This morning I planned to bake. As is the norm for life here, that was just another idea interrupted — this time by the "beep, beep" of a pick-up at our front gate. 

The blustery "August Winds" that had continued into September finally subsided for a moment and our friend, neighbor, and chicken farmer up the road (I will have to find another way to refer to him) was grabbing the opportunity to do a "block burn" (or controlled burn) on our farm.

Neither Nils nor I had ever witnessed such a thing. 

I told Nils to go ahead without me on the pick-up; I wanted to chronicle the event, and I'd follow in a few minutes.

I hadn't even had the chance to put my shoes on when I saw …

I grabbed my cameras and iPhone and prayed that my batteries weren't completely drained.

My heart pumped and, I reassured myself that I'd paid the premium on our homeowners' insurance. But, very quickly I saw how perfectly choreographed the process was, and it all became exhilaratingly exciting.

Then I saw this fellow in the thick of it all and it got scary again. 

If you've seen previous photos of our dam, perhaps you'll be as shocked as I was seeing this.

The magnificent backdrop is reassuring. Otherwise I'd think I was looking at a moonscape.


Funny how something so exceptional and frightening for me …

All this completed within about one hour!

In case you're wondering, I never got back to the baking. I've been periodically looking out the back door. The winds whipped up again this afternoon and those smoldering bits out there make me just a leeeettle bit nervous. I hope I'll be back here with you tomorrow! 


For those of you, like me the first time I heard of this, who find this horrifying, there is, indeed controversy over the long-term agricultural and ecological value and impact of "block burns." What I have observed and learned so far is that 1) a controlled burn is far sounder (ecologically, economically and humanely) than a runaway fire which can happen in an instant in these dry, windy periods. 2) Wildfires are a part of the natural cycle in the Drakensburg, allowing seeds to germinate. 2) Fires release nitrogen and other nutrients into the soil as mineral-rich ash, aiding new plant grown.  3) While the burning does release carbon dioxide into our atmosphere at a highly concentrated rate, it does "clean fields" of weeds and pests and is said to break disease cycles. The alternative to controlling these weeds and pests would be chemical pesticides. It is likely trading one "poison" for another, but I tend to believe this solution is the lesser of the evils. 

p.s. – I'm told that I can expect the beauty of my farm to return within two weeks. I'll keep you posted.

One Response to Out of the cake pan into the fire

  • As the granddaughter of a farmer, I saw many controlled burns as a kid.  I am amazed how you being in South Africa and me in Indiana we can have so much in common (fires, pine box gardens, dogs attacking chickens).  It makes me realize how the world is smaller and more alike than we think.  Great pictures!

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Hi! I'm Corinne.
After many years of meeting challenges of the corporate world as a (moderately) Type-A city gal, I embark with my DH, Nils, on a completely different adventure in living.

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