Thursday, April 4, 2019

Moving the Summer Kitchen

Monday was a big day at our place.  It was the first day in the last eight that I didn't have some kind of school obligation or other.  I was not scheduled to substitute, so I spent the whole day at home trying to get some things done.  While I was eating my lunch, my brother came in from loading out corn to find out if it would work to move the summer kitchen. Secretly, I had been hoping all morning that this would be the case, but he travels a lot since he is the First Vice President of the National Corn Growers Association, and his days at home are usually quite full as he catches up on farm work and other responsibilities.  Therefore, I didn't want to exert any pressure.  But, bless him, he took time out of his busy afternoon to organize and transport the necessary equipment while I vacated the more portable things from the inside of the building.

Originally, we put up this shed to operate a small bakery out of it at the end of our driveway.  After seeing how the Amish in southern Iowa have bakeries and little grocery stores on their farms, we thought that we'd like to try something like that.  Thus, back in the summer of 2009, we purchased this Tuff shed, finished the inside, installed the Riverside Bakewell cookstove, which I had had since the late 1990s, and began baking every Saturday that fall until it got so cold that the garden hose which supplied our running water froze.

We did an okay business that fall, and I learned A LOT.  Our biggest problems were that it was hard to sacrifice the time from our already busy weekends, and we never knew how much we were going to sell.  Some Saturdays we didn't have anything left by the evening; other Saturdays would see us with five or more loaves of bread that didn't sell.

We opened again the next fall, but it became a drag in a real hurry, and so ended that phase of our lives as custom bakers.  The "shed" as we called it, then became our summer kitchen, but because it was located a full 75 steps from the back door of the house, cooking down there was colossally inconvenient.  Couple that with the fact that the oven door broke during the family reunion in 2011, and you have all of the reasons that we just haven't used the summer kitchen all that much.

True confessions now: we didn't have a clue as to how to move a building. I'm not sure that I do yet, but Kevin is brave and adventuresome, and we accomplished the task!

The summer kitchen now rests on a concrete pad north of the house where our old garage used to be.  It is only 11 steps away from the back door, and is actually very close to where the original summer kitchen/washhouse was on our farm.  Hopefully, this will mean that I'll use it more.

Noting that Sunday evening marked the end of March and that there are only a maximum of two more months that we will use the Margin Gem on a daily basis, I lamented to Nancy, "I already miss the cookstove."  She was in a different room; otherwise, I'm pretty sure I would have seen an epic eye roll in response.  But, now I can look forward to just switching to a different cookstove!

I'll keep you posted on the progress as we get the summer kitchen rearranged and in operation.


  1. I’m glad you got it moved! I’m looking forward to seeing pictures of how you set it up inside and hearing about how you use it. I’m more anxious than ever to get ours going now.
    Washhouse? Wow. That’s something else in my plans. 😀

  2. A. I love that the first photo shows both building moving progress and corn loading simultaneously. Multi-tasking on a grand scale.

    B. Out of curiosity, what would it take to repair the damaged oven door on the Bakewell? It's so pretty - would be neat to have it fully functional again.

  3. Hi Jim. Well I'm your neighbor,give or take, as I hale from WI northbound on Hwy 151, ovr the border. This IS smthg I WILL get. From true horsepower, wringer washers and now my search for a cookstove, I also have a cantankerous husband tht is first in line to find himself in hot water in a horse trough w/water I heated on my cookstove. Like you my interest is in the learning to do smthg tht is dear to me. Hard to put in words, it is, but basis and simple come to mind tht brings me comfort and maybe a quiet whisper I hear from my great grandma telling me these are good thgs. I have alwys been connected to animals and the land more so than people. Go figure. We have a place, almost complete, tht we will be moving to soon. Small cabin our Amish friends built for us, w pasture for the 4legs, woods for hunting and a quiet tht is heaven sent by Our Lord himself to us. Oh.I can't wait to play in the dirt as I call planting my garden. Finding a team to help out back in the woods. Also my passion is working w those horses that have been damaged by the hands of man, and patiently w/all my love, give them a chance to show grace towards a human again. They are my people. Aww geez I am sorry. I ramble..Ok then, I wanted to tell you tht I did some research on the southwest Indian tribes and their cooking/baking and the short of it is, our son and myself will be constructing a brick oven w liner. As these were used n perfected ovr time by the people, I found tht using the contour of some hills we have, the oven will be built into one of them for the sake of height for ease of using. I have a video n copies of pages fr books fr library n I have to say this is not difficult. Even w temps here already have plan for protecting thru winter. If u have time I am curious as to your selection of the stove u use. I can come to an informed decision the best way by wht others have to say. Any problems w it tht are repetitive, does this model have a hot water reservoir, if so wht do u think of its usefulness n so on. With tht I'll finally end with Be Well, Thankful To Him, and God Bless You and the Family. Signed,Sue from WI.

    1. Sue,

      Welcome to my blog! One of the great things about operating this site is the number of times I get to come into contact with kindred spirits. I would LOVE to have a team of draft horses here on the farm (a pair of American Creams are my dream), but they are a ways down the wish list right now.

      Anyway, I think most of your questions regarding choosing our stove might be answered in the following post from way back in 2012. If there are things that you feel are not addressed there, please be sure to comment again and I'll do my best to answer.

      We do have a water reservoir. I opted for that because I hope to have our rainwater cistern usable again sometime in the future. When (if) that happens, the soft rainwater would be heated in the reservoir, while the hard tap water would still be heated by the waterfront/boiler system. Until then, we just pour hard water into the reservoir and use it as a backup/auxiliary water heater.

      The only feature that I find frustrating is the grate. It is designed so that once the fire is well-established, the air is all entering the fire from above. Modern woodstove science tells us that this creates the most efficient wood combustion, but I don't like managing it. Clearly, I can do it, but I find the old-fashioned fireboxes that were designed for coal fires with the air coming into the fire from the bottom to be much easier to manage. Hope that helps.

      Keep me posted on the progress that you make on the new place.

      I've got to get some more posts put up on this blog. I just finished a major writing project a couple of weeks ago that took up all of my writing time, so I'm hoping to put some more effort in here soon.

  4. I was so glad to see the new comments when I took a look to see if there were any new posts. I’ve been wondering how you guys were doing up there after all of the rain and flooding.
    I hope you do get work horses soon. We use Belgians on the farm and it’s great. A feeling like none other. I don’t have any experience using the Cream but they’re beautiful.
    Hope now that you’re finished with the writing project you’ll be free to do some posts. They are very important.