Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Burn, Baby, Burn

Every spring, we try to burn off our pasture/hay field.  I'm not sure what you're "supposed" to do when it comes to burning grassland - I know a lot of farmers/ranchers don't do it every year (but then again they actually work, whereas we just play) - but we like how it looks when it's all burned off and even, and then how lush and green it looks when all the new growth comes up.
It's been dry the last several months.  In fact, the last substantial rain we had was when we wrecked our truck - which was in the middle of December.  Paul wanted to burn last weekend, but when he called in (we have to have "burn permits" in our county), they told him there was a burn ban.
Today (and every day this week so far) was GORGEOUS.  Perfect spring day.  Nearly 70 degrees, no wind, bright, bright sunshine.  I could live with this weather year-round.  After Nathan got done with school, we went outside and just soaked up the vitamin D.  Paul worked last night, so he was asleep.  As I sat at the picnic table, watching the boys play and [attempting] balancing the checkbook, we heard sirens on the blacktop a mile away, and the boys asked what it was.  Since we live near the rural fire department, I assumed it was a fire truck.  A quick scan of the horizon confirmed my suspicion..... A column of smoke to the east.
Out of curiosity, I went in and called the dispatch office.  "We were wanting to get a pasture burned off soon, but I'm guessing there's a burn ban......"
"Actually, there's not.  I just need your permit number......"
After I put Jacob down for his nap, I went and attempted to wake up Paul.  "There's no burn ban.  It's supposed to start raining tomorrow night.  Justin [good friend and fellow fire-a-holic] is on standby."  He groaned and said, "It's too late in the day," and pretty much pushed me off the bed and rolled over.
I shrugged and went back outside and Nathan and I pruned a few trees.  (I made the executive decision that Nathan needed to be outside in the sunshine, running around, more than he needed a nap.  He's had an epic case of the ants-in-pants, bouncing-off-the-walls wiggles the last week.)  He went inside to get a drink and came back out and hollered, "Daddy waked up!"  I looked up to see Paul stumbling out of the house, boots on, and lighter in hand.  I yelled from the other side of the yard, "I thought you said it was too late!"  He yelled back, "I thought it was 4, and I'd only have an hour and a half of daylight.  Plus, I couldn't get back to sleep since you woke me up!"
Did I mention it's been really dry?  Some parts of our pasture burned better than they ever have since we moved in.  (The parts that don't get mowed for hay get tall, stalky weeds that don't burn well.)  But since it was really dry, the grass on the ground went up really well, and that made those tall weeds burn pretty good.
So well, in fact, that we caught our shed on fire.
In the years we've been burning, we never could get the weeds to burn on the north side of that shed.  They're the stalky ones that don't burn, plus it's kind of a low spot there that's usually wet, so it's just never burned well.  Well, it did this time!  And the shed caught on fire.  It caught the support posts on fire, then came inside and caught the rafters on fire.  Since it's covered in tin, we were having to spray water on the inside, then go around and spray water on the support posts on the back.  Then we'd notice smoke rolling out from under the tin, and have to go back around and spray on the inside.  After Paul got out the major flames, Nathan and I (you know, the pregnant one and the 4-year-old) put out the building, while Paul and Justin went back to spreading the fire over the rest of the pasture.  It really wasn't that hard, just a lot of dragging the hose around.  Nathan felt very important, playing fireman - looking for anything that was smoking, and spraying the hose on the smouldering wood.
I had never really paid attention to the construction of that shed.  (In fact, I didn't even know it was there until after we signed on the offer to the house.  It was hidden behind some majorly tall weeds.)  I got a really good look at it today, and I'm pretty sure it's at least partially constructed out of previously-used, half-rotted lumber - probably from the large barn that used to stand on our property.  I know all of the tin siding is re-used.... You can see the nail holes from the previous construction.  After observing how water runs off the roof - into the interior - I see it's not doing much for protection from the weather.  It was really not worth saving, it's in such bad shape.  Had it not been for the stuff we store in there (some fencing and some used-but-still-useable lumber), we should have just let it go.
So now on our list of "we need this but can't really afford it" is building another shed, or a lean-to onto our current shop.  It probably doesn't cost as much as I think it would (especially since Paul could do a lot of the work himself), but when you're practically hearing sucking sounds coming from your bank account, anything seems an astronomical amount.
We'll just see what God has in plan for us.
OCD when it comes to burning, though, and I want every. square. inch. burned off.  I'm the one taking the lighter to the little clumps of grass that grow around the fenceposts and trees, and throwing matches on those isolated clumps of grass that the fire doesn't spread to.
Anyhow.  Enough about today's adventure (which I'm sure excites only me).  Paul is playing XBox online with a friend, and I'm now tired enough (the caffeine and adrenaline wore off) that I'm going to kick him off and make him go to bed.  Since I woke him up against his will this afternoon, he's only gotten 3 hours of sleep since yesterday.
PS - Doctor's appointment this morning.  29 weeks, everything looks great.  Only 11 more to go!  They say I gained 10 pounds this month, which I dispute, but have no way to prove.  I'm pretty sure I passed "X amount" last checkup, because I was frustrated that I'd crossed that threshold (don't want to say the actual number and be judged - people hear a number and choke, forgetting the fact I'm 6 feet tall).  But that's not what she wrote down, so I'll just go with it and try to avoid the PMSing elephant diet I've been on lately.


Rachel said...

Sorry, Carlsie. No pics. I was a little preoccupied with the water hose.

Doug or Janice Rhodes said...

I remember a fire getting away from us when I was pregnant with Paul....
And another one when I had put him down for a nap. The fire had been definitely put out and Doug went to work. An hour later the whole back 40 was ablaze...... Some roots carried it away!!!!!!!!!!! Then of course the event this fall/winter when 2 weeks later I found a blaze!!!!!!!!! Fire does what it wants!!!!! Glad you are all ok.
I can see Nathan helping.....