Sunday, 11 September 2011

Making charcoal

A different and interesting week!
To complete his course in metallurgy, Jean Paul has to make a quantity of charcoal using traditional methods. This involves collecting the wood and then building a fire which gently smoulders over 1 - 2 days to convert the wood to charcoal. A large quantity of soil, grass and ferns is required to cover the wood and allow just enough air to enter. It needs to be constantly watched while it smoulders to prevent the wood from actually catching fire and burning to ash. Jean Paul lit the fire in his Mum's garden on the Wednesday morning and camped out all night to keep watch over it. Dave and I went to watch the grand opening and it was rewarding to see that it had worked - a huge pile of perfect charcoal! The next job is to build a kiln (in our barn) in order to extract iron from rock. This is quite a complicated but traditional and effective process, so we will look forward to seeing it put into practice over the next week or two.
There are more photos of the charcoal fire here

Also this week, the swallows have been very active. There are hundreds of them in and around the garden, seemingly attracted by the swimming pool - we love watching them swoop over the water for a drink. However, they also appear to be gathering en masse in advance of the winter exodus. On several mornings this week, we have seen them lining up shoulder to shoulder (wing to wing!!?) on the electricty cables - quite a sight!
We have also had some really beautiful morning mists with the slightly cooler mornings - always well worth a photo or two!

We have also enjoyed having more guests here this week, both from Berkshire and Wales, and spent a couple of entertaining evenings with them all over dinner. We have had a good week of warm and sunny weather and it is still warm enough to eat outside most evenings.

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