A bit of a backstory first:
Last year I put in a garden in the same place the previous homeowner did, figuring the ground would be easy to till and would be nice and soft. Well, it wasn’t. The soil was rocky clay and hard as fuck. About the only thing that came up and thrived was beans. So, I let the garden go and when I say I let it go, I really let it go. Because of all the furrows and hills, I couldn’t mow it and grass grew about thigh high. My plan this year was to put in beans where I planted them last year, then till a bunch of mulch and manure into the rest of it in preparation for next year’s planting. Sounds good, right?
Last week I was checking it out and realized that even though all that grass was now laying on the ground, I needed to do something with it before I tilled it, otherwise I’d have to stop and clear the tines of woven grass every five feet.
Me being a lazy fuck, I figured to just burn it off.
Okay. Today I wandered out that direction and was wondering if I should give it a good misting of kerosene seeing as the past couple months were really wet, in fact, it rained all day before yesterday and then turned to snow. I woke up to a good inch of snow yesterday morning. So maybe just enough coal oil to get that shit going, right? The grass was so thick I wasn’t worried about kerosene even touching the ground as long as I didn’t get carried away.
Don’t get ahead of me now.
Anyways, I was standing there at one corner and I reached down and touched the dead grass. It didn’t feel too wet, maybe it’ll burn off without the coal oil. So I pulled my trusty Bic lighter out and barely touched the flame to the grass. There’s no wind at all, so there’s really no chance of it getting out of control.
Right about the time that shit lit off, the fucking wind gusted up from the south and all of a sudden I got a circle of dried grass about 3 feet across on fire. Oh fuck.
Then the wind shifted, coming out of the east. The fire that was contained in the garden has jumped it and is now burning the dead crabgrass that’s underneath the live grass, creeping right towards the house. I glanced over towards the water hose that’s hopelessly tangled on the mount attached to the house and realized that by the time I got that fucker untangled I’d be homeless. Then I saw the 5 gallon bucket under the spigot that I keep there to catch the hose runoff for Charlie’s drinking water, so I sprinted towards that. Okay, that’s about 40 yards away and other than fleeing from law enforcement, I haven’t sprinted since… let’s see, I got of the army in 1981, so… 1981. I grabbed the bucket and ran back towards the garden/firepit and splashed water on the fingers of fire headed to the house.
Then the wind shifted, coming out of the west, headed towards Kendall’s property where there’s even more dried grass and 3-4 huge rolls of hay to feed his livestock, as well as his feed barn, and here I am holding an empty bucket. I ran back to the house, stuck the bucket under the spigot and hauled ass back towards the action. When I got there, I could see 4 or 5 spots where the fire was creeping towards Kendall’s, so I started stomping it out with my boots.
I got that shit under control so I ran back to the house to get my bucket. When I got there, I realized that I was beginning to overheat even though it was only 55 degrees out. Must be all that running that I’m not used to. Then I realized that it was only my left leg that was overheating so I looked down and saw that of course I was feeling a little warm seeing as my fucking leg was aflame.
Motherfucker. I ain’t got but 3 pairs of Wranglers to my name (okay, two and a half pairs at this point) and Christmas is a full 9 months away. We’re poor folks and buying me new clothing is pretty much at the bottom of the Priority List. I get two pair of Wranglers every Christmas and here I am being wasteful of what I do have.
Now I’m not one to panic under any circumstances so I just stuck my foot inside the bucket and under the spigot to extinguish myself, then I grabbed the bucket and took off running towards the fire again, thump squish thump squish thump squish…
The fucking wind shifted again, coming out of the south once again and headed towards Wayne’s property and barn where there’s all kinds of old lumber, dead weeds and bundles of tobacco stakes laying around. If the fire reaches that, I might as well just give up trying to fight it and commence to coming up with a good excuse.
I throw my bucket of water on that and start stomping again and get those flames out, then make yet another run back to the house to fill my bucket. This running shit is starting to wear my 58 year old ass out, but I am winning. The only thing saving me was the fact that the thatch under the green grass isn’t burning as fast as the exposed grass in the garden. It’s just creeping, you know? It’s creeping, but it is spreading.
As I’m filling my bucket again, I hear a pop – I don’t know if it was a wooden knot or a possum exploding or what, but I look back towards the garden and see a shower of sparks igniting even more grass. Oh shit oh dear…
And the fucking wind shifted again, this time coming out of the north and heading right towards my sheds where I keep my lawn mower, my splitter, my saws, my generator, a half cord of wood and 40+ gallons of gasoline. Are you fucking kidding me???
At this point I do my usual when faced with disaster – I started laughing. I’m not fucking kidding, I’ve damned near burnt down my property, set Kendall and Wayne’s property afire, set myself on fire, and am fixin’ to see one hell of a fireball, and I’m sitting on the ground huffing and puffing and laughing like a fucking maniac – a pyromaniac. I know, huh?
I staggered back over that direction, doused the flames heading towards the shed and figured Okay Sparky, maybe you should start thinking about that hose and spray the entire area down to keep it from starting back up – “re-kindling” as us firefighters like to say.
I grabbed the hose and started untangling it, then connected it to the spigot and took off running trailing the hose behind me, then landed flat on my back when I ran out of hose. I only had 75 feet of hose and I needed 150….. I ran into the shed and grabbed another 75 feet of tangled mess, and hooked that up, then commenced to dousing hotspots.
So yeah, I finally got it put out and soaked down real good.
My cost? My dignity, my fucking know-it-all attitude, one pair of Wranglers and all the hair on my left leg.
Lessons learned? Have the fucking hose out there and untangled before I start playing with fire.
What I accomplished? Well, the garden (and part of the yard) is now burned off.
Go ahead and laugh. I did.
As a side note, I also found out Dennis’ Valkyrie holster is everything he says it is as far as retention goes – with all that running, stomping and jumping, my 45 stayed put in its holster. Good job, Dragon Leatherworks.
From the house
Headed towards Kendall’s place
This is how close it got to Wayne’s property. Look at all that dead brush.