Charcoal Making 2017

We recently spent a few weeks in neighboring Kamigoto to make another year’s worth of charcoal.

With still a few good sized boxes of charcoal remaining from last year, there was not an urgent need to make a large amount this time around.  We figured that a load and a half might be enough.

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Hauling wood for the first load of charcoal

Unfortunately, after rebuilding the kiln last year, the kinks with the new one are not yet fully worked out.  The first batch (which often doesn’t produce a great result anyway) resulted in much less good charcoal than we hoped.  The burn took a long time, and never really got going solidly.  In the end a good amount ended up as ash.

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Stacking the wood upright, thick ends up, smallest at the far end of the kiln.
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First firing of the kiln for 2017

In the meantime, we busied ourselves with cutting down a number of large trees along the river that were shading out an old rice field.  The field is intended to be put back to use as part of the “community of care” project, so the area needed to be opened up again on the southern side.  Plenty of cutting, limbing, lifting, dragging, and hauling took place.  All of the trees were on the opposite bank of the stream so there was a good amount of sloshing around to get things from one side to the other.

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Cutting along the stream, opening up for use of old rice field.

In the end we got plenty cut to length and hauled to the kiln for our needs as well as another 3 loads for the Utano family.

Somewhere in the middle of this we roasted wheat while Yo’s dad steamed soy beans, then mixed together with some beneficial spores to start the process of making soy sauce.  This will be fermented and not ready to use for two years or so.

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Roasting wheat for soy sauce making

The second firing of the kiln didn’t go much better.  The draft just doesn’t like to stay strong and it is taking a lot of burning to get the wood in the kiln into its pyrolysis mode.

However, we were more prepared for it this time around and managed to work things out a bit to get a decent batch. Enough to load up the kei-truck and bring back to Ojika.

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Ribs cooking on top and bread baking in the dutch oven down below. We were better prepared for the second batch. The ribs were one of the highlights of the season, delicious!

We’re now loaded up for another season.

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Some of the charcoal from this year’s efforts.

Sure was good to be in the mountains working with wood again.

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