Burn Pile a Necessity in the Country

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We have a burn pile at the new place out in the country, left by the previous owner. Actually, we have two burn piles, which is one more than necessary. I mowed a tight circle around the grass at the burn pile closest to the shop’s outside spigot, then thoroughly watered that grass so the burn pile would not turn into a raging grass fire. I don’t really want to get acquainted in that manner with the volunteer fire department. Actually, I haven’t figured out who provides fire service out here north of town. Probably need to do that.

I was burning boxes not fit to save for another move. No, we’re not moving. We have barely unpacked and survived this move. But at some point, daughter Abbie will be moving and will need boxes. So I broke down and saved the decent boxes in the shop and piled the others up to burn. I used the tractor’s bucket to crush the boxes, and then piled up several scoops of lawn clippings. A few squirts of charcoal lighter fluid and, shazam, I had a roaring fire going on this 98-degree day.

Did I mention we now own a tractor in addition to the 54-inch zero turn mower mentioned in the last piece? We found a medium-sized 2018 Mahindra that had been repossessed, got a fair price, and took delivery last Friday. It has a bucket as mentioned, a rotary cutter (bushhog) and a box blade. Living on 57 acres requires toys. As a friend said on learning about the recent acquisitions, “Toys are fun!”

The way I see it, it’s a far better investment than throwing hundred-dollar bills into a swimming pool, which we did for the past nine years. The tractor is the perfect size for our needs. I spent several hours bushhogging out back, working to reclaim this place from Mother Nature, who has had free rein for several years. Between mowing and bushhogging, I logged about 10 hours outside last Saturday, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, new Red Wing boots and a sombrero. I’m catching on how to protect myself from the sun and snakes. My legs are still peeling from the major sunburn of the inaugural mowing weekend. The fact you never see a landscaping crew mowing yards wearing shorts and T-shirts should have been my first clue.

One bummer is that there is no practical way to recycle while living out here, a few miles from the Longview city limits. We have weekly trash pickup, but everything goes into the can. I can’t even take it to the city’s compost yard since we’re not city residents. It pains my progressive soul. Burning the boxes and yard clippings did appeal to my pyromaniac bent.

Back to the two burn piles. One of the most-common mistakes folks make is thinking everything will burn. Here’s a short and incomplete list of things that do not burn and thus accumulate in the burn pile: glass, metal, PVC, rubber hoses and belts. They just turn black and unsightly. I will have to figure out a way to safely — and legally — dispose of the detritus left in the two burn piles, which I will combine into one using Little Red, as I have dubbed the tractor. Big Red, our 1965 Ford F100, performed yeoman’s work during this move and gets daily use hauling stuff down to the shop. The shop is red as well. Apparently, that is going to be our motif. I’m not sure I have had a motif before.

Little Red got lots of use last weekend, moving my Beautiful Mystery Companion’s heavy potted plants to their latest location. In the old pre-tractor days, this work was done with a dolly and my muscles. With a bucket, it was easy to tip them into it, take them to the desired spot, and roll them out. We ran a hose from the well house (not for drinking) a couple of hundred feet along the backyard fence to water all the plants strategically placed by my BMC. The water was cold and clear. I happily doused my face in it, resisting the temptation to take a few gulps from the hose until I get the water tested.

Maybe I willhook up a sprinkler to the well hose to dash through after a hot day of mowing. It’s sure cheaper than a swimming pool.

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