Moon Dog Farms

Certified Naturally Grown family farm growing fruits, vegetables & flowers in the Texas Gulf Coast

MoonDog Farms is dedicated to stewardship of the land, reinforcing a healthy community and producing great food.  

Burn, Baby, Burn. (In a controlled and manageable manner, please.)

Imagine building a  fire.

Ceaseless waves of heat on your face, the constant hop-between as you flirt with getting close and being-too-close. The small crackle as you coax it to life gives away once it grows large enough to gulp air and stretch out its orange limbs comfortably. It licks around sticks and logs with the ease of slipping into a silk nightie.

 Fire, with its living energy and unmatched kinetic and potential power is a lot like watching a bear in the wild. Enthralling. Exquisite. So. Damn. Scary.

Fascination with fire has been around nearly as long as all our other ancient primal footprints. From Boy scouts stick-poking their campfires to centuries of slash-and-burn in Brazil, the power of fire is a force to be reckoned with.

That is, unless you've got a 15 ft X 10ft pile of brush surrounded by acres of hay fields and old barns. Then you not only reckon with that fire, you fear it tremendously.  

This little friend enjoys the soon-to-be bonfire.

This little friend enjoys the soon-to-be bonfire.

Honestly, we probably would've put this particular task off, if it wasn't for a few important reasons. That tower of sticks was made up of many diseased branches from sick trees in the orchard, and the best way to rid ourselves of the pathogens is through burning. Also, it had become painfully apparent that the burn pile was the spot our renegade bunnies called home. The rabbits keep eating new plant growth. In a week, we'll be transplanting hundreds of baby fall crops into the fields. Sweet, succulent little salad bars. 

The brush pile had to go. 

And so, model students that we are, we tried to prepare. I bought the burn permit, had a private study-session with the Fire Marshal, planned to burn the day after a heavy rain, prepared multiple buckets, hoses, buffer zones, and more.  Alex scorched a huge circle into the grass ringing the pile and laid out multiple metal panels in hopes of choking off any spreading. I asked our neighbors for advice, and here's what they said:

" Pour some diesel on it. Burn against the wind. Try not to let the hay bales catch...if they do, they'll burn and burn. And burn." 

McFarmer tends the flames.

McFarmer tends the flames.

I won't lie and say this advice didn't leave me a bit wanting.  Never before had our City Mouse tendencies shone through with such wimpy anxiety; it's not that we didn't trust our neighbors, for they clearly know far more about these things than we do. They've burned hundreds of pounds of brush in their lifetimes, and don't chew their through tails each time. 

It's just that Alex and I couldn't help but look over at the neighboring fields at the artfully stacked bales of hay and visualize the grim scene wherein we toss our flailing, anxious bodies atop haybales ablaze like useless, sobbing blankets. 

Found this praying mantis hanging perilously close to burning twigs. Don't worry, we ferried him to safety.

However, I bet you can guess how turned out. Considering I'm un-charred and able to document the whole day, you're right in assuming it went off without a hitch.  

In fact, it was fun. It couldn't have gone better.

McMomma soaked but happy!

McMomma soaked but happy!

Of course, we had some help (remember what dithering ninnies we are?), but at the end of 3 hours in a steady rain it was done. Alex's parents, aunt and uncle and the two of us had safely and successfully flattened the bunny hotel.  No loss of limb, no familial relationships or neighboring infrastructure destroyed. No flailing bodies.   I believe I did detect a smirk in the voice of the operator when I made the requisite call to the Police Department reporting the start of our burn.  It was currently pouring when I dialed. "You're going to start a fire now? "   Joke's on her; we were thrilled to burn in the rain and it made the donuts and coffee feel all the more justified.

Now we can rest a little bit easier when we transplant our broccolis and kales next week.  Inevitably, something will arise to worry us, but at least in the meantime we can cross "Learn to Burn A Brush Pile Without Being A Total Spaz" off the list.