Thursday, April 14, 2011

Burn Baby Burn

I've arrived in Edgerton and so far have worked 3 days (12-13 hours each day! I've already almost worked 40 hours this week) for my new job at a different native landscaping company. It is now burn season, so on my first day they got me started on one of their massive burn sites. They told me that most of the land they burn in the spring and fall is CRP land, or Conservation Reserve Program, that pays farmers to not till some of their land, especially if it isn't that good for farming. They feel like massive burns to me because I only ever did tiny 2 acre or less burns, and these are 25-50 acres per burn unit. Yesterday we burned 154 acres in 3 or 4 (depending on how you look at it) different pieces. It's easier that way. I've learned a lot about burning that I didn't know or forgot, and I am feeling a lot more comfortable communicating on the little two-way radios. I say 10-4 when I understand some order and I am going to go do it.

I had a private moment of glory (it really wasn't a big deal, but I was proud of myself) when I was walking the perimeter of one of the larger burn units to join the crew on the other side, and I saw that the fire had crept over the burn breaks and started a bunch of dry grass on the other side on fire and was burning through the fence into the neighboring field. I radioed for help, trying to keep the panic out of my voice and mostly succeeding, and my coworker on the four-wheeler with the water tank got there pretty fast and we put it out.

I wish I could post pictures of the burns, because once the head fire is lit, it's a beautiful, exciting thing. Tiny twisters of smoke and ash and sometimes flame are a common sight, and there is nothing like a sunset behind a cloud of smoke. But, I'm worried about melting my camera, even though there's a guy who has one on the crew to document the fire. Plus, back in one of my posts from 2008, on Xanga, when I was working for the Nature Conservancy, I put up a picture of myself in front of the fire:

Which, in retrospect wasn't a huge deal since is was a prescribed burn, or purposely set, and pictures are often taken on prescribed burns to document it. I feel kinda lame now for doing it but I have a cool picture! At least I'm not this guy:

Seriously. Who does that? Apparently this guy.

One one of our burns on Tuesday, there were pasque flowers! They look like this:

Similar or related plant to crocuses, that appeared on Gino's blog. They are the harbingers of spring. Yes, we did burn them, but their roots are long and there's plenty more that hadn't come up yet.

And now about my town: Edgerton, WI. It's 10 minutes north of Janesville, and 30 minutes southeast of Madison. The people I work with are from all over, but mostly WI. One guy from MN! And one woman from Illinois. What is the term for those: Wisconsanite? Illinoisian? Is that right? Anyway, here's a picture of the bungalow I'm sharing with a guy who also moved here from MN:

We're on the right. It's pretty nice. Steve, my roommate, just bought us a couch for $10 at the thrift store. It's not a bad couch either. Makes me wonder if it's cursed... There's 4 nice cedar-looking trees in front:

Maybe to block the noise from the street. Seems like everyone and their grandmother has a motorcycle or something without a muffler. The population is around 5,000 according to Wikipedia. Also according to Wiki: "Known locally as "Tobacco City U.S.A.," because of the importance of tobacco growing in the region, Edgerton continues to be a center for the declining tobacco industry in the area." Near my place is an old tobacco plant that looks defunct but is still there for history? I don't know. What I do know so far is the grocery store is a Piggly Wiggly:

See Dad? I parked to leave space for the geezers.

There is also some Norwegian roots here, shown by this family insurance company called Jenson's:

See the Norwegian flag? As I drove by this when I first arrived, I thought, oh a good sign. I haven't mentioned yet, but I was accepted to the Norwegian University of Life Sciences for a Master's Degree in International Environmental Studies. Even though I enjoy the work I've been doing, I think I'm going to go for a shift that lets me still work on making a difference but I get a year-round job with health care and benefits--I don't care if the salary isn't high, just enough so I can support myself. Also I want to explore the Norwegian roots of our family and learn Norsk. More on this later. Maybe much later.

That's a lot but thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. Nice post. It sounds like the job isn't breaking you and you're having a good time. And a new(?) sofa. Steve sounds like a "solid" guy.

    I'm also happy that you left some parking space for the old people, although it looks like the Piggly Wiggly has plenty of parking space.

    I'm sorry you won't be here tonight to share Singapore Rice Noodles from Yang's. I'll eat some extra in your honor.