Author Topic: Elephant poo oven in the African bush  (Read 1958 times)

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Offline limpopomark

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Elephant poo oven in the African bush
« on: February 19, 2013, 10:05:11 AM »
Hi folks

Mark in Limpopo here. We've (me and our merry band of volunteers) just finished building an oven out of 'clay', sand and elephant poo for our little bush camp here at the top of South Africa, near the border with Zimbabwe and Botswana.

Ingredients are limited, but we will do what we can with what we have - just look at the oven! I've registered here to occasionally seek out advice and see what tips I can pick up. Or, if anyone's trying to build an oven out of elephant poo and wants tips or advice, I now consider myself something of an authority... 

Cheers,

limpopomark


Offline Serpentelli

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Re: Elephant poo oven in the African bush
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2013, 11:16:30 AM »
just look at the oven!


I'm lookin!  :o And I don't see any pictures! Maybe make a camera out of elephant poo also?! :-D

Serioulsy. I GOTTA see some pics of that oven.

John K
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Offline limpopomark

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Re: Elephant poo oven in the African bush
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2013, 11:24:03 AM »
Oops... my bad. Here's Claymore aka the Beehive, not served well by a rather poor photo.

Thanks for looking!

Offline Serpentelli

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Re: Elephant poo oven in the African bush
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2013, 11:45:45 AM »
Well that is something! Shouldn't be any different than a true "mud" oven I assume?

How did you get the shape? Did you make a sand/dirt form on the inside, or did you use a twig "scaffolding" that you then put the mud around? (They used that scaffolding technique on a couple of ovens when I lived in VT and ME).

Anyway, I would love to see the fruits of your labors, regardless of what ingredients you have available!

Very nice job!

John K
I'm not wearing hockey pads!

Offline limpopomark

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Re: Elephant poo oven in the African bush
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2013, 11:54:35 AM »
Thanks again John

It's a pretty basic thing (he says... after months of worry and a fortnight of hard labour) - three layers, first build over a sand form. The twig thing I only just saw on some random French baker in England's Facebook page the other day; it looks really tricky compared to sand! First layer 2:1 ish sand:clay, second layer clay slip plus sun-dried organic elephant dung, final layer same as first, but a lot easier to make. I want to tidy up some cracks on it and give it a few smooth coats of clay slip, only for cosmetic reasons - after the dung layer it looks so beautifully round, and when I put the final layer on the Limpopo valley was hotter than the surface of the sun and consequently everyone else was dozing, so it became a 9hr solo effort and I started to run out of energy, sweat and clay/sand mix, so it's took on it's beehive shape as a way to allow me to finish in one day.

Repairs and first pizza planned...

Cheers, Mark 

Offline Serpentelli

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Re: Elephant poo oven in the African bush
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2013, 01:29:56 PM »
plus sun-dried organic elephant dung 

 :-D Sounds good enough to eat when you describe it that way! :-D

John K
I'm not wearing hockey pads!

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Elephant poo oven in the African bush
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2013, 03:33:44 PM »
Welcome to the forum.  Nice looking oven.  What is the benefit of using dung?

Offline mkevenson

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Re: Elephant poo oven in the African bush
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2013, 03:48:47 PM »
Welcome to the forum.  Nice looking oven.  What is the benefit of using dung?

Maybe AROMA!!!!! :o
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Online Chicago Bob

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Re: Elephant poo oven in the African bush
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2013, 06:56:25 PM »
Maybe AROMA!!!!! :o
Silly California bird....'round these here parts we call that flavor'ins man !  ;)

Seriously, that is a great use of ingenuity Mark. Congrats and welcome to the forum! Looking forward to some pizza pics...

btw, is that a below ground swimming pool I spy there behind the 'ol Claymore ?  :)
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Online TXCraig1

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Re: Elephant poo oven in the African bush
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2013, 07:57:32 PM »
Elephant poo doesn't burn?
Pizza is not bread.


Online Chicago Bob

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Re: Elephant poo oven in the African bush
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2013, 08:10:53 PM »
Elephant poo doesn't burn?
Heck no man...ain't you never been to the Circus?  ???     :-D
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Offline shuboyje

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Re: Elephant poo oven in the African bush
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2013, 08:18:53 PM »
You don't have any concerns about dung near your food?  If it was in the dense thermal mass at least you could tell yourself it is sterilized by heat.  In the insulation layer by design it should not get hot, and therefore won't be sterilized.  We have people here with concerns about cooking on firebrick and steel, I can't imagine what they will think of a festering pile of dung, ROFL.
-Jeff

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Elephant poo oven in the African bush
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2013, 08:29:06 PM »
I doubt the use of elephant poo is a safety hazard, although it may have an image problem...

Online Chicago Bob

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Re: Elephant poo oven in the African bush
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2013, 08:42:56 PM »
I doubt the use of elephant poo is a safety hazard, although it may have an image problem...
Precisely what those bush people are probably laughing about.... ;D
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Online TXCraig1

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Re: Elephant poo oven in the African bush
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2013, 11:44:22 PM »
You don't have any concerns about dung near your food? 

People pay $500/lb for coffee beans pulled from elephant turds.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2012/12/28/elephant-dung-coffee-intrepid-foodies-thailand/1797347/
Pizza is not bread.

Online Chicago Bob

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Re: Elephant poo oven in the African bush
« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2013, 12:08:59 AM »
Black Ivory...the marketing behind their valued tusk never ceases....

I like this statement though...
"I thought it was well worth a try because we're looking for anything that can help elephants to make a living,"   :)
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"

Offline limpopomark

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Re: Elephant poo oven in the African bush
« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2013, 01:44:16 AM »
Thanks for the feedback! I'm really pleased you like the oven - having never laid a brick before, let alone actually built something, I am kind of pleased with it myself.

John - 'sun-dried organic dung' could sound edible, I reckon; I will tap up some marketing buddies from my past as a suit-wearing sales monkey and see if we can go into production... 'where there's muck, there's brass' as the saying goes. The delivery drivers are a little unreliable though - prone to outbursts of temper and fond of knocking trees over and so on.

Jackie - Thank you! I'd read about using wood shavings mixed with clay slip (yoghurty, runny wet clay soultion) as a middle layer, and also about using cob. This is a kind of halfway house between the two - the dung is dry, then broken up into individual fibres and mixed with the clay slip. The fibres give structural integrity to the layer as you can link each block to the next and the fibres help hold it together. That said, I have read that for an insulating layer the theory is that the woodshavings (or in this case plant fibres/straw) eventually degrade or burn out to leave air spaces whuch form a hoineycomb insualtion layer/heat stop. After 4 hours of not-overly-aggressive firing you can rest your hand on the top of the dome outside and sure, it's hot, but it won't take your fingerprints off. So what is the benefit of using dung? It is free, readily available, and we don't have any woodshavings or straw. There are about 130 elephants here and they drop maybe 100pounds of the stuff every day. The total budget for this build has been 1 bag of cement plus $2.82 for 25 bricks I bought from a building site for the edges of the hearth.

mkevenson - smouldering ele poo does have a strangely pleasant, almost incense-y smell... but the oven mostly smells of drying, damp brickwork at the moment, with maybe a little earth undertone...

Chicago Bob - thank you! Really appreciate it. Yeah, we have a sunken pool here, which after the recent floods (we had three times last years rain fall in 24hrs) was even more sunken but only at one end... our borehole's been underwater for nearly a month so its pumping brown water still. Grrr. But the pool is good - there's a waterhole for wildlife 50yards outside the fence so you can be in the pool and watch the elephants or whatever. Pictures of pizza will follow eventually...

TXCraig1 - Elephant poo tends to smoulder, though of course if you get it hot enough, yeah, it burns. Its not used on any fire-facing surface though and as per my reply to Jackie, the theory is it eventually forms a 'honeycomb' insulating layer, just as with woodchips.

Shuboyje - In a word, no. Believe me, folks coming here can be a little paranoid about all sorts of stuff; there was a cholera outbreak just across the border a few years ago and one of the folks asked me if it was safe to shower. I could give many more examples... the poo isn't on a food-facing surface though. For reasons I can never understand it is considered normal in some lodges to get folks to join in giraffe poo spitting competitions. Faeces is not knowingly going in my mouth under any circumstances, although I am given to understand that thre internet has plenty of sites dedicated to exactly that. So no, I have no probs making an oven using herbivore poo. We collect lion, leopard and cheetah scat for www.greendogsconservation.com for their predator-detection dogs to be trained with; that stuff is disgustingly stinky and heavily laden with parasites. Elephant poo is kind of innocuous by comparison.

I think that's all...

Thanks for the interest, conversation and discussion, folks, and I am really glad that (it seems) you like our oven!

Cheers,

mark
 




Offline 3.14 Guy

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Re: Elephant poo oven in the African bush
« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2013, 07:32:39 PM »
Awesomest online conversation seen in quite some time!  ;D
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Offline norma427

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Re: Elephant poo oven in the African bush
« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2013, 07:55:21 PM »
Mark,

I am really interested in seeing the pizzas that come out of your partly elephant poo oven.  It does look beautiful to me.  8) I really like this thread.  It is interesting to hear about everything you have explained and I also like hearing about other countries.

Norma
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Online Chicago Bob

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Re: Elephant poo oven in the African bush
« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2013, 08:29:10 PM »


Chicago Bob - thank you! Really appreciate it. Yeah, we have a sunken pool here, which after the recent floods (we had three times last years rain fall in 24hrs) was even more sunken but only at one end... our borehole's been underwater for nearly a month so its pumping brown water still. Grrr. But the pool is good - there's a waterhole for wildlife 50yards outside the fence so you can be in the pool and watch the elephants or whatever. Pictures of pizza will follow eventually...





Cheers,

mark
 




Thank you for the info Mark...it's comforting knowing that ya'll are not having to do without creature comforts out there in the bush.  ;D

Besides the pizza pics, and once the swimming pool is back up and running smoothly, would you mind including some shots of the animals you folks are able to watch stopping by the watering pond for a drink that you said you are able to enjoy seeing while relaxing in your pool....that would be awesome man.  8)  Thanks!

Bob
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