Controlled burns require vigilance

Texas wildfire (Texas A&M Forest Service photo.)

Here are a few tips to remember when doing a controlled burn. Check the weather for wind speed, wind directions and air quality alerts before you light the fire.

"Just A Scoopful" - Jerry Nine
“Just A Scoopful” – Jerry Nine

Keep the fire contained. Creating firebreaks is the critical first step. You need a continuous line of bare soil between the area you want to burn and the area you don’t. The area should be at least twice as wide as the vegetation is tall.

A good rule of thumb is you burn with an air temperature of less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit, humidity greater than 40% and a wind speed of 5 to 15 miles per hour measured at 6 feet above the surface of the ground.

Here are the rules for burning within the Oklahoma law, farmers and ranchers are to conduct their burn in a lawful manner. They are to notify all adjoining landowners within 60 days prior to conducting the burn either orally or in writing.

A notification plan is available from Oklahoma Forestry Services. This plan must be filed with the fire department nearest to where the land is going to be burned. The Oklahoma Forestry Services, as well as many fire departments, can charge for the reasonable costs of suppressing an illegal, escaped controlled or prescribed burn.

Many times we do not realize how volunteer firefighters—plus our paid departments—put their lives on the line. Just this past week we experienced this with one man who had extreme burns. Please pray for him as well as he will be in the hospital for 30 to 40 days. Let’s make sure all these volunteer departments have the necessary equipment to be as safe as they can be.

There will be a little green coming back to where it burned two weeks ago. In our area there were reports of half an inch to three-fourths of an inch of rain. Others were not that fortunate. There is still a lot of the area that looks like the sand dunes.

There is a big sign in one area where people donated hay and it says, “We are stronger together” and on the other side continues the message and notes Ephesians 5:20.

You don’t quit playing when you get old. You get old when you quit playing.

I told a friend, “My life hasn’t been the same since my accident.” My friend said, “What accident?” I said, “The one where I got my finger stuck in that wedding ring.”

The other day I said, “It is going to be windy tomorrow and that is the day we have agreed to help work the neighbor’s cattle.” He said, “Well, with it that windy at least no one will be able to hear you cussing.” I said, “Well, evidently you have never worked cattle with me.”

Editor’s note: The views expressed here are the author’s own and do not represent the view of High Plains Journal. Jerry Nine, Woodward, Oklahoma, is a lifetime cattleman who grew up on his family’s ranch near Slapout, Oklahoma.