15 07, 2013

Life in a Wildfire Conclusion – I hope!

By |2013-07-15T06:12:26-05:00July 15th, 2013|Life in A Wildfire|3 Comments

Last blog I ended with a cliffhanger-

Rio Grande County Sheriff Brian Norton gave the all clear for residents of South Fork to return to their homes, but because the fire was ACTIVE, we’d remain under in pre-evacuation status.

???????????????????????????????If we chose to return, we should leave our cars packed and backed into our driveways ready to pull out again on a moment’s notice. The shelter would remain open for those who did not wish to return.

Tough decision.

Buster and Toby thought we’d moved permanently to the motel in Monte Vista. They’d climb in the car with us and wait patiently while we took our meals at the shelter for evacuees.

Undecided about what to do, after the Friday update, we made the trip to South Fork to check on our house. Smoke greeted us.

Heavy, mask-wearing smoke.

smoke on way home-leftWe left the dogs in the car and did a preliminary inspection. On the hill behind the house, we found a firebreak created by the firefighters.

The black area is the firebreak.
The blank path is the firebreak.

We also realized how many trees and how much dead vegetation we had around our house.???????????????????????????????

Wouldn’t the wise thing be to stay where we were until the fire was more contained?

We took the dogs and went inside. Once we opened the front door, both dogs rushed to sniff around familiar surroundings. Toby jumped on our bed and watched as we discussed what to do.

After eight days in hotel rooms, the place seemed huge. With the windows closed, there was no smoke indoors. We had plenty of room to walk around. A kitchen to prepare healthy meals. Our own bed and pillows.

We decided to wait until after the a.m. briefing on Saturday and make our decision.

But once we returned to the motel, to living out of our suitcase in a cramped space, we knew we’d go home no matter what the report said the next day.

We arrived home around noon Saturday, June 29th, nine days after we’d been told to evacuate. The smoke had lifted some.

By Sunday morning, all smoke had lifted. The dogs and I went on our usual five-mile walk. I was amazed at how normal things looked. You’d never know behind the mountain peak beyond our house nearly 60,000 acres of the West Fork Fire burned. walking 1st wk-left

We were glad we’d come home.

Then just to remind us who was in control, lightning struck a tree two streets away and caused a small fire.

lightning treeA scary sign that, while we might have a roaring inferno behind us, a small lightning strike could start a closer fire.

For two weeks, we kept one car packed with what we wanted to save. The other car ready to be loaded with our clothes, food, and dogs when (if) the next evacuation call came.

Smoke came and went. Aviation planes flew overhead dropping retardant and water buckets, weather permitting.

Now the July monsoons have arrived. The fire crews are shrinking. Few planes are flying.

Yesterday containment was up to 66%.

Today a Burn Area Emergency Response (BAER) team arrived to begin their initial assessments of the after effects and develop a strategy for emergency stabilization and rehabilitation.

Same as the BAER team we’re creating defensible space around our house.

We do live in a forest. By choice, our lives center on living with the fire possibility same as we live with the bears, turkeys, and deer.

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We love it!

Fires, bears, squirrels, deer, and all.

28 12, 2012

Ever had one of THESE days? Miller Farm Friday

By |2012-12-28T08:29:16-06:00December 28th, 2012|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|4 Comments

Chicken Wrangler Sara’s day:

This morning I got up at 5:15, made coffee, fixed breakfast and made sandwiches even though it is Saturday. The kids have All-Region Band auditions and I wanted to make sure they didn’t starve.

After they left, I went back to bed. It was glorious. I didn’t open my eyes again until 7:45. I should have kept them closed, but chicken wrangler duties called.

I got up and let the chickens out. That was ok.

I also let the quail out. That was not ok.

Lately, I have had difficulty closing the long quail cage securely, and we have had to retrieve quail on several occasions. Rachel even made me a sign that says, “Close the door.” Today, I closed the door on the long cage. However, I accidentally left the hutch cage open.

Strike one.

I knew something was amiss as I heard Bella barking frantically. She really wanted the quail to come over and play. I ran back outside and closed the hutch door on the two remaining quail. I decided to finish filling water jugs and deal with the loose quail later.

I washed the very dirty waterer from the quail cage in the coop, refilled the waterer, and reached to put it back. (In case you don’t remember, this cage is high up in the coop and somewhat difficult to reach.) The waterer slipped and the lid came open, spilling water all over me.

I was not happy. This was strike two.

On the bright side, even though it is December, this is Texas so it is 80 degrees outside. There was no danger of the water making me cold.

After refilling the waterer, I headed back to the house, silently praying that fixing coffee and breakfast for Beekeeper Brian and I would be easier.

One more strike and I’m out.

About the same time Chicken Wrangler Sara’s email arrived, I received an email from daughter #2 in Colorado. Her day started with a challenge too.

Woke up to about ten wild turkeys out in the front yard and street. I went out to talk to them and saw a deer.

SF turkeys

single deer

He had short antlers. I turned my back on him to take a picture of the front of the house and then turned back around he was coming after me!

I walked, rather briskly, back to the driveway and out of the corner of my eye, I see more deer staring at me.

deer next door for 12-28 blog

I was triangulated by turkey and deer!!

I started walking more briskly to the safety of the fenced front yard. Whereupon I saw deer tracks inside the fence, which led me to believe that the only truly safe place was inside the house until Patrick woke up to protect me!!

Nature. It’s not for sissies.

YOUR TURN: Wanta share how your day’s going?

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