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  • Linda Peterson
    Posted April 10, 2021 at 7:09 pm

    We Should Burn the Barn
    “We should burn the barn tonight, my husband, Gordon said. At the time, we were sitting around our dining room table with our kids, their significant others, and our grandchildren. We were enjoying lasagna, one of the family’s favorite meals.
    At his dad’s suggestion, our son , Chris dropped his fork and bolted outside, with Gordon on his heels.
    We had longed talked of leveling the old barn. Years of hogs and the acid in their manure had slowly eaten away at the cottonwood structure. It was quickly becoming not only an eyesore, but a safety hazard as well.
    Before long, I heard the pop that signaled the starting of our John Deere. A look out the window revealed Gordon dragging out the log chain, draping it across the drawbar of the tractor.
    The rest of the family headed outside to watch the spectacle that was to come.
    Using his trusty gas can, Gordon dribbled gas in strategic places around the barn.
    attaching one end of the log chain securely into the drawbar and securing the other end around one of the barn, he gave Chris the high sign to tighten up the chain.
    Carefully, he lit the fire. The barn smoldered at first before catching fire.
    A passing neighbor stopped by to find out what was happening, wanting to get in on the action. Our son-in-law grabbed his trusty old Canon, getting some really cool shots of the fire.
    Though burning, the barn refused to fall, even though the front wall was completely burned away. This exposed tightly packed hay and straw in the hay mow.

    After they slowly caught fire and a pull on the tightened log chain, the rest of the barn came down with a mighty THUD! Estimated time from lighting to collapse: 25-30 minutes. A piece of history gone

  • Kit Dwyer
    Posted April 13, 2021 at 11:23 am

    The lighter was like a large spring-hinged safety pin that you squeezed together in your palm and fingers. You must make sure the spark igniter end of it was cupped over the Bunsen burner. 
    “Nothing’s happening!”
    “Did you remember to turn on the gas?”
    “Oh! No, I forgot that.”

    I eased the rubber tubing over the base of the burner, then the other end tightly over the brass gas nozzle. Slowly turning the red handle, I could hear the hhiiissssss of the gas starting to escape into the tubing toward the base of the burner. A few clicks of the lighter and “Whallah!”. A blue and yellow flame silently rose from the burner.  I could hear lots of hisses from all tables around the room.
    “I’ve got it now!” I told my freshmen high school chemistry teacher, Mr. Drago.
    Mr. Drago was a dark haired stocky man with bushy eye brows and hair growing out of his ears. We all liked him. He made class interesting and fun and I instantly thought science was the best class ever. I was actually getting to do activities even though I was a girl! It was amazing today, because I my lab partner was absent, so I got to be hands-on with every step of the assignment.   
    “OK, good.” Said Mr. Drago. “Remember to lower your flame by easing off the gas until you have only blue flame. No white or yellow flame. Do you know why?”
    We all recited in unison: “The blue flame is the hottest flame!”
    “That’s right, class!” Mr. Drago praised
    “Now mix together the two chemicals I’ve given you at your station. Those small piles of paste and powder. Use your wooden spatulas to mix them on the metal mixing slab. Then lift a small amount of the mixture up with the wire loop. Some should stick in the loop nicely.” He instructed.  “Slowly let the loop enter the flame. Observe what you see and then write down what happened on your lab sheet”.
    My flame was turning all sorts of colors and small sparks were popping and snapping off the sides of my wire in the blue flame. I can’t wait to learn how to identify the substances and get my first taste of what it’s like to be a scientist. This is going to be the start of something thrilling!  

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