As you’ve  probably heard, this area of the state is seeing one of the worst pine beetle attacks in recent history. At this point, there is nothing we can do to stop the beetle.  We hopelessly watch as our pristine forests of green pines fall prey to the insect and turn the tell-tale red-brown color of a dead tree. Experts expect pine forest devastation in this area to reach nearly 100 percent. 

While this is heart-wrenching to watch, it’s is just Mother Nature doing her thing.  And, that crazy gal, Mother Nature, doesn’t leave us without a few silver linings. First, the aspen trees are alive and well and will fill in where the pine forest dies. This means more quaking leaves and stupendous fall colors.  
Second, we have to do something with the giant piles of dead trees left in the wake.  That means logging and, subsequently, burning the slash. Yep. I said burn. We get to light fires. Huge, hot, smoky, scary, fires.  What fun!
Maybe I am a little bit of a pyromaniac, but isn’t everyone? When was the last time you lit a huge fire and didn’t have either your mother or the police hunting you down? It is undeniably fun to light stuff on fire and it’s even better when you can get away with it. 
So this winter we’ve been doing a lot of slash pile burning around the ranch.  Here’s one of our biggest piles going up in smoke. . .literally!
Here’s what we started with–one gigantic pile of trees. 
Next, crazy Ken took the propane torch to the sucker. 
Soon enough, we had us a real-live fire on our hands. See Ken there on the left? 
Here’s some more flames rising high into the air. 
And a close up of white hot logs. You getting hot yet?
Here’s the same spot when it’s all over. We’re left with a big black patch and some really stinky clothes.