Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fire, Fire and more Fire!


Right arm fire damage.

I just want it known that this farmer crap is not as easy as reading a book.  Nor after listening to many tall tales about how it used to be done.  I truly believe that the school of hard knocks is how most farmers learn.  What most farmers don't do is keep a blog!  An honest account of the actual things that occur on a farm.  I want it known that I have been very truthful over the years and try not to spare the reader the pretense that all is golden when working on a farm.  I try and paint a picture of the reality so that future readers can truly understand what our life entailed.  We print each years blog out as a hard cover book for our living room coffee table.  There will be no questions about what was done to the place by future generations.  They will be able to read up on all the improvements and changes. 

Today started out like any other day.  A little frost on the ground with the sun shining and a nice blue sky softened by the occasional white fluffy cloud.
Huge dent in tractor hood.



I went down to my mother-in-law's house to trim her front yard trees.  A couple of hours later and there were three nicely shaped trees.  Sarah texted me and Zeke and I went to town in the pickup for lunch with the family and friends.  Zeke had stayed in the back of the pickup the entire time I trimmed on the trees.  He never once tried to jump out.  His reward was getting to ride to town with me.  He loves riding in the back of the pickup.  While I was trimming the trees the alpacas did some fighting and running and tried to call the sheep over to them.  They make all sorts of weird noises.  I had no idea they were that vocal.  After lunch, Annmarie and I ran some errands and then Zeke and I came home.  I had told Annmarie I would clean up the horse feeder area, as the manure was getting deep.  So my trusty tractor and I cleaned out the square pen, I dumped it over the fence then got into the barn lot and cleaned out the feed stalls.  I ended up piling everything in one corner of the little horse lot.  The lot slants severely and I would like to level it.  So I am going to start stacking the manure and dirt to make a level area.  There was still daylight to burn so I decided to start burning weeds in the fence line.  I had been wanting to do it for the last month but I had been working on the kitchen.  I had a new plan of attack.  Instead of wrestling the 30 gallon tank into the back of the pickup I would use the tractor, it seemed reasonable.  I put the tank into the bucket upright and used a long chain to go around it three time and once through the top so it couldn't fall forward.  I turned the tank on and light the weed burner on the first try.  I was in business.  I burned the fence line out behind the grain bins.  It gets hot but as long as I wear a long sleeve shirt its not too bad.  The weeds are burning hot and fast and as soon as the fire hits the stubble it stops and self extinguishes.  It was perfect and there was a slight breeze away from me so I didn't even have to breathe any smoke.  I did that whole fence line and started my way on the next section of fencing.

 About half way down the fence was some old spiked wheel thing that you drag behind the large tractor to break up dirt clods.  Donna and I had just talked about selling the old tractor and big equipment today so I decided that the weeds needed to be burned so I could take a picture.  I waded into the piece of equipment and started a couple of small fires to my left then one to my right and then turned back to my left to start a couple of more.  Did I say the wind was coming from my right side?  It started to get hot with all that fire around me so I stepped away from the flames but my right arm kept getting hotter and hotter.  It took me about ten seconds to realize I was on fire!  I could not see any flames as it was just above my elbow on the back of my arm.  I tried to get my outer shirt off but my cuffs were too tight and my leather gloves would not come off.  I jumped around and
managed to get my glove and outer shirt off.  Phew, saved or so I thought, my arm was still on fire!  The inside shirt was on fire.  I had to just reach over and smash the flames out.  Once I was sure no other part of my body was on fire I went back to burning. It hurt, but I could tell it was only a second degree burn and the skin had just been burnt off.  There was some burnt hair but no blisters as the skin was all burnt off.  There was work to be done!  Annmarie came out about five minutes later asking me to be done with the burning.  I really wanted to get down the driveway and had just gotten to the next corner of the fence.  After a short discussion  we went over and fed the alpacas and got to touch two different ones.  I went back to complete some more burning.  I was going to have to go over a large hill so I lifted the bucket with my propane tank high into the air.  The damn thing leaped out of the bucket backwards and smashed down onto the hood of my tractor!  It was awful.  I instantly killed the tractor engine assuming the radiator had just gotten smashed in.  I lifted the tractor hood and there was no engine contact just a huge dent.  I chained that bad boy back to the bucket with an extra loop under the bucket securing the tank from the bottom so it could not fall off in any direction.  I sure wish I had thought of that sooner. I fired that tractor back up and proceeded to continue burning!  Later, a hammer will fix that dent.  I made it all the way to the end of the driveway before it started to get dark.  I have the last ten feet of fence and the cattle guard to burn and I will be done.  I then went and fed all the rest of the animals and gave the horses some fresh straw in their stalls.  The chickens are really starting to lay eggs so spring time must be near. 
The worse part of this day was I considered downplaying the dent in the tractor hood but Annmarie witnessed it! 

I do have a few takeaways from this day.  Natural fibers are my friend!  NO more synthetic crap, I will only be wearing cotton and wool to work around the farm.  Wool would not have burned like that.  Always attach everything inside the tractor bucket from all directions.  The alpaca are tamer than we expected them to be.  On a plus side, I destroyed no fence today and my arm will be healed by the end of the week.  I will say that Annmarie did have to run into the bathroom and ask if there was anything wrong while I was showering.  I debrided the burn with a washcloth and some soap until I had all the burned hair and skin removed.  It did not feel good, after a few minutes it just got numb from too much stimulation, or else I just got numb to the pain.  I let a few good choice words cleaning up.  All is well and hopefully I can finish the burning this week and be done till early winter.