Thursday, March 26, 2020


In the west, which is generally brown, the challenge is to get things to grow.  In the east, generally green, the challenge is getting things to stop growing.

We moved to a property that has not been cultivated for pasture or animals in decades.  Aside from the dead end access road through the middle of the south part of our property, the brush is so thick that we have to bush wack our way through the areas we want to explore.

Shortly after moving here, our neighbors, the Tuckers, suggested one solution: BURN IT.
No, no, no, no, no.
Fire Bad!

As time has passed, I have warmed up to the idea of burning our property.  We witnessed the Tuckers burn part of their land.  We even saw it up close.  So this winter we were eagerly ready to give it a try, but only with their help.

I decided to reclaim the path along a fence line.  We can use this as an access path, to assess our fence line, and as a firebreak.  We cut, clipped, sawed, and hacked our way through to make a loop, connecting to the access road.  We estimate the loop is about 6 acres.




OK, let's burn it!

The conditions were never just right:  dry, a few days of no rain, low humidity, low wind.

A couple of weeks ago buds began to emerge on our trees.  The thorny bushes were waking up too.  But.... the weather forecast was 5 days with no rain.  It was our last chance of the season.

We were ready and the Tuckers took pity on us city folk and showed us how it is done.

The Tuckers had already started burning when got there. 

The first thing to do is to create a fire break.  Mr. Tucker has an awesome blower and he made a clear path to keep the fire from continuing to burn the leaves and jumping across the path we had cleared.

Then you start the fire at or near the line.  If you start it on the side of the direction the wind is blowing, you can monitor the line while it burns back slowly.

As you make your way around to the other side, if the wind kicks up and/or the fire rapidly burns, it will burn to meet up with the fire you already set and it is much less likely to jump the fire break.

We started at the SW side of our property and headed north around the loop.

There is an art to starting and spreading:

We worked into the dark.

"Ok kids, have fun, just don't set each other on fire."

It was a long evening of work.  Fun and exciting at the same time.  Some picked up spreading and setting fire easily.  Me.... not so much.
Once the sun went down and the humidity increased, we had a difficult time getting the brush to burn.  But it was counted as a successful first burn.

DAY 2:
Well, the old RV was finally removed.  And the next day was dry.
  Let's burn more!
We planned to burn one loop, but there was a narrow path down to the road that could serve as a fire break.  We decided to burn the other half of the south end of our property!

The access road through the middle.

Eric trying to burn some of the brush that would not light the night before.

"Try hiding in the tall dry grass" (from the movie: The Croods)

Standing dead that caught fire and burned at the top.

It might be hard to tell if the fire actually burned anything except for the black patches on the ground to let you know where the fire was.  Some things burned better than others.  But on thing is certain.  We have a LOT MORE ROCKS!

Both sides burned.

As we were finishing up the 2nd day of burning, Mrs. Tucker said that if we burned it again in the fall, then we would really be in good shape.
I did not anticipate that this would be a multi-month two step process. 
What did not burn well this year will hopefully burn next time! 
We shall see.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

I'm Rednecker Than You part 1

There are some things that change when you move from the city to the country....  Things I didn't think were funny, safe, or acceptable are now creative, entertaining, and even encouraged.
As my neighbor introduced me to the popular song, "I'm Rednecker Than You," I noticed that some things ring true.

When your daughter is obsessed with bow hunting.  That she gets a compound bow but wants one she can actually hunt with.  Is given a compound bow with a draw weight too heavy for her and she practices several hours a day so she CAN use it.

When she builds a target stand for her archery practice with what she finds lying around.

When the only thing she wants for Christmas is a cross bow!  and she pools her gift money together and gets it!

When multiple members in the family are excited to get a deer stand and can hardly wait till the next hunting season.

When your kiddos beg you to go out and learn how to shoot a gun.

And they hit the paper plate target several times!
Then you let them take the gun when there are dangerous animal sightings (wild cats) nearby and there is work to be done anyway.

When you encounter the side of the road groomer

or pass farm equipment on the highway.  Yes, 55+ mph highway!


When you son gets super creative with animal cages and string and has patience and calm (you never knew he had) for hours and hours to catch cats that have been dumped off and found their way to our property.

When the afternoon fun is foam sword fights.  It's AGGRESSIVE!  And they sometimes beat their dad.

When you find an armadillo (despite looking like gigantic rolly pollies, they ARE wild and can carry leprosy) under your porch and your daughter thinks it's "so cute"  and you feel compelled to say "DON'T TOUCH IT!" before she tries to pet it.

When cutting wood becomes a musical jam session on "drums."

When you don't have trash service and you hire a private trash guy to haul off as much of your "burn pile" as possible, because you cannot bring yourself to burn it on the spot.

And after looking into every possible trash collection service and no one will come to your location, AND there is a bear sighting by TWO of your neighbors, you choose recycle as much as possible and acquiesce to burning the rest.

When school includes learning how to make a bow drill and start a fire with only wood and string... and a knife.

When you have never worked on your car, not even an oil change, and your starter goes out.  And everyone tells you it's easy, "just 2 bolts."  So you try it.  

AND you discover that it's not just two bolts and a wire - it's 2 bolts and 2 wires, so you strain to hold the thing with one hand and get the wire free with your other hand while asking for the tools you need from someone who has less of a clue that you.

When you run out of propane and cook on the wood burning stove without changing the menu.

When you have an old RV with no engine or tires and someone takes the back half with the trailer you offer and then never returns. AND you list the front half "as is" with no trailer incentive....

And people want it!  And they actually come and take it away for you! 
(metal recycling is big out here, but Eric and I did not want to deal with this)

When the screen at the top of the chimney needs to be cleaned and dad volunteers the kids to sit on the roof at the base of the ladder for support, as he precariously climbs to reach it.....  Because propping the ladder up on the slick metal roof with scrap 2x8's didn't work.

When splitting and stacking wood has become a "well oiled" family affair.

When you try to clean the steering wheel of your old farm truck but the "wet" just keeps coming off black in your hands, so you scan the cab and find a grocery sack, as you are driving on cruise control, and fit it over the steering wheel.

And then you realize that after several miles, while turning onto a different highway, you actually need to see the speedometer........ so you rip a hole in the bag and WA LA!

Then you buy a steering wheel cover....

When this is the scene after a day of harvesting wood.

When you burn over HALF of your land in 2 days!  ON PURPOSE! (more on that soon)

When you walk out of the local Walmart and there are SEVERAL 4x4 trucks in a row, and you realize this is the norm!

These are just a few of the gems we have experienced over the last 18 months!  Reaching our new normal has been quite an adventure.   There may be more to come.  But we have definitely crossed over.  I'm proud to say" I'm rednecker than you!"

Which is your favorite gem?