The past few days has been a little tense for those of us who live on the Kansas plains.
Grass Fires have stretched local fire departments to the limit. Whether these fires were started by nature, or man they are difficult to contain, especially when the winds are blowing at 50-plus MPH.
Yesterday afternoon the skies turned dark with plums of heavy smoke. When I stepped outside the atmosphere smelled like a giant campfire. Bits of ash fell and the sun was soon blocked by a dense haze.
Ranchers and farmers usually do controlled burns in the spring, but these fires are anything but, controlled.
My husband went to investigate since we live out here on the prairie and are cognizant of anything that involves fire!
Prairie fires can be just as lethal as forest fires. There’s not a lot to block the creeping flames. With the absence of snow during the winter months, and spotty spring moisture, it’s a perfect storm for such events.
It’s a tender box out there!
My heart goes out to those who have lost property and personal possessions, not to mention livestock. But the strong people of the plains will get through it.
When the wind howled this week, I had to think of the pioneer women who came before, and were isolated on the plains with no neighbors, or family to comfort them. Recorded history tell of many young wives and mothers losing their minds from the unrelenting wind. The following describes the conditions…
Prairie Madness, Wikipedia
Another major cause of prairie madness was the harsh weather and environment of the Plains, including long, cold winters filled with blizzards followed by short, hot summers. Once winter came, it seemed that all signs of life such as plants, and animals had disappeared. Farmers would be stuck in their houses under several feet of snow when the blizzards struck, and the family would be cramped inside for days at a time. There were few trees, and the flat land stretched out for miles and miles. Some settlers specifically spoke of the wind that rushed through the prairie, which was loud, forceful, and alien compared to what settlers had experienced in their former lives.
The decline of prairie madness
Prairie madness virtually disappears from the historical and literary record during the 20th century. This was likely the result of new modes of communication and transportation that arose during the late 19th and early 20th century. These included the increase in railroad lines, the invention and increasing usage of both the telephone and automobile, and further settlement leading to the “closing of the frontier”, as described by renowned American Western historian Frederick Jackson Turner.
This photo was taken from my backyard.
These are some of the shots my husband took west of Newton. Scary, but beautiful!
More information on the fires…