to use quoins and field stones with dimensions that we know will line up with the cinder block courses, so we can align our courses with the copper step flashing and the pre-mortared brick-ties without too much head scratching.

Around the chimney, we have placed cardboard "catch mats" to prevent the wet mortar from staining the slate. Still, it is difficult to keep all of the mortar off of the slate. I anticipate some sort of roof cleaning or scrubbing (or sanding?!) will be necessary when the job is done.

Farm chores (baling hay and sorting cattle for rotational grazing) are keeping me from finishing this stonework anytime soon. In due time...


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