Hooray, it’s that time of year again! Time to burn the prairie and mow down the old dry grass to open up the way for new green shoots to feel the spring sunshine. We divide up our prairie fields into four sections and cycle through burning a different section each spring. This gives the grasses a big boost as the competition with other stuff is reduced.
We got up early and out to put our safety measures in place – a water pump on the tractor and a rubber snuffer for me to drag over stray flames. We toss some straw in the air to confirm the wind direction and then start a fire on the side away from the wind to prepare a fire break. We mow paths that make it easy to break the burning into small pieces that are easy to control. The problem we have is that a lot of the tall stems don’t really care to catch fire, so the whoosh of flame gets mostly the undergrowth.
After all the fires were out, my husband mowed the rest of the property to expose the gentle rolling hills that we only see for a month or two in the spring. It’s disorienting to be able to see clear across the farm with no place for the critters to hide. Soon will begin the race to the sunshine of one species after another, each crowding the previous one out for that upper real estate. By end of summer, it will be six feet tall.
It was bitter cold standing in the morning wind, in spite of the roaring fire. I found myself shivering uncontrollably and had to clomp home with stiff cold feet to fetch a sweater and scarf for under my coat. You’d think the goats would suffer in the cold, but I found them sleeping out in the open field this morning, rounded lumps with frost covering their full mohair coats.
I get a thrill seeing the seasons begin to change. This is one of the best features of living in Michigan.