Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rocket Cob Oven???

I saw a video on YouTube about a man's rocket cob oven that was cleaner burning. Since I am all for that I changed gears mid-construction and worked on it. Today I removed the form for the chamber where the air remix happens. I was relieved (top photo) to see the cob lip that will help with the remix had held.

So, I removed the rest of the tarps and checked for damage after the storm. Luckily there was none so I got right to cobbing since today would most likely be the last day for a while which saddens me greatly.

Not only is the clay detoxifying, but the aerobic exercise is very low impact and good for me. Yet, despite that, I am angry I might miss my goal of having this ready for Thanksgiving. It honestly does not look like that will happen so I pushed myself today.

I mixed cob today for the first time with boots on. It sucks, I hate it. You cannot get a good feel for the mixtures consistency wearing boots. This troubled me, but I kept working anyway since it is in the low 50's.

In short time I made a batch, & started applying it. Slowly at first and then working over the arch (white plastic bucket is a form in the pic) and then over the wall. By the time I was done with the batch I was glad my friend made the fire. My arms ached from the cold, and my hands couldn't close anymore. Enough of this, time to warm up, and start cooking dinner over the fire.

20% of the Worlds Animals Risk Extinction.

A new scientific report announced recently at a summit of world leaders that 1/5th of all the creatures on this planet risk being permanently gone forever. Here is the report.

My take on this is that Permaculture is becoming more important daily as a way to sustainably harvest food, medicine, textile materials, food and your own fuel! How many farms around Coos County could benefit from small slow changes here? Such as the milk farmers recapturing thier animals waste to turn into methane to run their own farm and sell back to the electric CO-OP as an example. Changes like this is what we need, not more pipelines and LNG plants that go boom.

Food for thought.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Rough weather...

Rough weather outside today while crowning trees in the orchard. Many of the fruit trees did not produce well this season. Part of it was due to neglect over the past years in care of the fruit trees, other part of it was the weird weather earlier this year.

Cobbing clay pit is now a pond most literally. Ahhh, the challenges of working permaculture in the North West!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Sorry for not blogging but when last I wrote I mentioned that I may need to go and do an animal rescue. Here's the story. A couple not too far from here took a turn for the worse. The husband has had Alzheimer's disease and had to be put in a home. Devastating turn for anyone. However, the wife recently had a stroke and can no longer take care of herself.

The wife was moved in with her son in Texas or some such place, but they left the dog! The poor dog, who was much loved, sat, and laid, and patiently waited for its owners that never came. The neighbors all knew what happened and started talking about putting down the dog!

Euthenasia for being loving? That's her reward? I DON'T THINK SO!!! So, hopped in the car, drove out and got the dog. She instantly lit up at my wife and me, like she knew we would come and rescue her. Queenie, the dog, a black lab / Chesapeake Bay Retriever came home with us last night and slept next to me all night.

Things here will never be the same, but I ask you, are they ever from one moment to the next?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Out there cobbing...

I am outside cobbing on and off outside today, rushing before the rain. I am not going to finish before the rains come, I am just going to have to do my best in the rain.

Onto other news, I am rescuing a dog that has been abandoned it seems. More details on that later.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Apology..I'm learning.

Sunday I sustained a knee injury that kept me exceedingly unhappy for several days as since like most American's I have no insurance. Which has lead me to think about the giant "What If?" scenario. How much medicine should a person have? Without meds, what can we use? Do I have a pound of herbs like St. John's wort, Cayenne, and the like? Can I grow Kava-kava in a greenhouse? So many unanswered questions that all point to learning.

Looks like with Permaculture, as with life, I will be forever learning. :D

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Still cobbing....

Met a local man named Keith who came and checked out the cob oven I am building. All he kept saying is, "Well I'll be dipped!"

My friend Norm finally tried a little cobbing by treading in it with me. Was nice to have someone else in the mud, sand and straw mushing it around with me.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cobbing again.

Got some straw, not hay... (don't ask) and I am at it again. Rocket stoves work great, could be a bit more level. I will adjust it more later. I built up the pizza oven area to a comfortable height. I have horrid knees now, I know I don't want to be bending over when I am 125 at the knees too much cooking pizza. ;)

Seriously though, its a great day out there. Go out and catch a salmon while I build an oven to cook it in. :D
Someone on forums wrote this on June 10th of this year. I loved it so much I quoted it to share.

I moved to another property
and am in the process of turning the whole grass area
into a diversified area for mixed growth of vegetables , flowers, currents.

I cut nothing, have nothing cut so far as of this date in June;
after all, isn't the invention of hay a rather modern invention
long after the era of ancient Greece and the Roman Empire!

And with the winds here would the grass not be wounded by the cuts,
wind that sucks out the water,
diminishes the grass' root growth that turns eventually into soil
after worms and bacteria can live and thereby enrich the ground?

Am I not supposed to preserve as much moisture for as many microbes as possibly?

Very early, long before the grass started growing
I seeded on top of it an experimental "row"of wheat,
another row of oats, then broadcasted a mixture of different clovers,
a mixture of annual/perennial flowers mixed with vegetable seeds, Daikon etc

and to protect the area from drying out, from the nearly continuous winds
I took some dry hay and let it softly float onto this area as a cover,
against wind, seed eating birds, against wind blowing away precious moisture...
as protection against cold nights...

The grass growth developed, if at all,
much slower than seeds of wheat, oats, Phacelia,
but the clovers remain slow as if after sprouting they are waiting for warmer nights and days...

But I let all grass, all "weeds" grow until the end of June and beyond into the fall
so I can see all the spots, wild plants, "weeds" and all areas where growth is "different",
i.e. with lots of dandelions, different grass species...

I also did an other area: put sunflower seeds, wheat and oats on the still not green grass-lawn area,
then floated loosely dry straw on top and covered with a row cover:
against, birds, wind, trap snow and rain to preserve moisture...trap sunshine, warmth.

Again, the seeds do better than the grass itself...

Later in the year I will simply press down other grown grass areas
and cover them with just enough straw to merely weigh grass stalks down,
not exactly to suffocate the grass growth,
but to gently overwhelming grass with mixtures of vegetable-annual/perennial flower-herbs...

AND to trap as many falling leaves... to capture as many leaves from the blowing prairie winds...

some tall grass areas have lodged, fallen over in the wind and rain like some wheat field;
this area, I propose, would have to be planted with potassium producing plants...
like what?

what I do, I would not call it "mulching":
suffocating one type of growth and pushing aside its live-bacteria
solely for some human nutrient utility
is not what I intent to do.

Everything here is forever no-till;
also cut -no weed, cut- no grass.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The long day...

Spent the morning going through salvaged wood and local driftwood to make shelves for the kitchen. Then lifted, by hand, 25'+ long alder trees from the lower part of the property up to the drying racks closer to the main house. Then, went and got sand for cobbing, followed by cobbing. I am pleased to say the rocket stove section is done! Then I ran out of straw and called a neighbor for sale bales in order to keep going with the cob kitchen. However, I stopped earlier then I would of liked and tarped the area since the local weather reporters expect rain tonight.

Part of me would love the fall rains to start coming, since I know this is good for the salmon. However, I would also like the bar to lie down in Bandon so I could go crabbing and actually catch more then mothers with children. I also started researching Sepp Holzers terracing techniques in Austria as well as what Nike is doing in the Philippines helping local people terrace hills for more food and to help with soil erosion. Fun, tiring stuff!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sun is still down, Milky Way still up...

And at this moment my thoughts turn to Walt Whitman.

O to make the most jubilant song!
Full of music--full of manhood, womanhood, infancy!
Full of common employments--full of grain and trees.

O for the voices of animals--O for the swiftness and balance
of fishes!
O for the dropping of raindrops in a song!
O for the sunshine and motion of waves in a song.
Going crabbing!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sweet Mountain Wine...

I cannot express the joy I feel right now while the busy world is all occupied on blackberries and what not about this and that. I just finished corking up 5 bottles of Organic Blackberry Wine from blackberries picked right here on the property. We are enjoying about 2 bottles here tonight as is tradition when ever we bottle up some new cider, mead or wine.

Knowing that no pesticide, herbicide, fungicide, fertilizer... it chemical or organic was used on any of the berries. I know nothing but love, water, yeast and berries went into this, and this is damn good! I wonder if any bottles will make it to Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Haiku for my Cherry Tree

I will miss you friend,
But you had to be put down,
I will miss you friend.

This property had a Cherry Tree with wonderful wisteria growing around and through it next to an arbor that provided shade, flowers & peace. However it had termites, was split down the main trunk, and worse. I will miss it but maybe it will copice & renew itself.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Crabbing and Surfing

Crabbing and Surfing, that pretty much sums up the day. While in Bandon this morning, listening to everyone from Canadians & Californians, to locals. No one was having an easy time catching crabs this morning.

All the old Salts believe that the crabs are outside the bar, waiting for the storm energy to dissipate in order to come in. The Bandon crabs, for the most part, have been fairly lean with the meat, and everyone today was catching females or serious baby crabs and tossing them back unhappily.

Which, turned my attention to the bar as I watched wave after wave slam the mouth of the river make walls of white water across the entrance to the bay. No one was going in or out, not today anyway. Naturally, this means SURFS UP!

9' waves at 8seconds coming right in from the Bering Strait in Alaska. The storm energy will continue to keep the crabs out of Bandon till later in the week, and then cut the supply off again by weekend. Best days to crab this week will most likely be Thursday and Friday. Someone let me know ;)

I surfed Face Rock and battled a hell of a cross current for hours. Next time, I am trying Bullards.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Getting ready for Seed Balls!

Getting ready for Seed Balls! That's right, seed balls. They are a good way to get seeds ready by providing a little extra umph!

I am setting up to teach a friend how to make seed balls with me. What I got together today was Dwarf Essex Rape Seed (For Biomass), Aslike Clover (Nitrogen Fixer, Deep tap roots loosen subsoil, increases potassium and phosphorus), Austrian Winter Pea (Nitrogen Fixer, attracts Beneficials, loosens topsoil), and Winter Rye (High Biomass, supresses weeds, loosens topsoil, prevents erosion, and makes nutrients such as potassium and phosporus available as green mulch).

This will be mixed in up coming days with clay, and humus that contains benefical fungi, and other soil organisms into balls with all the seeds mixed together with it. The balls will be left to dry, and then broadcasted in the orchard. The seeds will be protected by the clay / humus until the rains come in which time they will germinate. Thanks to the a fore mentioned clay and humus, as they germinate, they get a little boost of nutrients right when they need it.

This method was one of the ways M. Fukuoka grew his grains and rice together in the same fields with amazing success. This will be my first time. Heh.