Oklahoma, along with much of the south, is experiencing one of the worst droughts in recorded history. In Texas this week, 1386 homes (as of 9 this morning) were destroyed by wildfire east of Austin. There have been significant wildfires in our area all summer, and one in Oklahoma City last week consumed 30 structures. It was while Abby and I were watching coverage of the Oklahoma City fire that I heard news anchor Kelly Ogle mention that he watched news footage of a fire approach a house and essentially stop when it reached an area of very low-cut grass.
Thus, I have, in the last few days, been cutting the grass in the yard and pastures surrounding our house as low as I can get it. Essentially, I am mowing a fire moat around our patch. I also cut a bunch of branches from trees that were hanging low, and gave the branches to Buxton the Goat to eat.
- I think I mowed some poison ivy at some point, because I know I didn’t get into any, but I still have a slight rash on my forearms.
- I sproinged my back lifting branches.
- I sproinged the muscle in my right kneepit stepping in a hole.
- I am so congested from all the dust a kicked up while I was mowing that Abby kicked me out of bed last night and I slept on the couch (which is fine by me, since I hate keeping her awake, plus Max the Chihuahua joined me.)
- I have a bruise appearing on my left shoulder from shooting Matt’s 12-gauge shotgun Saturday.
- I am a mess.
As I mowed, I thought of the song “Wildfire,” which seemed appropriate. But of course I was rewriting the lyrics to make it into a song about my lawn mower named Wildfire.
“Oh, they say she died one winter
When her fuel filter clogged
And the mower named Wildfire
Busted down its stall
In a pasture she was lost
“There’s been a hoot-owl howling by my window now
For six nights in a row
A skunk’s gonna spray me, I know
And on Wildfire we’re both gonna mow…”
The mown grass does seem to be a huge deterrent, in my experience (which includes covering many dozens of huge grass fires). Pastures that are brush-hogged regularly (or eaten down by livestock) keep these things from spreading. All the bad ones I saw were in high-grass or heavy brush areas.
Of course, it doesn’t always help. I’ve seen towers of flame jump across four-lane highways:
For what it’s worth, keeping the grass cut at the edge of the road where you live makes your pasture or field less of a target for arsonists, as well.