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Adventures on the Ranch
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Photo Credit : Eliza Wiley
, Independent Record
of 2012 was as crazy as it could get for us. It started out as a fairly
normal year until that day in June. June 25 we were
getting some dog food delivered and they were late. Fortunately, they were
late! Mom and I were supposed to be at a dinner at a cattle drive about
an hour away from home, but since our dog food hadn't arrived yet we were
just waiting for them and were going to leave as soon as the dog food got
at about 4:00 they pulled into the drive way. We were unloading the food
and the man said Looks like you have a little fire on the hill over
there. I looked and sure enough there was smoke rising on the other
side of the mountain but it wasn't big just a little plume.
The food was unloaded and I went and called 911 to see if it had been reported
and she said yes it was and hung up. I called her right back and said where
we lived and were we to evacuate yet? She said No but they would
do a call back if that changed. Ok. Great. I called and left a message
that we were NOT coming to dinner there was a fire just over the
hill and the helicopters were flying but there was no way we were leaving.
good friend of ours called because she saw the smoke and wanted to know
if we were ok or if she should come get the kids. We told her we
were fine just hanging tight for a little while.
..... I headed
back out to tell mom what I found out when I saw a Sheriff with his lights
on at the corner of Norris and Green Meadow and thought Oh
No* I hopped on the 4 wheeler with Heather and drove down there and
asked him if we had to leave. He asked where we lived, etc. and handed
me an evacuation order. He asked if we were going to leave and I said yet
but we would be here a little while because we had to get the dogs and
horses out. He said ok.
back to the house gave mom the notice and told her to call our friend
back to get the kids. Clint was taking a nap and I woke him up explained
to him what was going on and our friend was going to come and take them
to her place for awhile. I told him we had to catch the horses and both
kids and I ran over and got all the horses caught and tied up. However,
my fiance had taken my horse trailer that morning to use- so I had no trailer!!!
People just started showing up to help us. Several people called us and
asked if we needed trailers, and we said yes and other people just showed
up with trucks and vans and cars. As I was catching the horses you could
see the red glow coming over the hill. I wanted to cry but just
didn't look, I knew a calm mind and slow movements would make catching
the horses faster.
were caught and tied up. Our friend showed up and I gave her both the kids
and one of the dogs. She called us about 10 minutes later because of all
things I forgot to send the kids with there special blankets and Clints
special stuffed turtle. Clint was very upset but when we told him I would
grab them now and bring them with me he stuck it out like a little
big man and got ahold of himself! He knew something big was going on
but was still very good and set a good example for little Heather.
..... Now the
first trailer showed up and it was a long stock type trailer. I made the
quick decision dogs first. I didn't know for sure if any other trailers
would come and the dogs must go first. Mom and I put the dogs in crates
and then we loaded them in the trailer. A quick decision was made where
to take the dogs and off they went. We also had 2 litters of 6 week old
trailer showed up while we were loading the dogs and I yelled across the
field horses are tied up. Take em. It was a rancher man I knew and
so he took the mares and pony to his ranch.
trailer showed up an old friend from 4-H. I told her to take my
stallion to the same arena as the dogs so she loaded him and off she went.
other friends were pulling stuff out of the house, like the computer. Other
friends were standing on the 100+ degree black roof of our new building
running water on it for some time. Someone got the birds the blue
and gold Macaw went into a crate. And someone put our little Cockatiel
in a storage tub with a lid. They told me to go put holes in the lid
so I ran out to the van but there was no bird in there. After asking
several people and making sure I had the right tub which
was obvious because who would put an empty tub in there. He was gone. Someone
had lifted the lid to look and let him out. I couldn't look anymore.
.....I had to
get the travel trailer hooked up and out as I pulled the truck over
you could see flames engulfing the hill 500 yards from our land. As I was
hooking up the trailer I was getting drops of water on me from the helicopter
flying over. I wanted to stay longer and help mom so my friend took the
trailer up to her place (about a mile from us). I pulled the trailer out
of our narrow drive way and told her to go!
up to her place and called me and said we really need to think about getting
out of there that we really couldn't see what was happening but
it was bad.
she wouldn't leave until it hit the grass in our pasture. Until then she
was keeping the water running. I told her ok, but I had to go and get all
the dogs settled before dark. I was taking the pups to our friend that
had the kids as she has raised pups before and had a safe set up.
was about 30 minutes away where the dogs were. I got there and no one was
there. I called the arena owner to ask her several questions she
said you take what you need. She said I can use the stalls
told me where the straw was and the water, hoses, etc. I took care of everyone
fed -watered bath roomed everyone. Then I loaded the pups
to take with me. The place I was taking the pups (and getting the kids)
was about 30 minutes from there. I arrived around 10:00. The kids were
very happy to see me! My friends helped me get the pups situated and load
the kids. I had to go back to the arena and get 2 dogs that were going
to spend the night with me. I spent the night at my friends place that
had the trailer. It was close to 11:30 now and I was straight up exhausted.
I needed to go to the house to check on mom and get the phone working (when
they took the computer out they unplugged the phone line and she didn't
know how to fix it). I also wanted to make sure she was ok as she was just
as exhausted as me. Everything was fine at the house, she was ok and she
had Yello with her. The house was a wreck but all the valuables
were out. The fire had slowed down and it hadn't gotten our property yet.
It wouldn't do much over night. The hill behind our house was a solid glow
of fires burning and smoldering, it actually looked like a city there was
so much light. But it was all fire.
up to my friends house the kids were already asleep in there car
seats so we moved them into the bed and I laid down next to them. Falling
asleep I was worried about the Cockatiel! I was more worried that someone
ran over him with a car and my just turned 4 year old son would be the
one to find him. I fell asleep with the thought MAYBE he was ok
and I would find him in the morning and I passed out.
it was just starting to get light and I looked out the window. The fire
wasn't doing much the kids were still sleeping my friend
and most importantly her dogs! Were still sleeping and I knew I
should go back to sleep as well. I also knew if I got up my friends dogs
would wake her up and I didn't want to do that. I just couldn't sleep and
couldn't lay there I thought maybe if I could sneak out and let
her dogs outside right away
.... but no they were so excited to see
me they woke her up.
the dogs I had with me into the truck and headed up to see mom. As soon
as I got home I let the dogs out and headed towards the field to let them
run. I was close to the fence and I heard a CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP! JOURNEY
!! was ok! He was clinging to the chain link and as soon as he saw me started
making his sound. I grabbed him quickly and ran him inside yelling to mom
I found Journey!! He's ok! He did end up sneezing for several days
but between the smoke and being out in the cool night what could you expect
he recovered just fine!
..... The fire
didn't do much that morning but they were predicting winds that
afternoon. I took care of all the dogs and pups. I was so far away from
home I didn't know what was happening and was heading home and decided
to stop in Burger King and grab all of us some food. As I started to head
toward home I could see the smoke getting extremely bad and then it all
blew up. They would NOT let me go home to see mom so I went to my
friends and called mom on the way there. I told her I really really wanted
her to leave. There was nothing more she could do and please come up to
our friends with me. She decided if the grass lit on fire just across the
tracks (about 100 yards from our property) she would leave. Within 30 minutes
of hanging up the phone she arrived at our friends place. I was so happy
to see her but also knew that meant the fire was right there.
evacuating parts of Green Meadow and other main road around us. The wind
was crazy 50-60 mile an hour gusts with probably around 40 sustained!
Mom and I were sitting in the trailer watching the smoke. Watching
the helicopters fly. Worried. Later that afternoon they got a retardant
plane on it but before this the plane was gone at the Colorado fire
(I think).. We spread some of our friends gravel in part of her new drive
way. It was hot to hot to be shoveling but we had to do something
will all this pent up worry. Then looking over I saw a big
black explosion type plum of smoke go up. Knowing it was a house
or some other structure close to us or honestly I thought it was
our house. It was horrible. The helicopter was hovering right there and
dumping water. Was he dumping on ours or our neighbors ? Was our house
there ? Our new building ? The wind was blowing so bad the smoke
was killer. I told mom lets take the trailer and go to the arena
where the dogs are. We need to be with them I can train the pups.
I could let the adults loose and run and play. My kids could play with
there kids. We needed to get out of the smoke. I worried about leaving
my friend in case she needed to evacuate but she said she was fine
and would call us if anything changed.
..... Our friends
that owned the arena were so awesome that night. She fixed us dinner and
we caught up on old times. She got a movie going for the kids and insisted
that we both take a shower.
.....I got a
call from our friend that lives not to far from us where we were staying
earlier today and she said the fire had died down for the night
and she was going to get as close as they would let her and see if she
could see our house. She called me and said - Well your new building
is fine for sure, I see the trees around your house and half the house
everything LOOKS ok from here. I cried. Our house was there.
day we took care of everyone and tried to head to the house to check it
out. The wouldn't let us in until 1:00. So we just waited. At 1 they were
letting only people who lived there go in but they had to be ready
to get out in at moments notice. We went home YES WE WENT HOME!
I checked everything out and cleaned up a little. A reporter showed up
so we talked to her for a little while.
..... We left
to head back to the dogs and trailer and spend the night there. The fire
was not much to worry about now but still we felt better being with
day Thursday we went back home with everyone. We had to put
our house back together but were so grateful to have a house to reorganize!
We were exhausted. Literally exhausted. It was over. The fire came within
100 feet on 2 sides of us. But didn't even take one blade of our grass.
It was unreal. When we saw the explosion and helicopter dumping water
the water he dumped saved our neighbors house which was right in the path
of fire. The explosion was his white vinal horse fence.....and some out
buildings of his. All in all...... 4 houses were lost in this fire
3 of them on our road. No doubt the fact that we dumped sooooo much water
out helped. But God is to thank for the wind changing direction and taking
the fire away. We were so lucky.
thing is when we lived in Clancy we always had an evacuation plan. You
had to surround by forest service with one way out. We were always
ready. Not here. We had no current plan. We had nothing to worry about
or so we thought. We have so many friends to thank for all there
work helping us. Old friends friends we haven't talked to in years
just showed up. Others were friends I talk to all the time. Everyone
was so wonderful and we are so grateful to have friends like you. If our
place wouldn't have been spared we got everything alive out. And
we got all valuables out. We had everything of most importance out within
30 minutes. It was amazing.
of the fire : that weekend a man was burning a slash pile. He had a burn
permit and called in just like he should have. After the fact
it was a controversial burn permit that shouldn't have maybe been issued.
But anyway........ he thought the fire was out and went to work on Monday.
Monday afternoon the wind picked up starting the fire up again
which caught his 4 wheeler on fire and off the fire went with an explosive
start. The fire started at about 4:00. We were on evacuation order at about
To better times!
Leah and Everyone at Omega Shepherds
we survived the fire and thought everything was ok now. We got everything
put back together and it was the middle of July. I was at an agility trial
in Billings (about 41/2 hours away). Mom called me crying it's sick
it's sick. You won't believe what's happening. WHAT WHAT I yelled!
Our place was flooding. Yes we live in the driest part of the state
and we were flooding! Not only flooding the water was bringing with
it silt and ash off the hillside. The reason for the flooding is
because of the fire which had burned everything to help hold the
water back and give the water a place to soak into, a little 10-15 minute
rain storm caused absolute havoc on us!
.....I got on
the phone and called everyone I could think of she needed sand bags
and now. It was flooding our yard, porch, shop and heading toward the building.
She needed help and was home alone.
..... She had
no sand bags so she was trying to use boards to build a barrier
which was obviously Not working so she stopped and just started picking
everything she could up and getting it out of the water.
.....I told her
I was coming home but she said it was over. There was nothing I could do
until it dried out. She stayed up until about midnight cleaning water out
of our window wells. A couple friends showed up to her. But she was right
there wasn't much else to do until it dried up and we could clean
it up. Right after the flooding the county showed up and gave us sand bags
and a pile of sand, so we made about 200 sand bags and stacked them where
the water came in.
at the trial and got a double Q both Saturday and Sunday.
.....When I pulled
into our drive way on Sunday night it was utter shock. Really, it
was so gross and so
.. dirty. It was very sad. And everyone was telling
me oh this is nothing this looks way better than when it was
solid black. As the dirt dried it was more of a grey color and so
it didn't look as bad. But it was still bad.
the work started mom and I started shoveling. Over the next week
we took over 30 manure spreader fulls of clay, silt and ash out of our
yard. The house was ok not much got in. The shop was a mess but
we got that cleaned up. Our beautiful used to be green yard
was totally trashed.
.....We got it
cleaned up the best we could there comes a point you can't take
any more away and the grass will just have to grow back through what is
left probably next year.
weeks later it flooded again. This time my best friend was watching over
our place for a few hours in case in did flood because mom and I were at
a wedding. She called me and said you might think about coming home
its not flooding but it's raining pretty good. That
was all she needs to say, I told mom we have to go now. Put the
kids in there car seats and drove home. By the time we got home the main
road was already blocked off by police keeping through traffic out of the
.....I put the
truck in 4 wheel drive looked at the cops, waved told them I live
up there and I am going through. They didn't argue.
came within an inch of the top sand bag we had we had 5 sand bags
stacked high and it came within an inch of the top one!!!! By moving sand
bags from up higher it kept the water out of the yard. The next day we
got more sand, more sand bags and started building again. This time we
made about 300 sand bags and wedged 4 foot plywood between 5-6 high sand
bags literally making a sand bag wall. In addition to sand bags
out behind them for support.
..... So far
we haven't had any more floods to see if our method will work but
I am sure it will. I am sure it will flood again this summer as nothing
has changed. The fire stripped the trees, brush and everything on the hill
side away so nothing has changed except winter came and we haven't
had much rain yet. SO it will flood again I am sure. But I am also equally
confident that our sand bag wall will hold. We will have to rebuild sand
bags I am sure as they only last in the weather so long.
.....In the fall
they seeded the hill side and spread straw to help hold the seed which
is awesome. It won't do anything for the flooding for a few years because
a little grass won't hold water. But through a few years it will give a
place for the water to soak into. Hopefully it will help anyway.
. Leah and Everyone
at Omega Shepherds
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