Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fire on my mind

 Even though it's become the new normal  around here for fires to spring up all around us every summer, last week's blaze just on the other side of the hill from us was a jolt.

Bruce took pictures of the dogs, Max and myself sitting in in the circular drive, watching the last loads of water being dropped.  By now, the fire had been contained and we knew that everything was going to be OK.  It was a close call, though.

These pictures are good reminders of why we need to get serious about doing more (much more) to fireproof the area around the house as much as possible.  I confess that I've slacked off with this the past few years and cleared only the area closest to the house.  I told myself that we were pretty safe, what with the pond on one side, the graveled drive in front and Corny's pasture nibbled down to nothing.

But the truth is that if a wind-driven fire swept through, there's a lot that still could burn.

View from the top looking down...

So this past weekend, Bruce and I worked to remedy that.  We piled a full trailer load plus six additional garbage bags of dried grass, brush and tree prunings from the little hill our house sits on.  Yesterday I filled another six bags, and even after all that we're still only about halfway through.  The hill is steep and the rocks slide under my feet as a scrabble along like a two-legged spider, balancing with one hand on the rubble and tearing up everything all the way to the bare earth with the other.  I grew quite adept at chucking clumps of weeds down to a pile at the bottom.  My thick leather gloves protected my hands from most of the thorns and stickers, but there's nothing to be done about the ants except work very quickly around their nests and then get the hell out before they swarmed up my legs and arms.  I also refined my technique for pulling stubborn weeds so that when they finally jerked from the ground, I didn't  lose my balance and take a tumble down the hill with the weed clutched in my hand.  It's slow work, but progress is being made.

From the bottom looking up, things look pretty good...

...until you look over a couple of feet

While I'm the mountain goat part of the operation, Bruce, at the bottom, manned the rake and pitchfork and got it everything loaded into the trailer for its final drive to the landfill.  I think I've got the better part of the bargain crawling up and down the hill.

However, for next year I'm thinking it might be time to hire a crew to do this for us.  I say this every summer, but this year I mean it.  Really.


  1. Do you have a sticker with a list of pets that could be possibly in the house? That's something that was given to me from my vet when Isabella was brought in. Its a sticker fire fighters are familiar with and they would know to search for any animals. And I do hope you hire a crew next year!!

  2. Oma has one of these stickers in her window and it's a great idea -- but more for town as I don't think it would do much good out here during a wildfire. That said, having one certainly couldn't hurt.