Monday, April 27, 2009
slow to burn, quick to ignite
Actually, the sign should say- Manure Combusts.
Let me explain...
I've used this pic before, but it is so apt for today's post. Manure happens- yes indeed it does and I have the utmost respect today for it's... shall we say, ignitive personality. Sunday found me full of excitement for more mushrooms and sunshine and hanging the laundry out on the line and getting all that done by noon so I could shower up and head to the local winery with some friends for some hillside dancing, laughing and making merry. After that, I was to go fishing at a friends house on the lake in the evening, with a quiet meal.
As I was making my rounds on the farm, inspecting all the beautiful buds, feeding the flocks and generally just enjoying the moment with the strong breeze picking up- I noticed smoke columns coming from the back of the farm. What the heck?! Flip flop footed, I made my way as quickly as I could to the source of the mysterious flare up. The composted manure piles were ablaze! There in the first mound was an ever glowing flame coming from a crater in the middle. Without thinking, and this became painfully obvious within a few minutes- I crawled to the top of the pile, and fell through like I was in quick sand. Only then did I realize what fire dancers must come to acknowledge on their walks of faith across hot coals- my feet were burning! How I leapt out of there, flew up and out actually- is a mystery to me still, both of my flip flops came off, or were melted off actually. I ended up on my rear end, out in the grass exclaiming- "OH God!" With just one tiny injury to one tiny toe- the inside of the compost was molten like a good fired charcoal bed. I'd say I was merely cooked medium rare- but my shoes were definitely well done. And, the breeze was picking up- the weather man was forecasting 40 mile an hour winds. Oh brother! Oh bother! Oh manure happens all to often when least expected!
I called local farmer Richard, who has horses along with spontaneous combustive manure piles, I'd heard him tell of flare ups in the intense heat of the summer. "What do I do Richard?!" "To be on the safe side, you're going to have to soak those piles down or call the volunteer fire department." "Oh, I couldn't do that, it's Sunday- I don't want to bother anybody." "Then get on it girl, with these winds, you could have some problems..."
The livestock well out by the old barn should be full of water (it was-25 feet full) I should have enough hoses to reach the fire from the well (I did, barely) I should be able to use my jet pump if I can get electricity out that far with electrical cords (again, barely making the stretch- the cords sufficed.) I should be able to prime the pump and kick this whole operation in gear(well, that was fun...cussing like a farmer does when faced with inoperable piece of junk machines!) Sure enough though, with tweaking and cussing, praying and begging- I did get the system up and running. And stayed with it all day, all day while the farmer across the way- now, this part does not make good sense to me- decided on a 40 mile an hour day- to disc his fields. The dirt storm (as acres of top soil left his fields) gave my day out in the sun extra grit for me to chew on, and wipe from my eyes, and make a mad dash to the house closing all the windows so the acres of dirt wouldn't end up on my freshly painted everything. Pardon me, but isn't a bit inconsiderate to your neighbors to create a dust storm with wind speeds of that magnitude? (Rain is forecast for here all week, it couldn't be to dry out the top layers, besides- they left on the wind.) Can someone explain why it's so important to plow on the windiest days, or for that matter, disperse Anhydrous on your fields on those windiest days? See, I just don't get that logic, don't they want to keep their soil and the vast amounts of money spent on those chemicals on their own fields? I for one do not like to digest, come into contact with, drink from my well wondering what the hell kind of chemical cocktail I might be consuming.
Anyway- it took all day and the entire contents of that livestock well to put the blaze out. It took my lily white shoulders from albino to lobster red before I realized that the field burnings I attended to 4 weeks ago had been slowly building, burning in the middle of the compost piles to ignite to the outside. So- RD, you were right- I should have knocked those out with the utmost certainty then. (Thought I had, no smoke for some time- I got in there like you instructed and dug and raked until I could safely press my hands through, no heat, no burn.) I guess what little burn there was left by the field burning kept the core of one of those piles alive...and just waiting for a day like yesterday to become a burning ring of fire.
The tractor is another story for another day- it's probably good that I didn't fix her completely. After the tire change and thermostat repair, hydraulic fluid change, hose replacing, charging battery, getting her all fired up and purring like an old 60 year old tractor should, it is just as well that I didn't get the hydraulics to kick in properly. I would have been real hard to live with if I had actually accomplished lift. (But I will, come hell or high water- I'll get that tractor to function properly or I'll...hire someone to fix her, I've had it up to here with non-complying machinery, course I shouldn't expect too much from the old girl. She and I both have had alot of wear and tear as of late...
Oh I am so getting out to the woods today, out of my way and into the wild. If I don't...I may develop finger lock mode in saluting, mad at the world or maybe just me- sometimes I expect too much I guess. Or perhaps, I am as stubborn as an old flame clear down in the middle of a composted pile of manure- slow to burn though quick to ignite with the right conditions.
Thanks for giving a darn, laughing, smiling and wishing me well on my mushrooming...take care!