The Back Story….
The beauty of the Western Carolina Mountains in the fall cannot be overstated, I dare you to try! Our annual display of fall foliage is spectacular and instills an inner peace that is better felt than described. However…as the saying goes, “What goes up, must come down…” and by George, those leaves fall with regularity for months after the peacocking has concluded. I have a theory that we get more accumulated leaf fall each year than snow in Chicago – still, I’m very happy to have made that trade!
I’ve now spent two fall seasons in WNC and am starting to arm myself with the tools and know-how to proudly tend my own land, two acres of high output leaf machines to be exact. In year one, under the obligation of our rental agreement, we had a local crew that would come out to blow leaves down the hill, clean the gutters, and generally maintain a minimally prescribed appearance. Great, so I learned a few tricks and what to pay attention to….check!
In year two, we owned the house so I started hoarding battery-powered lawn equipment – leaf blowers (obviously!), hedge trimmer, weed wackers, power washer, chainsaw, and even a leaf vacuum/grinder (which is a-mazing). I spent countless hours moving leaves across the yard and down the hill, cutting down several small trees, chopping up fallen limbs from the ground, and generally wreaking havoc on the various flora throughout the property with my weapons of mass destruction!
As I prepare for the harvest of year 3, it’s time to work smarter and not harder. All of the lawn debris has to go somewhere and that’s usually down the hill and away from really being a problem, or in piles to dry out before it can be processed. Last fall I bought a small firepit from Wayfair to use for burning the growing pile of leaves and limbs. Needless to say, this isn’t the intended purpose of such a firepit and it became a tedious endeavor, and quickly so. The firepit is great, but burning leaves in such small batches caused more watching than doing.
My buddy Scott sent me a link to the Proud Pyro burn cage and as we joked about how cool it would be, I started seeing the possibilities. Was this overkill, or just what the doctor ordered? After much hemming and hawing, I sent it to my wife as a suggestion for an upcoming birthday gift idea and kept on trucking with the firepit, small batch after small batch.
Then one day, fate stepped in – meaning, my wife backed into my overworked little steel burn machine and completely snapped off one of the three support legs. A tripod with two legs doesn’t stand very well, and it’s even harder to burn fires at such a drastic angle. So now, it’s propped up on rocks as I continue to process the ever-accumulating debris. She looked at me with sad eyes and told me to just buy the Pyro Cage now, she had a different birthday idea anyway. Well, if that’s what the wife wants, that’s what she gets! 🙂
Bad Idea INCINERATOR! (The Review)
The panels are manageable to move by hand one or two pieces at a time, but I was able to load everything – all four sides, base, and lid – onto a dolly and move everything from the garage to the driveway at one time.
Assembly is intuitive, all pieces locked together as advertised, and I was able to do it by myself. It certainly would be easier with two people, especially on uneven ground, but absolutely can be a one-person job.
I burned a giant pile of leaves collected over the winter along with several small trees, old fence posts, and countless cardboard boxes that have been collecting in the garage over the winter.
The cage was stuffed full of leaves and as many limbs as I could for the initial burn. I lit a few of the leaves that were on top and once I saw it going, I put the lid on, hoping for the best – I was not disappointed!!
Contrary to my prediction, the flame pulled down through the rubbish and made fast work of each load. Once my initial pile of leaves was gone, I was able to remove the lid and start feeding limbs in at will.
Once all the leaves, limbs, and fence posts were turned to ash, I started loading up the cardboard boxes. I needed the lid in place to keep things safe on this windy day, and the Bad Idea gloves protected my hands (I did feel the heat during the height of my burn, so don’t linger with the lid in your hand for too long!)
My greatest fear was warping the panels to the point they would be difficult to disassemble as I’ve read on some forums; it actually kept me up the night before worrying that I may have flushed $400 down the drain. I was so relieved the next morning when I went to take it apart, and while it had warped a little bit, I had zero difficulties getting all of the panels apart. I believe that people warp the metal when the fire gets too hot – from burning stuff that shouldn’t be in there like metal, plastic, housing material, etc. – that’s my best guess based on what they’ve written and my only first-hand experience.
It’s a bit on the pricey side for what it is, but it’s a premium product that delivers value and efficiency, and so much better looking than a 50-gallon barrel!
Check out our YouTube page for live-action videos of the burn!