A Cowboy’s Faith: Blaze best for grass

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“That’ll stop the smoke.”

Longtime farmer friend accessed another pour down walking out of church.

For several days, Flint Hills had been ablaze with smoke apparent in the sky every direction.

It was a haze drawing critical attention from a handful or so of large urban centers.

They were offended at the contamination and fright of hazardous damage to the environment.

Such a controversial issue has been pasture burning since beginning as necessary range management tool.

Fact is prairies were free of most intruders until ranchers started productive grazing programs.

Nature took care of itself, it’s said; lightning started fires, pastures burned, lush grass grew. Buffalo, deer, antelope, prairie chicken and creatures of the wild thrived on native rangeland.

Farmers and ranchers started planting trees of various sorts for windbreaks, home shade and landscaping.

Worthwhile endeavor until wildlife and wind were seeding trees all over the lands.

Then environmentalists encouraged various additional herbaceous plantings in attempting to slow land erosion.

“Helpful” plants soon were nature spread beyond eroding draws, washouts and steep acreage into land never intended.

Doubled invasion required planned management or takeover was certain.

With exceptions those land attackers could be slowed sometimes completely controlled tilling farmland. Yet in most cases specific poisons must be used complement for even satisfactory results.

Rangeland has semblance but more complexes in dealing with both woody varieties and green leafy plants.

Chemical use again becomes demanded in most cases, coupled with hard work. That’s cutting, pulling, piling, destroying trees and those darn weeds, originally planned for retaining land value.

Still essential, most economical, efficient and successful in doing what needs to be done to care for rangeland is light the match.

That clears old grass taking with it unwanted trees, brush and fresh seedlings. Still specific manual and chemical supplements are required to keep invaders stalled.

Problem arises when not all rangeland owners are committed to burning, holding old time prejudices and forefather ways above common sense. Their invaders keep growing, spreading right into neighbors’ well managed grassland.

Date of burn is critical, again with vast opinions. March fire produces early grass; later blaze gets more intruders.

Discussions likely continuing forever, fire’s all around the best way to keep native grass profitably lush.

Reminded of Psalm 104:14: “Fire and flame as ambassadors grass grows for the livestock.”


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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