Brushing and Burning

Winter rainy season is the time to use fire.

Before: notice all the dead brush in the center piled up around a tree. In a real fire, this is an explosive torch, a fire ladder. We saw first-hand that ladders like this cause extreme fire behavior during a wildfire. This particular ladder was created from the top of a burned-out tree that fell after the fire this past fall.

After: Notice all the brush is gone and area is clear from the ground up for about 10 or more feet. The ladder is gone. Now we just have some firewood to pick up later.
Here’s where fire is our friend. It burns up all that brush on our terms. (A side note: after this pile was a hot bed of coals, the goat tribe came running down the path, right THROUGH the coals! I was traumatized, but their hooves looked okay. So I guess we have fire-walker goats. Unfortunately, these animals don’t seem to have an innate understanding of fire danger.)
Another way we use fire this time of year is to burn orchard prunings. In this photo, from left to right: prunings pile burning, a partially composted manure pile, a manure pile finished composting and ready to use, David scavenging for more things to put on the pile, and Faruk watching. You can see the pasture is just starting to show some green, which will help reduce pressure to feed hay to Lucy and her goat friends.

Updates and On-Going, Post-Fire Cleanup

This one-of-a-kind oak on the ranch, one that had fallen and then regrew trees from limbs …
… now lays in pieces on the upper ranch pasture. It was bulldozed away by CalFire during the fire.
This is what it looked like on the upper pasture before the fire and bulldozers … see the magic oak in the center?
Here’s what it look like today. All gone.
This is some of the tangled mass of brush and trees after the bulldozers cut the fire break in September.
Here’s what it looks like now, still in clean-up mode. We have about four more areas like this to clean up. Clean-up involves cutting the firewood out of the brush, then burning the brush. We will probably try to get the big root balls and tree roots into drainage ditches to slow erosion.

We haven’t posted much in the last few weeks … we’ve been outside cutting wood, hauling and burning brush, and cleaning up after the fire mess. There is a lot more to do. We had hoped to be doing improvements and building more fence this year, but turns out it’s clean-up and repair, instead. We are fortunate that no structures burned because we can do this clean-up ourselves, on our own time. We were at a neighbor’s place yesterday where buildings burned, and they can’t touch it because of county rules and insurance issues, so it looks just like it did right after the fire – it’s like they are frozen in disaster-land and can’t do anything about it, can’t move on. This is true for all who lost homes and structures on Sept 8. We mentioned previously that utility power has been restored most places, but AT&T landline service is still down.

In other news, for those waiting to hear about whether or not Lucy is pregnant, we “think” she is! If she misses her cycle this week, that will help us feel more certain. She usually sniffs on the big goat and tries to ride him when she’s cycling. We haven’t observed that behavior in the two past cycles since the artificial insemination. This week would be the third cycle time since AI.

Oh yes, our beautiful Christmas tree is still up in the big room. We are waiting for a rainy day to take it down. It’s still drinking water, so it looks almost as fresh as when we put it up.

Rainfall has been low this year, and all of California is again in a drought. Periodic, light rainfall has been a short-term blessing for our burn-scarred area … we sure are hoping to continue receiving periodic, light-to-moderate rainfall through May. The chart below shows historic and current rainfall amounts, by year and month.

Let’s Start 2021 with a Steaming Pile of Shit …

but it is the good kind!

The goat/cow manure is decomposing the old gladiolus stalks.

This will make rich compost that we’ll put back onto the garden.

It will take several months, and we’ll turn it several times with the tractor.

Speaking of garden … not much there, but this little Napa cabbage is beautiful. Most made tight heads, but this one decided to risk being open to the new year!