Lisa lit the fire and we fed the barrel smaller, drier pieces until we got enough of a hot fire going to put in the larger and less dry pieces like these long beams.
The barrel actually has no bottom and sits on an elevated metal grate. This makes for a much more efficient burn because it drafts well. I hate smoky fires. Very hot fires mean less smoke, faster burns, and less ash to dispose of at the end.
Lisa plied the hose, liberally wetting down the area around the barrel. The hose set easily to hand while we burned, which was good because, with pieces of wood sticking out of the barrel, there were times when parts would fall out and try to set the ground alight. Although the field as a whole is mostly green grass, the area around the barrel is mostly dried out short stubble. However, a light rain fell most of the afternoon, and conditions for a getaway fire were poor. That's one reason we thought it was a good afternoon to burn.
In case you're curious, I also took a video of Lisa tending the fire. She was properly kitted up with heavy denim jacket and gloves. I had gloves, but had forgotten to bring my denim shirt, so was in a t-shirt with short sleeves, which is not really a good way to be tending a fire of this sort. You'll see Lisa waving her arms as she moved away from the fire. That's because we did get it burning quite hot, and a 3-meter radius of the barrel was not a good place to be.
We made several trips with the hand cart back to the larger debris pile to bring more nail-studded boards for disposal. At one point, Lisa went back to the old house while I hauled boards. Looking back across the field at the barrel, I saw that a medium-sized chunk had fallen out sooner than I expected, and was starting to try to set the dry grass around the barrel alight. I ran back across the field and grabbed the hose, but there was no real problem. In fact, I let it burn for as long as it wanted -- not long -- on the idea that a controlled burn of the dry area around the barrel would make a later uncontrolled burn less likely.
We have a lot of work planned for today as well, it being my last full day up here on this trip, if the weather permits.