Photo of the Week – December 13, 2012

From a camping trip with my sons earlier this fall:

I call this photo, “Hey Dad – can we use dried cow manure for campfire fuel?”

Camp fire at the Helzer prairie by Stockham, Nebraska.

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I call this second photo, “Hey Dad – take a picture of the sparks when I throw this piece of dried manure on the fire!”

Camp fire at the Helzer prairie by Stockham, Nebraska.

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Ah…happy family memories.

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is an ecologist and Eastern Nebraska Program Director for The Nature Conservancy. He supervises the management and restoration of approximately 4,000 acres of land in central and eastern Nebraska - primarily along the central Platte River. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press.
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8 Responses to Photo of the Week – December 13, 2012

  1. Dunwiddie says:

    Is there some kind of “squish test” you need to apply to determine if they are dried enough to burn well? I assume there’s some threshold of freshness below which the fire doesn’t look so, well, “perky”. Have you developed any kind of state and transition model to determine just where this threshold might be and whether it does, in fact, exist, or is it just something imagined by squeamish “city folks?” I might just stick with the old Yule Log. Happy Holidays!

    • Chris Helzer says:

      Good one, Peter. Nothing as technical as what you suggest. My threshold is that if you can pick up the manure pile and it comes up as one solid piece, it’s fuel. If it folds or smushes (or worse) it’s not done yet.

      • Dunwiddie says:

        Does the same test apply when you select them for tossing, or are there other aerodynamic criteria that must be accounted for as well?

  2. Ed May says:

    I wish my kids had been that easily entertained!!

  3. Ah, what a beautiful fire (even if it is only “patties”) Sure beats sitting in the house!

  4. Rick Schwertfeger says:

    Years back when my older son was maybe 6 or 7, we were in the parking lot of a convenience store in the small West Texas town of Junction buying bait before fishing. An old dude drove up next to us in a battered pickup truck. When he got out he asked, “What are y’all doing?” When we told him we were going fishing, he said to me, “You know, when I see a dad going fishing with his son, I know that boy’s gonna be alright!”
    Chris, I know your sons are gonna be alright!

  5. James McGee says:

    I look forward to spending time like that with my son when he gets a little older.

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