I didn't move to Holland
until I was nearly six years. We lived in a pretty typical neighborhood, pretty typical house until I was ten years old. That was the year that we moved to what became known as The Little Farm
My family and I lived there happily for quite a number of years, and it wasn't until I had already gone to Hope College that my parents decided that they had had enough of living on the farm, and that they wanted to move into the city that we began the depature from the farm.
I've got more detail in the farm node, but it's relevant to the story to note that the place had *three* different barns. We had had horses for a while, and boarded some horses as well, which is part of why there were so many barns.
Barns have an amazing way of filling up with junk. Spare wood, old hay piles, pieces of old furniture, debris in general - when there's that much space, your threshold for throwing things away becomes much elevated. Hence, we had three barns full of junk.
My father decided that he had to clear the stuff out before the house was sold, and the new people moved in, as that had been one of the contingents to the sale of the house. So, using our Kubota tractor, we moved the junk out to one of the spare burn areas in the back near the woods.
It was an amazing amount of stuff, and this was just the flammable stuff. All told, the wood pile was constructed like a teepee. Except this teepe was twenty feet wide, and reached roughly twelve feet wide. It was enormous.
Oh, also relevant: We moved the stuff there during the fall, fully realizing that we couldn't do the burn until winter because...well, long field grass and a massive fire wouldn't work well together. Trust me.
It being the end of December in Michigan, there was roughly eighteen inchs of sun on the ground when nate, thepope and I trundled to the back to start the New Year's Eve fire.
Problematically, the wood was also covered in eighteen inchs of snow, which made it awfully difficult to light. We considered this problem, while we also realized that this pile was going to burn a long time. Like for days. At this point, it was 8 PM.
After several unsuccesful attempts of sprinkling gasoline on key parts of the teepee, we sat back and considered our options.
I don't remember who came up with the idea, but we noted the eight or so hay bales sitting by the fire. We then doused the bales of hay in gasoline and tossed them into key parts of the fire.
I then *very delicately* stood back and threw wooden matches on the hay piles. Guess what? Dry hay soaked in gas burns. A lot.
The fire started, and grew, as you would imagine. It grew to the point that all of the snow melted off the teepe, and the core of it started to burn. It then grew to the point that it began slowly melting all of the snow that was around the pile.
It was shortly after midnight that the fire trucks arrived. And the police cruisers. By this point, the shoots of flame were reaching thirty feet up from the ground, and that the fire had melted all of the snow in a forty foot perimter around the fire.
Evidently, several of the people who lived in homes in the woods that our farm abutted against had called in, thinking that a house was on fire. (Little was I know that I'd get to deal with houses fires soon enough). My father also arrived home at the same time, and noticed the three fire trucks, and two police cruisers out in back by the fire.
You couldn't get within twenty feet of the bonfire, due to the intense heat. The police began asking questions, to which my father quickly interceded. The dialogue between them was something that I find amusing to this day.
"So, that's a helluva fire you got there. Some folks thought a house was burning," said the officer.
"Yeah, we were cleaning out the barns," replied my father.
That comment brought nods and grunts of understanding from the assembled firemen and police officers. This was Allegan County. Everyone understood about cleaning out the barns.
"Didja get a burn permit for it?" asked one of the firemen.
"No, kinda slipped my mind," answered my father.
"Oh, yeah, that happens. If you come to the Town Hall tomorrow, you can just get a retroactive one. 25 bucks," said the fire marshal.
"Oh, sure thing," said my father.
With that, the assembled rescue force loaded back up, and trundled back home.
The fire itself burned for another three days, only finally extinguished when we took the tractor, and buried it in dirt.