Tag Archives: fire

Prairie State Park

Before i lay into the management of the park, let me be clear that i haven’t a clue as to the constraints and regulations a state park must adhere to. Also, don’t hesitate to visit the park – winter is certainly not its most beautiful season. I did see about a dozen bison.

Covid stuff has made doing stuff a bit awkward – i didn’t see a soul at this park – rangers or visitors. The Prairie State Park visitor’s center was closed, so i back tracked to the camping area and with a bit of driving around, discovered an outdoor privy. It was gross, but didn’t gag me – maybe because i was desperate.

Anyway, that relieved, I drove back towards the visitor’s center – there was one long trail near the privy, but it was too late in the day for me to conquer it. I found one much shorter which was only a path through a burnt out field of native prairie – or what is accepted as native prairie.

Let me admit my bias up front; for regular pasture/field/timber management, i think fire is stupid. It destroys the micro organisms, small critters, and sends amazing amounts of carbon into the atmosphere – not to mention it is dangerous and takes careful management so that the fire doesn’t get away. Typically, it does the exact opposite of what it is touted to accomplish.

There, having said that, fire can be a necessary tool for emergency renovation if we haven’t managed a parcel and now need to jump start healing – a one time deal – if other practices have been exhausted.

As i drove around the park, it appeared to have perhaps half of the property burnt to the ground. I almost didn’t take the time to make this hike, but so glad i did. This was the first time, i’ve explored, examined, encountered the devastating effects of fire on pasture/range/prairie.

Path of the Scorched Earth – would have made a better title.
The grasses are completely burnt, leaving not only no cover, but scorched soil. Any nutrients and saliva provided by bison are burnt up as well. Hopefully, the plants were allowed to grow enough to develop deep root systems to facilitate fast growth in the next growing season.
Oodles and myriads of small rodents and other critters skeletons and bones completely stripped of any hide or sinew. Either these animals were eaten or died a very long time ago or they were caught in the fire.
Pieces of a turtle shell. No one can know for sure the demise of the turtle. We have so few box turtles in north Missouri, i hate to see their destruction. We do have a lot of snapping turtles though, which we could do without – terribly hard on ducklings and goslings.
Woody sprouts thick and getting out of control without proper grazing by bison. These are a result of very low density grazing which allows selective grazing. Once these tree sprouts, thorny vines, etc get started, it’s very difficult to restore the prairie without mowing or chemicals. Fire does not hurt them.
People of the Sky trail – more charred earth – it was getting cold and i’ve learnt a lot by walking on charred pastures.

Next Day – Friday

Slow start today – I’m tired.  Once early lamb feeding of 8 lambs are done, I got the bread started.  Put too much buckwheat flour in and it was horribly sticky.  So nix making burger buns and made 2 loaves instead.  The bones that were saved from the sirloin steak used in stir fry earlier this week were cooked down and I pulled off the bits of meat.  Added additional broth from the chuck roast I’d made Wednesday, threw in the only fresh veggies I have left in the house – onions and celery.

So while the bread is rising, I managed to get all the house vacuumed and it sorely needed it.  The cats are shedding and little tufts of hair were in every nook and cranny.  I just can’t stand that!  Of course the cats could stay outside, but they like to come in often at night because the dogs are out and they don’t get along very well.

After a bit of an early lunch, Dallas and I loaded our brush clearing and fire starting supplies.  We hooked onto the little ATV trailer and pulled it with the Gator to the seed plant.  Before heading north to my farm, we set up the ladder and I climbed up to prune as high as I could with chainsaw a few errant branches of an old apple tree.  It hadn’t been pruned for at least 20 years.  There is a bit more fine tuning that Dallas will finish.  We left the trailer in the yard next to the tree for him to pick up the branches.  I’ll probably cut them in small bits to use for grilling.  Apple wood imparts a nice aroma.

The 35 minute trip to my farm was uneventful, but when we arrived, we saw a baby lamb outside the electric netting.  Hoping to catch him and throw him back over was wishful thinking on my part.  That little bugger had plenty of spunk for such a newbie.  He ran at full tilt down the hill, then scrambled through the barbed wire perimeter fence, down the bank and through a small ditch, then up the road bank and across the highway!  Thankfully, he bogged down in the tall grass  and I was able to nab him.  Little bugger.  I hooked him up and packed back.  Not wanting him to get out again.  I walked to the middle of the sheep paddock and left him.  Hopefully, his mum will find him.  However, since he is a triplet, she may have already abandoned him.

Dallas and I spent the next 3 hours building fires and cutting downed trees down to packable size.  We made good progress, but still only 2/3rds done with this project.  Still hope to finish this winter, but the 20th is fast approaching and I have a lot of stuff going on right now.

Before heading home, we reconfigured a bit of perimeter fence so I could electrify it.  Then once I found the short, it was hot.  Sure doesn’t usually work that easily!

Back home – fed all the lambs – showered – relaxing!

Be glad when these buggers are weaned onto creep feed!  They just about knock me over now.
Be glad when these buggers are weaned onto creep feed! They just about knock me over now. Feeding five at a time.

Shabbat Shalom!