Burn Baby Burn
April 10, 2015
Since the beginning of March I’ve worked full-time on my ‘Burn Project’, burning slash piles left from a crew that came last summer to clear brush, limb trees and cut down overcrowded trees on my ‘back acre’.
Taking advantage of DNR’s ‘Fuel Reduction’ program, I have 2 years from the time my application was approved last May to finish. The first few months I spent just trying to get someone to come up here to clear brush, a daunting task that no one on the entire first page of contractors was willing to do. But that’s another story…
Columbia Tree Service came up last summer with a 5 man crew and spent 3 days limbing, cutting, and clearing. They were fabulous. To keep my costs down I decided to burn the slash piles myself, having absolutely NO IDEA just how much work would be involved. At first it was overwhelming and I began to doubt my sanity.
The first thing I did was stack up all the firewood they cut for me. I started at the bottom of my property and carried each log up my hill as far as I could carry it. I stacked it next to a tree to get it out of the way and keep it visible and stable until I can carry it up to my house.
I repeated that effort in each section, carrying firewood uphill until I couldn’t carry it another step and found a tree to stack it next to.
This task took several months from last fall to early winter. Then I was ready to start burning the piles of slash as they’re called.
Or I should say ‘almost’ ready. Many of the piles had potential firewood left in them!
Some of the firewood was simply too big for me to move (or so I thought at the time), and left too close to the piles I needed to burn.
At the beginning of March, the local DNR rep came by to check my progress.
He showed me various ways to light and then control my fires and even came back a few times to help me. With his help I managed to get the first section next to the house burned.
For each pile of slash I burned, I pulled out every branch, placing it into a new open spot and rescued larger limbs for firewood, then tentatively lit the pile. I managed to roll the big rounds out of the way and became quite brave at igniting fires using a gasoline soaked rag.
As I worked, a friend offered to come up with her husband and a chainsaw! Holly helped me stack and burn while her husband Rick tackled that giant log. I realized the phrase ‘Thank You’ is inadequate for how grateful I felt.
Just yesterday I noticed a Trillium blooming in the burned area that was so overgrown last year I didn’t know I had anything except overgrown brush and blackberries on this part of my property!
Rick and Holly came to help again, as well as my friend Kathy and a new friend, Annette.
Together we stacked 6 or 8 new piles ready for me to burn, stacked more firewood and chopped up more big rounds into manageable pieces.
We’re expecting an early burn ban this year, so I’m focused on getting all the slash piles burned, then I’ll saw all the rescued limbs into stove size pieces with my cute little ‘girlie’ chainsaw that I bought.
Finally I’ll finish carrying all my hard-won firewood up to the house. I’m thinking I’m about halfway done with burning.
The remaining piles that I have to go through are mostly at the bottom of my property, on a steeper incline and harder to reach.
I counted a few days ago and had almost 40 slash piles left to burn.
Today I burned 2 piles and moved 3 additional piles into the fire. It feels pretty good to have another cleared area.
While my fire burns out I stack more firewood, prune off branches from rescued firewood and clip back brush already starting to grow again.
Neighborhood deer come by to watch my progress from time to time. Today I grabbed my camera.
This Pileated Woodpecker that I’m hoping takes up residence checked out my trees on Easter Sunday! Usually I see him in the forest below my property.
My beautiful girl Treasure runs along her backyard fence guarding me as I walk back and forth carrying brush to my burning pile. After awhile she lays down in the corner where she can watch in all directions and waits for me to come in and throw her a frisbee.
Initially overwhelmed, the first month was cathartic and I now feel a great sense of accomplishment. I’m hoping (and feeling confident) I can get all the burning done before a burn ban goes into effect, then spend the summer cutting and hauling my firewood.