Having been through a few scares with fires, the kids are now pros at packing their emergency bags. Everyone knew this was different though, the fire was right here, not something seen in the distance. We got the female pacas up in the front of the 'safe pen' in preparation for the boys to take the lower half. The safe pen is the one in the middle, with no big oak trees nearby to burn.
It was a given, the four cats, the two dogs, but which alpacas? We have 22 right now. I had a two day old cria, and one pregnant female due this fall. The stress caused by transporting them was a serious concern. Taking a new baby to another ranch would expose her to all kinds of bacteria she would be weak against at her age. I started my ranch evacuation phone chain. But no one was home. There was no answer at any of the four ranches I called near me. In the mean time, the fire is creeping closer and closer.... and the wind was picking up. Blowing right up the canyon towards our home. Codi's friend was very scared.
The phone was ringing madly. I had my cell phone in one hand, and the walkabout in the other, talking on both at the same time. Calls from friends in the area who heard there was a fire, could we see it?? Boy, I had to laugh.... yup, I said. Then a call from a friend very close by, we could take the alpacas to her place and put them in the backyard if we had to. Relief.... not a perfect solution, but far better than having nowhere to take them.
Our neighbor above called us and offered her six horse trailer. She has wild mustangs, and said she would not be able to get them out, we had first dibs on the trailer if we wanted it.... my heart leapt and said yes! I could get everyone out then! But then, I had second thoughts, what if she really needed it?? I said I'd get back to her. She assured me she wouldn't need it, but I felt differently. Bless her heart.
Then the phone rang, it was my friend who lived up in Lockwood with alpacas. She said she had been sick and was sleeping when I called, of course I could bring the pacas to her place. Relief....
It was decision time. I had to decide who I was going to take, and who would have to stay behind. At a time like this, you have two forces driving the decision making process. Your head, and your heart. My heart said I couldn't possibly leave my boys behind. My head said the girls were by far the most valuable and had to go first. If there was time, I would come back and get the boys. If there was time...
Brian was great, he said, "Rachelle, tell us what to do, and we'll do it." So, I did. We took all the cats in their carriers, and all the bags, guitars, and the computer modem out of my truck and out them in his and in their trailer, freeing up space for alpacas in my truck. I had to decide what to take out of the house. What do you take? I looked around my house with a feeling of complete exhaustion.... what did I want to take? It was only two hours later, but it felt like many, many hours had passed... The pictures on the walls came down and were loaded. The handful of loose pictures I had in my room were packed. Where were the rest of the pictures? The ones of my precious children when they were babies? They weren't in albums, that was something I had always said I'd do later, why didn't I???
The scaredy cat we couldn't find, she had to stay in the house. Tears.
Then we waited...... We watched the fire as it burned along the top of the ridge, then raced down the canyon wall towards our home. We watched the brave pilots maneuver throughout our narrow canyon. It was amazing. The boys went up by the water tank with shovels and caught the burning ashes, smothering them with dirt before they could spark a blaze. We could hear the crackling of the flames now.
Codi's friend was terrified. I shared with her that I had prayed, and in my heart I knew we would be okay, that after my prayer, a feeling of calm came over me, that I knew WE would be okay, safe.
Then the fire trucks arrived to protect the house. The fireman asked me what we planned to do. My heart sick, I asked him what he would do. He said if it were his home, he would leave, and leave now.
So, no more time. They started working around the house, planning their strategy for saving our home. We loaded up the girls, I kissed them and told them to be calm.
We moved all the boys into the safe pen, the firemen agreed it was the best place for them.
We moved my two llamas up to the pen connected to the house. We left the chickens. We left the scaredy cat. We left the water turtle in the house. We left 13 male alpacas, my nanny llama lady, my precious boys..... and our home. I knew we would be safe, but what about them?
Jackie asked me if there was anything else I wanted to take..... I remember looking around and saying, it's only stuff, right?
My daughter and I cried together, and..... we left.
The burn along the canyon wall to the left and below the boy's pens.
I just started crying, I said "I can't leave my new baby! What if something happens to her? Where will you put the cats? I think I'm going to take the cats and dogs and go home." I wasn't thinking very clearly, obviously. And I said so. From then on Brian took charge. He said, "You're coming to our house. We'll put the cats in the garage, the dogs in the yard, and you inside." And so we did.
The burn to the left of our house, as it ran up the draw and back over the ridge.
I spent about half an hour calming down our big fat cat Shadow (AKA- Fat Boy) who is about 12 years old, and never been away from home. He had ropey strands of saliva, had thrown up, and was breathing with his mouth open, totally stressed. He calmed down in my lap, we both did.
My neighbor had to use her trailer. I knew it.
Finally, Wyatt called. He was frantic. He got on the phone with our neighbors below, and called me back. He said, "I just talked with Bill and Shelly, the fire burnt half the house." !!?? What!! I screamed.
The burn as the fire got sneaky and came back over the ridge behind our house.
Wyatt said, "The fire burnt past the house!" Relief.
Long story, I know. The end is short. The house is fine. The boys are fine. We dodged a big bullet. When we returned we found that the fire had gone up the draw to the left of our house when it got to the "V". If it had gone up the right, we would have lost everything. Blessings.
We watch the skies for smoke, and sleep a little lighter. We don't leave the house alone.
My family is safe. The girls are home. My baby is fine, as is the pregnant female due in September. Here they are:
Lessons learned. Picture organization, now! Prayer works! Thank God for good friends!! We love our firemen!!
Thank God for you! I love you all!