I’m building a wall. You already know that I have a wooden cabin in a forest. And I worry that a ground fire through the woods will someday reach the wooden cabin and make its acquaintance.
I’ve been doing various things to help prevent this meet up. I’ve been clearing the deadfall around the cabin, and I’ve been trimming up the branches on the nearby cedars. (Ground fires are natural and are generally not considered a bad thing as long as they stay out of the tree tops, so removing lower cedar branches helps prevent this.) I’ve also skirted the cabin with a gravel path (though it is only about three feet wide at its narrowest point, which is not enuf I suspect) and built two retaining walls, one behind and one in front of the cabin. In the fall and winter I even rake away the leaves that have gathered against the (wooden) wall of the cabin.
I should say that on the east side of the cabin we have a large gravelled area where we have our fire ring and general outdoor gathering area. It’s probably 40 feet across, and then there is the gravel road. So I think I have enuf fire break on that side of the cabin. And we have cleared a view on the south side of the cabin from the porch to the lake. We only have short grass growing there (if we keep it trimmed) so I don’t see much of a threat from that direction.
But on the east and north sides there is nothing but forest and leaf litter. Generally in this part of the hemisphere, fires spread from west to east since that’s the predominant direction of the wind, so a fire threat is more likely to come from the west.
And so I am building a wall. It won’t be a great wall or a tall wall or a thick wall. I’m just going to stack stones, maybe a foot high and two feet wide at the base and about a hundred feet long, as a sort of fire break. My hope is that any ground fire that crawls through the leaf litter will meet this wall and at least be stalled long enuf for someone to attack it with a rake and try to snuff it. (That would require someone to be present during the ground fire, which isn’t likely, but still . . . ).
The biggest problem I have had with this project is collecting the rocks I need. It’s ironic that in the Ozarks I would have trouble collecting rocks, but I do. The ones I want are all the way over there, and the wall I’m building is all the way over here. I’ve already scoured the immediate area for the rocks it will yield, and while my forest is filled with plenty of suitable ones, getting them where I want them calls for physical effort, which I try to avoid. Plus, I can generally only transport one rock at a time from these distant points (cradled lovingly in my arms), which makes for slow progress. I keep meaning to take the wheelbarrow to some rock rich area and load it then wheel it back to the cabin. It’s a good idea. I may even do that some day.
So next time you’re out at Roundrock, let’s have a rock collecting party, shall we?