Thursday, March 10, 2011

My favorite day of the year

Scott will tell you that I anticipate the spring burn more than most holidays.  You could say that it's because it starts the growing season at Bluestem Farm, but the real reason is the chance to play with FIRE.

Years ago we would load up the truck with a full 250 gallon water tank as well as various buckets and sprayers.  Later we upgraded to the 10 gallon spray tank with electric pump that could project water further from the truck bed.  Soon after, we ditched the truck all together and carried 3 gallon spray tanks that we could refill from the pond. 

This year with a rare east wind that could only carry the fire back toward bare, tilled fields, I set off with a box of matches, holly, the dog, and not a drop of water.  I later walked the fence with a spray tank to see if any posts were smoldering, but I didn't find any so I just dumped the water out.

Maybe I'm getting cocky, but I think I'm getting better at anticipating what the fire will do.  I picked a day with a steady wind to give the fire direction, and soggy ground to keep the blaze contained within my mowed paths.  Where the flames wanted to creep too far in the wrong direction, I just stamped them out with my wet boots. 

I only burned half of my pasture this time.  I'll probably burn the rest later in the spring.  The goal is to increase plant diversity with the two different burn times, and to have a little less adverse affect on wildlife using the pasture for cover.  The burn is so fast and "cool" that Holly barely waits for the flames to pass before she's out digging for field mice.  The coyotes will show up soon too for the feast.

My neighbor to the south was burning at the same time.  Usually, I burn first and try not to burn through to his pasture, but this time he was just beyond the tree line from the area I planned NOT to burn!  No problem.  What little undergrowth the trees don't shade out, greens up fast in the spring and will rarely carry the burn through.

No comments: