They say you don’t appreciate something until it is gone. That may be true, but I think you also appreciate things when they are there when you need them. Like your spouse, and water, when a grass fire suddenly starts up on the homestead.
Like many of you our homesteading efforts, growing our own food, raising animals, keeping bees, and improving property, is work that tends to get done on the weekends (or whatever your days off work may be) or in the evening after work during the long days of summer.
As such we can sometimes get in a hurry. Being in a hurry is a nearly guaranteed way to get something wrong, mess something up, or get someone hurt.
Take this grass fire for example. It didn’t have to happen – not at all.
Perhaps the easiest thing to note is if the grass around our beehive was properly trimmed. This is pure laziness. My “lawn mower” is a 6′ wide rotary cutter, or bush-hog. It is big and makes a lot of noise and really vibrates the ground. Since I don’t want to mow on the tractor while wearing a bee suit is it much easier to just not mow the area.
It is a poor excuse, really – but there it is.
Another possibility was for me to light the smoker about 10 feet south from where I am in the video – which would have put me right in the middle of our gravel driveway. The fire danger would have been much less there.
So, what actually happened?
Well, filming and working a hive is a pain, to me. I hit the record button on the camera and set off to start filming as quick as I could. Once my gloves are on it is a hassle to operate the camera, you see.
So, on went the camera and off I went to start the smoker, in a hurry. I started my smoker just as you have seen me do before in another video (Beekeeping Tools: The Smoker), using pine straw and a pine cone. The flames only came out of the top of the smoker by an inch or so. But that was all it took.
When the grass caught fire the smoker was still upright and all the material I had placed in the smoker was still right where it belonged. All that happened is for one flicker of flame to find a blade of dry cogongrass.
The fire started up and just as I was about to have the fire out doing my highly specialized dancing routine, the wind blew hard. I rushed over to the spigot that is only about 30′ away, but found that the hose had been detached.
I yelled for my wife who was already well on the way having noticed something was wrong. She went to the end of the hose while I attached it to the spigot. Seconds later water was on the flames and the fire was quickly extinguished.
It certainly could have been a lot worse. 10 more feet and the fire would have been in the wood line, woods that are full of dried pine needles. It would have been a fast and hot burning fire that would have damaged not just our property, but the nearby power line and perhaps an unoccupied trailer on the neighbors property.
In all the only thing we lost was a set of gloves, a queen cage, a marker, and a queen marker tube.
Take whatever lesson you want to learn from this, but I for one will learn to act a little more slowly and not be as complacent as I was with lighting the fire.
Be sure to Subscribe to our YouTube Channel as we’ll show you this again later as the year goes on. As far as the ground around the grape trellis, we’ve got some plans for that too, so stay tuned.