Out in the backyard: the tutor reflects

The tutor comments on another Sunday afternoon out in the backyard.

We’ve been in a cold snap lately, with temperatures dropping -5°C to -8°C since perhaps last Monday. This afternoon I thought I’d get outside, breathe some fresh air, work a little off the burn pile, and reconnect with the yard.

A Greek friend of mine told me that, commonly in rural Greece, the orchard prunings are used to heat the homes through winter. With only a few trees in our yard, we don’t quite follow that tradition. However, the prunings, fallen branches, and cones (we have a 70-year-old Douglas fir in our yard) are adequate to feed a few backyard fires. With that in mind, I headed out today.

I got outside around 4pm to a cold, still, grey afternoon. The temp was probably around 1°C; water was dripping from the Douglas fir, even though we haven’t had rain for a week. I started the fire with some old phone book pages and cardboard, then turned to the ground for twigs and larger branches. I spent the next 25 minutes running around, grabbing up fuel, bringing it to the fire, then repeating the process. Finally the fire was strong enough to accept some larger rounds. I placed some half-burned wood from last fire on it, then turned to the burn pile. Afterward, I continued picking up twigs and branches from the yard, though at a more leisurely pace.

With the fire well established, I started adding cones from the Douglas fir. They burn slowly, but keep the fire stable once it’s strong. I’d say I put hundreds of cones in it.

I ran the fire for three hours; the last hour, cones were the dominant fuel. I’d guess the fire might have received about a pound of fuel every ten minutes. It was a good cleanup, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we could do the same again next month.

In a future post I’ll hopefully consider the heat output of the fire, given the fuel it received.

BTW: I saw one flying insect outside, even after a week of nighttime freezes. That’s the west coast for you!

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

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