We’re conducting our second controlled burn on our new ranch today, in order to improve the grazing land for our sheep. We are trying to get rid of the non-native goat grass and replace it with native grasses that are better for livestock.
Before we bought this ranch, there were around 100 horses roaming free on about 800 acres, and much of the grass that they grazed on was goat grass. When the previous owners decided to sell their land, they sent most of the horses to an auction. When we bought the ranch in March, there were about two-dozen horses left. We decided to keep a few horses and we noticed that one of the mares had abscesses on her gums. When we had the University of California, Davis veterinarians come over to examine the horses, they attributed the abscesses to the rough grass that the horse had been grazing on. The same thing can happen to the sheep, so the controlled burn will ultimately improve the feed that is available.
Our local fire department conducts the controlled burns. Before the fire is lit, my husband drives a big John Deere tractor and disks the fire breaks to contain the fire. Then a firefighter walks around and uses a drip-torch to light the fire, as shown in this picture. Several fire trucks are stationed around the fire to make sure it stays under control.