Let's stick with more of my favorite Kansas experiences for a minute. Like my previous post, this adventure took place more than a decade ago. Because this ranch no longer hosts public prairie burns, I have removed the name of the property and its owner.
But, if you ever have a chance to see one of these prairie burns, run-don't-walk to experience an amazing and legendary prairie activity:
With only 1/2 an hour left before I would reach my destination, a ranch west of Emporia, Kansas, I began to see wide charred fields along either side of the road. As I turned in at [a ranch in the Kansas Flint Hills] dozens of visitors crowded the driveway and open area.
We had gathered to watch a carefully orchestrated prairie burn, designed to help protect the land from invasion of unwanted trees and brush. Five to 10 days after a burn, the land is once again green and growing. And prairie burns leave charred fields on many farms at this time of year.
[The ranch owner] gave us our safety instructions. He said that, during the burn, if caught by the fire – though this is a rare occurrence – we should ‘move to black or blue.’ Black is already charred ground where there’s nothing left to burn, and blue is a pond.
Then we headed towards the field that he would burn. Some visitors volunteered to light small patches of grass which would spread these tiny fires towards each other, to get the burn started. Flames fanned across the pasture with amazing speed, engulfing vegetation as they created row after row of roaring orange blazes and a rather otherworldly landscape.
Finally, the burn slowed, and the show ended. Handfuls of spectators rode on a farm truck or walked back to the barn area. A trio of country musicians performed in one barn while we chowed down on an old-fashioned chuckwagon supper that began with pulled pork and ended with fresh berry cobbler.
As sunset approached, another blaze raced up a nearby hillside and the ranch owner that we were visiting prepared for the evening burn event on his second field. Regrettably storm clouds, and a 2-1/2 hour drive home chased me away.
Note: As a travel writer, I received accommodations, entry fees, etc. while visiting this area, in advance of reviews and/or profiles. I do my best to remain impartial and offer full disclosure to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
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