A Cowboy’s Faith: Still time for right

buchmanhead“It’s too late to burn native pastures.”

That’s likely common opinion, but “better late than never.”

So, May was gone before the final match was struck, and the half section of tall past year grass went ablaze. With ample rainfalls of recent, new Bluestem and complementing wild prairie were bright green undertone.

Still, flames stimulated by “just right breeze” created heaviest, darkest smoke rising high in the late afternoon skyline most apparent to counties all around. Such the telltale black high rolling cloud of demise that more than a dozen neighbors and those of high concern from miles beyond gathered to see and offer assistance need be.

Most fortunately this time, the controlled inferno did intended chore thanks to skilled burn crew and nature’s cooperation. Indeed, that’s not always the case.

Pasture burning continues a controversial issue among ranchers. Yet, contrasting half century ago, most agree merits of singeing native plains. Benefit consensus is reduction of invasive brush intruders, and enhanced forage quality. Debate remains to when be the best time to initiate the spark.

“Later is better, but not too late” seems thinking of rangeland researcher experts. That’ll get more invaders in opinion. But, cowboy grazers become eager to clear the old.  Then, spring rains can push prime tender green regrowth, so skinny yearlings grow faster.

However, as with all things studied there have been a variety of “best burn date” philosophies. One fall burning suggestion received acclaim of recent, to soon be squished by those more in the know.

Dilemma at our ranch this spring related to dry conditions. Pastures needed burned in the worst way, thanks to ample growth of last year. But, with seeming drought, it was concern whether one should. “Old dry grass is better than no grass.”

Then, skies opened wide, ample rainfall came, as always does, in its own time. Pasture fire ignitors were ready, but the sky faucet didn’t shut off, delaying the task.

Grassland behind the headquarters was aglow well into May, as black turned green overnight, so pairs have lushness.

Already the later burned is apparent emerald, and several acres of big dry brush piles hopefully soon become smoke as well.

Reminds us of Job 8:5: “It’s not too late to set everything right again.” Thus, Leviticus 25: 21: “The land will yield its fruit.”


030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.

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