Earth Day, Grazing and Fire Prevention

Over the past two years our ranch has been involved with two fires. In 2017, the Cherokee Fire burned our ranch destroying homes, trees, barns, out buildings, water infrastructure, fences and corrals. It caused almost $4 million in damage to our home ranch. The Camp Fire happened in 2018. Although we were spared from flames damaging our property, the evacuations, water infrastructure damage, smoke damage and stress to ourselves and animals is still causing major problems.

The home ranch still burning the morning after the Cherokee Fire.

The home ranch still burning the morning after the Cherokee Fire.

Living through several natural disasters I’ve become accustom to answering questions about what we do, as cattle people, to mitigate damage from fire. For six generations my family has lived in this area, running cattle with little change. Fire has always been part of our plan, however the past few years it seems like it has been excessively different.

In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to show you one big benefit of grazing cattle; fire fuel load reduction.

The two photos below were taken one year apart. The top photo was our ranch un-grazed spring of 2018. The Cherokee Fire destroyed all of our fences so we were not able to run cattle on this side of the ranch during the winter of 2018 like we normally would. The result was grass that almost grew taller than I. The fuel load was massive and we were so scared we were going to burn up, again.

Spring 2018

Spring 2018

The second photo shows what healthy grazing looks like. The grass is managed and healthy (as are the cattle). The cattle also release nutrients back into the soil with the poo and provide us with food and fiber. Cattle play an important role in fire prevention in our area.

Spring 2019

Spring 2019

As we enter the 2019 fire season, I’d like you remind you, your local neighborhood cattle are working hard to mitigate potential damage around our communities.  They are doing this without using pesticide, electricity, loud mowers or fossil fuel, just a four chambered stomach.  Help support them by having a lovely hamburger or steak for dinner this week?

2 Comments

Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, Beef, Fire, History, Know a California Farmer, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized

2 Responses to Earth Day, Grazing and Fire Prevention

  1. TracyinNorCal

    Wow! With that overgrowth I bet you were very concerned when the Camp Fire quickly ravaged the area. Last year was indeed scary. About a month before the Carr Fire erupted, a smaller fire quickly spread from my neighbors property on to my own. Luckily CalFire (air and ground crews), along with local departments extinguished it at 258 acres, with only about 40 acres of our land being burned and no structures damaged. I agree, the cattle definitely played a part in keeping it from being much worse. We were spared from the immediate wrath of the Carr Fire and housed a few friends, family, and animals at our ranch while they were evacuated. Some days were a little worrisome when large pieces of burned debris landed in our yard. Wishing you a safe fire season.

  2. Richard Lewis

    Meg, You and your family have been through so much these past two years. I have followed your posting through it all. It made me want to leave Florida and fly out there to help you. You are a very strong woman and how you have handled yourself with all the stress that has come your way, is very impressive. I wish you a very safe 2019. I look forward to reading you future post.

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