Adventures in Farming Part III: BONFIRES

Permit? Who needs a permit? We're making s'mores - see the marshmallows?

Adventures in Farming Part III:  BONFIRES

Note:  The following names have been changed to protect the guilty.

“BURN PERMIT?!  Naaaahhh…  Just bring some weenies and marshmallows and call it a Bonfire.  You don’t need a freaking PERMIT for a BONFIRE!”  This coming from an anonymous “official source” that should know these things, mind you.

“Whatchya plannin’ on burnin’, anyway?”

“Just some twigs, slash, small branches and leaves that are laying around all over the place. This farm has been essentially unused for 20 YEARS!  Would you believe that there were 25 foot hickory trees blocking the entrance to the barn, trapping a farm truck in there?”

“Holy crap! Hickory trees? You’re not gonna burn those, are you?”

“No way! Those logs are going to some of our barbeque friends for their smokers.  Hey, I’m no dumbhead – we’re trading it for BBQ!  This IS Kansas City, remember?”

And so it was that on a very cloudy day in early February that a small brush bonfire was started, complete with… not marshmallows, not weenies, but… sardines.  Sardines!  The intended recipients of the sardines were the raccoons, and they were, at this point, only interested in the gluten free cookies.

Thus, the idea of “roasting sardines” was born.

Really, gentlemen?!

A bunch of grown men, standing around mid-day, mid-winter, roasting SARDINES in a CAN.  Uh huh. Yep. I’m buying that.

The law?  Well, it WAS a cloudy day anyway (no coincidence, honest, officer) and you couldn’t really see any smoke for more than half a mile tops – how fortunate was that?  Hmm…

Speaking of smoke…

During the alleged “bonfire” stories were shared, as they usually are when pondering life over a fire.

One such story had to be re-shared, as it is just too good not to be.

There was this guy – let’s call him Marvin – who offered to help out some friends one day on their property felling trees.  Oak trees.  They were in the way of the barn and had to go.

So Marvin did the right thing and helped out a friend.  Chain saws and axes were brought in and trees were removed.

One friend became two; three; soon there were dozens asking for Marvin’s help clearing trees from their properties.

Marvin started making money.  But not a lot.  He wanted more.

One would think that fallen oak trees would be an awesome commodity for wood carvers, flooring contractors, carpenters, etc.  Well, in our fair state of Missouri, oak trees are rather plentiful.  The supply/demand ratio j was ust not enough of an incentive for our good ol’ boy Marvin.

So he took his wares west – out to Colorado.  You see – there are not too many oak trees growing in that rocky mountain state, so Marvin found himself some customers.  So he drove his big old truck out west to deliver the trees.

Not wanting to come back empty handed and waste a return trip, Marvin discovered another hidden gem to bring back home.

Transformers.  WTH?

Do you remember those old transformers that used to hang on the power and telephone wires?  The big boxes that looked like suitcases hanging up in the sky on the poles?  Ever wonder what was in them or what the heck they were for?  No?  Me neither.  Never even thought about it.  But Marvin did – and he realized that these old fashioned transformers were a true hidden gem, just waiting to be exploited.

He found a supplier.  A big one.

These old things were tossed in the back of the “tree truck”, for lack of a better term, and hauled back to his farm in Missouri.

And taken apart.  Disassembled.

Basically, there were four parts:

  1. The exterior was made of metal, broken down and resold to the metal guys for pennies on the pound.
  2. Part of the transformer contained “transformer oil”, a type of gas used in the transformer’s cooling process so the high voltage running through the machine didn’t blow it up.  This oil was transferred to Marvin’s vehicles.  Nice.
  3. Another part of the interior of the transformer contained a highly toxic waste product, banned in the U.S. in 1979, called Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), now considered a hazardous waste material because of its destructive nature of the environment and its inhabitants.  It does not break down and will accumulate in the tissues of plants and animals, causing cancer, etc.  This product was an inconvenience, so Marvin merely just burned it into the atmosphere in small doses – at bonfires, ironically enough – poisoning unsuspecting local Missouri plants, animals and humans.
    (That is precisely why nobody wanted these transformers with hazardous waste – but Marvin did.)
  4. It was the secret gold that sealed the deal and sucked Marvin in – the final, and most alluring bit:  the solid copper core – which was then sold on the open market for some serious cash.

But Marvin quickly paid off his farm.  His trucks.  Everything.  And began to live in style.

That is, until “The Accident”.

Somewhere on I-70, going eastbound with a truck full of toxic transformers, there was a crash.  Police were called and came out.

“What’s all this stuff?”

“I don’t know.  My boss asked me to pick it up on my way back from Colorado.  It’s going to some farm in Missouri.”

“Do you have your HAZMAT Permit handy by any chance, Sir?”


Calls were made.  Men in white hazmat suits arrived instantly.  I-70 was shut down.

400 miles away, more men in white suits were already on their way to a small farm in Missouri.

The armed men in white suits – and their FBI counterparts – had no problem finding the little paid off farm in Missouri.

The smoke was the dead giveaway.

Marvin?  He was already having himself a pretty good-sized BONFIRE…  In fact, the entire barn was on fire.  No weenies this time.

What transformers, officers?  I have no idea what you are talking about.


10 thoughts on “Adventures in Farming Part III: BONFIRES

  1. Love it! I just successfully procrastinated on my decluttering (read: consolidating lots of small piles into a large pile on the dining room table and proceeding to walk past it all day thinking, “It’s gonna suck when we have to eat dinner there tonight.) with your hysterical blog. So glad you’re doing this. I actually couldn’t get the FB posts on my iPhone so I was a bit behind. How fun!

  2. Jen, your stories are the best!!!! Especially love the picture of the barn!!! Wow, that place certain looks to have quite a bit of history. Thanks for the laughs!!!

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