Solar cooker brings the clouds

I’m beginning to feel I have the power to control the weather. Every time I try to test out my solar cooker, I drag out the clouds. But we were originally scheduled for thunderstorms, so I guess I really should quit whining.

A couple days ago, I had my first, very ham-fisted attempt at making a solar cooker of my own design. Once again, I was surprised and disappointed to learn I’m not the engineering genius I expected myself to be. I’ve been learning and relearning (so I guess, more accurately: NOT learning) this same lesson since I was a child. In fact, after my pathetic and ridiculous first try at making a reflector out of floppy sunshades and scrounged baling wire, I suddenly recalled my 4th grade attempt at making a solar cooler, and my surprise and disappointment that it didn’t work as expected, that instead of crisp chocolate chip cookies, I got congealed chocolate chip cookie dough full of ants.

Now, I have advanced a little since 4th grade. I have the internet to help inform me about the design (I think my original plan was something on the order of a tinfoil-lined shoebox), and I had an actual thermometer so I could easily tell the temperatures were nowhere in the neighborhood of cooking temperatures. But still. Despite an extra 30 years of life experience, I once again ended up with what looked like last place in a grade school science fair.

My second try wasn’t much better. I used the floppy reflectors to cover tapered cardboard panels. If I can cut the glass I have on hand to a suitable size, I can probably actually use those to good effect. I think I may fit a metal file drawer painted with black grill paint into the modified (I cut the top out and folded back the cut edges to make a nice opening but keep the double depth) grill base and insulate the space between, then attach the panels to the more uniform box (the grill still tapers in, as you can see, making it difficult to work with panels or a lid). Then I can cut the glass to fit the more regular shape of the box and possibly create a decent and deep oven. But in the meantime, the panels are just as useless as the crappy wire halo-and-foil contraption of my first go.

Solar cooker, take 2

Solar cooker, take 2

Until I get a chance to hit the hardware store, I decided to go back to plan A. I dropped $5 on a rigid windshield shade and $1 a package of velcro at Big Lots and made the original windshield shade cooker. I didn’t have the cooking bags, so I used a large glass jar with half gallon glass jar wrapped in black cloth instead. But I haven’t had enough sun to test it out yet.

When I first tried it yesterday, it wouldn’t rise above 110–then I rotated it slightly so it caught the sun the way it was supposed to, and the temperature immediately started to climb. Of course, 10 minutes later, clouds rolled in and foiled me.

I’m going to try again today, but I think it’s partly cloudy all day, so I’ll probably have better luck next week.

In other news, Bridgette seems to be improving. Today’s the last day in her antibiotics, and she seems quite on the mend. I’m going to keep her separated but give her more time outside today (what with the partly cloudy keeping things cooler), then gradually give her time back with the flock. She seems anxious to rejoin them, but I don’t want to put her in harm’s way. The open wounds are gone, but she’s totally nekked back there, and I don’t know if the rest of the girls will find all that pink skin irresistable.

P.S. Happy 4th of July!

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