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Wet Spring On Fire

May 5, 2010

Spring 2010.  If I could give a potential land owner advice, it would be “don’t purchase wet lands during a dry year”.  No matter how nice a “wet lands” area may look like during a dry year, there is a reason why they are called “wet lands”.

We are very fortunate to be located where we are, as we haven’t been flooded out like so many parts of South Dakota.  Our pasture is hilly and has a “dry creek” that runs through it and terminates in a cat tail slough.  The “bottom” area is wet up to the shin most of the time and provides canary grass as spring forage.  Interestingly enough, when the horses walk on dry “wet lands” it is springy like a trampoline.  One can see the earth move like a water bed underneath their hooves.

To dig down 2″ is to hit water.  This makes it pretty difficult to drive a tractor in for clean up let alone when it is carrying a 1600 pound round bale to be used for feed.  Timing this activity between rain storms and catching the best “dry” conditions has been the key.  We’ve been very blessed that between hay forage and rotating pastures the horses haven’t had to endure too much muddy, mucky mess.  Rain rot is a complication that can arise out of these wet conditions, no matter how much manure maintenance is performed.

It seems like the wind has increased in frequency and speed during the last two years.  Normal breezes were at 5 to 15 mph but now, normal seems to be wind at 20 to 30 mph with gusts between 45 and 60 mph depending upon locale.  Thankful for the wind for one reason, it dries things out.

While on my way out to the acreage one windy day, I noticed smoke and thought, “too windy to be burning refuse”.  As I drove nearer, the smoke became more intense and I realized that a farm building was on fire, not a refuse pile.  Traffic drove by the farm, oblivious to the hazard.  Perhaps they were city slickers……. Realizing that this fire was fresh and starting to threaten the home and that it must not have been reported, I called it in.  It hadn’t been reported.  If ever you see a structure on fire, calling 911 is good, but if you have access to the local sherif’s phone number too, they may be able to respond more quickly depending upon the location.  Call both.  Such was the case here.  The structure was burned to the ground before the fire trucks arrived and the fire had started burning the trees, moving closer to the home.  Notice the propane tank just to the left of the fire.  The fire was contained before it reached the propane tank and the home was not burned.

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