Goodbye and good riddance to the burn barrel

Still life with burn barrel: this is a closeup of the rusty old thing last summer, just after Mike Tregunna of the Tregunna Tree Farm had installed a nice stone cover over the Manse’s old well (at right), thus making it safe for humans to be around it (i.e. not fall in).

Surely you know what a burn barrel is! No? “Burn barrel” is not a turn of phrase that rolls trippingly and easily off your tongue? Okay, well, us too.

But everyone else in Queensborough certainly knew what the old rusty oil drum perched on the cement covering of the Manse’s no-longer-used well was. Some even had some amusing stories about it, like how a previous occupant of the Manse (a minister, obviously; we are the first non-ministerial folk ever to live there) had decided to burn some stuff in it during a particularly dry period, and how the neighbours had suggested that it maybe wasn’t a particularly good idea, given that the burn barrel was positioned (oddly) immediately beneath the overhanging branches of a tree – a very dry tree, in that spell.

So yes, a burn barrel is for burning stuff, presumably leaves in fall, but what do I know? Maybe other things at other times of the year as well. None of which sounds particularly good for the environment, if you ask me.

Landscape with burn barrel: I took this last spring, before the leaves had really come out. You can see how the burn barrel is not adding to the overall allure of the place.

So basically we wanted to get rid of our burn barrel, because a) we weren’t ever going to use it for its intended purpose, and b) it was so rusted out that it practically was separated into two halves horizontally. In other words, not adding to the scenic beauty of the Manse’s landscaping. But the fact that the bottom half was filled with heavy ashes, and that the two halves were sure to separate and maybe disintegrate if one tried to do something with it, made moving it pretty much an impossible prospect for us on our own.

Very fortunately for us, Mike Tregunna, the excellent proprietor (with his wife, Gillian) of the Tregunna Tree Farm outside Tweed and the man responsible for the new elm tree and the new maple tree that now grow at the Manse, had offered – out of the blue! – to take away “that burn barrel over there” when he planted the maple recently. He put his tools and his miniature front-end loader to excellent use: loading up the burn barrel (in two pieces), driving it over to his truck, transferring it there, and then driving off into the distance (the dump?) with it.

The burn barrel meets its end: now in two pieces, it’s on its way from its resting place to Mike Tregunna’s truck, and thence – disappeared from the Manse. Thanks, Mike!

It was a kind and unexpected offer, and we were very happy and grateful to take him up on it. It is actually quite something how often people in the Queensborough area have offered to help with stuff like that, just out of the blue. It is very much appreciated, and it warms the heart. Okay, maybe not as much as if we were having a roaring leaf or trash fire in the burn barrel – but you get the picture.

4 thoughts on “Goodbye and good riddance to the burn barrel

  1. I remember having one of those when we rented an old farmhouse long ago, but I don’t remember what we called it; I was too young then to be involved in burning anything anyway. Then we built our own house with all the “modrun” conveniences, and there was an incinerator (roughly the same size and shape, but properly insulated and with a cover and stovepipe) in the basement near the furnace. I was 11 by then, and for years it was my duty to take the family trash down there regularly and burn it up. I also had to empty the ashes periodically from the drawer on the bottom into a barrel – making sure they were COLD ashes, since the barrel was very heavy cardboard, probably a china barrel left over from the move. We are talking about the 1960s here, and the incinerator is long gone, but it sure was convenient. I presume the burn barrel at the previous place had a similar purpose in getting rid of everyday trash, since there was no dump anywhere close, and certainly no garbage pickup.

    • Ah, the good old days of burning our trash! My dad was a big believer in that, and some members of his family (who shall go unnamed here) still are. I have to say I am glad the recycling movement came along!

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