It was such an uncharacteristically warm day, we decided to bicycle down to the Port of Bandon to look at Old Town Marketplace.

It was such an uncharacteristically warm day, we decided to bicycle down to the Port of Bandon to peruse the Old Town Marketplace.

It was one of those perfect days when everyone was in a good mood with the weather being warm, artists selling their crafts, and Kirk Schumacher strumming his guitar.  I asked Kirk if he would sing one of my favorite summertime songs.  Without missing a beat, he he belted out "Summertime."

It was one of those perfect days when everyone was in a good mood with the weather being warm, farmers selling their veggies, and Kirk Schumacher strumming his guitar. I asked Kirk if he would sing one of my favorite summertime songs. Without missing a beat, he belted out “Summertime.”

Bandon Lighthouse

Bandon Lighthouse

7A Kids Don't Float, 11-14-14

Crabbing at the dock, Bandon lighthouse in background.

Crabbing at the dock, Bandon lighthouse in background.

I even got to watch a pelican swallow a fish.

I even got to watch a pelican swallow a fish, twice…possibly the same fish. :)

Seth’s Sourdough Breads

It took about six months for Seth to build his Alan Scott wood-fired bread oven and the shop that serves as his kitchen. My daily walks would take me by his place.  I watched as he built the roof.  It was meticulously built on the ground with beautiful jointing.  I wondered how he was going to lift it up to the top.  One day, as we walked past, there it was connected to the uprights.  I asked him how he got it up there.  His reply..."one piece at a time."  "I built it on the ground to make sure it was right."

It took about six months for Seth to build his Alan Scott wood-fired bread oven and the shop that serves as his kitchen.
My daily walks would take me by his place. I watched as he built the roof. It was meticulously built on the ground with beautiful jointing. I wondered how he was going to lift it up to the top. One day, as we walked past, there it was connected to the uprights. I asked him how he got it up there. His reply…”one piece at a time.” “I built it on the ground to make sure it was right.”

The small fire was lit on Sunday, the day before ‘bread day.’  Enough heat is stored in the dome to bake 125 to 130 loaves of bread the next day.

Seth scores the dough so moisture will be released and enable the bread to 'bloom.'

Seth scores the dough so moisture will be released and enable the bread to ‘bloom.’

When done, the bread goes onto the cooling rack.

When done, the bread goes onto the cooling rack.

I had breakfast and returned to see the bread all sorted for deliveries.

I had breakfast and returned to see the bread all sorted for deliveries.

At about 9 am, fresh bread gets delivered by bicycle to the natural foods store.

At about 9:30 am, fresh bread gets delivered by bicycle to the natural foods store.

Follow a Tree, November

November 11...The leaves are full of color.  In another month or less, I'll be happy to rake up piles of them.  Ulp, I better see if the owners are okay with that.

November 11…The leaves of the Tulip tree are full of color. In another month or less, I’ll be happy to rake up piles of them. Hmmm, maybe I better see if the owners are okay with that.

A different view of the Tulip tree.  The setting sun brings out the colors.

A different view of the Tulip tree. The setting sun brings out the colors.

Ah, there's a seed pod up there.

Ah, there’s a seed pod up there.

The seed pods are finally dried.  I pulled out my pocket knife to cut it off, but it just fell into my hand.

I pulled out my pocket knife but the pod just fell into my hand.

There were precious few pods hanging in the tree...then I looked down and found lots of them on the ground already.

There were precious few pods hanging in the tree…then I looked down and found lots of them on the ground already.

November 12...I picked up as many seed pods as my bag would hold wondering what people thought of me walking with a very full doggy bag.

November 12…I picked up as many seed pods as my bag would hold wondering what people thought of me walking with a very full doggy bag.

November 12...Hoping to get the seeds to pop out, I pulled the pod open...but where are the seeds?

Hoping to get the seeds to pop out, I pulled the pod open…but where are the seeds?

Are these the seeds?  I'll try planting these in the spring, but if they don't grow, I can always plant a Tulip tree twig.

Are these the seeds? I’ll try planting these in the spring, but if they don’t grow, I can always plant a Tulip tree twig.  (See gregmcswain1′s comment below)

 

I was struck by how similar the Tulip tree seed pods were to my backyard spruce tree 'pine cones.'

I was struck at how similar the Tulip tree seed pods were to my backyard spruce tree cones.    Deciduous on the left, conifer on the right.

I couldn't get enough of the colorful leaves, so I just pointed the camera upward for one more shot before leaving.

I couldn’t get enough of the colorful leaves, so I just pointed the camera upward for one more shot before leafing leaving.

Hebe Bees

November 5, 2014...On an unusually warm November day, I spotted these hebes growing in front of Bill Sweet Insurance Agency.  The bees were loving it.

November 5, 2014…On an unusually warm November day, I spotted these hebes growing in front of Bill Sweet Insurance Agency. The bees were loving it.  Thanks, Bill.

While the east coast is getting hammered by the polar vortex cold weather, the west coast is enjoying warm sunny days into early November. At this time of year there are very few sources of nectar, so it’s good that the honeybees are getting  a lot from the hebes.  Nectar provides an important energy source (carbohydrate) for the bees.

Many thanks to Steve Montana who has let me use his musical talents as background to the video.  “GaelaMae On The Bluffs” was written by Steve and the banjo music was written by Buell Kasey back in the late 1800′s.  Watch Steve Montana play banjo at the beginning of Sustainable World.  Click on “Soldier’s Joy.”

Many thanks to Steve Montana for permission to use his music.

Close Call on Gallardia

If you want to grow some very colorful flowers that will bloom in September, try these Arizona Suns.

If you want to grow some very colorful flowers that will bloom in September and October, try the Arizona Sun Gallardia.

Watch the crafty crab spider emerge from below the curled petals bottom right.  I’m wondering if the honeybee saw the spider.  It almost looked like it was ‘daring’ the spider to come after it.  I’ve seen enough honeybees that were trapped in the crab spider’s grip to know it’s foolish to tempt fate, but this one got away.

Brian Builds a Cob Oven

Here I am building a ring of re-purposed paver stones on top of the concrete foundation I poured.  The ring will hold a bunch of rubble (old bits of concrete from pulling old fence posts, broken cinder blocks, rocks etc) that will make a solid base for the oven.

Here I am building a ring of re-purposed paver stones on top of the concrete foundation I poured. The ring will hold a bunch of rubble (old bits of concrete from pulling old fence posts, broken cinder blocks, rocks etc) that will make a solid base for the oven.

Here I'm up to 4 courses of bricks for the ring, and trying to keep everything level

I’m up to 4 courses of bricks for the ring, and trying to keep everything level

I've got 8 courses of bricks at this point, which is as high as i'm going with the pavers (about 26" high).  I've also been filling in more rubble for the base and tamping it down.

I’ve got 8 courses of bricks at this point, which is as high as i’m going with the pavers (about 26″ high). I’ve also been filling in more rubble for the base and tamping it down.

I added on last ring of bricks to raise the height of the oven base a little.  In this case I used standard red clay bricks and set them on edge.  This will let me have a little more insulation between the oven and the base.

I added on last ring of bricks to raise the height of the oven base a little. In this case I used standard red clay bricks and set them on edge. This will let me have a little more insulation between the oven and the base.

Adding more rubble, odds and ends from the brick wall project and a bag of concrete mix that got wet last year.

Adding more rubble, odds and ends from the brick wall project and a bag of concrete mix that got wet last year.

The kids and I mixing up our first batch of 'insulation' for the oven.  We are using a thick clay slip made from fire clay and mixing in pine shavings (livestock bedding).  The idea is when it dries and then gets really hot the wood will undergo pyrolysis (decompose to gaseous products without actual combustion) and leave a sort of clay sponge that should make a good insulator.

The kids and I mixing up our first batch of ‘insulation’ for the oven. We are using a thick clay slip made from fire clay and mixing in pine shavings (livestock bedding). The idea is when it dries and then gets really hot the wood will undergo pyrolysis (decompose to gaseous products without actual combustion) and leave a sort of clay sponge that should make a good insulator.

Here we are putting in the base insulation.  Beer bottles separated by small gaps filled with the wood shaving/clay slip mix.  The idea is to provide a solid base with good insulative properties.

Here we are putting in the base insulation. Beer bottles separated by small gaps filled with the wood shaving/clay slip mix. The idea is to provide a solid base with good insulative properties.

Packing 'insulation between the beer bottles.  May have had a few beers (you know, for the good of the oven) at this point judging by my expression and the headband....

Packing ‘insulation between the beer bottles. May have had a few beers (you know, for the good of the oven) at this point judging by my expression and the headband….

A second layer of bottles goes in the floor, and if you look you can see a ring of horizontal bottles between the verticle course of bottles and the outer brick.

A second layer of bottles goes in the floor, and if you look you can see a ring of horizontal bottles between the vertical course of bottles and the outer brick.

The base insulation layer is done.  There is now about six inches of insulation between the outer ring and base, and where the thermal mass of the hearth will be.

The base insulation layer is done. There is now about six inches of insulation between the outer ring and base, and where the thermal mass of the hearth will be.

It's working now.  This is first layer (about 1 1/2" thick) of thermal mud being put inside the insulation layer.  The thermal mud will be directly under the fire bricks we are using as a hearth.

This is first layer (about 1 1/2″ thick) of thermal mud being put inside the insulation layer. The thermal mud will be directly under the fire bricks we are using as a hearth.

 

We filled in the base with a 4 inch thick layer of 'thermal' mix.  4 parts sand to 1 part fire clay.  This will hold the heat of the oven, gradulally releasing it after the fire is out so that we can bake for hours after removing the fire from the oven.  A new edition to our flock is checking it out.... :)

We filled in the base with a 4 inch thick layer of ‘thermal’ mix. 4 parts sand to 1 part fire clay. This will hold the heat of the oven, gradually releasing it after the fire is out so that we can bake for hours after removing the fire from the oven. A new edition to our flock is checking it out…. :)

Now that we have the insulation and thermal resevoir in the base it is time to lay out the hearth.  The kids consider geometry....

Now that we have the insulation and thermal reservoir in the base it is time to lay out the hearth. The kids consider geometry….

A rough first pass at the hearth layout shown from the back side of the oven.  Note the circle drawn on the bricks.  That represents the internal void of the oven.

A rough first pass at the hearth layout shown from the back side of the oven. Note the circle drawn on the bricks. That represents the internal void of the oven.

Here we are making a sand castle that will become the void space of our oven.  Instead of going witht the round oven hearth suggested in the book I extended it a wee bit into an eleptical base for a bit more cooking area.  the damp sand was densly packed by whacking with a 2x4.

Here we are making a sand castle that will become the void space of our oven. Instead of going with the round oven hearth suggested in the book I extended it a wee bit into an elliptical base for a bit more cooking area. the damp sand was densely packed by whacking it with a 2×4.

we cover the sand form with wet newspaper so that we can see the transition between sand and clay when digging out the oven.

We cover the sand form with wet newspaper so that we can see the transition between sand and clay when digging out the oven.

Begining to lay the thermal mix around the oven form.  We are shooting for about 3-4 inches of thermal mix.  Too much and it takes a lot of wood to heat the oven, too little and you run out of heat too quickly.  The thickness of this thermal mass layer needs to be taylored to what you will use your oven for.  Since I don't play on many marathon 16 hour baking days, 3 inches should be fine :)

Beginning to lay the thermal mix around the oven form. We are shooting for about 3-4 inches of thermal mix. Too much and it takes a lot of wood to heat the oven, too little and you run out of heat too quickly. The thickness of this thermal mass layer needs to be tailored to what you will use your oven for.  Since I don’t plan on many marathon 16 hour baking days, 3 inches should be fine :)

Continuing to add to the dome.  At this point there is about 350 lbs of clay and and in the thermal layer.

Continuing to add to the dome. At this point there is about 350 lbs of clay and sand in the thermal layer.

The dome is finished (actually this is the second time we built the dome.  The first time the kids were really trying to help and we were running out of daylight, so let us just say that quality control was lacking that day).

The dome is finished (actually this is the second time we built the dome. The first time the kids were really trying to help and we were running out of daylight, so let us just say that quality control was lacking that day).

I am impatient, so I start scraping sand out of the dome after only 2 days.  My plan is to speed the drying by using some Sterno inside the dome while leaving some of the sand for support.  It seemed to work.  The dome did not collapse and after 3 cans of Sterno I got most of the sand out.

I am impatient, so I start scraping sand out of the dome after only 2 days. My plan is to speed the drying by using some Sterno inside the dome while leaving some of the sand for support. It seemed to work. The dome did not collapse and after 3 cans of Sterno I got most of the sand out.

The sand is out!!!  You can see the newspaper layer that we put down is intact, so I managed to remove the sand without messing up the inner surface (for the most part).  Now I'll peel the paper off and work on polishing the inside of the dome...

The sand is out!!! You can see the newspaper layer that we put down is intact, so I managed to remove the sand without messing up the inner surface (for the most part). Now I’ll peel the paper off and work on polishing the inside of the dome…

The sand and newspaper has been removed from the oven cavity.  The inside of the dome isn't dry yet, so I was a little concerned it might slump.

The sand and newspaper has been removed from the oven cavity. The inside of the dome isn’t dry yet, so I was a little concerned it might slump.

As the inside dries (the outside was significantly drier by now) some cracks form.  I don't want sand and clay to spill off of the dome into our food, so I set about filling in the cracks with some wet thermal mix and massaging it in with the back of a serving spoon.

As the inside dries (the outside was significantly drier by now) some cracks form. I don’t want sand and clay to spall off of the dome into our food, so I set about filling in the cracks with some wet thermal mix and massaging it in with the back of a serving spoon.

First pass with the spoon is done, and the dome is looking pretty smooth, though still pretty wet.

First pass with the spoon is done, and the dome is looking pretty smooth, though still pretty wet.

In an effort to speed things up on the inside I fire up two cans of sterno.

In an effort to speed things up on the inside I fire up two cans of sterno.

After a little more drying and cracking (and 2 more rounds of patching/smoothing) the dome is looking good and feeling dry.

After a little more drying and cracking (and 2 more rounds of patching/smoothing) the dome is looking good and feeling dry.

Now we attempt to really get things moving with a small 'drying fire' just inside the dome.

Now we attempt to really get things moving with a small ‘drying fire’ just inside the dome.

Since the drying fire went well I decide a little more fire might speed things up...

Since the drying fire went well I decide a little more fire might speed things up…

As the fire is burning, drying out the dome, we add the first layer of insulation mix.  More of the clay slip and wood shavings.  Since the dome is dry it probably won't stick well, but this is OK since the layers will be acting independently, both structurally and functionally.

As the fire is burning, drying out the dome, we add the first layer of insulation mix. More of the clay slip and wood shavings. Since the dome is dry it probably won’t stick well, but this is OK since the layers will be acting independently, both structurally and functionally.

Chloe putting the finishing touches on the first insulation layer.  Notice the divots in the insulation.  This is so that the next layer will bond to it.

Chloe puts the finishing touches on the first insulation layer. Notice the divots in the insulation. This is so that the next layer will bond to it.

 

 

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