On the road with fire

I spent last night in a hotel in Kasson, Minnesota after burning Iron Horse prairie near Hayfield yesterday. Iron Horse is a 30-acre remnant that was once enclosed and protected by a railroad wye. The tracks are gone now, but the prairie remains. We had winds to 25 mph but the ground was wet with standing water in places and lots of green brome grass. It burned but not well and we had to leave some areas unburned.

Our pumper truck blew a power steering line as we left, so Russ muscle-steered it to Kasson where we found an open NAPA store with the needed part in stock, and Russ and DJ installed it in the parking lot. It was 8 pm when we checked into the hotel and grabbed dinner and and beers at the restaurant across the street.

Today we burned two restored prairies at Oronoco prairie near the town of Oronoco. We had little wind and a hot Indian grass fire, though again the fuel was green and sparse in places so we couldn’t get everything to burn. I drove our big rig home and got some experience merging a 50-ft-long vehicle in rush-hour traffic.

In other news, I was offered a summer job with the DNR doing bird surveys in June and vegetation surveys in July and August. I had been envisioning something a little more stable (regular hours and less travel), but I can’t turn down the chance to get paid to watch birds and work outdoors!

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