Like Settlers of Catan, without the sheep

I went mining for clay the other night after a rainstorm. Yes, the pond was full of water. Yes, I got soggy and muddy. But hey, I’m a potter, how can I not be excited about that much clay just lying right there for the taking?

The line of clay seems to run deeper than the 3-4 inches I had thought likely – I couldn’t find the bottom of it with the shovel. It also seems broad – or well, it’s bigger than the 3′ across that I dug before getting tired of squelching in the dark, grinding mud into my blisters, blindly prying out shovels full of water and roots, and splashing mud in my eyes.

Did I mention that not only was the pond full of water, but it was like ten at night? Cuz that’s the way I roll.

I got a good amount of clay; enough for one evening, anyway. I plan to calm down a little bit and maybe go back and dig when the pond isn’t quite so wet and I can actually see what I’m doing. Concept.

In the mean time it’s set out on a tarp to dry in preparation for slaking, mixing, and forming into bricks.

This image below is dried clay chunks that I collected earlier this year from Backfill Hill, slaking down to mud. Soon it will be mushy enough to mix with straw and pack into brick molds. I don’t know if I will bother sieving it after all, for such a rough use as brickmaking.

So I don’t know how much clay is under the pond, but clearly it’s a lot. As impatient as I always am, I want to dig it out all at once, get it mixed and formed and dried into all the bricks I will ever need, and all that right now – but as I figure I have only about a month or two before the Fall rains set in, plus I’m as busy as ever with all my other projects, that seems increasingly unlikely.

Patience, grasspotter. That clay has lain at the bottom of the pond for a few centuries already, it’s not like it’s going anywhere soon!

2 Responses to “Like Settlers of Catan, without the sheep”

  1. heidi Says:

    Omrei brought up:
    If you take out all the clay, what’s to hold the water IN the pond?
    Me, I’m glad you are thinking outside the box and using whats to hand.

  2. diana Says:

    Well, the pond doesn’t hold water anyway. It’s a seasonal pond – it’s been dry since May, remember? And will fill again in late September. So the clay isn’t doing any good as a water-holder. The pond fills up because it’s at the level of the water table.

    My sudden and probably misplaced hope is that the reason that our property is a near-swamp might be because there’s a layer of clay under it! Maybe. And if I could puncture that clay – say, by digging out the pond – maybe the water would have somewhere to drain TO! I can only cross my fingers and bite my nails.

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