4 - Selecting the Site

We have a big yard, so we had quite a bit of choice in selecting the right site for our oven. Fortunately, we realized early on that the site selection had to be a PERMANENT decision; you can't really change your mind after the fact. This oven does not move!

(Our pizza oven won't be able to come with us when we downsize someday, but we haven't invested much money in it. True, we invested about a week of our time and energy, but we had a blast doing it, and we learned a lot, so we'll build an even better one when we move to Next House.)

Things we took into consideration in choosing a site:
  • Distance from the house itself: originally, we were thinking about building this on our back deck, but we decided that having a giant fire right near our wooden abode was...dumb. We decided that we wanted it as far as possible from the house -- too far for the wind to carry sparks, for example -- while still being as conveniently close to the house (kitchen) as possible, since we assemble the pizzas indoors.
  • Windbreak: The fire will be mostly protected in its little cave of hard adobe (clay + sand) during cooking, but the fire gets started/built on a little ledge on the lip of the oven, and that is exposed to wind. Plus, the firetender (cook) is going to be standing out here for at least half an hour, and the wind can be uncomfortably cold for 75% of the year in Vermont. 
  • Level ground: I guess you could build on non-level ground if you had to, but it'd be a lot harder to figure out how to stack the rocks that form the base of the oven
  • Diggable to 5 feet: Some of our yard is pure rock ledge -- most New England homes have a basement, but ours does not because we're built on top a huge underground boulder. My husband and son probably would have been up for dynamiting a hole in the earth, but I was not, and fortunately, we found plenty of spots that our shovel could penetrate to a depth of about 5 feet.

The site we eventually chose is
  • About 20 yards from the house and deck
  • On a flat patch of grass
  • Surrounded by 3 evergreens (for windbreak)
  • Not a big rock
It's on the north side of our yard. We would've preferred the sunnier (pool-side) south side of the yard, but the other requirements were a better fit on the north side. (You can ignore the partial-swingset in this picture -- our kids are grown, and the cob oven project was what caused us to finally take it down :)


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