Re-Grow Roots

Learning to live harmoniously in Missouri.


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Cob Oven Workshop at OM

Spring is here again!! Flowers blooming in the fields, cherries growing plump on the trees, strawberries ripening, bees buzzing, greens growing everywhere… and we have been busy busy planning, growing, and BUILDING! Our most recent build is our beautiful, brand new, earthen cob oven.  Lots of local folks came out to help us with the project, friends from East Wind Community, folks from the Ava Growers Market, and some good friends from down the road. Most of the materials were sourced from the land we call home. We dug the clay from a hole next to the Outdoor Kitchen, shoveled creek sand into buckets and hauled it up here, and the platform the cob oven sits upon is built from beautiful large rocks from the creek bed. We used firebrick that we salvaged from here and there, tiles for a lovely countertop also laying around on the property… this land is just full to the brim with useful supplies!

timberframe

The structure on the left was built over the Winter and finished this Spring using roundwood Cedar timbers from our beautiful forest. It is primarily timber framed and we attached it to the timber frame building on the right side which was built several years ago by a former Communard. That beautiful structure on the left side there surrounded by river rocks is our cob oven platform. There are pallets on top of old metal barrels that act as the real structure, all sourced from our scrap piles, and the rocks serve as beauty and form. We filled the pallets with a simple clay and sand cob mixture to insulate the cob oven.

We began the build by first setting up fire bricks where we wanted the cob oven. Then we made a form by putting some salvaged cinder block and a bucket full of bricks to take up space within our sand form. The sand form was made from sifted creek sand and water, basically like building a sand castle, but a sand igloo! This is just to make the shape of the cob oven. You build the middle to be the size that you want the interior of the oven. When the oven is dry, we will dig out the sand castle and remove the blocks and bucket. Once the form was complete, we covered it in wet phone book paper. This is to insure that the sand igloo doesn’t mix with the cob and making it easier to dig out.Without this you could easily dig out extra or have sand falling onto your first pizzas.

Cob cob COB!!! The mixture we ended up using was one bucket of clay to two buckets of sand, give or take some handfuls. With every batch we mixed, we did a drop test to check the consistency. After stomping and mixing the clay and sand and water thoroughly, we took a handful of it and kneaded it about 50 times, then dropped it from chest height onto the tarp we mixed it on. If it crumbles and breaks apart, there is too much sand. We always veered on the side of too much sand and gradually added more clay until we could drop it without crumbling. Too much clay in the mixture will cause more cracking as the oven dries. The ration of sand to clay in cob will vary a lot from place to place depending on the amount of silt and soil in your clay.

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First layer of cob is complete, about 4 inches thick… now for the second layer!!

After a firey Beltane and cob celebration, we went to bed, woke up the next day, and went wild with more mud for layer two of the oven! We didn’t get as many photos of the beginning stages of this layer but it went on the same way, from the bottom up. This layer is made from the same clay and sand mixture with added straw this time for extra insulative properties. This layer was intended to be about 3 inches thick but is between and 4 and  6 inches in many places. We decided when the oven is dry we are going to chisel out the door a bit and make it wider so we can fit up to 14 inch pizzas in there!  During this awesome workshop, we splurged on loads of yummy pizzas from our small cob oven that we completed a couple years ago. Wish I would have snapped some shots of our scrumptious yummies! I promise they were beautiful. So now we are letting the cob oven dry out for a while. We may add some sculpting to the oven to make her super awesome and one of a kind and we will add a plaster and mosaic once she’s dry.

cob-oven

This is our mini cob oven, built long before the Outdoor Kitchen extension. We still use it once a week for pizza nights!

Hope you found this inspirational and educational! Let me know if you have any questions and get out there to play in the mud…

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Homesteading in the Winter, Just SURVIVING

My last update was in the end of Summer, and now it’s Wintertime here in the Northern Hemisphere. Sorry it’s been such a while since the last post, hoping to get more on top of it this year. This is my first Winter here on the farm at Oran Mor, and my first Winter ever to be hardcore homesteading. It’s hard work and really trying at times, but I truly love it and would have it no other way.

IMG_0986Our primary task through the Winter is SURVIVAL! Chopping wood and carrying water are the main priorities. All of our heat is supplied by our wood fired stoves and with temperatures dipping below zero at times, we use a lot of wood. We also cook on our wood fired stove most nights. She’s a cast iron beauty named The Great Majestic. Cooking on wood fire inside really heats the place up and the meals we make with it are the most amazing delicacies! Several mornings a week I cook up sourdough pancakes for breakfast on the Majestic griddle with some homemade concord grape syrup goodness and serve it up with homemade yogurt and East Wind nut butter. East Wind is our sister community just about 30 miles from us. We bake sourdough rustic breads from hand ground whole grain flours like einkorn and spelt using our Country Living grinder. It requires a commitment to keep the sourdough starters fed every day and to grind enough flour by hand to bake loaves of bread, muffins, cookies, and for pancakes… but living in community spreads the work around and things get done.

IMG_0933We have a new member named Svenvik who has been here for about two months now I think. He’s helped us with our pathways considerably and we finally finished our beautiful stone paths in our herb garden! I’m so excited to see herbs growing in the spring and add to our bountiful collection of herbs. So now there are five adult members and our little boy Kalani all living together here full time. Another visitor is planning to come soon and stay in our last indoor room available with her son, also in hopes of becoming a member here.

IMG_0938When it’s not achingly cold outside, we have been spending time preparing our ground for Spring Gardens. Most of the farm is on slopes so we are constantly adding more compost and manure to the beds to build them up.

IMG_0942Annatto and Xavier love helping us prepare the gardens! We love our goats here. Currently we aren’t milking, but we are expecting Rocky and Sherbet to give birth early next month so we will soon have goat milk again! Another project we have been working on is finishing up our cheese cellar, covering the roof with dirt, filling in between the stones with cement, and we need to make a door. Still working on our tipi, but it’s been so cold that we have been spending a lot more time indoors and less time on our many projects.

spinning woolRecently I’ve begun learning how to spin wool! I’ve been crocheting for about 3 years now and for the past 6 months I’ve been transitioning into using primarily hand-spun natural fibers in the clothing and accessories I make. So it’s only natural for me to start spinning myself and eventually raise fiber animals! One day we will have Angora goats and rabbits, maybe some alpacas and sheep… dreaming big for the future of OM. Check out my handmade goodness here – www.regrowroots.etsy.com 🙂

IMG_0778Off to make some yogurt and render pork fat now, thanks for stopping by!


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Elvis has left the farm, to be within us.

My friend. Our friend. We went through a major transition together and became close.

Before his life ended, I meditated on the stage where the event was to take place. With all of my chakras I visualized a pure rain of light upon the space. All day long I felt this sadness, as well as a deep happiness. When I take the time to revere the life that exists with me, within me, and all around… it is good.

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We are Elvis.


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DIY Natural Cleaner Recipes

After cleaning my home for the past 5 years or more with only natural cleaners that I make in my kitchen, I have compiled a long list of wonderful cleaning supplies. Today I’m going to share the simple recipes that I use in my own home so you can make them too! They are completely natural and non-toxic, safe for your family!

Soap Scum Remover / Soft Scrub

bathroom

Supplies :

  • baking soda
  • liquid castile soap – I use Dr. Bronners and I LOVE the lavender scent, but any castile soap will work.
  • bowl & sponge

Directions :

Simply mix the baking soad and liquid castile soap in a missing bowl to form a nice paste. Take your sponge and watch the magic happen as you scrub away the soap scum, mildew, grime, and limescale.

All – Purpose Cleaner

Supplies :

  • plastic spray bottle
  • vinegar
  • water
  • essential oil

Directions :

Pour 1 cup of vinegar into your spray bottle and fill with water. Add as much essential oil as you prefer in a scent that you enjoy. I like to use a anti-microbial, anti-bacterial essential oil like lemon or peppermint.

Oven Cleaner

bakingsoda

Supplies :

  • baking soda
  • water
  • spray bottle

Directions :

Fill the spray bottle with just water. Spray down your entire oven so that it’s moist. Get the walls, racks, and bottom to cover all the stuck on grime. Once it’s sufficiently moist, lather the baking soda onto all dirty, wet surfaces to about ¼” thickness. Make sure it’s wet and pasty. Then you let it sit with the oven off for a few hours. Come back and simply wipe it off. All the grime should come right off.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Supplies :

  • baking soda
  • liquid castile soap
  • toilet brush

Directions :

Drain the water out of the toilet bowl so you can clean the bowl easily. Make a paste with the baking soda and castile soap. With a toilet brush, lather and scrub your toilet bowl with the paste.

Laundry / Dishwashing Detergent

washing

Supplies :

  • 4 cups borax
  • 4 cups washing soda
  • Essential oil
  • Vinegar

Directions :

Mix together the borax and washing soda in a container and label it. For each load of laundry, I use about ¼ cup of this mixture and add 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar and about 5 drops of essential oil. I like to use lavender or sandalwood for a calming effect.

Bleach Alternative / Stain Remover

Before washing, apply hydrogen peroxide directly to any large stains. I have use this on colors too and it has not actually bleached them white, but it does remove blood, wine, and every stain I have tried to remove.

This was originally posted on Eco Etsy. Also linked up at Party Wave Wednesday