Sunday, October 31, 2010

Spring burning... er, cleaning

We now have just one month to clean up before Fire Danger Season. You wouldn't know it because with all the late rain this year the whole greater valley is still green as a baby's bottom. But everything flowering is also going to seed and just a few days of hot sunshine will see it cure into very effective kindling. The fallen timber from the seven trees removed recently and other garden rubbish would make great fuel but we'd rather burn it in our combustion heater come next winter, not have it all lost and burning the house down uninvited on a 40 degree day. Everything from the gutters down needs to be tidied up and the fuel load reduced. Also the acute embarrassment of having a fire out of control on our place would be a bit much considering our trade and training. We'd never live it down. The balance between having enough grazing to last at least until January and having too much standing fuel too close to houses, sheds and other valuable things is a delicate one. The animals are doing their best but they can't keep up with the feed just now - which is saying something for this lot. In the meantime we can do some work ourselves around the house acres to be safer come the dry weather. Much of the rubbish we collected was of organic origin and therefore could be burnt. In our Fire Ban District we could still burn after the official start of December 1st but this would require a permit with a few conditions attached and it's just easier to do it now. The guard alpacas took their role seriously when they spotted the impromptu bonfire and herded their charges to the far side of their paddock and into a tight group as in the picture above. It's heartening to see them keeping the sheep safe even if it's unnecessary and, in a real fire, may be somewhat futile. After a while when they relaxed when they noted that in fact SO seemed to be feeding the orange threat and I was standing by with the hose to put out his occasional over-enthusiasm and the nearby pile of waste bedding that caught the odd spark and all was well. The sheep even started to take an interest in the show. All we were really missing were the marshmallows.