Sunday, December 19, 2010

Barn Fire - Day 2

The sun came up and the barn was still smoldering as I drove to church.

The smell of the fire hung heavy over the entire village.

Having a barn fire is bad, but having one on a weekend is worse.

No grain stores are open so we could get needed supplies and businesses are closed for services (electricians & insurance).  So I prayed for some kind of intervention that would help get the stuff we needed, TODAY.

Concerned curch members asked me if the cows were ok and how the farmer and his family were doing.  We prayed for the farm family and for our village volunteer fire department who have had a tough weekend of firefighting.

I rushed home after services and took off my Sunday clothes and slipped back into my smokey barn clothes and headed for the farm.
The top mission for today was getting water and electricity to the cows.

As I pulled up the long driveway I saw 3 smokey figures by the pudgy grain silo.

They were putting a metal box and outlets on the silo and had dug deep and gotten the electrical conduit from under the driveway and barn. 

A miracle:  Electricians on Sunday!

These were village men and came to help.   I wanted to hug them, but controlled my unbridled enthusiasm.

Small fires were still burning in the barn in various places.

The smell of burnt rubber, metal and plastic was heavy and thick.

The electrican angels had the wires ready to go in a jiffy.  We attached several heavy duty extension cords and brought them all the way over to the fence charger.

As we rechecked the fence we noticed that several critical fence insulators were melted.

Me, being the girl that I am, travel with packages of electrical zip ties in my truck.   They were left over from my deployments to Hurricane Katrina, and were just as handy today as they were 5 years ago. 

As soon as we "zipped' a few insulators, lowered the fence so the calves could not get to the barn and maneuvered the long extension cords around the barn's burnt skeleton, we were ready for "juice."  Farmer Chip connected the extension cord to the fence charger and then I heard what I call "music" to my ears:  the steady clicking of the fence charger as it zaps the electric fence.   Amen.
The cows are now safely contained.

Next task:  Water.

The 2 frost free water pumps were inside the barn.  Yesterday everything was too hot to go stumbling in the barn to see if they would still work.  I have a pair of melted boots to prove it.  Today, however most of the stuff was "less hot" and we could not find another way to water the cows.  The stream on the other end of the farm property was frozen.    Even all the plastic buckets had evaporated in the intense fire, so I couldn't bucket water from the house to the water tank.   Not a bucket amongst us, it was time to go in and see if the water pumps would function. 
I dragged the now "fire proof" water tub the length of the barn to its new resting place.  I went and found a small diameter, slinky type hose at my house and brought it down to see if it would work.  The best water pump was melted and unusable.   The second pump "looked" better, it wasn't melted and it wasn't positioned in the area of the barn where the fire had burned the hottest.   I moved the still smoldering debris away from the pump and cleaned the nozzle by spitting on it and wiping all the black gunk off it. I needed a good tight connection between the pump and the hose.  As I screwed all those parts together I said a prayer to the cow gods, that they help this humble herd and give us enough water to make it through this crisis.       I pulled the handle up on the pump and.............nothing happened.  As I walked over to the tub to check the other end of the hose, the cows heads came up and looked in my direction.  10 seconds later the water came.   Slowly.  But it came.   There is obviously something wrong with the pump, it leaks like crazy from the damaged head, but it will have to do for now.

Some of the girls came over to get some water.   They didn't really want to eat snow anymore.  I gave them their favorite treats and they walked away full and content.

The rest of the herd were laying down soaking up some sun and chewing their cud.  They really seem unaffected by this unfortunate event.

The old cow, Susan, is my barometer for how the herd is.    Today she laid in the sun with her eyes closed, near the now clicking fence charger.    All was well with her world.

I still search for signs that the feral kitten made it out of the barn.  My mind thinks about her every second I look at the barn.
I continue to pick up nails and debris that fell into the cows side of the field.
I fear that if I miss one nail it will end up stuck in a hoof or swallowed by one of the cows.  I stopped putting magnets in my cows years ago because they were grazed in pristine fields with no debris.      I am rethinking that today.
However, in order to pop a magnet into a cow I really must do it in a corral with a head gate and chute.  I already have the magnets, just no chute and of course you saw how the head gate was destroyed in the fire.  I will have to be diligent about looking every day for nails before it snows again and hides those dangerous objects.

Lots to do tomorrow and some of my plans have been put on hold.


My smokey laundry is piling up, the list of things I need for the cows is getting longer, I have a craving for chocolate that won't quit, I desperately need another job to finance my farming and I need to shut my brain off and try to get some sleep.

Other than that, all is fine.


  1. You must be of tougher stuff than me because you didn't say you just sat on the ground and bawled your eyes out, which is what I would have done. I had a milk cow just like your Susan and her name was Susie. I had to show my husband because he has never seen a picture of her.
    I am so sorry. I will continue to pray for you all.

  2. Sounds liek good nieghbors are around,a nd you have had some successes getting back to normal. hopefully Kitty just scrammed from the fire and will be back in a few days.

  3. That's the great thing about small towns, people tend to pull together and help. Great you got water and electric going.

    Amazing the stuff one might take for granted, til it's ALL gone. Fire, a horrible nightmare..

    I'm glad you and the cows are okay (even if your boots are not) and I hope Monday is a better day.

  4. I'm so glad you are okay. This is just terrible.


  5. I bet your mind is going a mile a minute at night! Bless your heart.