The Hills are Alive… With the sound of fire!
The snap, crackle, pop of a bright-orange flame curling its way across hills, pastures, and waterways is music to the ears of many a producer during the month of April. It sounds good because with each successful prescribed burn completed, the stewards of the land know they are controlling the spread of red cedar, dogwood, and buck brush. These are all invasive plant species that reduce the amount of available grass that helps produce beef to help feed the world.
The one pasture we needed and planned to burn this year was one we rent just south of I-70, so we needed a north wind. Randall, along with our business partners, Paul & Nancy, were able to burn this pasture this past weekend with a favorable northeast wind and without a hitch. Each pasture burning usually takes all of three of them; one to light the fire, one to use the water gun that puts out the fire, and one to drive the truck on which the portable pressurized water tank is located. It was a late burn, but good because it really stunted the development of woody plants as most of them had already leafed out by this time of year.
Burning is a well-thought out and sometimes highly stressful part of a rancher’s job. It requires coordination of landlords, neighbors, helpers, and equipment and is dependent upon a variety of factors including temperature, wind, humidity, moisture, and most importantly, timing. I don’t think it is any coincidence that a majority of the prescribed burning takes place in April, a month that also celebrates Earth Day.
This year, Earth Day turns 40, but the farmers and ranchers of Kansas have been exemplifying the values associated with caring for the environment for generations. Prescribed burning is an environmentally friendly practice because it preserves our part of the last remaining Tallgrass prairie in conjunction with maintaining a food source that allows us to produce safe and wholesome beef for today and tomorrow’s consumers. Celebrate Earth Day…enjoy a juicy steak!