The title of this blogpost is a phrase that is normally used by BBQ restaurants, but when you smell smoke here on Gobbler's Knob; we're usually burning the prairie. And, it's usually not an accident - it's a result of a few years of cajoling and convincing the Fire Chief that it's time.
Way back in Winter & Spring of 2019, then again in 2020, we missed the opportunity to burn our first prairie installation (according to Mr. Freeze -but, I think he was just stalling-ha!). I was bummed. The original prairie hadn't been burned since 2013 and the east field hadn't been burned since 2014. We had bought an old hay rake and had been raking off the duff every year, but nothing beats prairie rejuvenation like a good, hot fire.
So, in Fall, 2020 Mr. Freeze knew he could not put it off for another year. There was going to be a major burn on Gobbler's Knob before the plants started to emerge this year - he could either be part of the planning...or be surprised when he saw the flames. We waited & we watched the weather. I watched all the major MDC and MPF burns and reminded him almost daily. We had learned our lessons from previous burns - make good, wide firebreaks, wait until the wind was right and don't mow it down until you're ready to throw a match.
FINALLY, we had a week of dry weather and with the reassurance of assistance from one of my best friends, Cindy and her husband Rob, Bob quickly mowed the field on March 6th and refreshed the firebreaks.
Enough training - let's throw a match - we'll make it up as we go along. The wind was perfect - 5-10 mph, solid & steady from the southwest. But Bob and I have seen this rodeo before, so Cindy and I started burning the northern firebreak and working our way to the west - just in case the wind decided to change direction. Low & slow.
The men worked their way southward down the eastern firebreak, while Cindy and I worked our way towards the firebreak to the West, finally turning southward, along the western firebreak..., only about 10 minutes behind the east crew.
Then, the inevitable happened - it was as if the Wind Gods knew that Cindy and I were having a great time...taking our time. The wind direction shifted and it was suddenly coming straight from the East. Blowing a head-fire right towards our west line that wasn't quite completed yet. And Cindy needed to refill her sprayer. I looked up and saw this re-invigorated fire line coming at us, so I started dragging fire at a slow trot, trying to not look too panicked and I glanced over to see Cindy quickly refilling her sprayer.
For one brief second, I thought we would get a reprieve as the wind whipped around again.
Nope, keep dragging girl...faster. Where's that water sprayer?
And then, as quickly as it started, the wind changed again. Cindy and I had reached our corner fire break and the neighborhood was safe once more from the firebugs on Gobbler's Knob.
The wind shifted to come directly from the West and we had our own head-fire excitement for a few minutes, but no reason to panic - the firebreaks can contain this now and we can hang out & enjoy.
We were so comfortable with the containment now that Cindy could take a video. She's so good at it! Good grief - I sound like a child - "I saved a wooley worm"! Oh well, I'm not going to edit the video - it's the way I am and everyone should know this about me. We had a blast - thank you, Cindy & Rob for helping us. We would have been in good company if we had ended up in jail for burning down the county - fortunately, thanks to your help, we didn't!
The completed burn - approximately 2.5 acres. I can't wait to see what it looks like this Spring!
The eastern firebreak. The specimen garden (where I planted numerous specimens from which I can gather various seeds to share), burned very thoroughly.
We also burned the "East Field" while we had the benefit of Cindy and Rob's help.
|View from the south of the burned East field.|
|View from the north of the burned East field.|