Friday, April 22, 2011

More mud

The perfect Christmas card picture.  Five months late.

Recently, it seems like everything we do revolves around mud.  This is perfect for my two mud-loving children.  Last weekend, Paw-paw and Honey came to visit.  This was good for all of us.  Paw-paw was able to help Atticus and the boys with the oven, while I was able to escape for a nice lunch at Leon's and a walk around downtown Decatur with Honey.  With Byron's help, our oven is looking more like an oven.  They spent hours on Saturday mixing the cob mixture and then started forming the oven on Sunday (and continued until only minutes before they had to leave for the airport).  The four of us spent a couple of nights this week also finishing the dome.  Last night, it was completed!  But don't worry, if you are bummed that you weren't part of the process, we still have an equally as muddy insulation layer to put on.

Atticus formed the dome with sand.  This was then covered with newspaper and the cob mixture was put on top.  He will dig the sand out once the cob is dry.


Creating cob.

Loving his war paint.

Finnan rescued a caterpillar from the mix.  I don't think all of the worms were so lucky.

The beginning of the mud dome.

Jude delivering mud for Atticus to add.  Near the end we finally got an effective assembly line going. 

Even the cement mixer was making deliveries.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Neighborly gardening

Our experience with the neighborhood community garden last year was full of politics and power struggles and short on community and vegetables.  This year, we are avoiding a community garden and have started a neighborly garden.  A couple months ago, Atticus' company bought a property in our neighborhood with a double lot.  The house sits back from the road on high ground, while a large sunny plot of land sits below to its right.  A couple of weeks ago we joined Monica and a few other neighbors to create a small garden.

So far the experience has been great.  First, the soil is remarkably better than the plot where the community garden was last year.  Second, there have been no arguments.  We borrowed a tiller, brought a few truckloads of compost, bought seed, and with five adults and two kids, voila, there was a garden.  Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of what the garden looks like today, with the many of the seeds sprouting through the soil and the large tomato plants (that Monica had gotten started at her house).

The kids love spending time at the garden.  There is a hill to roll down, a wonderful pecan tree to sit in the shade and a wooded area complete with wild blackberry bushes, a natural "cave" and a swinging vine.  Amazingly, this only a few houses away from busy and not-so-desirable Memorial Drive, but I have a feeling this might become one of our little escapes this summer.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Our earth oven: a progress report

When Atticus first starting talking about building an outdoor oven, I swear I overheard him saying, "You can build an outdoor oven in a weekend!"  Last night I looked over his shoulder and saw him reading an earth oven blog.  Specially I saw: "After 4 back-breaking months...."  I think this is a bit more accurate.  The earth oven sure has given him something to do every weekend ad talk about and research during the week.  Luckily, if I occasionally lack enthusiasm, Finnan makes up for it.  His activity of choice recently has been: "Let's work on Daddy's oven!"  His meal of choice has been: "Let's make a pizza in Daddy's oven!" (This meal is still hypothetical.)

Here are some pictures of the boys working on the oven this past weekend.

The oven, waiting for a level of concrete.

Concrete had been added.  The boys are mixing the insulation layer- a mix of water, mud, and sawdust.

Hand mixing the insulation layer.

Topping the concrete with the insulation layer.

Glass bottles are also used for insulation.  We have been collecting them from neighbors and Atticus even waited at the farmer's market recycling center for people to drop more off.

Jude adding more bottles. 

Adding more insulation mix.

Saturday's work is done.

Sunday was back-breaking.  The clay mix (dirt and water) had to be dense enough that if you dropped a ball of the mix from shoulder height, it had to retain its shape.  Also, notice Finnan's arm in this picture- solid mud.

Stomping on the mixture was suggested.

Preparing the put down the clay mix.  At this stage, the clay mixture was to be used between the insulation layer and the fire bricks (the layer that the food will go on).  

Goofing off after a hard day of work.

The bath water turned a lovely color Sunday night.