The news said the fire was causing a stage 3 evacuation of the town where our farm was located, and we were about to drive straight into the center of it.
Jules and Craig
Sometimes there is no right answer to a situation. We could play it safe and watch our dreams literally go up in flames, or we could go see if we could salvage the situation. We had at least $30,000 of my girlfriend’s father’s equipment sitting on our property and one of the largest fires in history was about to rage through the area.

Ash Covered the Sky
Ash Covered the Sky

While this may have been one of our dumbest ideas yet, the idea of being in debt to your future father-in-law for a lifetime sounded about as shitty as burning up in the inferno. We already have a somewhat strained relationship as he thinks I am the most incompetent human being on the planet and enjoys spending our “bonding time” teaching me things, like how to use a screwdriver. I can picture it now, sitting around the thanksgiving table ten years later, “The turkey seems a little burnt, you know, like the time you let all of my shit burn up in that fire.”

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WA Fire
So there we were driving from our basecamp in Wenatchee to the farm wearing dust masks I had fashioned from shirt sleeves. I had perfected the art of making sleeveless shirts in high school, who knew the byproduct would be so useful. The air quality was awful. Typically it would be about 20 degrees warmer but the ash cloud was so thick it had blocked out the sun which made the temperature much more pleasant despite the circumstances.
Craig and Jules After Fire
The drive down our road was hit and miss. Some areas the fire had hit, and some it had missed. We saw a family sitting in a pile of rubble that yesterday had been their home. A little further down the road, some homes were left untouched which gave us hope. We had just had a fire on our property a few months ago when our neighbor’s burn pile got out of control and had torn through about 8 acres of our land, burning up a huge water tank, several of our building materials, and the wiring to our well in the process. This meant that even if we had wanted to fight the fire, we had no ability to draw water.
Dangling telephone pole
As we approached our slice of paradise we got an eerie feeling as we passed a telephone pole precariously balancing as the fire had burned through the center, leaving it ready to fall at any second. It made me reminiscent of those public service commercials about not touching downed power lines but I’ll tell you what, when you are in the middle of a large scale disaster, just waiting for a qualified person to magically show up didn’t seem practical. Closing your eyes and reciting, “Like a good neighbor state farm is there,” was also of little help. Ted from state farm can only write checks, he can’t actually fix downed power lines.

Burned truck
The homestead of one of our neighbors

The property had been scorched but miraculously the fire had burned around the old motorhome, 4- wheeler, tractor, and “barn” leaving them unscathed.  I use the term barn quite loosely. A more accurate description would be plywood piece of shit, with hay in it, but as it is one of the few areas on the property that casts a large amount of shade it is valuable to our operation. A small green belt had also survived the onslaught and stretched through about 3 acres of our land. The pucker-factor finally subsided and we were able to let out a smile amid all of the destruction.

After 2nd Fire

I am thankful for how lucky we were. We talked to a few neighbors who had lost everything and forged friendships in a time of crisis. Several of our neighbors had fought off the fire themselves in order to protect their homesteads as the local fire department is comprised entirely of volunteers. It is refreshing to be part of a community that takes personal accountability for their safety and well-being.
Craig on the 4 wheeler after the fire
None of our animals were lost as we currently keep them at another location. We are debating switching over from crops and livestock to farming charcoal briquettes… after all we’ve already had two harvests this year.
Jules and Craig 2
I’ve got my girl, 3 acres left of green, and I won’t have to listen to my future in-laws bitch for the rest of my life, about the fire anyway.
Neighbors property

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