Super-Efficient Outdoor Oven and Portable Pig Pen for Pastured Swine

DIY ‘Barrel Oven’ design takes outdoor oven construction to new heights. This portable pig pen would be a great tool for plowing with pigs.

| March/April 2013

  • DIY barrel oven made from earth
    Barrel oven combines the best qualities of steel barrel stoves with traditional earthen or brick ovens. It has two racks and can bake up to 12 loaves of bread at a time.
    Photo Courtesy Farm Show
  • portable pig tractor
    Mobile “pig tractor” is fitted with tow hooks on front and back, allowing a car or truck to pull it to fresh ground.
    Photo Courtesy Farm Show

  • DIY barrel oven made from earth
  • portable pig tractor

Barrel-Style Outdoor Oven Heats Up Fast

Max and Eva Edleson are firing up wood-fired barrel ovens for cooking and entertaining. The hybrid ovens combine the best qualities of steel barrel stoves with traditional earthen or brick ovens. They heat up fast with relatively little wood and hold the heat for baking.

The secret to the fast heat is the firebox beneath the metal oven with heat rising through an air chamber surrounding the barrel. The secret to the extended heat is the brick, stone or cob jacket that surrounds the fire chamber. Excess heat not absorbed by the oven is absorbed by the jacket mass. By the time the fuel is burning down, the jacket is radiating stored heat back at the barrel oven, extending the baking process.

“It takes a small amount of wood, thanks to the heat jacket design and mass,” Eva says. “We build them for home-owners to use in backyards for entertaining and baking for their own families.”

In addition to building ovens, they also sell the basic hardware. All parts except the barrels are made in the couple’s metal shop from raw steel. The door is an insulated sandwich of metal and ceramic wool insulation. Barrels are of the thickest gauge available, kiln-burned and sandblasted to eliminate any paint or other residue. Exposed parts are coated with high temperature paint to prevent rust and extend life.

For more information, write to Firespeaking at 91040 Nelson Mountain Road, Deadwood, OR 97430; call 541-964-3536; email; or visit Firespeaking 

‘Tractors’ Make Raising Pastured Pigs Easy

Ask Jim Criger of Springfield, Missouri, why he invented his pig tractors and he’ll tell you, “My pigs got out, and I couldn’t catch them. It’s miserable to chase pigs.”

His sturdy, mobile 8-by-16-foot enclosures were modeled after chicken tractors. “I just made ’em bigger and stronger,” Criger says.

The sides of each 4-foot-high pen are made from 1/8-inch-thick angle iron fitted with cattle panels. The sides are welded onto a bottom frame made of 6-inch-wide flange beams on the front and back, and skids made from 2-by-2 angle iron with a notch cut in the end and bent up to a 45-degree angle for easy pulling.

The front of each pen has a full door that opens out with a built-in half door that opens downward.

The back of the tractor is a large sheet of treated plywood attached to the frame. Another sheet of treated plywood goes on top of the back half of the tractor, providing shelter for the pigs. The remaining space is left open to provide fresh air and sunlight.

The beam at the front of the tractor is 2 inches deep and doubles as a feed trough. A tow hook is mounted on the front and back beams so the tractor can be hooked to a car or truck via a tow strap and pulled to fresh ground.

Assembly of the pig pens is fairly straightforward: Criger lays the pattern out on the floor of his barn, cuts the material to the correct lengths, and welds it all together. He currently has 10 Red Wattle pigs in pig tractors on his farm. Whenever the pigs need fresh forage, Criger simply hooks the tractors up to his car and pulls them to a new location. He sells his pig tractor with prices starting at $899. For more information, write Jim Criger, 2986 N. Farm Road 103, Springfield, MO 65803, or email You also can visit his website at 

— Klaire Bruce 



February 15-16, 2020
Belton, Texas

Join us in Music City, U.S.A. to explore ways to save money and live efficiently. This two-day event includes hands-on workshops and a marketplace featuring the latest homesteading products.


Live The Good Life with GRIT!

Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of GRIT for just $22.95!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters

click me