Friday, June 10, 2011

The Firepit

Part of cleaning up a old farm property involves strategically placed burn piles.  (I say "strategic" with the most facetious air possible).  They are blights on the landscape, however, in most cases they are necessary evils when trying to clean up over-run grounds.  I would give my right arm to own a branch chipper.  Well, put like that, I might lose my right arm if I owned a branch chipper, so maybe we're better of with burn piles than machinery.

Invariably, excuses for not burning the piles stack up like the branches and twigs that fill them:  it's either too hot, or too cold, too windy, or blowing in the wrong direction, too dry to burn safely, or too wet to bother.  Creative Procrastination 101 rules here.

We've got three burn piles, and one of them was so overgrown, there were Manitoba maples growing around the edges that were starting to get a bit out of hand.  We took it to task this spring, and although we still have to scrape the remnants of the pile together with the backhoe, it's not out of control any more.  We should be able to completely eradicate it with a bit of effort by the end of the summer.  I'll breathe a sigh of relief when I see grass growing on this spot instead of weeds.
Believe me when I say nothing good can become of a pile of old bricks, a crisp, starry night and good intentions, all underwritten by wine:
That's how we came to create this lovely fire pit, unfortunately situated right when you turn into our driveway.  We strive to make good first impressions!    Driven partly by practicality, the fire pit was close enough to the house so we could keep an eye on it, yet far enough away from outbuildings to pose a fire-risk.  We always had the hose nearby, and burned only when conditions were right, which was never too often.

We had some old red bricks piled up against the wood shed, and we'd never use them to make a path, for instance, but they served admirably as the border for the fire pit.  With time, weeds encroached, and our fire pit became a blight.  The other day, I'd had enough.  It was time to bring in the front loader:
Surprisingly, I ended up with a front-loader full of bricks that Eric could dump at the municipal dump the next morning.  When Eric called me at work to tell me they no longer accept bricks, I wanted to wig-out, big-time.  The thought of having to off-load this pile of !@#$ onto a skid for tidy storage makes me cringe.  I want to get rid of this junk, not store it!  I wish our conscience could let us bury them somewhere on the far reaches of the property, but we can't do that.  So many injustices have been done to these grounds over the decades, that something like burying waste material would keep us tossing and turning at night.  We've removed tons and tons of buried concrete already, so we don't want to add to the misery.
Because we've burned a lot of old, unpainted wood in this pile, it's full of metal hinges, screws, and Eric's nemesis: the nail.  With tractor tires costing the equivalent of a mortgage payment, we like to take the extra time and pick out any nails.  An ounce of prevention, (or gram, in our case) worth a pound, (or kilo), of cure.   (One of those is a better deal, but I'll let you figure it out for yourself).

Using an old mesh screen, I started to sift the well-rotted ashes into the wheelbarrow.  Next concern was where to actually dump said wheelbarrow.  We've decided to spread it onto a small, newly plowed field on the south side of our barn.  I was hoping Eric would return with an empty front-loader, of course, because screening the ashes would be so much easier directly into the front loader, as opposed to the wheelbarrow, but that didn't pan out like we planned, did it now?

So, we've put our feelers out for someone, anyone, who'd like to come pick-up a these lovely, lovely red bricks and find a permanent vocation for them.

And the next time someone accuses us of being a few bricks short of a full load, I can prove them otherwise.


Robin said...

Oh if I lived just a tab bit closer I would so take those pricks off your hands.

We have a big area that was a burn pile. It has lots of nails and metal what nots in it that I have no idea what to do with. Your mesh screen idea sounds like what we should do with ours. I was picturing filling up garbage can after garbage can with dirt and was cringing.

Shim Farm said...

I've found the best way to deal with nails and metal is to screen everything. It's a bit labor-intensive, but it beats stepping on nails or driving over them.

I still have about 2 wheel-barrows' worth to sift through. Popina has discovered the remaining ashes make a fabulous litter box LOL! You should see her paws - priceless!

When this eyesore is finally gone, I'm gonna be so ecstatic! It's like - what the hell were we thinking? and learn. We had the right intentions...

Robin said...

Opps, I meant bricks. Sorry bout that. The funny thing about you getting rid of your fire pit is I really want one. lol. If we ever get to the back yard we had planned to put one in. I might be so old by the time we get around to it that my bed time will be eight and then I can't be bothered to sit outside in the cold so it will be pointless. hehe.

Shim Farm said...

LOL...I had a few good one-liners ready, but thought better than to use them, haha.

I know what you mean about the firepit though. One day, when we're good and ready, we're going to install one, but it will be a much gentrified version of the first. Something I can mow around so it will be infinitely tidier.

Let's just hope we're not in Depends by the time we're at that stage LOL.

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