Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Calf Fire

Last Monday, my goal for the day was to get Oliver's doctor to send over the order for his brain MRI.  Getting Oliver figured out has been a top priority around here.  I sat down at the kitchen table to get some work done and make phone calls when I noticed how beautiful the grass looked outside.  I thought, "Why have I never noticed the true beauty of the grass before?"  I picked up my camera and walked outside to take some pictures.  Everything was peaceful and orange.

A few minutes later Oliver, Pearl and I noticed planes flying close to the house.  I looked up and saw a giant smoke cloud looming over the mountain.  I called my mom (my neighbor) and told her there was a fire outside.  We decided to call our husbands at work and ask them to come home.  Glenn drove home and shot this video about 20 minutes later while driving toward the farm.

It looked like a volcano had erupted.  I was starting to get scared, but couldn't help taking pictures of the fire balls that were exploding over the house.  Pearl was amazed by the planes.

A firefighter came over and walked the property with Glenn.  He told us to have a horse trailer ready to evacuate our animals.  

We began to frantically search for a horse trailer by posting on facebook and calling all of the horse people we know.  I found a woman with a trailer, but she was told by a firefighter she was not allowed to drive to our house.  I called a horse rescue place and they said they would come for our animals.  We had not heard anything from them for a half hour and time was running out.  A neighbor picked up our alpacas, then some strangers pulled over and asked if they could take Smokey.  We loaded Smokey into their trailer and watched them drive away.  They promised they would be back for our goats.  Glenn and Oliver spent an hour catching all of the turkeys, guineas and chickens and loaded them into the back of the truck.  Pearl watched all of the excitement from the front window.  I have never seen her more mellow.

Just as I started to panic that our goats were doomed, a cowboy with a white trailer pulled into the driveway.  I had no tears, but sobbed when I saw him.  I was filled with love and thanks and relief.  His wife, daughter and grandson jumped out and rounded up the goats.  You can see my dad in his business clothes chase one of the kids in circles.  

A police officer arrived to tell us to leave just as the last goat had been loaded.  I had a few minutes to run to the house and pack up my valuables.  I (gently) threw my two cats, our mice and a quail in the car.  I grabbed a box and put our framed photos and some baby things into it.  I saved my computer and camera.  I packed a suitcase earlier in the day and shoved it in the back.  Saying goodbye to everything else was easy once I had my babies strapped into their cat seats.  

The fire burned just enough to help us appreciate everything we have without having to lose anything at all.  We feel so grateful for all of the people in our lives.  

I watched with awe as my parents stayed with their animals until the very last minute instead of packing up "stuff."  I saw my husband in a new light when I found out he had gone back for Oliver's frog and fish and carried them on his lap in a mug and dish.  I appreciated my sister and her husband for making us dinner and giving us a place to stay.  I was amazed by all of our friends who offered to let us stay with them or take our animals.  

I was blown away by the kind strangers who rescued our livestock.

I will be forever grateful for the 900 firefighters who saved our farm.

So, now it is back to the regular dramas we have on the farm.  Oliver finally has his MRI scheduled for Friday.  We are loving all of these life lessons, but are really hoping for a break this Friday!


  1. Beautiful pictures, amazing story, so glad you are all safe! Thank you for the reminder of the important things in life!

  2. Jess, You write beautifully. Thank you for capturing the essence of this experience. Chin up. Love you. Mom

  3. Wow, what a scary experience! So glad you and your menagerie are all fine. What a great record of the whole event. Maybe some day you'll be able to look back and laugh at the craziness of the whole thing - turkeys in the back of trucks and everyone chasing the animals around the pasture! Thanks for sharing, it makes me appreciate what we have that much more.