We don’t have a garbage bin with a green lid for green waste. In fact, I count myself lucky to have any bins at all. Still in range of the council garbage pickup, the line is however, drawn at green waste – which is really fair enough – after all, we have 50 acres to dispense of it ourselves.
So bizarrely one of the first things to greet you when you arrive at our front gate is a massive pile of ‘green’ rubbish. You’d think, with 50 acres, we might have chosen a less ‘in your face’ dumping spot. I mean, what a welcome. But in this case, convenience was the key, and that’s where the chopping occurred, so that’s where it got dumped.
And like alpaca poo (who all poo in the same spot in a paddock. I know this because my neighbours have alpacas), over a period of several months that pile has grown and grown into something quite fearsome.
So a month ago, we decided it was time for it to go. It was time for a bonfire. After all, did we really want to be looking at it during the fire ban over the next 6 months, every time we drove through the gate?
I’m stretching the truth here – we planned this bonfire back in July, but wouldn’t you know it, it rained and rained and rained and we were forced to abandon our plans after acknowledging that it’s pretty hard to light a fire when even the sticks need to be squeezed out to dry.
It took awhile to get another date, as Dougal is generally away working over weekends. Unfortunately, our only option – the last weekend of August – was also the last weekend before the fire ban came in.
Then a well meaning friend pointed out that Sunday was actually the first day of September, not the last day of August, which meant that our bushfire would be illegal after all.
I rang the Rural Fire Service – “no, no permits for burning will be available until the following week”.
Righty-o then. With one day to go, Saturday it became. Yes, nothing like leaving it till the last minute.
Now, I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but it hasn’t rained in quite a while. Since, well, since early July really, when we first planned our pyre. Everything is looking rather… dry (to put it mildly). And the more we looked as the hours moved towards Saturday, the ‘cracklier’ the landscape began to sound.
Then our wonderful Irish neighbour Jimmy cheerfully informed us that ‘och yes, that’ll be burning for a week at least, there’s some heavy stuff in there’, and we started to worry. What did that mean? That we would be legal one day, illegal the next? I mean, who comes up with these calendar dates? How can one day be safe and the next a danger? It’s just a number on a calendar after all! And what did that mean for fire safety and unattended fires?
So Dougal, ever cautious, rang the Rural Fire Service again. ‘Yes’, came the reply, ‘we have had quite a few fires break out from flying embers lighting up the paddocks, because everything’s so dry’.
Aha – this brings me back to the topic of the weather. How interesting. Well, it’s interesting to me, anyhow – it’s probably become quite boring to you. I say this with much sympathy, as I distinctly remember as a child being incredibly bored as I listened into adults’ conversations, which frequently revolved around the weather, and here I am doing exactly the same thing. But it really IS so important! The impact is so huge, and we don’t even grow crops. (We do however rely on it for our water, and I’m down to under a foot in the tank, with a 2 week waiting list for the water tanker delivery. To wash or not to wash? That is the question).
Anyway, by the time I got home with the shopping on the Saturday, a gale was blowing, and a meeting between Dougal and I was held.
I’m sure we raised some eyebrows when we later announced to our guests that we were having a bonfire gathering without a bonfire. After all, older, more experienced farmers can afford to be a little more ‘maverick’ in their approach, as they’ll have all the gear to control a big fire. But somehow, I didn’t think a watering can would quite cut it. So had we chickened out, or were we being environmentally responsible? Remembering that we didn’t want a repeat of the ‘almost burning down the bridge incident’ from several years before.
So I brought out my bonfire cake with some degree of peace of mind… and continue to face our large pile of green debris every time I come home. You might see it too one day, when it becomes large enough to attract tourists. Oh, for a bin – or two – with a green lid!
We’ll just make a few batches of soup over the summer and freeze them so they’re ready to go for next Winter’s bonfire night.