Cobbing a wood stove

cobstove5

This is the second time I have cobbed around a wood stove. I have learned a lot after the first attempt. Last time, I used clay and sand from our property. It took a lot of effort and time to dig it up and mix it. I also chopped my own straw. It all was a huge, time-consuming job.

This time, I am using ‘screenings’ from a nearby quarry which is a perfect mix of clay and sand. It also is considered a waste material for them, so was inexpensive for me. And I am using already chopped straw sold for covering grass seed which I purchased at Tractor Supply. What took me weeks to accomplish last time, has taken only a couple days this time. So it does make a huge difference having the basic materials ready and prepared.

cobsupplies

The advantage of cob around a wood stove, is that it acts as thermal storage. Wood stoves are either sweltering hot, or the house quickly loses heat as the fire dies down. The cob holds a significant portion of the heat and slowly releases it over time. It is better to have an over-sized stove when using cob, because it won’t provide as much intense heat. But then, the room temperature is more stable over time.

cobstoverocks

This time around, I am imbedding dense rocks in the cob right next to the stove. They have a much higher heat storage capacity than the cob itself, and it is my hope that they will further increase the heat retentive property of the cob.

cobstovebricks

cobstoveventunderneith

I also elevated the stove on bricks to make it a more comfortable height if someone wants to cook on it. And I put a vent passage underneath so that cool air from the floor can be drawn under the stove, up along the back where it is heated, and then vented out. This will be a self-powered system through a natural thermo-siphon.

cobstovebarbara

My daughter helping out. She loves cobbing!

I have learned from experience, that it is better to heat the stove right away after cobbing. If you wait to let the cob dry, it will likely not be fully dry anyway deep inside when you finally do start a fire in the stove, and it will smell very *nasty*! This time around, we are starting fires right away. There is more cracking. But I am fixing those as they appear. Meanwhile, at least it doesn’t stink as the cob steams off with the heat.

Also, I got the stove used off of craigslist. What I like about this particular model, Princess Blaze King, (the same model I used the first time I cobbed around a wood stove), is that it is double walled, and the cob will in no way effect the efficiency of the stove. Some people will leave a narrow gap between the cob and the stove. I chose not to do this because it would end up catching small objects and dust, which possibly could pose a fire hazard, and be difficult to keep clean. I have not had any problems at all with our first stove, by having it completely imbedded in the cob.

The vent that will be behind the stove, will be screened in order to keep anything from falling inside.

cobstove4

Pictures of other cob surrounded wood stoves I have found on the web:

http://www.naturalbuildingblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/cob-stove-surround.jpg

http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/e0/9b/18/e09b18d7c2c9947f10b869cc0f2dd727.jpg

http://www.inspirationgreen.com/assets/images/Blog-Building/Masonry%20Heater/with%20cook%20stove/New%20Stove%20rocket.JPG

Hugelkulture swales

hugelkulture2

 

We don’t have heavy earthmoving equipment, and with our sandy soil, periods of long drought and intense heat and then torrential rains, holding any water on surface for extended periods is difficult and swales can easily be washed away and filled with sand over time. My alternative solution is to build swales out of hugelkulture mounds. I am placing them on contour, digging a trench, but rather than leaving it open (which would eventually fill with sand), I am filling the trench with rotting logs I pick up from along the country roads. Then my daughter is dumping the manure from the animal stalls on top of the wood mounds. I am planting fruit trees on the uphill side, and will plant more drought resistant legumous fodder trees on the down hill side. On top of the mounds, since they will be rich in nitrogen (and the wood should hold moisture), I plan to plant winter squash in the summer. These swales will catch the water, as well as organic matter being washed down slope. The rotting wood will hold that moisture for months, unlike a sandy swale alone. And the trees will have access to that moisture as well as the nutrients both from the swale itself as it decomposes and what is washed down and trapped by the swale. I am also mineralizing these swales and inoculating them with fungi to promote tree growth and systematic long term remineralization of the soil.

Excellent article on stationary poultry houses

I like to put compost, biochar and sometimes wood mulch in with the poultry. I haven’t in a while, however, due to lack of time. But I want to again. There are some excellent ideas in this article.

http://www.atitlanorganics.com/blog/permaculture-inspired-stationary-chicken-house-systems/

I also hope to find a source for feed grade azomite and to start feeding all the livestock, including poultry, this natural mineral. The soil then in the poultry house as well as other animal pens would be highly mineralized and be excellent for maximum plant growth. And the animals (as well as the people who consume their products)  should be healthier as well.

http://www.azomiteinternational.com/products/poultry.html

Dry mixes: a mainstay of my pantry

Soup Mixes next to grain mill

 

The most inexpensive and nutritionally dense convenience foods I can store in my pantry are dry mixes that I put together myself. They are great in an emergency, as a gift for someone with a new baby or family illness, or at the end of an exhausting day. There are now several great recipe books available. But I thought I would share some of my own recipes that I have come up with over the years.

They can be conveniently cooked using the “retained heat cooking method” in an emergency. The Jarred mixes, especially if heated or vacuum sealed, will last for years, free from any insect infestation or spoilage. I do like to dehydrate my own vegetables for this. And I have made my own dried soup broth by grinding dried peelings and scraps from vegetables. No need to throw it into the compost pile if I can use it (pumpkin and squash peels make a nice base, as well as other peelings. Just clean, dehydrate, and grind. Then mix according to taste).

Dry Soup Mixes

Lentil and Rice (or barley) soup mix (40 minute version)

Alternate 1/2 cups of lentils and brown rice (or barley) in jar (3
layers of each)
Package of onion soup mix (can be plain, mushroom or vegetable herb)
or vegetarian bouillon or home made vegetable stock powder
1 TBS parsley
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic
1 or 2 bay leafs
1/2 cup dehydrated veggies if desired.

Split Pea and Rice (or barley) soup mix (40 minute version)

Alternate 1/2 cups of split peas and brown rice (or barley) in jar (I
have used green and yellow split peas as well as whole dried peas in
the pea layers) to make 6 layers.
Package of onion soup mix (can be plain, mushroom or vegetable herb)
or vegetarian bouillon or home made vegetable stock powder
1 TBS parsley
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1 or 2 bay leafs
dash of powdered smoke if available
1/2 cup dehydrated vegetables if desired

When you want to reconstitute these, put in pot, add 4 jars of water
and simmer 40 minutes. If in a primitive cooking situation, put in
dutch oven over a fire or other form of heat, with 4 jars of water,
simmer for 10 minutes, cover, take off of heat and completely wrap in
blankets or towels (and if fits, put in cooler). Keep insulated for 4
hours and it will continue cooking like a crock pot.

When appropriate, a can of tuna in the above soups is very tasty,
which surprised me. My second son tried it and the whole family loved
the addition.

Split pea pasta sauce (fills pint jar)

1 1/2 cup split peas (yellow or green)
1 envelope onion soup mix or vegetable bouillon (or herb garlic Lipton
onion soup mix is very good) or other vegetarian bouillon or vegetable
stock powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 TBS parsley
1/2 tsp cinnamon (if desired for middle eastern flavor, otherwise use
tsp oregano)
1/2 tsp tumeric (if using yellow split peas)
pepper if desired

Like with the lentil sauce, this can be cooked with 1 pint of water
and a 14 oz. can of tomatoes. Serve over pasta or rice.

Lentil Pasta (fills pint jar)
1 1/2 cup dried lentils (red is prettier but brown would work too)

1 envelope onion soup mix or vegetable bouillon (or herb garlic Lipton
onion soup mix is very good) or other vegetarian bouillon or vegetable
stock powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1 tsp. dried basil

Method:

Simmer ingredients in 2 cups of water with 1 14 oz. can of diced
tomatoes. When lentils are tender, serve over pasta or rice.

Rice Mixes

To prepare these into meals, you briefly saute the rice mixture in a
little oil until lightly browned (like rice-a-roni), then add two
jars of water, bring to boil, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes or
until water is absorbed. The last wild rice mix, if you use raw wild
rice and brown rice, will require 4-4 1/2 jars of water and need to
cook 50 minutes.

Mediterranean Rice Pilaf

1 1/4 cups white or parboiled brown rice
1/4 cup of Orzo or broken up vermicelli or broken up spaghetti noodles
1 TBS vegetarian chicken boullion
1 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp salt

May add tsp.each of carrot granules, dried onion, and red bell pepper for color.

Spanish Rice Mix

1 1/2 cups white or parboiled brown rice
1 TBS vegetarian bouillon
1 TBS sun-dried tomato powder
1 tsp. parsely
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cumin seed
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 TBS. red bell pepper flakes
1/2 TBS. dried onion flakes
1 TBS. dried corn
1/4 tsp salt

Mushroom Rice

1 1/2 cups white or parboiled brown rice
1 TBS. chopped dried mushrooms
1/2 TBS. vegetarian beef bouillon
1/2 TBS. mushroom powder
1/2 tsp. dried soy sauce if you have it
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 TBS. parsley
1/2 TBS. bell pepper flakes
1/2 TBS. onion flakes
1/4 tsp. salt

Almond Rice Pilaf with orange

heaping cup white or parboiled brown rice
1/4 cup broken vermicelli, or orzo or broken spaghetti
1/8 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1 TBS. vegetarian chicken bouillon
1 tsp. orange zest
1 tsp. dried orange juice
1/2 TBS. parsley
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. salt

Lemon Dill Rice Pilaf

heaping cup white or parboiled brown rice
1/4 cup broken vermicelli or orzo
1 TBS. vegetarian chicken bouillon
1/2 TBS dried lemon zest
1/2 TBS lemon juice powder
1 TBS. dill weed
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Rosemary Garlic Rice

1 1/2 cups white or parboiled brown rice
1 TBS. vegetarian chicken bouillon
1 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. garlic granules
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 TBS sun-dried tomato powder
1/2 TBS sun-dried tomato granules (ordered from amazon.com)
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 TBS. parsley
1/2 tsp. onion flake
1/2 tsp. bell pepper flake
1/4 tsp salt

Italian Rice

heaping cup white or parboiled brown rice
1/4 cups broken spaghetti or orzo
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1 1/2 TBS sun-dried tomato powder
1/2 TBS sun-dried tomato granules
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 TBS. bell pepper flakes
1/2 TBS. onion flakes
1/4 tsp salt

An excellent article on the extreme benefits of wood chips in soil creation

 

Native soil: sand with minimal organic matter and nutrients in open pasture areas.

Native soil: sand with minimal organic matter and nutrients in open pasture areas.

Garden soil created from decomposing wood chips, biochar and manure.

Garden soil created from decomposing wood chips, biochar and manure.

Wood, in the form of chips and hugelkulture beds and swales, has completely transformed my gardening and infertile native soil into humus rich, water retentive, nutrient dense earth. Here is an excellent article on the benefits of wood chips in soil creation. And here is an excellent video on wood chip gardening.