Friday, February 29, 2008


Today was all about dirt.

Our foundation is finished, and it looks like it will be around long after we humans abandon the arid southwest. It is STURDY. Now we turn our attention to the oven.

Our sand form (which creates the void where the baking takes place) will be a dome, 16 inches high and 27 inches in diameter. For that, we need six 5-gallon pails of sand. Odel and I took the truck, buckets, and tools to the sand pit for our final run... we now have our sand stockpile on site.

Over this large dome of sand, we need a four inch thick layer of mud. According to our "bible", that requires TWELVE 5-gallon pails of clay, so our next trip was to the back "pasture" (I am not sure you can call hard-packed clay soil with prickly flora "pasture"; that's where "Semi-True Tales" come in) for collecting.

After I used a hoe to scrape the top layer of stones, weedy bits, and dry, dry, dirt away, Odel used a pickaxe to break up the clay. We loaded it into buckets, which we dumped into the back of the pickup truck until we guesstimated that we had a sufficient quantity.

In this picture, Rosanna demonstrates our method of cleaning clay: we sit beside the wheelbarrow and, wearing thick leather gloves, find and toss away rocks, break small clods into fine powder, and toss large, dry clods into a neaby bucket of water. It is rather relaxing work, handling soil, chatting and daydreaming, very rewarding as each barrow load is completed.

This is a part of our completed pile, which had grown to near-epic proportions at the end of the day. This pile is almost stone-free, has no big clods, and is ready to be mixed into mud.

We called it a day at 4 pm, when we finished handling the last of the pickup load of clay. Tomorrow we plan to make the clay into mud, which we will wrap in a tarp to "condition" overnight so all the little clay granules can slake their thirst and plump up. Weather permitting, the oven building will begin on Sunday!

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