Sunday, September 11, 2011

Little Too Close

I'm going to interrupt my stream of boring Project 365 photos to blog about a scary event that happened here.  I must preface by saying we are really really really dry in Texas, in case you haven't heard.  Some are saying this is the worst drought in history.  Most of Texas falls under the "exceptional" drought status.  We are right on the edge of the "extreme" to "exceptional" drought, here in our little town.  Our state is literally a tinderbox.  

So, on August 31st, about noon I had gone up to the barn to get the horses pulled in as my farrier was coming an about an hour.  When he pulled up to barn, I walked outside to greet him and smelled that acrid smell of smoke.  Something was burning.  And the wind was blowing about 15-20 mph.  Not good.  To the south of the barn, a large fire had started.  Soon, you could hear the sirens and in between horses, my farrier and I would walk outside the barn and check on the fire.  

It was close.  About 2 miles south as the crow flies.  I started calling neighbors and was getting status updates from friends who were driving to the scene to get updates from the fire chief.  Friends out of the path of the fire started calling me, asking if we were all right or if we needed help with anything.  For the most part, the wind was blowing west, and spreading the fire parallel to us.  But, every once in awhile, the wind would shift, start blowing to the north, and head straight for us. 

About the time my farrier left, I was feeling pretty confident that we were out of the path.  I started to relax.  Then, at about 3:15, I left to pick up Ava from school.  I drove down our road about 2 miles and saw this, which sent chills down my spine despite the 103 degree weather:

Wow.  Looked much closer and bigger.  And scarier.  As I sat in the carpool lane, waiting for Ava to get out, I called my neighbor again.  She just got an update from the fire chief who said the fire was out of control and he had called in Ft Worth and other larger cities to come and help.  My  neighbor was packing, taking her dogs and cats to the kennel in the next town and was getting ready to bolt at a moment's notice.  I started to freak. out.  I called Jason and told him what was going on.  He said he'd go up to the barn and start hooking up the horse trailer.  

By the time I got home, the fire looked like this from our place:

This is our driveway and that's my barn on the far, right hand side.  Here's what it looked like from up at the barn...

It seemed to be a bit closer, and while it may not look "that" big, I just can't express to you enough how hot and DRY it is out here.  I kept thinking about the story my farrier had told me that afternoon about the time back in 1980 (the last time Texas has seen this kind of drought and heat) when he was a volunteer fireman and one of these monstrous fires broke out.  He said the wind shifted, the chief called for them to quickly jump in the truck and retreat.  He said he was flying across pastures and that fire was on their tail, just roaring through the countryside at 50 MPH!  They barely made it out.  If this fire started moving that fast, it could be at our place in a matter of minutes.  

We started calling friends in the area and some wonderful friends that Jason works with (and whose daughters have been our babysitters) said we could bring our horses to their place.  We called in reinforcements to help with loading and another friend came to our rescue with his stock trailer.  And I'm so glad he came because my horse, Tommy,would not get in my horse trailer but did get in our friend's stock trailer.  It took several hours to load up all the horses and get them over to our friends house.  All the while, we were keeping a close eye on the fire.

We heard reports they were getting it under control, but we went to bed late and didn't sleep well that night.  Here is what we saw on the news:


The next morning dawned with no smoke on the horizon, no smell of anything burning.  We heard it still wasn't completely contained but we were feeling better, not so scared.  I went over to check on the horses and this rooster was there to greet me ;-)

Oh, and did I mention they had some pasture mates?  

Star was hanging out with this guy when I got there but mainly, the cows stuck with each other and watched the horses warily ;-)

Tinkerbell was wondering where in the world they were!  Tommy and Magic gazed longingly at the wonderful, fresh green grass that was just out of their reach on the other side of the fence.

So I know I just said how dry and hot in a drought stage Texas is and then I show this beautiful, lush looking pasture.  Well, these people have exceptionally beautiful pastures and the inch of rain we did get about a month ago was enough to keep this green and growing.  The man who fertilizes, cuts and bales their pastures has taken over our fields and I'm hoping, that in a few years, our pastures can look like this!

So alls well that ends well, I guess.  The fire was completely put out, thank the Lord.  And even though it was Jason's birthday, after he got home from work, we spent another several hours loading the horses back up and taking them home, where they belong!  It turns out they would have been fine to stay at the house but you never know and it was a good "fire drill" for us!  I now know which horses I really have to work on trailer loading with ;-)  

After all that drama, we went back home and collapsed, thinking our night was over now and we could relax.  Little did we know, that in a few hours, our world was about to be rocked again...

Stay tuned....

1 comment:

  1. I'm terrible with waiting! What happened next?! Hoping you have been safe through all this


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