Chemise Brush: From Friend to Foe

I’m listening to the local 6 O’clock news and our anchorman has just announced that 250 scientist’s say that we can expect our California climate to be 30% dryer over the next 20 years. Only time will tell how accurate this forecast will turn out to be.

Whatever the outcome, for better or for worse, I hope that common sense might be part of the solution. For me, I can’t wait. I have to move on while the problem is studied, investigated, validated and enough political hot air is belched into the atmosphere to raise our Global Temperature a few more degrees.

Fire has always played a major roll in the evolution of our planet Earth. But with the birth of each new generation of people these folks have decided that the cities held a greater promise for fame and fortune than life on our farms and ranches.

This means that an awful lot of decisions  that affect how I run my business, are made today by people who have little knowledge of the issues that confront me, and not by the people who live on the land.

 Bear with me; all this blabber will set the stage for my point of view.

First, we need to relegate SMOKEY BEAR, who most of us were raised with and taught to revere to some paragraph in our History books of “what not to do”. His management of our wild lands has been a disaster.

He needs to be sent to the scrap heap of irrelevance for changing our perception about fire, from a tool that helps keep our ecosystem in good health to a villain that turns forests into bleak waste lands of blackened trees, and the critters that inhabited these places meet their end in a confluence of smoke and fire. In Mother Nature’s world this does not happen!

While I’m on my soap box, we must rid our thoughts of slogans like, ‘Only you can prevent forest fires’, which further vilifies fire. These slogans that were thought up by some public relations person that didn’t know his ass from a hot rock are not now and never were valid.

With Smokey Bear out of the way, we can view fire in a more objective and scientific way. If we use our knowledge and good sense then reasonable policies can come to the fore that will use fire as part of the solution, and not part of the problem. Lets be smart enough to manage our wild lands in the 21st century and use Mother Nature as our mentor.

 I think I’m done venting for now.

So back to my solution on how to manage our Chaparral lands. Last winter my son Greg and his son Zack crushed about 100 acres of predominately Chamise Brush with a D7 Cat tractor and a D6 Cat tractor.

Several things I have observed since the crushing have  caused me to question my need to Control Burn:

  1. By leaving the crushed Chamise on the soil surface, over time, it will decompose into organic matter thus increasing soil fertility.
  2. By having the brush in contact with the ground, in case of a fire, it will be a colder fire that won’t tend to carry so much heat up into heart of our Blue Oak trees as some live with Chamise. Therefore reducing the chance of being killed in a fire.
  3. By leaving the now crushed brush on the ground when our rainy season arrives, the rain that falls will be slowed down by this mass of sticks all pointing in different directions each acting like a little fish hook to ensnare a drop of water and then send it underground to provide the needed moisture for the green growing season.
  4. A mature Chamise stand is a desert to most all grazing animals I.E. deer, cattle, rabbits and horses. But with the brush on the ground, grass and forb seeds can grow now that they have been exposed to sun light.
  5. The already existing organic matter on the ground won’t be lost in a fire.
  6. I won’t be adding any smoke to the atmosphere just in case, it helps cause Global Warming.

I hope that the pictures accompanying this blog will further explain what I’m trying to accomplish:

image-2

Also take note of a pass I made with my Bulldozer through a Chamise Patch about 10 years ago. Notice all the annual and perennial grasses that have in filled and some Chamise is sprouting again.

image-3

I don’t want to miss lead anyone into thinking this is the only solution for our Brush lands, as I believe there are many. I support the use of fire as an option but in my case it wasn’t necessary. I hope that my words might just keep some of us from returning to the emotional Smoky Bear thinking that lacks logic, patience and common sense.

See Ya,

Jack

What’s In a Sack of Cow Feed?

Years ago, I’m not sure when exactly, you could buy a sack of livestock feed at most Feed Store. The sack was made of a cloth that was a profusion of gaily colored flowers, so that if you were handy with a pair of scissors and a sewing machine a woman could make herself a dress nice enough to have a night out on the town.

That’s and era that we will probably never see again, as most folks don’t know what a Sewing Machine looks like and scissors are meant for clipping coupons out of the local super market flyer.

Anyway the sack of feed I bought had attached to it a tag that if, “taken to heart”, by its reader was way more valuable than the feed inside. I would like to share it with you:

photo