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July 27, 2015 / diannegray

Holy Smoke

I hate fire. It’s on the top of my Things to Avoid list, like cyclones, earthquakes and having to punch a shark to stop it from eating me.

Due to the ongoing fight to save our environment the sugar cane in Australia is rarely burned these days. Gone are the evenings you could drive around here and spot cane fires igniting the landscape (literally).

One regular occurrence however is the burning of the ‘trash blanket’ – the leftovers from cutting (dead leaves, etc).

Normally I would scream and run if I saw someone with matches trying to torch the fields, but last week this was totally under control so I got some pictures from the safety of my Writer’s Nook.

Just starting

Just starting

Getting bigger

Getting bigger

I'm glad the wind is blowing a southerly

I’m glad the wind is blowing a southerly

Don't you just love the Rural Fire brigade

Don’t you just love the Rural Fire Brigade

The next day I did my regular dog walk to Scary Gully. The sugar cane has been cut there as well and the dogs loved rolling around in the trash blanket.

I couldn’t find the farm dog, Tammy. I call her the farm dog because she belongs to my parents-in-law and was here before my dogs came. She is a rescue dog, but still has some very bad habits (like chasing cars). I don’t want my dogs to follow her paw-prints example so this is one of the main reasons I have put up the fence.

I figured she must have gone back to the creek for a dip, but then I spotted her.

Can you spot Tammy? I’ve given you a not-so-subtle clue with the arrow 😉

Tammy3

Have a great week!

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91 Comments

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  1. anotherday2paradise / Jul 27 2015 12:07 pm

    Yes, I see her. I’m sure she’s going to need a bath after being in that trash blanket. Scary pics of the fire, Dianne.

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    • diannegray / Jul 27 2015 12:37 pm

      She’s exactly the same colour as the trash. I thought it was very cute, Sylvia 😀 No baths needed here, the dogs do all their washing in the creek – which is wonderful!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Carrie Rubin / Jul 27 2015 12:27 pm

    Every time I see photos from around your place, I’m awed by the views you have. So much vastness in front of you. What a creative spark that must provide.

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    • diannegray / Jul 27 2015 12:41 pm

      It certainly does, Carrie. When visitors come from other states they usually just sit and stare and not much talking goes on at first. I think it hypnotizes you. We’re use to it now but sometimes I just sit and get lost in the view. It’s highly inspirational and (strangely enough) it causes inward thought and self-reflection 😉

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      • Carrie Rubin / Jul 27 2015 12:44 pm

        I imagine it does. I really hope someday to live somewhere with a view. It gives perspective. All I get are the views of the backs of other houses. :/

        Liked by 1 person

      • diannegray / Jul 27 2015 1:14 pm

        I’m worried that may happen here one day. But things move so slowly in this area I don’t think I’ll be alive to see the sugar cane gone and the land sub-divided for housing (I hope that’s about 100 years away) 😉

        Liked by 3 people

  3. Theo Fenraven / Jul 27 2015 12:28 pm

    I saw a lot of controlled burns when I lived in Wisconsin. Doesn’t make them less scary though. 🙂

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    • diannegray / Jul 27 2015 12:44 pm

      So true, Fen. My brother-in-law was burned in a sugar cane fire many years ago. He lived, but bears some very savage scarring. No matter how safe you think something is, the wind can always change without warning… (a bit like life really) xxx

      Like

  4. JackieP / Jul 27 2015 12:54 pm

    Fires are scary. I don’t like them either. As you say, they can turn nasty fast. But I love the views. 🙂

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 27 2015 1:17 pm

      I guess this is the price we pay for living in a farming community. When new people come in they complain about the tractors and the noise and the smoke, but hey – there’s always the city to contend with 😉 The views are amazing 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Cynthia Reyes / Jul 27 2015 1:11 pm

    Yes, I finally spotted Tammy.
    Also, what a magnificent fire that is.

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 27 2015 1:18 pm

      They did a great job with that fire, Cynthia. You can never be too careful 😀

      I’m glad you spotted Tammy – she’s a cutie 😀

      Like

  6. jmgoyder / Jul 27 2015 1:27 pm

    Phew!

    Like

  7. ripe red berries / Jul 27 2015 1:51 pm

    great pics!! glad to know the wind was blowing southerly…(:

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 27 2015 3:05 pm

      I would have been hiding in a tightly shut-up house had it been a northerly (or I might have been out there with a hose) 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. EllaDee / Jul 27 2015 2:20 pm

    One sniff of smoke puts me on edge… unless it’s the G.O. starting the wood fire up in our house at TA… which is nice although sometimes the amount of smoke coming out the chimney is a little worrying.
    I’m not sure if fire, like you, at the top of my things to avoid is a legacy of growing up in Australia or an apparent past life as a witch and a toasty demise, or both!
    I’m glad the smoke wasn’t blowing your way or you’d have had to bring the washing in and close up the house… Tammy was going for an ash rinse in her fur 🙂

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 27 2015 3:08 pm

      We seem to live in a country where fire spells absolute danger (or, you may be right, we were burned as witches in a past life) lol love it! 😀

      Like

  9. originaltitle / Jul 27 2015 3:11 pm

    When I taught school in Clarksdale, Mississippi, USA, it was my first time living in an agricultural town. Fields surrounded me on all sides. At a certain time of year, there would be controlled fires and they always had the most distinctive smell. It wasn’t quite like a campfire. I can never quite describe it, but I can still recall it in my mind even now. It always made me feel like the seasons were about to change and the glow of the fires at night seemed to me dangerous, like a portent of sorts. Great post. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 27 2015 5:52 pm

      The smoke from the sugar cane smells sweet and a little like molasses. It’s a lovely smell and I know what you mean about the glow at night – it really does something to you 😀

      I’m so glad you liked the post – thanks so much for stopping by 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Jul 27 2015 3:50 pm

    I’ve lived in Hawaii twice as a kid and remember the sugar cane burning. The smell could make you ill. I’ve been so frightened of fire all my life (tho not from the sugar cane burns) that I couldn’t even light a match until I was 16. Your photos are great.

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 27 2015 5:55 pm

      The smell can be quite strong but I don’t mind it (as long as I’m not too close) 😉
      You’re right about the fear of fire – as humans there is something terrifying about it and it’s always best to take care and stay clear. So glad you like the photos 😀

      Like

  11. Daydreams / Jul 27 2015 6:26 pm

    Oh my goodness. Those are some photos!

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 28 2015 7:27 am

      I think I took about fifty as well as a video. I might put the video on YouTube one day when I get some spare time. I’m glad you like them 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Gallivanta / Jul 27 2015 7:46 pm

    I am not good with smoke or fires. The fire scene in Let Sleeping Gods Lie was really scary!

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 28 2015 7:31 am

      This is where I get those ideas from. I’ve seen some big sugar cane fires in the past and my brother-in-law was also burned in one of these fires many years ago – he survived, but is badly scarred. There is so much writing fodder here and I think that’s why I love the place so much 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Jill Weatherholt / Jul 27 2015 9:04 pm

    Controlled or not, I’ve always had a fear of fire, Dianne. Your photographs are beautiful..what a view you have!

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 28 2015 7:32 am

      Thank you, Jill. I took a picture of one of the farmers during the fire and he asked me how long I’d been a professional photographer. WOW! I was very humbled by that comment 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  14. roughwighting / Jul 27 2015 9:58 pm

    I just love your blogs. I learn so much about your ‘neck of the woods,’ so different from mine, and so beautiful. The photos are incredible, but yes, I most enjoyed looking for the ‘farm dog’ Tammy. A bit of a loner at times, is she? 🙂

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 28 2015 7:34 am

      She’s very much ‘the loner’. She’s been very good with my dogs even though they’re the ‘newbies’ so I’m appreciative of that 😉

      I’m so glad you enjoy reading about my neck of the woods. Other parts of the world really seem much closer through this blogging life 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  15. mcwoman / Jul 27 2015 10:32 pm

    I always enjoy your tales from “the land down under.” The only experience I can equate to your cane burning story is when I went to college one morning and an adjacent field was ablaze. They were reenacting a native American practice of “burning the prairie.” I’m just glad they only did that one year. Barb

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 28 2015 7:41 am

      I’m glad you enjoy my stories of life ‘down under’, Barb 😀
      Australia was the same with their indigenous people. Fires were a way of protecting the country from wildfires. We still do this today and call it back-burning. The hill near my house hasn’t been on fire for about 20 years since the major burning ceased. It’s never had so many tress on it!

      Like

  16. nrhatch / Jul 27 2015 11:43 pm

    Great shots, Dianne. I would feel uncomfortable watching fields ablaze in close proximity to my home.

    My favorite fires are those contained in fireplaces and fire rings . . . I enjoy companionable campfires (perfect for toasting marshmallows).

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 28 2015 8:15 am

      I’m not keen on them being so close either, Nancy. I’d rather be toasting the marshmallows instead of being the marshmallow 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Pat / Jul 28 2015 12:36 am

    Side note… Although indigenous peoples did start prairie fires, most fires were natural. Burning is a very important tool in managing American prairies. It is done with great caution and supervised the whole time. Here’s a good article from The Nature Conservancy about the use of fire and cows. 🙂

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 28 2015 7:42 am

      Thanks, Pat. That’s very interesting information 🙂

      Like

  18. Lynda / Jul 28 2015 1:03 am

    Dianne, I have smelled this before and it is horrible! As far as I know, they still do this in the valley in central California. All that smoke and stink make me very sick. You too?

    The only thing worse than this is when they start the cooking down of the sugar beets. You can’t hold your breath long enough to drive away from it, because it travels for miles and miles on the wind. GAAACK!

    Like

    • Lynda / Jul 28 2015 1:05 am

      Oh yes, and I love your camouflaged, tricky dog picture!

      Like

    • diannegray / Jul 28 2015 7:44 am

      I actually don’t mind the smell, Lynda – but I know a lot of people dislike it. To me it smells a bit like molasses. The refinery is about ten miles from here so I’m not in it’s ‘wind path’ (luckily) 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Jacqui Murray / Jul 28 2015 1:37 am

    Fires are a healthy part of nature. I like the way you described this burning.

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 28 2015 7:46 am

      I was kind of hoping the trees at the creek would catch fire (sounds awful I know) because there are so many weeds it really needs a good clean out. In the old days the trees at the creek would often catch and it would be all very clear down there again 😉

      Like

  20. Sheila / Jul 28 2015 2:29 am

    I love fire and the smell of burning leaves but it would be scary seeing a fire like that come roaring toward me! I’m glad you found Tammy and that she wasn’t down in that Scary Gully. It must be easy for the dogs to get lost around there – I don’t think I would have found her without the arrow! 🙂

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 28 2015 7:48 am

      She’s exactly the same colour as the cane trash. It’s amazing – even the other dogs didn’t notice her until they got up close and she gave them a fright – lol. She’s a funny dog 😉

      Like

  21. Roy McCarthy / Jul 28 2015 3:53 am

    I can almost smell that smoke from here Dianne. What vastness you have reaching out from your doorstep. And what a contrast to living on a 9 x 5 island. But funny, after the first few weeks here one’s horizons shrink. You’d probably think nothing of driving 50 miles to a shop whereas we grumble at having to go a mile to a pub if there’s a one nearer 🙂

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 28 2015 8:05 am

      This comment made me giggle, Roy. We used to complain about the five minute walk to the pub when we lived in the city – now the pub is a ten minute drive 😉 We don’t go there very often because someone has to drive home – LOL 😀

      Like

  22. danniehill / Jul 28 2015 4:07 am

    In Thailand they love to burn stuff– crops, trash, weeds. But with sugarcane, near our farm, they grind up the left overs and sell it for cattle and pig feed. It’s also great for mulch. I was very surprised and happy to see this.

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 28 2015 8:07 am

      I’m glad you liked this, Dannie 😀 People living in these areas are so used to having sugar cane mulch and mill mud and raw sugar on hand that when they go to the city they’re shocked at the price of it 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  23. pommepal / Jul 28 2015 11:47 am

    I’m shocked at the price I have to pay for the sugar cane mulch from Bunnings, but the garden needs it.
    Fire is very photogenic but very scary if it gets too close. Your Tammy is well camouflaged, the arrow did help…
    Interesting post Dianne showing us your life on the farm up north. How is the job going?

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 28 2015 12:23 pm

      The job is going really well. I’ve got a couple of articles written and now have admin access to the disability website. I’m loving it and it’s interesting work. One of my main writing jobs is here: http://www.diip.com.au/

      Sugar cane mulch is very expensive if you don’t live on a sugar cane farm. I should sell it from home! 😀

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      • pommepal / Jul 28 2015 8:09 pm

        It does look an interesting and worthwhile organisation Dianne. Will you still be writing books?

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      • diannegray / Jul 29 2015 2:46 pm

        I haven’t written a book for a few years now, Pauling, but I’m thinking I’ll probably take it up again very soon. Working on writing has definitely kick-started my muse to get back into it 😉

        Like

      • pommepal / Jul 29 2015 5:15 pm

        Plenty of inspiration in your neck of the woods Dianne…

        Liked by 1 person

  24. Janna G. Noelle / Jul 28 2015 12:08 pm

    Does the smell of the smoke have a sweet tinge to it from the cane remnants?

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 28 2015 12:23 pm

      I think it’s sweet, Janna – but some people absolutely hate it. Maybe I’m used to it 😉

      Like

  25. Peter / Jul 28 2015 7:53 pm

    So, if they don’t burn the fields like they used to…. what becomes of what used to have been burned?

    Love your posts!

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 29 2015 2:44 pm

      They now cut ‘green’, Peter so the sugar mill still crushes the sugar cane. Basically there’s very little difference apart from the fact that it takes a little longer and we now have a lot more rats (because they used to be wiped out by the fires) 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Peter / Jul 30 2015 8:29 am

        Hate rats. I might go for the pollution…. Just kidding.

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      • diannegray / Jul 30 2015 1:14 pm

        I hate rats too, Peter. I’d rather have snakes or smoke any day 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  26. jmmcdowell / Jul 29 2015 6:03 am

    I prefer to give fire (and those other nasties you mentioned!) a wide berth. Most crop stubble here is simply plowed back into the soil now, either formally before planting or just as part of the planting process. In the old days, it was cleared from the fields in the fall, and that left them open to serious soil erosion. I’ve sometimes wondered, though, why it isn’t burned and the residue maybe helping to add nutrients or organic matter to the soil….

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 29 2015 2:50 pm

      You’re right about the residue adding nutrients to the soil, JM. It isn’t burned any more because of the environmental impact on the atmosphere (does it damage the environment? I really don’t know). A lot of the farmers didn’t like being told they could no longer burn, but they’re getting used to it now 😉

      Like

  27. Kate Johnston / Jul 30 2015 8:29 pm

    I’m not a fan of fire either, but that’s also because my house burned down when I was about six years old or so, and we all had to race out of it to safety. To this day, I can’t strike a match without breaking into a sweat. This might be one of the reasons I never took up smoking. 🙂

    I had to smile when you wrote that that fire was controlled. I’m sure it was, but my goodness, that is one huge controlled fire! 🙂

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 31 2015 8:38 am

      How awful that your house burned down, Kate. That must have been a very traumatic time for you. I’m so glad you’re here today to tell the story! xxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Minuscule Moments / Jul 30 2015 9:02 pm

    Amazing and dramatic photo’s Dianne. I always get nervous when fires are lit, even if its just back burning. Also hate the smoke, it plays havoc with allergies. Hope you are smoke free now. Dog looks like its up to mischief.

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 31 2015 8:40 am

      Tammy is always up to mischief. I think one day she’ll lead my dogs away to Scary Gully and come back alone! She’s often trying to get them into trouble 😉

      Luckily the wind did well the day of the burn otherwise I’d probably still be sneezing xxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  29. billyraychitwood1 / Jul 31 2015 8:25 am

    Great photos and scary ♥

    Like

    • diannegray / Jul 31 2015 8:50 am

      Very scary, Billy Ray! Luckily it all went very well 😀

      Like

  30. Luanne / Jul 31 2015 8:37 am

    Dogs definitely teach other tricks. I had a dog I rescued off the street years ago that taught my other dog and the neighbor dog how to strip bark off twigs to eat!! (Of course, they all three forgot it within a couple months). So the fence is a very good idea!!!
    I’m afraid of fire, too. It’s the fault of Smokey the Bear, a book I had as a kid. Or else it’s because of living in California for 20 years. Lots of fires. Your fire photos are beautiful, though. You have the photography knack, that’s for sure!

    Like

  31. restlessjo / Aug 1 2015 1:25 am

    A very scary sight! I think I mentioned before that fire is my greatest horror. Glad all ends well.

    Like

    • diannegray / Aug 2 2015 8:22 am

      I’m glad it all ended well too, Jo. Fire is just downright scary xxx

      Like

  32. Susan A Eames / Aug 1 2015 3:27 am

    Hi Dianne, I’ve just found your blog and enjoying reading it. Your tales about sugar cane remind me of my time in Fiji. Best wishes, and looking forward to reading more of your posts. Susan 🙂

    Like

    • diannegray / Aug 2 2015 8:23 am

      Thank you so much, Susan. It’s lovely to have you here! 😀

      Like

  33. ParentingIsFunny / Aug 2 2015 3:43 am

    Yikes! We get a lot of that here in Southern California. It’s not at all fun. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared as when we were trapped in with fires along every escape route, should we need to leave. Fortunately, our house was safe. Nonetheless, too too scary for me. If I didn’t have little kids, it wouldn’t have been so bad.

    Like

    • diannegray / Aug 2 2015 8:24 am

      I’ve been in a bush fire and it’s extremely scary so I know exactly how you feel. I’m so glad you ended up okay xxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  34. Sheila Morris / Aug 2 2015 8:12 am

    Wow – fires scare me – these are dramatic images, but I love the rural firefighters! You have a great week, too!! We always think of you with great fondness and appreciation of Australia, too. 🙂

    Like

  35. Denise Hisey / Aug 7 2015 2:19 am

    Yikes! That is quite a sight! I remember doing controlled burns around our remote cabin in Alaska -the idea being if there was a forest fire it would go around our cabin since we already burned all the grass. We had no hoses, just a shovel and 5 gal bucket of water. It was scary but never got away from us. I do love your rural fire brigade, wish we’d had them around back in the day !! haha!

    Like

    • diannegray / Aug 7 2015 9:00 am

      “We had no hoses, just a shovel and 5 gal bucket of water” – yikes! I’ll tell the guys that and watch their mouths drop, LOL 😀

      Like

  36. Britt Skrabanek / Aug 7 2015 12:12 pm

    No, ma’am! Can’t do those fires so close to home. Reminds me of the drought wildfires we used to have in Southern California all the time.

    Like

    • diannegray / Aug 9 2015 8:35 am

      Fires are just plain scary – I’ve been in a wildfire – never again (fingers crossed!) 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  37. Kourtney Heintz / Aug 9 2015 11:30 am

    Thanks for the arrow, Tammy is a camo dog! 🙂 Wow. Fires scare me. I lived in San Diego during one of the worst fires in their history. I woke up to an orange sky and ash raining down. It was super scary.

    Like

  38. Yolanda M. / Aug 10 2015 7:46 am

    Thanks for the arrow! would have never spotted her. We have something insane like 520 currently burning in parts of our province here. Not pleasant.

    Like

    • diannegray / Aug 10 2015 8:33 am

      Fires are just awful. I always feel nervous when they burn here, but the fire brigade is always on the job (thank goodness!) 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  39. agjorgenson / Aug 12 2015 11:39 am

    Thanks for this! Farm people ARE the best. One of the highlights of our walk was the visits with the ranchers… real characters! Might be fodder for a post or two!

    Like

    • diannegray / Aug 14 2015 7:11 am

      Farm people are wonderful, Allen. They always seem to be there when you need them 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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