Let there be fire!
To tidy things up
To keep us warm
To cook our food
I have included here just a few photos of some of the raging fires we have had. We usually do all our burning in the Winter when the ground is frozen or soaking wet.
We even refrained from burning off any of the abundance of burn piles in the Spring because it seemed that once the snow melted, it took no time at all for the ground to dry out! The winds, I guess? I just remember it went from soggy wet ground to dry, parched, cracked ground quicker than the ascent of a flock of frightened grouse! And after all the forest fires last Summer you can be sure that we will keep to Winter burns only! We certainly do not want to be the cause of a fire gone bad!
Let me assure you, we are not trying to create a suburban aesthetic lawn out here but we do want to be able to walk around with out tripping over random logs. One of the first areas we cleaned up was the “orchard” which is just down the embankment from the Earthship; it was riddled with logs laying about. I am certain the ground benefits from nursery logs but there were enough fallen logs to nourish the entire province of BC! Okay, maybe not that many but too many for us to easily navigate without worrying about tripping over a log. Bear in particular; if there is a hole to step in or a log to trip you up, Bear will find it! He is such a clutz!
Hah. We were so carefree about everything we did when we first arrived at the Earthship! We would fearlessly walk up to the Dunny at all hours, even in the pitch dark; and then we heard the wolves howling. And we saw their prints not too far from the Earthship. Then we saw a coyote, there, right in front of the Earthship, just meandering through the “orchard’!
As a result of our new cautionary approach we decided we needed to cut back the saplings at least a few hundred metres from the embankment so we could better SEE if there were predators about. So we got busy! In the cold, in the snow, in the rain; we…and by we I mean Me…cut down the saplings and started creating burn piles here, there and everywhere. Truthfully Luke did cull a lot of the saplings when he had a few spare minutes. I think his technique was far quicker than mine but mine was much tidier: Luke went out swinging the pick axe, or grubber, as he calls it and he would snap the frozen lil saplings off close to the ground; I painstakingly used hand secateurs, knelt before each sapling and cut through each one, at or below the snow-line, which gave me a wonderfully clean cut, with no ragged stump remaining to trip us up later.
When Benny was out over Spring Break last year I put him into service hauling stuff to the burn piles. If his stick collecting remained as keen as his fascination with Nerf guns I reckon the “orchard” would now be completely log/stick and sapling free! He DID like the bonfires. We burned off a few of them but many remain, having dried out in the wind and heat of the Summer; I am sure they will light up easily enough once some of the snow melts off the top of them.
While tidying up the logs and saplings we also cut down standing dead wood to use as firewood which is a whole other kind of fire. We quickly grew to love our wood fires in the wood stove. Some of the stuff laying on the ground is salvageable. A lot of it is not. The stuff that is good has to be bucked up and hauled to the woodpile and the stuff that is not has to be maneuvered to a burnpile, or become the base of a burnpile with more debris and saplings piled on top of it. I digress! I do that.
The indoor fires! Sorta, kinda fell into my lap to make the indoor fires. I guess it only makes sense since I am often up in the wee hours. Luke has it sorted, I’ll tell you! When we were on our 75km Honeymoon Hike through Manning Park he didn’t come out of the tent until the sun was up and the coffee was made. And now he wakes up to a warm home and coffee brewed and ready to be enjoyed.
It is Luke’s job to cut down trees, buck ’em up, and split the wood; sometimes I stack the split wood, sometimes Luke does. It IS my job to make kindling; that brings back memories! I used to be pretty good at splitting wood but failed at it miserably up here at Brittany Lake. I have NOT lost my touch creating kindling though. I love to cut kindling. I love the smell of freshly cut wood. I am still trying to work out the best place to carry out this task. I used to have a block by the outdoor fire-pit but then I moved a block into the Greenhouse which allows me to keep warm and dry when cutting kindling. The indoor location works wonderfully but I don’t want to take up valuable Greenhouse space with a chopping block when I could have something lovely, green and edible growing there. We shall see! Maybe when we build a proper woodshed I’ll just cut the kindling there! Spring/Summer project for this year!!! For sure!!!! It was on the books last Summer but we spent a month away when William’s Lake and surrounds were evacuated.