Thursday, April 28, 2011

Life on the Farm: Ashes, Ashes...

The ash pile is gone!
It was about nine in the evening last Saturday, and I had had enough of watching the cinema bomb, Disaster Movie (2008).  I really tried, and even gave it a second chance after switching to a half-hour comedy and going back, but that only underscored that the movie wasn’t up to par.  I headed off to bed.

As I brushed my teeth, I looked out the bathroom window toward the barns, checking that lights were on in some buildings and off in others.

I noticed sparks and coals from fire.  In my backyard!

I called out to my husband Dan, and asked if he had burned something.

“No”, he said, “that’s ash from the corn furnace”.

The corn-burning furnace isn’t right, and the debris it coughs out contains half-burned, unburned - and now, still burning tidbits.

You might not know this, but the fuel version of dried corn can pop.  Not in the Jiffy-Pop sort of way, but in the Barbie and Ken-sized exploding ordinance type of way.

High winds sparked miniature fireworks that launched from the main pile, tumbled across the driveway, and headed towards the truck.

The first truck we’ve ever had that wasn’t previously owned, and are still making payments on. 

I said, “Go hose it down and put it out”.  I figured this was entirely Dan’s problem to resolve, because he chose to ignore it in the first place.

“The hose doesn’t reach.”

“Use the bucket-loader to dump dirt on it.”

“Where am I going to get dirt from?”


He chose water, wielding the already connected car-washing hose that can actually reach the corn pile with a cold stream, if you arc it just right.

He soaked the fire, kicked it around a few times, and drenched it again.  Just as Smokey The Bear taught us to do, years and years ago.

Almost finished painting the double-Adirondacks
We went to bed.  I had a fitful vision of my brand-new Adirondack chairs smoking up the attached garage as a precursor to spontaneously combusting – a dream which was probably brought on less by the smoldering pile in the driveway, and more by the fact that the shop-light I have been using while I paint them is hot enough to cause a flash-burn.

I awoke at 11:30 p.m. sharp, and got up to inspect the ash pile.  A section the size of a deck of cards glowed red in the dark; gusting winds were fanning the fire back to life.

There didn’t seem to be any urgency, so I resolved to stay awake and check again in half an hour.  I would wet it down once more if necessary – but didn’t want alternating rounds of snuffing out and re-igniting to become the thread of the evening.

At midnight, the last of the corny-corns burned out.  Or at least, the ones that were visible to me from the second story.

The following morning, lazy curls of grey smoke emanated from the ash pile. 

Spilled corn and the rest of the ashes.
Dan scooped it up and hauled it away. 

ps. Three rats ran like hell out of the pile as Dan demolished it.