If you were asked to restore something, “fire” isn’t the first word that comes to mind. Fire is used to destroy and leaves nothing in its path. If you were talking about a house, I would agree. However, when it comes to restoring prairie, fire is an essential, natural component.
In the springtime, we will often use fire as a means to clear brush and invasive weeds from the pasture. Typically the best time to do this is in April when the summer, warm-season grass is still dry. It provides fuel that burns up the early growing weeds. The warm season grass will then come up through the ashes and produces a healthy stand.
This latest fire we did was not a pasture fire. We acquired an area of pasture that had grown up to trees and brush a few years ago. To clear the pasture we cut down the wooden plants and piled them.
I realize to some people the thought of cutting down trees for pasture sounds like a travesty, but it is important to remember our ranch is on the Great Plains. Historically there were little to zero trees in this area. The overgrowth of trees has threatened the survival of native grasses. By clearing the trees we are restoring the land to what it historically has been–grass.
Now I’m not saying this job was a chore. Oh heck no, it’s one of the most fun jobs we do each year. If you have any bit of a firebug in you it is a blast to get these fires going and keep them burning. While my dad, Ron, and I lit the piles and threw stray branches into them, Carolyn took pictures of the event so we could bring it to you.
So it was a great job to get done that day. Best of all, we got over an inch and a half of rain that night, which put out any smoldering logs and gave the grass a good drink. Can’t beat that! If you want to see the video Carolyn captured, you can check it out on Youtube.