“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

–Benjamin Franklin

I love the above quote. Not just because I occasionally like to touch back on the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, but for the fact that a version of this turned up years ago on the old TV show M.A.S.H.

When a wounded G.I., who also was a hot-shot life insurance salesman, got all the officers in the unit to buy policies by telling them, “You don’t plan to fail—you fail to plan!”

It was good for a laugh back then, but that doesn’t negate the wisdom of Ben Franklin’s original statement. We need to be thinking now about how to deal with the challenges that tomorrow will bring. Which brings me to subject of wildfire.

As we move into late fall 2020, Mother Nature is again playing her games. Large swaths of the Southern Plains are facing increasingly dry conditions that are coming in on the heels of an extended growing season that included late July/early August rains. All this adds up to one thing — increased fire danger.

Now is the time to be thinking about a plan to protect your farm and ranch from wildfire. To many times ag producers wait until the countryside is burning before they consider the dangers that out of control fire can pose to their homes, livestock, barns, land and equipment.

The good news is that help is available to you if you want to take steps to better prepare for this extreme weather event. Oklahoma State University Extension, in partnership with the Extension offices at the University of Wyoming, South Dakota State, Texas A&M, Kansas State and New Mexico State, put together a publication that addresses preparing your ranch and farm for wildfire.

The publication, E-1048 Wildfire: Preparing the Ranch and Farm, is available at: https://extension.okstate.edu/fact-sheets/wildfire-preparing-the-ranch-and-farm.html

This brochure has tips on how to better protect your animals, land, equipment and property from wildfire before it starts.

Ideas like barn construction, ‘firewise’ vegetative management around your house and outbuildings, and hay and forage storage are just some of the suggestions included in this publication.

It also has ideas on how to prepare plans for evacuating your livestock when the fire is approaching as well as ideas on how to better protect your family and personal property.

A lot of what is included in this publication is common sense—it’s a good idea to make sure you don’t have trees right next to your house or barns; building a fire break, a concrete or gravel apron or just keeping the grass mowed down around outbuildings make sense; always carrying wire cutters in your truck so you can cut fences to help cattle (or yourself) escape an approaching wildfire goes without saying — but as we all know, common sense isn’t always common when you have other concerns on your mind.

We would strongly encourage you to check out this publication and give some serious thought in to getting ready for wildfire. The best time to have a wildfire plan is before you see the smoke on the horizon.