I get an e-letter from Mother Earth News. Sometimes it tells me about something that motivates me. Sometimes I get frustrated by some of the modernization the magazine has undergone. Sometimes they show projects that rely more on the getting help side of things rather then self reliance. To be fair, it also does a lot to make people believe that they can rely more on green energies and because of the spotlight they put on solar and wind technologies, improvements in those technologies have been made.
Today was special. Today I checked on an article. It was pretty simple DIY stuff. Then I looked at the side bar that had related content. That article led me to another article and then another. I landed on this fascinating article about things to do with a fifty-five gallon steel barrel. It was one of the blast from the past articles that had originally been published in 1973. The story was about a couple setting up house in Alaska. There were/are so many oil drums and gas cans as refuse that they became important resource materials. There were simple instructions for a smoker, a shower, a stove, a grill.... you get the idea. It totally fired me up. It also made me think about the little guest cabin I want to build. It will need a stove for cooking, for heat source, maybe even hot water. The M*E*N piece just had the stove as a cook stove, but I think I can make it do more. I think with very little effort it can become much more. I'm jazzed!
The stove that was featured had the fifty-five gallon steel drum on side. A door was cut in the flat top which was now the front. That door was cut out as a ten inch square. A portion of the curved side... now the top was cut out. Not totally though, just back about two/thirds of the length of the barrel. Flat pieces were welded into this space creating a flat cook top. What was still the curved side of the barrel had a hole cut through to accommodate chimney pipe. Pretty simple, but pretty ingenious. Then I got to thinking that if some changes were made, you could squeeze in a small oven as well. Then I thought if adequate protection was given to the copper pipe then you could run some water through the copper and heat water. The water could be used not just for baths or washing dishes but possibly for radiant heating in the floors. The question is... could I squeeze it all in? I think I could make this work. I have been reading up on so many alternative methods of doing things from rocket and Lorena stoves to building roofs from printing plates or sod, that I think I must have gotten some engineering principles lodged into my brains. It will just take a little ingenuity.... and my neighbor Dan helping me out with some welding. He has already told me that I need to learn to weld and he won't be doing a lot of that stuff for me..... but maybe just this once.
The other barrel project that got me excited was the smoker. The Alaskan fellow set his barrel on end and ran a smoke channel from a five gallon used and cleaned gas can. The gas can was used as the fire box. The part of this project that got me going was that they set the barrel into a hill a little so it was bermed. That requires digging! I can do that!! All of my best projects start out with digging. I'm the queen of digging! As always, I think I will do it differently. I think I would like to make mine from two barrels. I can get barrels for free so I will go with cheap and cheerful. I have been hungry for ham and it has gotten so expensive! You can easily spend forty dollars for a ham. Then there is bacon! It has been suggested that bacon can be a part of the cause of colon/rectal cancer. Apparently from the chemicals used in the curing process. I could smoke my own bacon and me and my family could have safe and happy butts! How cool is that!?
In the meantime, there is so much to do! I need a garden hose and some clips and then my round pin will be done. I am very excited about that. Soon it will be time to start on the hay shed. Lots of small projects. Cleaning the yard... getting the garden started. Understory planting in the woods. For awhile, I was letting this list of things to do become a burden. I think I've had an attitude adjustment. Mostly from looking at my existence through another person's eyes, rather then from my own feelings of expectation. I have so many exciting things to do and I have the luxury that my survival isn't dependent on having them done immediately. I feel like George Bailey and Clarence the angel is saying, "You see, George, you really did have a wonderful life." Just how cool is that?