Burnin’ the woods

We burned three days this week, all in deciduous oak forest. I hadn’t heard of this type of burn before, but as it turns out oak leaves will carry fire, and a good fire will kill invasive buckthorn and honeysuckle while not harming oaks. Much of the time was spent cursing at the leaf litter and running with drip torches trying to get something to burn, but on Wednesday we had a great fire on the bluffs above the St. Croix River. Since there is no way to drive ATVs on the steep, narrow firebreaks, woodland burns are a real pump-can carrying workout.

When the fire has burned through the underbrush, the next task is to put out all of the rotting logs and dead trees that caught fire. Affectionately known as “mop-up,” this process takes hours as our saw men cut down burning/smoking trees and the rest of us put them out with pulaskis and pump-cans. (I have plenty of chainsaw experience, but as I have not taken the two-day DNR saw training course, they won’t let me saw.)

Tuesday and Wednesday were both 11-hour days, and yesterday was 9.5 hours. We are off today and tomorrow (rain, wind, and cold again), but on Sunday we are going to hit the road to western Minnesota to burn some real prairie.

Tomorrow is my mom’s birthday, and we will be celebrating tonight at the Happy Gnome (a bar/restaurant known for good food but primarily for its excellent selection of quality beer). As my mom doesn’t drink, I’m not sure why she chose it, but I am certainly looking forward to it 🙂

I updated the photos of the day page with pictures of the Northfield derailment site and last weekend’s snow.

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