May 10th, 2020


The Trouble With Tumbleweeds

This morning was nearly ideal conditions for doing another brush burn before our permit runs out at the end of May. I should have set the alarm for 4:30 (my normal Day Jobbe start time), but did manage to turn out at 6 AM, get a cup of coffee, and then go work on reducing hazardous burnable brush to safe piles of ash with Lisa. Lisa had already strung the garden hoses and sprayer and brought out the garden rake and shovel.

Conditions were ideal. There was virtually no wind other than an occasional light puff of breeze, and there were low clouds shading us from the rising sun. We managed to get rid of a flammable nuisance, and also some dry brush.

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If you've never been around areas where you have a lot of tumbleweeds, you may not realize just what nasty little firebombs they could be. With no wind, a water hose at the ready, and conditions being relatively safe, we decided to demonstrate what happens when you set a loose tumbleweed alight by dropping it onto the fire.

These things are dry and when not crushed down are mostly air. They go whoosh and burn instantly. In case of any wind to speak of, they blow away spreading embers, which can lead to huge range fires. In our case, the growing mountain of dry brush accumulating on our fence line makes us very nervous.

As the overcast began to burn off, we began to make the pile an ex-fire.

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We hope to do one more burn before the month ends. There's really only this one safe place to do the burns (everything else is too close to the house, cars, or other potentially flammable things), so I need to spend time this week raking up the rest of the tumble trap and other loose brush from the fence line and to drag it over to the burn area to form a new starting pile plus an extra pile a safe-but-convenient distance from the burn pile to make it easier to feed the rest of the burnables into the main fire.

We're not fire bugs. Disposing of this dry brush now means it is much less likely to catch fire when we're not standing nearby with a hose. We need to improve the defensible space around the house.