Back to Clearing and Burning

In the first few months after becoming the proud owners of Longleaf Breeze, Amanda and I spent most weekends clearing and burning. We would pick a spot, build a small fire, and commence throwing sticks into it until the spot was clear, and then we would move on. We got a chance to do it again Saturday. Sure was fun.


As you probably remember, the previous owner had the farm logged for pines just before placing it on the market for sale. This resulted in a predominantly hardwood forest punctuated by unevenly distributed crap – big and small piles of debris that had no value and therefore were left by the loggers to rot (and look ugly). As my brother Dave Gray and I cleared the main paths that allow access to our property, we had to do something with that debris; if we didn’t get around to burning it on the spot we pushed it into piles for Amanda and I to address later.

We’ve had an unprecedented cold wave in Alabama, and Amanda and I have reacted by moving most of our work indoors. We’ve taken walks nearly every day — when it’s really cold in Alabama it’s usually really pretty too, because that’s when the clouds are gone — but as soon as we finish a walk, we’ve retreated to the apartment where that wonderful wood stove warms us to our spleens.

Saturday we decided we’d had enough of the great indoors and that we needed to get outside. Good decision. After a quick trip to town together (post office, Piggly Wiggly, and Tallassee True Value), we picked a spot on the main spine trail that ties the property together, just down the hill from the pole barn. The wind was whistling up above at the pole barn but was considerably less down where we were working. We built a small fire and disposed of all the left over Christmas wrapping paper and tossed-aside boxes, and then we built a real fire and started feeding it first with small sticks, then big pieces, and finally tree trunks deposited from Tractor’s bucket. We burned half the morning and all afternoon.

It was great to be working outside again. Not surprisingly, you don’t need lots of heavy clothes to stay warm when you’re working hard and spending time around a hot fire. The staying warm part sort of takes care of itself.

The little video runs about two minutes and proves nothing other than that we’re not very good at estimating temperatures outside.

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