Firelight Bird Dogs

Firelight Bird Dogs

Friday, April 26, 2013

Burn, baby, burn

Conditions were right yesterday so Mike finally got to burn the field grasses like he has been wanting ever since we bought this place. Burning fields is a common habitat management practice that keeps woody vegetation (trees, brush) from taking over grasslands. Burning will also inhibit the growth of brome grass and stimulate native grasses. The grasses around our house are a mix of brome and native prairie grasses. Brome is a non-native grass that is grown for cattle but is detrimental to game birds because it is too thick, the baby chicks cannot run through it to escape from predators. Native grasses grow in bunches, or clumps, which leaves soil exposed for the birds.

These are native prairie grasses.

In the 3 weeks since moving here we have had rain several times and even some snow so the drought conditions are over, things are not tinderbox dry. The wind was light and in a direction that would push the fire toward the natural firebreak of the driveway, the road and the adjacent corn field. Mike mowed some firebreak paths around the dog fencing (he worked too hard building that fence to let it burn!). With a bic lighter he lit fires in the downwind areas, knowing that the fire would spread in a controlled manner against the wind.

It worked beautifully. The fire spread slowly and thoroughly across the whole target area. The couple of times that it started the wrong direction it was easily snuffed with a shovel. Smoke billowed and blew down the road. The Kickapoo reservation police saw the smoke and paid a visit just to make sure it was an intentional burn and complimented Mike for his good timing, saying that they were late getting their own burning done. By dark the fire had burned out. It will be interesting to watch the regrowth with the improved habitat for the birds.

It was interesting to watch as several birds of prey began to swoop over the field in search of rodents that may have been pushed out of the grass by the fire.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lovin' it

It has been a wicked busy week since arriving at the new house here in Kansas but I thought I would share an update. Unpacking countless boxes, setting up kennels, dealing with Storm in heat driving the boys crazy, and having our first houseguest already, all made the time fly by. A new friend from Montana came down to pick up his puppy and he and Mike had a great weekend of turkey hunting, getting 3 gobblers despite the fact that they had never even scouted the area. Mike simply looked at satellite views of the walk-in areas near us and they went to the one that looked best. I would post a pic of them but my memory card went berserk and lost those pics. :-(

This morning we took 4 dogs for a walk and I took a few pics of the area to share.

This is our road, about a mile long. The light portion in the distance is near the house but the rest of it is a mud (unmaintained) road so there is no traffic and we can just walk down it and let the dogs run the edges of the fields.

Across the road from our drive is this pond. Lots of geese pass through here.

On our walk Jack pointed a covey of quail and Storm and Dee backed. It has been a cold spring here and the birds have not yet paired up to breed so we let the dogs run.

In this pic it was a pheasant. Storm and Dee pointed it and Tweed and Jack backed.

A running pheasant this time.

Good cover is all around us.

We are loving it!

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

And we're off!

We're headed west! We watched the weather forecast and as soon as freezing temps were predicted we set our moving date for packing yesterday and pulling out early this morning before the thaw softened the driveway down to the cabin back to mud. We were very appreciative that Andrea's whole family came yesterday and helped to load the truck. By the time the tailgate was finally pulled down (yes, just barely able to close), we were all exhausted and said sad goodbyes.

So this morning our little caravan pulled out. Mike is driving the F250 with 7 dogs and pulling the Open Range. I follow, driving the 26' Penske truck pulling the Miata on a carrier. In a crate on the seat next to me are 5 of the 8 week old Tweed babies. We will drop to 4 pups when we connect with one puppy owner in the Mass. Berkshires today and then down to 3 tomorrow as we exit New York and hand off the stud dog owners' puppy to him. Once we arrive at the house in Kansas we drop to just our 2 pups as the last owner drives down from Montana.

We are planning to split the 25 hour drive into 3 days, arriving at the house on Friday evening. So if you happen to be at a highway travel plaza between Maine and Kansas this week and see someone walking a whole mess of bird dogs, stop by and say hello!

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