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Slash and Burn

As I mentioned in an earlier post (Trailhead Fire), prior to the beginning of the trail building project, our property had become badly overgrown after several years of neglect (I’d been working 80-100 hours per week for the past four years, but that’s another story). So, in addition to clearing the trail corridor, I spent a very significant amount of much time just making the property safer from wildfires and also more attractive. All of these activities generated an enormous amount of slash (debris from the pruning, felling or destruction of trees).

Fortunately, our county’s fire safe council provides a free chipping service where they will have a contractor come out and chip your slash piles once per year. It’s a good deal for property owners and it also eliminates a massive amount of fuel in fire-prone rural areas. For most of the first several months of clearing and pruning, I’d been dragging the slash (mostly uphill) to where the chipping service could get their chipper, either along our driveway or along two other unpaved roads on the property. By the time I got around to submitting my request for chipping, my piles measured more than 300 feet long in total, and were several feet high and maybe a dozen feet in width. I was really happy to have all of that fuel gone once the chipping service came.

However, after the chippers came and chipped my massive slash piles, I got a little lazy and was no longer relocating my smaller slash piles as I made them. As a result, I now had dozens of small slash piles scattered about, all of which needed to be dragged to a relatively flat and open area where I could burn it all safely. It was finally time to stop procrastinating and relocate all of this slash. If I had a little four-wheeler that would have been awesome. I could have just tied a strap around a big bundle of slash and dragged it uphill to the burn pile. Sadly, I don’t have four-wheeler so I had to drag it all by hand. 🙁

So that was the task in recent days. I’d tie a strap around a big bundle of slash and drag it a dozen yards uphill before I needed to rest. Then another dozen yards, and rest. Repeat ad nauseam until you’ve gone the requisite 100 yards. Then untie the strap, walk down the hill and drag another bundle. Sometimes the bundles would be lighter and I could go a little further, although never the whole distance without stopping. Sometimes they were too big and I’d be fighting so hard just to make any progress at all that I’d ultimately have to break it into two smaller bundles and make two trips. I think I averaged about four bundles per day. That’s all I could do before I was too tired to continue.

One of these days I’ll need to burn all of this stuff. The burn pile in the picture below is probably 50 feet long and 30 feet wide and is only a small fraction of the total slash that I have generated so far. What appears to be a small dog on the far right is Marshall, one of our three 70-pound boxers.

burn pile

burn pile and Marshall (yes, the view from our house doesn’t suck 🙂

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