April 1, 2009 at 10:50 am (Outside) ()

When we were kids, one of our favorite things to do at Grandma’s at Easter was burn the grass.  The spring ritual in the country was always fun for all the cousins.  The whole family would pick on Grandma all day about having to call the fire department (it has happened before…) and after our Easter Egg hunt (usually pretty violent) we  would burn off the dead grasses around Grandma’s property (any abandoned Easter treats were therefore melted…) 

In the 4 Springs we have been on our land, we never have had a “good” burn.  Typically it is a little spotty, and takes forever, and we have to help it along quite a bit.  My sister always gets mad at me for not telling her that we are burning so she can come join us. 

This year, about 3 weeks ago, we were working in the yard on one of the first beautiful Sundays.  Peter was pruning trees and raking gravel from the plow.  I was picking up sticks from the stupid Poplar trees, and Buck was guarding for muskrats.  We decided that since it had been so wet out and was such a beautiful day, that we would burn the woody planting and pond edge.  I finished up my sticks and ran up to the clothesline to take down the sheets.  I only got half of them down when I decided I would go close the house windows first to keep it from smelling like smoke. since the wind was blowing that direction.

I was inside a minute, and came out to finish the laundry and call my sister to see if she wanted to take a drive and come burn.  When I exited the garage I realized the wind had shifted when I saw flames on the other side of the fenceline…in the abandonded property next to ours, that hadn’t been mowed in 3 years.  And while the ground was still wet from all the rain, the grasses were dry dry dry and nothing green was yet growing that early in March.  So essentially we were screwed.

I ran to look for our metal rakes while Peter assessed the situation with the shovel.  I couldn’t find them, so had to run back and find Peter, who had them in the way back yard from cleaning up the flood damage.  So I fetched the metal rakes and went across the fence with Peter to try to rake some fire lines to stop the rush.  Our main goal was to try to keep it from burning the upper pasture all the way to the shed.  Thankfully it wasn’t a barn…

The wind was strong and the fire moving a LOT faster than we expected.  Peter went and hooked all our hoses together and drug them and two small buckets to the pasture.  Thankfully the hydrant had thawed just in time.  For the next few hours we ran bucket brigade from the hose to the fire line.  As we were dealing with trying to stop the fire from getting the abandoned buildings, we were sure that the waterway at the bottom of the property would keep the fire from spreading too much further the opposite direction. 

Not so much.  Our entire woody planting was burned (quite well) as well as both sides of the pond.  Once we had the fire stopped so the shed was safe, and I was able to keep the lawn basically under control, Peter went to the other side of the pond to try to stop the fire, as we were having visions of the fire going all the way down the waterway to the next road.  I was doing fine, and even getting a little rest, until the fire got to the south line of the abandoned yard.  The grass was too dry and the wind too strong, fire too large, for me to keep it from getting the yard.  Not a huge deal, except for all the dried grass around the house.  Thankfully Peter was on his way back to help me, having gotten his end under control.

Peter was going to try to break in to the house to get water, but some potential buyers had been there earlier and left a patio door open.  My quick thinking husband turned the electricity on, filled the pressure tank, and got us water to stop the fire.  To our advantage, the finished basement was a walkout, and had tile rather than carpet.  20 more bucket trips and we had it pretty much under control.  We cleaned up the basement, locked the doors and went back to check any smoldering piles. 

Our jeans were completely soaked and black, our boots singed.  There were several times I had to stick my rubber wellies in the buckets to cool them off after attempting to stomp out the fire.  I had tons of slivers and thistle pricks in my hands, and the biggest blisters ever on my ankles from the combination of splashing water, wellies, and running.  Amazingly enough, I never had an asthma attack the entire time, even through all the smoke and running.  Hello adrenaline, you are my friend!

As far as we can tell, we will only lose the pussywillow, a black cherry tree and a weigela (all babies).  Otherwise, the property actually looks better than it has since we have lived here.  We should charge for removal of noxious weeds! 

We started the fire at 2:30, and stripped off our wet, smoky, sooty clothes in the garage at 6:30.  We could hardly walk, move, talk or think.  I was sore in areas I didn’t know existed.  On Monday, my boogers were black. 

Burning Brush... by you.


Burning Brush... by you.

Skipping Paths


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