Sunday, May 3, 2009

Prairie Burning

Cadence and I were just settling in on the sofa last evening to recap our busy day's events when our neighbor Paul stopped to tell us he was going to do a prairie burn. When? ...Now! He wanted to make sure our cows were secure and they wouldn't be too nervous.
Paul owns 90 acres on the south edge of our property that once belonged to our farm. He built a house and restored the entire acreage to prairie, abounding with spectacular native flowers, pheasants, wild turkeys, coyotes, deer, and butterflies.
If not burned or maintained with chemicals, trees will grow up and eventually transform the prairie into woodand. Fire is nature's method for preserving prairie, and even though it is a bit disconcerting to have a big fire set next to your trees, I am glad Paul chose fire over chemicals.
Kyle Herring (the same fellow who removed our dead maple) managed the burn. First he and his crew backburned along the tree-line.
As dramatic as the fire looks in these photos, with the smoke lit up by the flames, it definitely was very controlled. I even felt comfortable walking amid the burn with Kyle to take some photos.
After back-burning a swath along our treeline, they set the main fire on the southern boundary. With the southerly wind, the fire quickly swept across the prairie. I was concerned about the pheasants, which have just begun nesting but Kyle assured us it is early enough they will lay new eggs. We saw one pheasant fly out ahead of the flames.
Rog had been off jamming with friends. As he drove home, he could see the sky glowing from miles away. As he crested the first hill and saw that the fire's glow was by OUR house, his heart raced. He was relieved to learn it was a planned burn. Normally we get almost no traffic on our dirt road, but a steady string of cars came by to check out the fire.
Surprisingly, the animals did not seem to be concerned about the fire so close.
If we have a drought year I will rest more assured knowing that all that dry fuel has already been burned.
Here's how the prairie looked this morning. It smells like a huge, doused bonfire. Kyle says we'll be amazed--it will turn totally green in a few days. I'll try to document it through the summer on this blog.


Anonymous said...

Whoa those pictures are amazing. Regardless if they had it under control or not I still would have been scared.

JC said...

Wow !!

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Farmers around here use to do burns every year. Now I do not see them as much. When they are in control of the burns it works out well and it does green back up very fast.It always made me a little nervous regardless.It has been so dry here in the last couple of years that all burning has been banned.

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of that to be honest, thanks for schooling me on that! Your photos are AWESOME. Can't wait to see how the prairie greens up!

Tatyana said...

Hi Susan! Thanks for this post and great pictures!

mo'ikeha said...

Impressive pictures indeed! Living now for more than four years in the capital city of Greece with more than five million inhabitens, somehow 'lost contact' with nature. Feels good being brought back by your blog. Impressive also the idea of burning what is 'past' to give way to what will become 'future'.

tao47 said...

The pictures are amazing! Now I know why there was so many people on the road watching. Thank you for taking the time to take pictures and document the whole process. The cookies were awesome and you have a new customer:)I will be seeing you at the farmer's market. Crystal & Kyle

JC said...

I am giving you the 'One Lovely Blog Award'.

Please go to my blog to see what it is and what you need to do. Also, you can copy the award if you want. It's a pretty one.

I think you are Purrfect and that's why I picked you.

Susan Tomlinson said...

Very, very cool.

Marie said...

way too cool

Dan said...

I lived on your farm back in the 60's and 70's and the controlled burn is something my father,brother and I would do every other year or so in the timothy fields.It was quite a lot of fun and excitment for us boys then.By the way,your little "Blair Witch" building West of the grove was where my brother and I raised pheasants for releasing onto area farms.Thanks for the memories,Dan.