Friday, April 28, 2017

Primitive Technology: Water powered hammer (Monjolo)




Published on Apr 28, 2017
I built a water powered hammer called a “Monjolo”. I started by making a water spout from half a hollow log to direct water from the creek. This was set up in the creek and water flowed through it. The hammer was made from a fallen tree. I cut it to size by burning it at the points I wanted it cut (to save effort chopping). Next I carved a trough in one end to catch falling water. This was done first with a stone chisel that was then hafted to an L–shaped handle and used as an adze. This adze only took about an hour to make as I already had the chisel head and cordage made of bark fibre to bind it with.
To save further effort carving I used hot coals from the fire to char the wood in the trough. I put the coals in using “chopsticks” (unused arrow shafts) to transfer them from the pit. The coals were fanned or blown with a wooden blowpipe till the wood in the trough burned. Then the char was scraped out. The sides of the trough were sealed with clay to make sure the wooden sides did not burn away which would effectively decrease the volume of the trough. This was approximately 8 hours work over two days.
With the trough carved I made a hole in the middle of the log as a pivot point. Using the same char and scrape method I burnt a hole right through the log using hot coals and a blow pipe. Again clay was used to prevent wood burning where it was wanted. To burn through the approximately 25 cm diameter log it took about 4 hours and 30 minutes. Another hole was burnt in the end to fit the wooden hammer head and it took a similar amount of time.
A tripod lashed with loya cane was set up at the water spout. The axel of the hammer was tied to one leg, the hammer fitted onto the axel and the other end of the axel tied to another leg. The trough was positioned under the waterspout to collect water and the tripod adjusted so that the resting point of the hammer was horizontal (so water wouldn’t prematurely spill out of the trough).
The trough filled with water, outweighed the hammer head and tilted the hammer up into the air. The water then emptied out of the trough (now slanting downwards) and the hammer then slammed down onto an anvil stone returning to its original position. The cycle then repeated at the approximate rate of one strike every 10 seconds. The hammer crushes small soft types of stone like sandstone or ochre. I carved a bowl into the anvil stone so that it would collect the powder. I then crushed old pottery (useful as grog for new pots) and charcoal. Practically speaking, this hammer worked ok as a proof of concept but I might adjust it or make a new one with a larger trough and bigger hammer for heavy duty work.
This is the first machine I’ve built using primitive technology that produces work without human effort. Falling water replaces human calories to perform a repetitive task. A permanent set up usually has a shed protecting the hammer and materials from the weather while the trough end sits outside under the spout. This type of hammer is used to pulverise grain into flour and I thought I might use one to mill dry cassava chips into flour when the garden matures. This device has also been used to crush clay for porcelain production. A stone head might make it useful as a stamp mill for crushing ores to powder. It might pulp fibres for paper even.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Making Ciabatta Bread






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Royalty Free Music
Fur Elise (Bagatelle in a Minor)
Audiomagic Royalty Free Stock Music Library 2:
Classical/Piano / Audiomagic Music Studios
Bought on iTunes

Ciabatta Recipe

Biga:

Ingredients

3/4 teaspoon dry yeast (I use instant yeast)
1 3/4 cups of cold water
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (470 grams)

Directions

1. If you are not using instant yeast you should soften the yeast in 1/2 cup of the water first.
2. Mix all ingredients together into a wet batter/dough.
3. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
4. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Ciabatta:

Ingredients

1/2 teaspoon dry yeast (1.5 grams)
2 1/2 tablespoons of warm milk (38 grams)
1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons of room temperature water. (143 grams)
1/2 tablespoon of olive oil (7.5 grams)
1 very full cup of Biga (250 grams)
2 cups less 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour (250 grams)
1/2 tablespoon salt (7.5 grams)

Directions

1. Stir the yeast into the milk in the bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes. (Not necessary, to let it stand, if you are using instant yeast.) This will work much better if you use weights rather than dry measures. Add the water oil and the Biga, mix until blended. (Use the Paddle if you are using a stand mixer.) Mix the flour and salt together and add to the bowl mix 2 to 3 minutes with the paddle then switch to the dough hook and mix for 3 minutes at low speed then 3 minutes at medium speed. The dough will be very sticky. Turn it out onto a well floured surface and knead briefly adding as little flour as possible. ( A trick that works, if you wet your hand the dough won't stick to them) The dough should start to be less sticky and become smooth and springy.
2. Place the dough in an oiled bowl or air tight container. Let it rise for 1.5 hours at room temperature. (Room temperature is important, not in a warmer area or prover.) After this time the dough should be full of large bubbles.
3. Turn the dough out onto a generously floured board/counter. Cut it into two loaves roughly the same size. Shape each into a cylinder about 10X4 inches, pulling gently to get each loaf about the same size.
4. Place each loaf on a generously floured peel, parchment paper or the back of a cookie tray. Dimple each deeply with your fingers to prevent them from rising too much. Sprinkle the tops generously with flour and cover with a towel and let rise at room temperature for 1.5 to 2 hours.
5. Half hour before baking preheat the oven and a baking stone to 425F.
6. Carefully turn the loaves onto the stone. I bake mine separate the first loaf at 1.5 hours of rising and the second one at 2 hours. The loaf should bake for 20 to 25 minutes and during the first 10 minutes spray water 3 times in the oven being careful to not spray any directly on your baking stone.
7. Cool the loaves before cutting them.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Primitive Technology: Termite clay kiln & pottery




Published on Mar 24, 2017
I built this pottery kiln and some pottery from termite mound clay to test an alternative clay source to my usual one from the creek bank. I started by making a large grate from ordinary clay. It was just under 50 cm in diameter. Next, I took dry chunks of termite nest and put them into the pit in front of the tiled roof hut. The chunks were crushed and water was added to slake the clay. The clay was trodden on to mix it. Dead palm fronds were added to the clay to stop it from cracking as it dried and to add insulation to the kiln. The mixture was trodden on again and then taken from the pit. A trench was dug to form the firebox of the kiln and a wall of clay was made in the front of the trench. A hole was dug into the wall to allow air flow into the firebox.
The grate was placed on top of the firebox and the walls of the ware chamber were built around the grate. When the kiln walls were finished, grate bars made from termite clay were placed into the firebox. Grate bars are important for fireboxes as they lift the firewood off the ground allowing air to move up through the fuel bed for more efficient combustion. Burning wood as a heap on the ground allows cold air to flow up and over the coals, cooling the kiln and leaving the air unreacted with the fire wood. It still works but is much less efficient than using grate bars. The finished kiln was 50 cm tall (above grate height), 50 cm in diameter and with walls about 12.5 cm thick. The pit/firebox was about 25 cm deep and 25 cm wide with grate bars sitting half way between the ground and the circular kiln grate above.
Next, for the pottery clay, I selected a termite mound built on red clay soil. I took it to the kiln area and slaked it with water and mixed it in a small pit. I crushed up an old grate from a previous kiln and mixed it into the termite clay as grog. Grog prevents pottery from cracking as it dries and helps prevent breakage when firing. I then shaped the clay into a small urn. I also made some barrel roof tiles and a smaller pot from termite clay. I then stacked the kiln with the termite pottery.
To fire the pottery, I collected a large pile of dead wood and started a fire in the firebox. I heard some explosions in the kiln early on and knew something broke but continued anyway. Within an hour the kiln had heated up well and the pottery was glowing red hot. By the second hour the temperature went down illustrating an important point: if you over fill the firebox with wood the kiln will choke it and not burn efficiently. Realising this mistake I merely let the wood burn down a little so more air could get through. By 2 hours and 30 minutes the kiln was firing nicely again with all the pottery glowing low orange (about 845 c or 1550 f). I kept it at this low firing temperature for another 30 minutes. The whole firing process took about 3 hours from start to finish, a relatively short period of time for firing pottery.
When I took the pottery out, one tile had broken and the urn had spalled (a piece of the outer pot broke off) possibly due to still having moisture in it. The urn was still useable though and I use it to water the cassava patch. The forge blower was well fired and is now immune to water damage, no longer needing to be carefully protected from the rain. I put it in the barrel tile shed for storage. I put the broken tile and spalled piece from the urn in a special heap of broken pottery. When I make pottery in future I can crush up these broken pots and mix it into the new clay as grog to strengthen the new ceramic items. Finally, I stored the good tiles at the barrel tiled hut as replacements for broken tiles in that structure should there be any damage in future.
Termite clay is good material for making furnaces and an OK substitute for good pottery clay should it be difficult to find a better source. The termites have already processed the clay by the fact that their mouths are too small to include sticks and pebbles into their structures. As a result, the clay is very smooth and plastic. Too smooth for my liking, in fact, I’m used to working with coarser clay that has silt mixed into it naturally. I find that termite clay is either too runny when wet or cracks too easily when drier. It was difficult to form into complex shapes and it took me 2 attempts to make the urn. But for forming objects like tiles it’s OK, it can be pressed into shape and it will hold without difficulty. In future, I’d be likely to use termite clay for mass producing formed objects such as bricks, tiles, simple pots (formed over a mould) and possibly pipes, thereby conserving the dwindling clay supply from the creek bank which I’ll save for more intricate pottery. In summary, termite clay is able to be used to produce basic pottery if no other source can be found. If you have a termite nest you can make basic pottery from it.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Gracie's Backyard - TEASER




Learn more at : http://www.possiblemedia.org/gracies-...

Gracie’s Backyard is an upcoming documentary film about the “northernmost commercial permaculture farm on the planet”. Located at 59 degrees North near Sunne, Sweden, Ridgedale Permaculture is a 5-hectare farm the integrates pastured eggs, broiler chickens, market gardens, agro-forestry systems (and more!) into a enterprise that creates livelihoods while regenerating landscapes.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Early March Grow Room Update

1/4 This Is the Modern World - (Ep3) Art of France




Published on Mar 4, 2017
Episode 3/3
First broadcast: Feb 2017.
In the final episode, Andrew begins with the Impressionists. He plunges into one of the most wildly creative periods in the history of art, when France was changing at a rapid pace and angry young artists would re-invent how to paint, finding their muses in the bars, brothels and cabarets of Belle Epoque Paris and turning the world of art on its head. Monet, Degas and friends launched a febrile conversation about the role of painting in the modern world that would pave the way for just about every modern art movement of note, from the Cubists to the Fauves, from the Surrealists to the Existentialists and from conceptual artists to the Abstract Expressionists.

2/4 This Is the Modern World - (Ep3) Art of France




Published on Mar 4, 2017
Episode 3/3
First broadcast: Feb 2017.
In the final episode, Andrew begins with the Impressionists. He plunges into one of the most wildly creative periods in the history of art, when France was changing at a rapid pace and angry young artists would re-invent how to paint, finding their muses in the bars, brothels and cabarets of Belle Epoque Paris and turning the world of art on its head. Monet, Degas and friends launched a febrile conversation about the role of painting in the modern world that would pave the way for just about every modern art movement of note, from the Cubists to the Fauves, from the Surrealists to the Existentialists and from conceptual artists to the Abstract Expressionists.

3/4 This Is the Modern World - (Ep3) Art of France



Published on Mar 4, 2017
Episode 3/3
First broadcast: Feb 2017.
In the final episode, Andrew begins with the Impressionists. He plunges into one of the most wildly creative periods in the history of art, when France was changing at a rapid pace and angry young artists would re-invent how to paint, finding their muses in the bars, brothels and cabarets of Belle Epoque Paris and turning the world of art on its head. Monet, Degas and friends launched a febrile conversation about the role of painting in the modern world that would pave the way for just about every modern art movement of note, from the Cubists to the Fauves, from the Surrealists to the Existentialists and from conceptual artists to the Abstract Expressionists.

4/4 This Is the Modern World - (Ep3) Art of France



Published on Mar 4, 2017
Episode 3/3
First broadcast: Feb 2017.
In the final episode, Andrew begins with the Impressionists. He plunges into one of the most wildly creative periods in the history of art, when France was changing at a rapid pace and angry young artists would re-invent how to paint, finding their muses in the bars, brothels and cabarets of Belle Epoque Paris and turning the world of art on its head. Monet, Degas and friends launched a febrile conversation about the role of painting in the modern world that would pave the way for just about every modern art movement of note, from the Cubists to the Fauves, from the Surrealists to the Existentialists and from conceptual artists to the Abstract Expressionists.

Friday, March 3, 2017

1/4 There Will Be Blood - (Ep2) Art of France



Published on Mar 2, 2017
Episode 2/3.
First broadcast: Feb 2017.
Andrew Graham-Dixon explores how art in France took a dramatic turn following the French Revolution that ushered in a bold new world. From the execution of King Louis XVI and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte - a figure who simultaneously repelled and inspired artists of his time - through to the rise of Romanticism and an art of seduction, sex and high drama, Andrew explores artists including Jacques-Louis David - whose art appeared on the barricades and in the streets - as well as the work of Delacroix, Ingres and the tragic but brilliant Theodore Gericault.

2/4 There Will Be Blood - (Ep2) Art of France



Published on Mar 2, 2017
Episode 2/3.
First broadcast: Feb 2017.
Andrew Graham-Dixon explores how art in France took a dramatic turn following the French Revolution that ushered in a bold new world. From the execution of King Louis XVI and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte - a figure who simultaneously repelled and inspired artists of his time - through to the rise of Romanticism and an art of seduction, sex and high drama, Andrew explores artists including Jacques-Louis David - whose art appeared on the barricades and in the streets - as well as the work of Delacroix, Ingres and the tragic but brilliant Theodore Gericault.

3/4 There Will Be Blood - (Ep2) Art of France




Published on Mar 2, 2017
Episode 2/3.
First broadcast: Feb 2017.
Andrew Graham-Dixon explores how art in France took a dramatic turn following the French Revolution that ushered in a bold new world. From the execution of King Louis XVI and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte - a figure who simultaneously repelled and inspired artists of his time - through to the rise of Romanticism and an art of seduction, sex and high drama, Andrew explores artists including Jacques-Louis David - whose art appeared on the barricades and in the streets - as well as the work of Delacroix, Ingres and the tragic but brilliant Theodore Gericault.

4/4 There Will Be Blood - (Ep2) Art of France



Published on Mar 2, 2017
Episode 2/3.
First broadcast: Feb 2017.
Andrew Graham-Dixon explores how art in France took a dramatic turn following the French Revolution that ushered in a bold new world. From the execution of King Louis XVI and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte - a figure who simultaneously repelled and inspired artists of his time - through to the rise of Romanticism and an art of seduction, sex and high drama, Andrew explores artists including Jacques-Louis David - whose art appeared on the barricades and in the streets - as well as the work of Delacroix, Ingres and the tragic but brilliant Theodore Gericault.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

1/4 Plus Ca Change - (Ep1) - Art of France




Published on Mar 1, 2017
Playlist : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lliLj...
Episode 1/3
First broadcast: Jan 2017.
Art historian and critic Andrew Graham-Dixon opens his latest series with the dramatic story of French art, a story of the most powerful kings ever to rule in Europe with their glittering palaces and astounding art to go in them. He also reveals how art emerged from a struggle between tradition and revolution, between rulers and a people who didn't always want to be ruled.

Starting with the first great revolution in art, the invention of Gothic architecture, he traces its development up until the arrival of Classicism and the Age of Enlightenment - and the very eve of the Revolution. Along the way some of the greatest art the world has ever seen was born including the paintings of Poussin, Watteau and Chardin, the decadent Rococo delights of Boucher and the great history paintings of Charles le Brun.

2/4 Plus Ca Change - (Ep1) - Art of France



Published on Mar 1, 2017
Playlist : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lliLj...
Episode 1/3
First broadcast: Jan 2017.
Art historian and critic Andrew Graham-Dixon opens his latest series with the dramatic story of French art, a story of the most powerful kings ever to rule in Europe with their glittering palaces and astounding art to go in them. He also reveals how art emerged from a struggle between tradition and revolution, between rulers and a people who didn't always want to be ruled.

Starting with the first great revolution in art, the invention of Gothic architecture, he traces its development up until the arrival of Classicism and the Age of Enlightenment - and the very eve of the Revolution. Along the way some of the greatest art the world has ever seen was born including the paintings of Poussin, Watteau and Chardin, the decadent Rococo delights of Boucher and the great history paintings of Charles le Brun.

3/4 Plus Ca Change - (Ep1) - Art of France



Published on Mar 1, 2017
Playlist : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lliLj...
Episode 1/3
First broadcast: Jan 2017.
Art historian and critic Andrew Graham-Dixon opens his latest series with the dramatic story of French art, a story of the most powerful kings ever to rule in Europe with their glittering palaces and astounding art to go in them. He also reveals how art emerged from a struggle between tradition and revolution, between rulers and a people who didn't always want to be ruled.

Starting with the first great revolution in art, the invention of Gothic architecture, he traces its development up until the arrival of Classicism and the Age of Enlightenment - and the very eve of the Revolution. Along the way some of the greatest art the world has ever seen was born including the paintings of Poussin, Watteau and Chardin, the decadent Rococo delights of Boucher and the great history paintings of Charles le Brun.

4/4 Plus Ca Change - (Ep1) - Art of France



Published on Mar 1, 2017
Playlist : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lliLj...
Episode 1/3
First broadcast: Jan 2017.
Art historian and critic Andrew Graham-Dixon opens his latest series with the dramatic story of French art, a story of the most powerful kings ever to rule in Europe with their glittering palaces and astounding art to go in them. He also reveals how art emerged from a struggle between tradition and revolution, between rulers and a people who didn't always want to be ruled.

Starting with the first great revolution in art, the invention of Gothic architecture, he traces its development up until the arrival of Classicism and the Age of Enlightenment - and the very eve of the Revolution. Along the way some of the greatest art the world has ever seen was born including the paintings of Poussin, Watteau and Chardin, the decadent Rococo delights of Boucher and the great history paintings of Charles le Brun.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Primitive Technology: Planting Cassava and Yams



He released this video yesterday and it has already been viewed over 1.5 million times.

Published on Feb 24, 2017
In this video I build a garden to grow Cassava and yams, two staple food crops. Cassava is a shrub that develops large edible roots. Yams are a climbing vine that produce large, edible underground bulbs and smaller aerial bulbs on their vines.
I had 5 huts, but the wattle and daub hut (from the first video uploaded on this channel nearly 2 years ago) became dilapidated. I abandoned it in favour of the other huts I built and neglected the roof. This let water in destroying a wall. Also, the sweet potato patch behind it had a tree fall across it destroying the fence. So I demolished them both to make one large garden.
After removing the fence I set a fire under the fallen tree to burn it in half rather than spend the effort of cutting it with stone tools. After burning almost all the way through, it rained. So I came back later and cut through the rest of the log with stone tools. I eventually broke the tree in half. Using smaller logs as levers I moved the tree out of the garden clearing the space for the garden.
I then collected wood and built a simple fence that was woven loosely together with vine. The fence needs only to discourage large animals from entering to prevent them causing damage. Most times pigs and wallabies don’t know that food is growing in the garden and won’t try and enter if they see no reason to. Or at least that worked for the sweet potatoes so we’ll see if it works this time.
For the yam and cassava planting material I travelled far down stream to the site of my old stone hut that I built over 10 years ago. It had a corbelled dome roof that was damaged when a tree fell on it during a cyclone and it came down a few months later. The thick walls however have stayed standing for about a decade though.
Yams and cassava grew wild at this site which is one of the reasons I built the stone hut there. These plants are not native to Australia but grow wild here after having escaped from people’s gardens (similar to how wild pigs live here now after escaping from farms). The planting material for the yams are the bulbs that grow on the vines. The planting material for cassava are simply 25 cm long pieces of stem.
On returning to the garden, a scrub turkey was seen digging in the mounds. Protected by law, this bird has lost its fear of humans and in this case I’ve semi-domesticated it. Originally it was attracted to soil I dug up for the worms it exposed. I started leaving a pot out with small sweet potatoes in it for it to eat and now it investigates any pottery I leave for food. Now it visits my projects and will only leave if bored or chased away. I suppose this is similar to how chickens were domesticated, in fact bush turkeys and chickens are related and will produce hybrid offspring.
Unfortunately, it has learned that the garden contains food. Originally, I was only going to plant yams but I saw the turkey digging them up and eating them. So, I planted cassava in the mounds so that the turkey would be discouraged by finding only wooden stems to peck at. I secretly planted the yams along the fence of the garden because the turkey only thinks the mounds contain yams. They can’t smell very well and only find food by sight and learned behavior.
I planted the cassava in mounds 1 meter apart by pushing them flat into the soil. I planted the yams at intervals along the fence so they could use it as a trellis. 32 cassava stems and 12 yams were planted. Then a storm began and watered the garden. In less than a week the cassava had sprouted shoots and began to grow. The yams will take longer as I planted them deeper.
Cassava produces the most calories per time and space of any plant apart from sugar cane and sugar beet. But it requires much less fertiliser and effort. A hectare of cassava produces enough calories in 2 days to sustain a person for 1 year. It takes a year to come to harvest but will stay in the ground for a year without becoming woody. The tubers are high in starch and are what tapioca is made from.
This variety is called sweet cassava (actually not bitter cassava, it doesn’t taste sweet but starchy instead) and it needs to be boiled for 20 minutes to get rid of some cyanide it contains. The bitter variety contains such high levels that it kills if eaten raw and requires more extensive treatment to eat. There isn’t much nutrition in cassava other than the large amount calories it contains so other food would be required to provide protein and nutrients.
After I harvest the cassava I planted I’ll try fermenting it (which adds nutrition), drying it and pounding it into flour to make flat bread. Cassava flour has the same energy content as wheat flour, stores well and tastes somewhat similar. Or I could just cook it and eat it straight from the garden. I’ll use the yams like potatoes when they’re ready.

International "House Tomato" experiment & update

Friday, January 27, 2017

January in the Grow Room

Primitive technology: Bed Shed




He must be doing something right he has over 3.5 million subscribers.


I built a bed shed, a small shelter with a sleeping platform built into it. It’s quicker to build than a large hut but can be extended later on when materials and time become available. It’s not far from the dome shaped grass hut I built earlier.
The hut is 2 m long and 1 m wide. Four posts were hammered into the ground, two 1 m high posts (1.25 m long, 25 cm underground) on the low side and two 2m high posts (2.25m long, 25cm underground) on the high side. Onto this, a sloping rafters was lashed on with fish tail wait-a-while, a spiky palm with a vine like habit. To remove the needle like spikes from the plant, the leaves are pulled off so that the frond sheaths come with them. This made suitable lashings.
Battens were then tied to the rafters and bundles of long grass from the mountainside were collected. Using vine from the bush, the bundles were lashed to the battens starting at the low side and continuing to the top so that the grass would shed rain. Cross bars were lashed to the frame of the shed at each end to support the bed. These were at a height of 1m above the ground.
The bed frame itself was made from four poles (two 2m long and two 75 cm long) lashed together to form a rectangle 1.75m long and 75 cm wide (the ends of the two longer poles extending further to sit on the cross bars in the shed). Lawyer cane was then wrapped length ways over the frame to create horizontal threads. Then more lawyer cane was woven between these threads to form a sort of bed spring net. The bed frame was then put on the cross bars and tested to see if it could hold my weight. A mat I made from woven bark in a previous video was used for bedding and a bunch of grass for a pillow. In a rainstorm it was possible to make a fire in the space under the bed.
This structure is quick and easy to build. The bed is 1 m above the ground and provides plenty of area beneath to store fire wood and tools out of the rain as well as a place to sit and make things. The bed is comfortable and keeps the occupant off the ground away from ground dwelling creatures at night. The smoke coming up from the fire keeps mosquitoes away while providing heat and light reflected back from the roof. In fine weather the fire can be placed in front of the shed in the open while during rain the fire can be kept under the shelter to keep it dry. If room is needed to stand up the bed can be folded up against the roof and tied to it using cordage.
This shed is literally one half of the standard rectilinear hut I usually build (2m x2m floor plan, 2m tall ridge line and 1 m high side walls e.g. from wattle and daub hut and tiled hut videos) and was built to be upgradeable. Later, the other side of the roof could be added on and then walls of some kind built around the frame to form a full hut.