We decorated the oven with a few raised designs so we would have a way to measure, visually, how much the cob weathered and eroded after the rains. The photo to the left shows the oven in pristine condition in March of 2008.
A couple of weeks ago, we took step one towards re-cobbing the oven: we dug enough clay to fill 5 kitty litter buckets (any bucket will do, but if you have 9 cats, kitty litter buckets are easy to come by) half full. We added water and let them sit until the day arrived to make the cob. That day was today. Here is the recipe:
Put on dishwashing (or, for RV'ers, dumping) gloves (top left). After removing all the rocks and pebbles from the clay (by hand), add the manure (aka "horse apples"), breaking the apples up by hand - very good for strengthening your grip. Mix thoroughly to incorporate all the ingredients (upper right) until the mixture is thick, uniform, and wet enough to stick but dry enough not to slump - in other words, PERFECT (bottom).
Slap the mud/manure mixture (so much nicer to say "cob") onto the oven in big, mushy handfuls, melding the cob together to encase the oven smoothly. Add a few decorative flourishes, admire, then go wash the mud off the buckets, the wheelbarrow, the hoe, your hands, nose, and eyeglasses. Scrub your shoes, and under your fingernails. Take a break.
That seemed like a reasonably full day's work, but we had a long "to-do" list and felt energized. Odel took off in the truck to get hay and alfalfa for Rosanna's horses. After he came home and unloaded all the bales, we programmed the new tire pressure monitor (the first one turned out to be defective). While he drained and changed the coolant in the generator, I worked on pinning a new zipper on the front of a favorite jacket, and Rosanna sewed the zipper in place for me. Odel tore off to the hardware store before they closed to get a part to fix the ice-maker (this project is still underway).
While we all worked on our projects, Auntie Carol made our dinner: Eggplant Parmesan, a big green salad, and carrot cake. What a treat! Plenty of wine to go with it...
...so, you'll understand this: An hour ago, Odel started our little propane heater for the night, found a movie on TV he wanted to watch, and stretched out on the bed with the remote in his hand. I heard him mute the TV during the first commercial break... and it never came back on. All I hear is a gentle snoring, all I see when I peer back there is the glow of the TV. Yes, it was a BUSY day!