Last year, Laura and I helped build a cob oven at a great workshop. (Blog post about the workshop on our family's currently inactive urban farming blog...) It was my first time working with cob. Cob is a mix of clay, sand and straw that is great for things like ovens because it holds the heat from the fire. To build an oven, you make a sturdy foundation from rock or concrete chunks, lay down firebrick floor, make a sand dome as a form and then press cob around the form. Then you cut a door and after the whole thing dries a bit, you can make all kinds of good food- from pizza and roasted veges to granola and good bread. Yum. Here are me and Laura mixing cob- it's hard work!
I planned out a spot for an oven this spring and had a load of rocks delivered. Along with rock we removed from another part of our yard, I had plenty material to get going. I've been trying to begin the dry-laid stone foundation for my oven in fits and starts. The first few courses of stone were giving me trouble- they were like puzzles with not all the pieces- and I have spent the last few weeks looking at the grass-killing rocks tumbled over my backyard, feeling blah about the whole project. Then, happily, something clicked and I spent Memorial Day afternoon in a rock-stacking zone- and built the foundation in just a few hours!
It's far from perfect, but it's pretty level on top and this massive, organized pile of rocks makes me really, really happy. I can't wait to get rolling on the cobbing- maybe as soon as this weekend!