Me: “Ladies, this isn’t your food this winter. Your food is in the big bale feeders and grain bunks at the other end of this pasture. When Bill burned the brome hay field today, some of the flames crossed the fenceline and scorched the grass just a little. No harm done.”
Replacement Heifers: “Huh! This short new grass was tasty to snack on between meals. We don’t like blackened munchies!”
Last Sunday’s weather forecast was for intervals of clouds and sunshine with temps in the 50’s, winds out of the northwest at five to fifteen miles per hour. Bill’s conclusion: It would be a good day to burn the brome hay field, particularly since brome should be burned by February 1st for best quality of the regrowth.
This pyrotechnical task would be conducted differently than previous burns. Normally, Bill conducts a burn solo, using the mini-truck, propane gas bottle from the grill and a plastic tank of water. But, due to a recent medical procedure on his right shoulder, he would need support staff: Neighbor Jim to set the back burn and main event from his ATV using our propane tank; Kaw Township Fire Department volunteers would provide three trucks for water support. Bill would ride shotgun in one of the trucks and supervise the young firefighters.
The brome hay field is only eight and one-half acres, but due to good grassland management—fertilization and burning when necessary—Bill gets a good yield of hay bales, both large and small. Burning is not an annual event, but conditions from last year indicated a burn would be advisable. Hay was put up in early summer. Then came the summer and early fall rains that triggered weed growth. Burning the field before this spring’s regrowth would eliminate dried, dead weeds and produce higher quality brome.
The wind velocity on Sunday was closer to the fifteen miles per hour prediction but because of the direction, any flames that encroached beyond the fence would be on our own property.
Neighbor Jim set the back burn.
The water tank truck stayed on the road, ready to reload the smaller trucks if necessary.
The other two trucks worked the perimeter, dousing flames that crossed the fenceline.
Just the right amount of flame for a good, controlled burn.
Oh-oh! The fire crossed into the soybean stubble. No real damage was done, but the flames needed to be contained before the stiff northwest wind blew them much further.
Good burn, guys! Thanks for your help! From our place, they were headed to one of the hay fields we rent, then to a neighbor’s field.
This is what happens when, later, you find a small flare-up and all you have to beat it out with is a plastic snow shovel!