18 October 2009

Burn Day

Burn season started later this year - not until October 15. The rainy fall weather is back but we lucked out and had a pretty perfect day on Friday to burn some brush. It only rained a little and there was almost no wind.

This past winter was hard on the trees around here. In January, we had a LOT of snow and we ended up with fallen branches all over the place. We were lucky, though, and our fences weren't damaged. A neighbor down the road had just installed a brand new fence and a tree fell on it not once but twice! He repaired it the first time and then about a month later, another tree fell on it about twenty feet away from the first spot. I felt so bad for him. I'm sure he'll be keeping a close eye on the trees as the weather gets worse.

We'd been collecting brush all year ended up with a pile about half the size of my truck!

We also burned some non-reusable trash lumber leftover from the front porch JD rebuilt earlier this summer. And we started getting rid of the garden boxes that were such a debacle last summer.

A little backstory: The garden boxes are still a sore spot for me. A dollar clothing store listed wooden shipping crates on Craigslist for free. They were about three feet square and three deep. I saw them and thought, "Instant garden boxes!" We hauled about eight of them home and I started painting them. We put three in the garden area and filled the bottom half with bricks and the top with planting soil. They did great for about two months and then everything started with turn yellow and wilt. It was a disaster. I tried less water, more water. We tested the soil but I knew it couldn't be that because it was brand new four-part mix from our regular supplier. I decided that since the boxes were used to ship clothes from god knows what third-world sweatshop to the dollar clothing store from which we got them, they must have been sprayed with some awful pesticide and that was what killed off our plants. Even if they hadn't totally killed off the plants, I'd have been afraid to eat anything that did survive! We put the rest of the boxes on top of on of the blackberry brambles to see what would happen but it didn't really affect them much. (I'm not sure what would have been worse - the blackberries being killed off by whatever was on the boxes or surviving whatever was on them!)


I was happy to see those damn boxes turn to ash - and no I don't want to think about those pesticides turning into toxic fumes. I just stayed upwind until they were done.

I know that brush burning isn't very environmentally friendly. In fact, it's probably downright environmentally hostile but I'm not sure there's any other option that is practical or affordable for little farms like ours. And leftover, unusable lumber, well, I don't know where to take that other than the landfill and that's not a great solution either.

I have to admit I also find it very satisfying. A huge mess just goes away in the course of a few hours. And it's very much a fall activity to me. I grew up in rural New Mexico and I still remember Dad collecting tumbleweeds into enormous piles every year. They were very dry by the end of summer, of course, and they'd turn into a crackling bonfire in no time. He'd patiently work away with the pitchfork stacking the brush and weeds into a smaller and smaller pile until everything was gone and the fire was completely out.

The Fire Department regulates our burn season these days. It's evident that they are more concerned with fires spreading than with the environmental aspects. They wait until the fall rain has well and truly arrived before giving the go-ahead to burn. Even though the brush has been sitting all year, it's pretty soggy and needs a little convincing to start. But once it gets going and gets hot enough, even green brush will burn up pretty quickly.

We had planned to rent a woodchipper to make bark dust/wood chips to make the walkways in my flower garden (in between the boxes) but the heavy duty kind that can handle a big branch are expensive. The best is the kind that attaches the the tractor three-point but they are spendy and we just can't manage it this year. I'm hoping that this spring, we can start on it before the weeds get too far along.


  1. I enjoyed reading about the burn. My front yard is full of leaves and I remember my father burning leaves when I was young. We'll wait until the last of ours fall--there are still lots on the ash trees--then rake them all at once and put them in the compost bin, instead of burning.

  2. When I grew up, we ALWAYS had an autumn burning. TOO, TOO crazy to read and remember the smells and nostalgia of that tradition. Thanks so much for the memories.

    And, thank you, also for your sweet comment. Girl, do I know how you feel about blogging. Keep up the great work! It's worth it.

    Hugs & Happiness


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