Click on the image for more information.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Brush Burning & Books

I've decided to go on a reading vacation. Okay, I've been forced to go on a reading vacation.

Last week, we burned the brush pile. Easy job, don't you think? All I had to do was light it and watch the fire lick its way to the ground. Any normal person would sit back with a cold drink and a water hose and bask in the glow of roasting coals.

Oh children of innocence! Have you forgotten how obsessive-compulsive I am? I couldn't just sit and watch fire. Nooooo. I had to add to it. Feed it. Groom it to fiery magnificence.

Oy! I did a fine job mangling the working parts I had left.

Even someone as pigheaded as I am realized I needed to give the old body a few days of rest. For the next few days I am going to dive into my TBR pile of books.

Rather than go in order, I pulled out three books that were HIGHLY recommended by people I trust.

The first one is a pirate story. I finished it a few minutes ago and while competently written, it's as dry and unoriginal as plain toast. Perhaps the thing that annoyed me the most was that the heroine suffered from TSTL (too stupid to live) syndrome. I love impetuous heroines, nutty heroines and feisty heroines, but acting like a spoiled five-year-old on a shipload of pirates is not good story logic.

The person who recommended this book loves this author. What the heck is she seeing that I'm not?

Oh well. At least the reading break is giving my body a chance to rest. With any luck, the next book will be better.


And since this is a homesteading post, here are some pics and tips for creating your very own burn pile.

This is what remains of a huge stump 24 hours later.

• Make sure your city, town or county allows open burning. I live in an unicorporated area so regulations are few and far between.

• Build your pile in an open area, far from your house, barn and favorite trees --just in case.

• Pack light and intersperse with heavy timber. We like to layer a big pile of branches, cut into manageable sizes, and then toss heavy logs on top of them to weigh it down. Reap and repeat.

• Let it sit. Once you stack it, it might look overwhelmingly tall. Don't worry. Let it sit for a week or so and the heavy logs will slowly compress the pile. Remember too, that the brush is drying. As it loses moisture, it will pack down on its own too.

• Speaking of drying. Once you cut down a tree or limb it for burning, give it time to dry out. If you burn it while it's still green, you'll be out there all day and will have to use a great deal of fuel to get it going. Depending on the thickness of your brush, it may need two to four weeks of drying. More if you live in a rainy area.

• If you let everything dry naturally, you should be able to light the pile with nothing more than a match.

• Burn on a windless day. (I'm sure that's self explanatory.)

• Make a nest of kindling. Use small twigs, leaves and my secret ingredient: dryer lint. Dryer lint is the best fire starter in the world.

• Before you light the fire make sure your hose is rolled out and tested. Do NOT start a fire until your water source is confirmed. A tall dense pile can shoot flames twelve feet high. It'll calm down in a few minutes, but the first rush of flame will be intense.

• Don't leave your fire unattended.

• Have a chair, a primed hose, a hard garden rake, leather gloves, and plenty of water for your body. You need to stay hydrated.

• As the fire winds down, regroup and redraw your perimeter. You want to create as tight a burn area as you can.

• When the fire is out and you find yourself covered in soot and blisters, shower. Twice. It's hard to get that smoke smell off of you.

One last tip:

When the ashes are completely cold, don't forget to scoop them up and throw them in your compost bin.

That's the circle of life.

Copyright © 2009 Maria Zannini --

For more posts on homesteading and permaculture go here.


catie james said...

Dagnabbit Maria, I'm gonna spend the rest of the day with that Elton John song looping through my head thanks to your parting line. :) Glad your "burn" went well. Take it easy.

Maria Zannini said...

ROTFL! Then I guess my job is done. :o)