Amanda Hopper Writes

A writer's tale of living and working in the country.

Watering the Dead Wood

You know those moon-sized piles of dead brush you see in fields? The ones that slowly grow bigger each season until someone finally douses them with gasoline and sets a blaze akin to a small nuclear explosion?
I bet you never think past the initial burning phase of those piles do you? In fact, you probably wonder why those lazy ranchers don’t just flick a match and get it over with.
Cause a fire like that don’t burn for only one day. Or two. Or three.
They can smoulder for a week! Who has the time?!
Apparently I do.
On a recent Saturday, my proactive hubby called the sheriff’s office and reported we were going to burn. Then he spent the remainder of the day watching our pile shoot flames 20 feet in the air.
The weekend weather was perfect, but in typical Texas fashion, it was not content to stay that way. The weather man reported that a high wind advisory would be in effect for Monday. So every able-bodied man in the house left the only female to prevent the still-smoking pit from catching the county on fire.
Andy had left several sections of hose hooked up at the stock-tank for me to soak the embers, so I headed out at 8 am. I was slightly distracted by the small black newborn calf standing by Jenny, but after 15 minutes of picture taking, I continued on my trek to the still-smoking brush pile.
I pressed the handle for the sprayer and… nothing happened.
I made the long trek back up to the house to fetch another sprayer, then traveled back down to the pasture. I began twisting the broker sprayer and…it wouldn’t come off the hose.
So I walked, again, back up to the house to grab another hose section and traveled back to the connection between the line and the final hose. I set about twisting the metal ring and…it wouldn’t come loose.
You have got to be freaking kidding me.
I spent the next 30 minutes yelling at the hoses but they refuse to release their hostages. I finally decided to head back to the house for reinforcements.
I ransacked Andy’s tool drawers and climbed the kitty ladder into the crawl space. A person standing in the garage would have heard mumbling and seen giant rings of hose flying out of a cave in the garage. I wasn’t sure how many I needed so… I took all six of them.
I fired up the tractor and lassoed the coils to the roll bar while filling the bucket with every tool I could think of. I reved the engine and hauled tail back down to the pasture and set about re-running the acre-long hose line down to the burn pile.
After 2 hours of soaking the dead wood, I looked at my clock and realized that I had wasted 3 1/2 hours on a project that Andy promised would take “5 minutes.”
I have a theory about why farmers and ranchers are struck by lightning. It’s not the fact that they speed around on giant metal tractors trying to outrun the coming storm. Or because they are sprinting through severe storms trying to open the barn for terrified livestock.
It’s because of the foul language.
I’m not sure you can be a rancher/farmer and not have a potty mouth. Fighting to control a mother nature who prides herself on being a libertarian is like asking a room full of ex-cons attending anger management classes to return the opened electronic device to Target without a receipt.
However long you think something is gonna take out here in the boonies- add 5 hours, tweezers, an extra box of band-aids and patches for the inevitable tears in your brand new jeans.

Perspective has you asking what I am fussing about, but this pile was actually 26 feet wide x 83 feet long x 7 feet high.


  1. It was actually 83' long by 26' wide.

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