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What’s a Good Fire?  

You see native grasslands with plumes of black smoke billowing up throughout the land and wonder, why?  For many of us, this plays a significant role in natural land management.   They are considered to be a ‘’good fire”.  

This time of year we all patiently (or impatiently) wait for the season to change.  They so lovingly refer to it as “Fool’s Spring”—a couple of sunny days and the temp above 40.  We are so antsy to get outside, we work on the one thing we can in February, controlled burns. 

What’s the point of a controlled burn?  well break each section down, but a crucial part of natural land management and long-term success. 

  • Land Management Tool
  • Cost-Effective Tool

Land Management Tool

We obviously raise cattle, therefore we use controlled burns quite frequently. A controlled burn allows for maximum pasture grazing come spring and summer. In the late winter and early spring, we burn to cut back on naturally invasive plant species and weed control. This helps clear out the old, dead grass so the new green grass can grow. Happy cows are well-kept cows. They prefer to munch on the fresh grass more than anything.  Fresh, green grass is one of the best natural resources we can provide to our cattle.  

A prescribed burn can be so beneficial to cleaning out dead undergrowth.  It’s a natural process that allows us to very quickly make progress.  Natural fires can be a safe and effective land management tool with low relative humidity and a carefully thought-out burn plan and low wind speed.  For safety reasons, we pay special attention to wind direction and speed, and sensitive areas and carry the necessary tools to control the natural cover fire.  In the event that we create a burn plan that involves large amounts of acreage, we inform the local fire department to let them know what we are doing.  This helps down the number of calls they may potentially receive.

Cost-Effective Tool 

The best part of prescribed fire, it’s free!  You set out with a specific goal to clear off invasive native plants that you no longer have a purpose for.  Clearing and dozing land can cost thousands, however, using a controlled application of fire can be a cost-effective way to clear and improve the land.  

One of the best ways we are able to maintain our fencing is a planned fire.  In Missouri, cedar trees are native trees that grow up rather quickly in our fencerows.  By burning these and clearing them out, we are able to help keep our cattle safely contained.  This plays a vital role in livestock land management.  We do our absolute best to keep our cattle in to keep both them and those that travel along the roadways safe.  

Some of the important elements come into play when we discuss a proposed burn area.  Depending on the element, we choose not to burn or wait until a safer day.  Those important elements include; 

  • Duration of the burn
  • Specific weather conditions 
  • Drought conditions 
  • Fuel conditions 

Overall, periodic fires help us meet our overall land management goals.  While some might not agree that it is a crucial part of maintaining our natural ecosystem, we feel that it’s an important tool for our operation and for maintaining and improving our farm and ranch.   

As land managers, it is our role to be stewards of the land and protect our cattle as well as improve our soil profile.  A periodic fire allows us to do just that.  So in the early spring, when all that green grass that begins to grow and you see happy cows grazing on fresh pasture, we hope you’ll remember where your next meal comes from and it’s okay to have beef with us! 

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