Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Burn Notice

So, we had a bonfire going for five days. For five days, we spent hours yanking tree trunks, root balls, brush and trash out of that damn pile and tossing them into the fire. And for five days we went to bed groaning about how every joint in our bodies ached.

But by Day Five, you really could tell we were making a dent in our Pile of Shame.  That's the pile in the background. We now have a new pile there in front, of all the trash that had been piled up inside the brush pile. We'll be making a trip to the dump/recycling center soon to get rid of it all. (We've triiiiiied to get that blue tarp out in the brush pile, but it's buried under a mound of dirt -- maybe on Day 6 or 7...)

We've encountered no snakes so far, thankfully, though we rousted a bunny from its winter quarters. Mason singed his hair pretty good while feeding the fire (thereby staving off the need for a haircut anytime soon), and slightly burned a wrist, but that's what he gets for being a pyro.

We predict it will take another five full burn days to get through the rest of the pile. But today we woke up to rain and wind, so we luckily get a day off. Instead, we're brewing up a fresh batch of beer. Sweet rewards for work well done.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Our Pile of Shame

When we moved into our cabin in the woods (more than two years ago!), near the top of our to-do list was to burn off the shameful heap of brush that was piled up in the "back yard." Since then, I've been careful when taking photos, trying not to show the ugly pile. At one point during our first summer here, Mason pulled out non-organic items that had been thrown in the pile -- roofing material, metal cabinets, all sorts of crap. The original owner of this cabin treated his back yard like a personal landfill. It's shameful.

So, since spring's rains are soon upon us -- and because our busted chainsaw has kept us from cutting down the last two massive trees in the way of our solar project -- today we finally launched into the massive Brush Pile Burn Project. We started about 1 p.m. and burned, burned, burned 'til about 7 p.m. Hardly made a dent in the pile.

It's slow-going, mostly because snakes love brush piles, and we don't love snakes. So you kinda have to bang around a bit before you dare stick your hand into the mangled pile. I wanted Mason to just riddle the pile with bullets before we started, but surprisingly, he didn't go for the idea.

It's also slow-going because Nervous Nelly Nan refuses to let the fire get too big, for fear of setting the whole damn mountain ablaze.

So, for the next month, when you're wondering what we've been up to, this is it. Walk to brush pile, look for snakes, yank something off, walk to fire, repeat.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Now What Are They Doing?

NOW what are they doing? I know that's what y'all are thinking. And it's the same answer we've been giving for months: Taking down trees to get ready for solar panels. Have we mentioned we have just a few trees up here?

The cluster Mason is working on above was the smallest of the day's harvest of five. The biggest was a 75-foot-tall oak, and made an unbelievable "THUD" as it came crashing down. Last week when we spent all day on this same chore, we couldn't move the next day, so keep your expectations low for productivity tomorrow.

If you squint your eyes and look closely, you'll see a pile of dirt about halfway back toward the shed in that photo.  A few days ago I started digging out what will soon be our backyard "tiki bar" patio area. That's where the new adirondack chairs will go. (Yup, we built a second one. We've been on a productive streak lately.)  Stay tuned for more progress on that patio project.

As for all the tree removal ... I'm consumed with guilt every time we bring down a healthy one. I avert my eyes from all the little buds that were just waiting to burst open in the coming weeks, but we WILL need lots more seasoned firewood by next fall. But to make matters worse, today I accidentally killed a fine-lookin' toad who had been hibernating under the dirt at the foot of one tree. I was clearing the dirt away with a sharp shovel so we could yank up the tree's root ball because I'm planning a veggie garden in the soon-to-be sunny patch. Yup, that's ANOTHER project on the calendar ... but it's not scheduled until spring 2014, so cool your jets on that one.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Minnesota Memories

Woke up this morning at sunrise to see gorgeous pink and gold clouds and the sun beaming through our trees. Then slept for a few more hours and woke to a sky full of snowflakes! Only about an inch fell, but it was lovely. And even lovelier because it will be gone by tomorrow.