We’re Alive and Well

Hello All!

I realize it has been awhile since we last spoke/typed/conversed. We were without phone service for over two months and it was just restored last week. Without phone service, as in: the phone lines, power lines, and phone/power poles were burned and melted for a 15 mile radius. It took PG&E a few weeks to replace enough of the 500 burned poles to restore power and it took AT&T much longer, obviously, to get new lines up.

For anyone just stumbling upon this blog, our town was recently devastated by the Butte Fire, a more than 70,000 acre wildfire in Calaveras county, California. Over 530 homes were lost. That may or may not sound like a huge number, but in a rural area like ours, that number affects every single person. 

 I’ve been thinking about what to say about the fire. I honestly don’t have words for the fear and loss that everyone has suffered. Luckily our whole street (and our house) was left unscathed, but that’s all it was– luck. We had damages and animal losses and yet we are so incredibly thankful we are one of the few who still have a house to come home to. Our tiny town of Mountian Ranch was able to save our only general store, miniature post office, and two-pump gas station (all on the same block).

Some quick facts:

Yes, we survived. Our house is fine. We are fine. The night we evacuated (Happy Birthday me!) was very last second because the fire moved so fast. Everything was left behind, including all the birds. A friend was able to help us get the goats and sheep out before the roads were closed. We were evacuated and living in my parents living room 52 miles away for two weeks. The goats and sheep had to co-habitate in their small, fenced garden. While we were evacuated, we kept getting conflicting information so we didn’t know if our house was still there until we were allowed back in.

 Our kitchen floor is a little wavy from the refrigerator defrosting and food leaking all over the floor. We lost half our turkeys and all of our newly hatched chickens to starvation, I’m sure. In an emergency situation like this, you don’t think about anything but your own life and how to escape. We only have three routes out of our neighborhood and two routes were on fire and moving fast. We could see flames coming over the hill as we left. I just can’t tell you how absolutely frightening it was.

But we are okay and are working to help our community members, neighbors, friends who lost everything. And we will probably be doing so for the foreseeable future. Rebuilding and recovering are hard work. If you want to help our area and Butte Fire victims, please do not donate to Red Cross. Email me and I can put you in touch with local non-profits so that your donation will go directly to our people.

Thank you all so much for your concern and prayers and thoughts and well wishes! It means so much to us that you care. Blessings to you all.

Updates Soon…

I’m terribly sorry I have not  been a good blogger lately. We have gone from, “nothing going on” to “evacuated from a devastating fire”. Not the best transition as far as needing a little excitement on the farm. Currently, we know nothing about the progress of the fire, but as of Sunday, our house was spotted as still standing. The whole of our town has been burned to the ground, however, and life will be very different from here on out. We have not been allowed back home since a last-second evacuation a week ago.

The Butte Fire, here in Calaveras county, California has burned over 71,000 acres and over 210 homes have been counted as lost. We are currently at 37% containment. Numbers on constantly changing.

If you care to check in on our fire, we live in the tiny town of Mountain Ranch… Pretty much the center of the ominous red blob on the fire map. We were able to get ourselves (the humans), Hänsel, the goats, and the sheep out safely, but were unable to evacuate the turkeys, chickens, or Cami’s pet Angora rabbit. Ironically, we are staying with family in the very 1/4 acre we left over a year ago. The hoofed creatures are in the makeshift refugee camp/vacant garden.

Once the road closures are lifted and we return home, I will be sure to update you. Until then, we are waiting, watching the news like all of you.

Mokelumne River

we are in a severe, severe drought here in California, but our neighboring Mokelumne River still has water in it. Mostly that means that everyone and their brother plays in the river on weekends. Once in awhile, or if you get there early enough, there is a break in the people and you can find a secluded spot. Even better is when your five-year old catches three gigantic fish. 

Rainbow trout? Salmon? I’m not really sure. All that matters is how good they taste grilled up with some lemon and butter. Next time I plan to make some creamy fish chowder to pour into a sourdough bread bowl. Yum! Now I’m hungry.


New Chick on the Block

What do ya know, two of our hens went broody and actually managed to hatch some bebes. Last year I might have micro managed the whole brooding/hatching process too much. So this time I just let the hens be. Obviously, not being a helicopter-chicken-mom was a good bet, because we have two tiny chicks walking about.

The broody hens are very protective of the chicks (good sign) and are still sitting on the rest of the clutch of 18 or so eggs. Hopefully we will see more and more hatching in the next couple days. I will be maintaining my hands-off method though. It’s easier than purchasing and running an incubator anyhow.