Sunday, January 15, 2012

Burning lessons, snow or rain only now.

I would like to start this entry by saying that I have been very ill recently.  Annmarie brought the plague home and despite my germ precautions (no kissing or swapping of spit allowed during ill periods) I still managed to catch it.  After the first two days in bed I was feeling like a slug but realized I was still too sick to do anything super constructive.  I decided that I needed to burn some weeds.  So on Thursday I drug myself outside, loaded the large propane tank into the back of the pickup and went to town and got it filled.  Day completed.
On Friday, early afternoon, I went out and got the burn nozzle attached to the tank, took the puppy and we went out to the cattle guard.  I had a hard time lighting the torch and it didn't want to stay lit.  The puppy took one look at the large column of flame shooting out the torch and ran away 40 feet to watch.  He watched for about five minutes and then ran home to hang out on the porch.  I ended up just following a fire along the fence line, but it was really slow going, the torch just would not light.  So, I drove to the machine shop to look for something to clean out the nozzle.  I bumped into the barn owl, but by the time I walked to the house and got the camera, the owl was gone.  I cleaned out a ton of carbon from the nozzle and after reassembly it worked great.  The burning was going on!!  I got half of our fence line burned.  There was some encroaching into the barn lot by the flames.  Not a big deal since the barn lot is just full of dead grass.

Unfortunately, I had one railroad tie on the back corner catch on fire.  I dumped 12 oz of gatorade on it, but that didn't put it out.  I peed on the post, but still needed more water.  I walked over to the spring and filled it with 16 oz of water and doused the flames.  I am happy.  I put out the fire in the barn lot.  About this time Annmarie comes home and lets me know that the sheep shit pile next to the fence line is burning in a few places.  I tell her it will be just fine.  No go.  I end up going to the front creek with 3 gallon buckets multiple times to put out the few hot spots.  Annmarie fed everyone while I was dousing the smoking spots.  We go inside reeking of smoke.  Of course, the puppy, Zeke smells like smoke as he has been running around helping Annmarie feed.  I am told he needs a bath when we go inside the house.  So I wait until Annmarie has had her shower and get into the shower, naked with the puppy in my arms.  Yes, I do work in an emergency room, I realize that real accidents happen when  people don't fully think their decisions through.  The shower was already going and the puppy kinda freaked out when the water hit him in the face.  He tried to scrabble away.  Unfortunately, he has grown significantly and needed his toenails trimmed desperately.  I sustained a near fatal injury to my nether regions.  It required some bacitracin, a bandaid, and some coitus rest.  Not exactly a thinking moment.  I still cleaned the dog and finished the double shower (had to get the smoke smell out of my pores).  I am exhausted.  Too much activity and trauma for the day on top of the illness.

Annmarie looks out our front window and there is a six foot tall column of flames out in the barn lot.  It looks like our old chicken coop is on fire.  I cannot figure out how that could be as I was not within fourty feet of that building with any flame.  So I jump into a pair of slippers, grab a single five gallon bucket and leap into the pickup.  We are at least a 20 minute response time for the fire department on a good day.  I get out there and two of my railroad ties that are connected are on fire.  I have to make multiple trips to the spring, getting my slippers stuck in the mud to get the fire out.  I run water over the top of the posts until there is no more hissing sound.  Annmarie had walked out to "help" (supervise), and she noticed another corner post on fire.  Gatorade and urine had not put the fire out.  So I had to dump a few bucketfuls on my initial railroad tie.  It is freezing cold and I don't have a jacket on.  We go back into the house.  I change clothes again and just sit.  My whole body aches.  We eat dinner.

Annmarie looks out and the stupid double post is on fire again!  I tell her it is because the posts are connected and the heat is trapped between the two.  So I had to go get some fencing pliers and cut apart the posts and dump 15 gallons of water on them, I also grabbed two more five gallon buckets and filled them at the creek and placed them in the pickup and drove right to the posts.  Annmarie had gone down to her mother's house for something.  I go back in the house and change clothes again.  At this point I just want to collapse, but paranoia has set in.  It might be relevant to know that just before Annmarie left for work Friday morning she told me not to burn.  Hey, I thought it would be quick and the results are incredibly obvious and gratifying.

I am watching some TV when Annmarie comes home to tell me that the whole fence line where the sheep shit pile (from the barn) is touching the fence is smoking and on fire.  I am damn tired of lugging water now.  So I go out to the wood shed and grab 250 feet of garden hose.  We drag it out to the fire, attach all the hoses and I turn it on, NO WATER.  At this point it just becomes painful, Annmarie asks me if the hoses got drained before we hung them up.  Because if they are full of ice we cannot use them in the winter.  They did not get drained.  I had to pack another 30 gallons of water up from the front creek until all areas quit sizzling.   We did not get to bed until almost 2300.  At some point, I should start listening to my wife.

The next morning she informs me that I will have to replace at least four separate railroad ties that have been burned out.  The new rule at our house is no burning unless it is raining or there is snow on the ground.  I will no longer be using any railroad ties for fencing.  The extra expense to buy treated round wood posts (fairly impervious to flame) is worth every penny.  I still need to go out and roll the hoses back up.  I ended up taking most of Saturday just laying around and folding laundry (the question was asked why I didn't do that on Friday) and resting.    Nothing is ever easy...