A lot of our outside work this work has involved clearing areas of general overgrowth. Some of this is stuff we’ll do every year, some is recovery from the long-term landscaping neglect we bought in to. In any case, this work has left us with a pretty large volume of sticks and brush. We were first going to chip it, but realized that would involve standing in front of our little chipper for days. Then we thought we’d hire someone with a real chipper to come do it, but figured we’d need a lot more input material before that would make sense.
Amy has had a longtime mortal fear of fire. Not like the sort of reasonable respect for fire that everybody who isn’t a crazy pyromaniac has, but a stuff-of-nightmares, emotionally driven terror of fire. So I was quite surprised when, a few weeks ago, she suggested that fire was the sensible answer to our brush pile. I didn’t disagree, but that’s the sort of thing that I’d never have imagined suggesting.
While I was brush-mowing last weekend, she pulled about forty-two zillion trailer loads of dry brush we’d set aside earlier in the year into a mowed-out spot in the pasture.
We burned the first pile this past Saturday (the second isn’t fully dry). While it would have been nice to have had more rain recently, there was almost no wind. We mowed a much larger buffer around the pile, and soaked the ground around it for some time. A bunch of 5 gallon buckets were pre-filled and located around the pile, just in case.
In lieu of lighter fluid, we used last year’s christmas tree, which was nestled at the bottom of the pile. A homemade fire-starter (dryer lint in an empty TP roll) on a stick got it lit, and things happened pretty quickly after that:
And then they went really quickly:
The vast majority of that brush pile, which probably started out as about a 7′ high 12′ diameter circle, burned in under 10 minutes. Flames got easily 15′ in the air, and the heat was palpable from 20 feet away.
We continued watering the perimeter while it burned down, and pushed the remaining bits together so they’d keep burning. Everything stayed very well under control throughout, and the kids thought it was cool.