WAFFLES: Is the snow melted yet, Boss?
KATIE: What do you care, Waffles. It's not like you're going outside.
WAFFLES: Yeah, but Glogirly's been outside ALL weekend. What am I supposed to do?
KATIE: You're doing it, Waffles.
Glogirly thought she'd be a city girl forever. But two years ago this weekend, she and her Gloman closed on the sale of our Minneapolis townhouse and the purchase of our Rocky Mountain forever home. It was a leap of faith (on Friday the 13th no less) that has become an adventure, a whole new way of life, and a magical, beautiful dream come true.
Glogirly has learned a LOT over the past two years.
- She learned how to build a fire to keep us warm.
- She's stacked 100s of pounds of firewood.
- She knows how to keep the toilets flushing with melted snow if the power goes out.
- She planted her first ever high elevation perennial garden.
- She built a flagstone pathway.
- She learned how to make nectar for our hummingbirds.
- She's seen and photographed deer, fox, chipmunks, squirrels, hummingbirds, and BEARS right here by our house.
And she's learned what it means to live in a place where wildfires and a very real and serious risk.
Last fall she began a large fire mitigation project. Fire mitigation involves performing a variety of tasks, big and small, to ensure our home, our family and neighbors, and our beautiful canyon is as safe as possible from the unthinkable. The goal for us was to create a safe zone around our home that in the event of a wildfire, could potentially stop or redirect the fire from reaching our house. Part of this involved weed whacking 50 feet out from our house, removing young trees from the same area to keep the forest from encroaching on our home, removing large pine trees that were too close to our house, thinning other large groups of trees, and limbing-up trees (removing branches 6-8' up from the ground).
All of the tree work left us with what's called "slash." Slash consists of branches with needles, limbs, and smaller trunks of the trees we took down. Many people haul this stuff off to recycling and sort yards to dispose of it or have it chipped into mulch. Because the majority of our property is on a very steep slope, that wasn't an option for us. So we created what are called "burn piles" of our slash. Once we get a burn permit from our county and we have at least 6" of a snow base, we can burn off our piles. Last Friday we got almost 15" of fresh snow!
It sounds scary, but it's actually a very natural and ecologically responsible way of getting rid the slash created by our mitigation. Fire is, after all, a natural and necessary way of forest regeneration.
TOP LEFTt: Lighting up our first burn pile.
TOP RIGHT: What it looks like after some piles have completely burned.
MIDDLE: The view from the trail that runs around our house and where we stacked the burn piles.
LOWER LEFT: Lighting a pile with a drip torch.LOWER RIGHT: Glogirly's first snowshoe experience
Don't worry, Glogirly didn't go outside with her box of matches and start lighting everything up. She hired professional help. Our fire mitigation and tree specialist is also a certified firefighter for our local volunteer fire department. He lives here in our canyon and is passionate about keeping our forest, wildlife, and the people and pets who live here safe. He did the heavy lifting. Glogirly did assist though. She worked alongside him, but at a safe distance, to make sure the piles kept burning, add more debris when necessary, and help to completely snuff them out with snow when the day was done.
AND she got to do it all while wearing snowshoes for the very first time!
This concludes your Mountain Living 101 class for the day.