Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Controlled Burn (2)

Today, the long-awaited controlled burn. A perfectly still, dry day, the first day in the 60s, and everything ready to burn. Tim got permits for yesterday, today and tomorrow, and last night at 10 p.m. was out doing his patch of prairie. But Steve's projects are always larger, more ambitious, and there was a vast area ready to burn-- the two places, at front and back of the house, that he sprayed with Round-Up last fall to kill everything off, and then basically a couple acres behind the house.

First, they drive the water wagon around the perimeter of the burn area. Then they start some grass on the edge, and spread the fire around the perimeter with rakes. It burns inward, consuming everything, flaring hot, and then burns down and off. It goes right through small trees in its way, and I guess the fire helps the trees so far, as they don't seem to mind it. It doesn't seem to bother the frogs at all-- they keep croaking and singing away in the wetlands. I wonder if the heat of the fire reflects the heat of their passion, the intensity of spring mating.

It's beautiful, really, strong-smelling. It was the three men out there doing all the fire work. I didn't see a single sign of Amy or Annie, and Chloe and a friend showed up only at the very tail end to watch it burn out. I took pictures, and there was lots of direction about which shots I should take, where I should stand-- most of which I ignored.

It's beautiful, really. And now the black, scorched acres out of which will come the prairie grasses and thousands of cone flowers, is also beautiful. And we'll try to keep the Reed Canary grass out, and the thistles, and the buckthorn. And it will take years of burning and planting and Round-up and burning and planting to take these acres all the way back to what we imagine it was like before the farmers came.
I'll post many, many more photos at www.flickr.com/photos/susansink (flickr cut me off after 1MB-- I'll upload more next month...)
Here's a link to an earlier blog entry on our unsuccessful controlled burn at the end of November 2008. Click here.

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