On Saturday July 28th, we evacuated from Dancing TreePeople Farm and had to leave the chickens behind. I set them up on automatic watering but on Sunday the power went out so I worried. That outage lasted five days. Animal Control assure me they would go in there to make sure the chickens had food and water. Some people fixate on the strangest things. I fixated on the chickens. Were they okay? what was happening to them? Would they be attacked by fleeing predators? Did they have water?
As it happens, the night of August 2nd, the fire burned toward our place and ashes and burning leaves must have rained down on the farm. Fire trucks were parked at each house on Pitney Lane defending our property--which was left relatively unscathed.
By day four, I asked our PG&E rep to let me know when the power would return. Power was back on the next day --I know this because I was able to remotely monitor our solar energy system. Seeing the data told me two things: our wifi router at home was intact (so we had a home) and the barn was okay--where the inverter and data collection took place.
When we returned after 12 days away, the chickens were fine. One of the silkies had started brooding--with a dozen unclaimed eggs underneath her. Today (August 26) four of this have hatched, with more to come.
Our losses were minor in the scheme of things: we lost a freezer and refrigerator of food due to 12 days evacuated, 5 without power and are extremely grateful. The fire was stopped across the street from us--fire trucks saved every house on Pitney Lane. If you don't look past the farm it is like nothing happened, except for the ever-present smoke and ash... and a burned leaves from trees up the hill from us. The forest and mountains all around us are burned and sometimes I am overcome with the loss of all those beings: trees and animals.
Friends of our could not get insurance, and lost their homes. They cannot rebuild.
Some days I just cry.
Our community of Lake County has seen over 60% of our county burned in the past 3 years...
As for how our community is doing...I don't know. A mixed bag, some survivors guilt. Some devastated people. Some getting used to the New Normal. Many wondering WTF is happening. Many are sad to now be surrounded by blackened mountains. Some recommitted to helping animals. Loads and loads of grief.
Last weekend Loretta and I went to visit our grandbabies in Redding. And it occurred to me that it is important to me to take them outside. But here's the thing--I can't. Why? Because I do not want them to breathe the air that has been deemed "unhealthy" and "unsafe" --smokey air that is causing us to cough and wheeze every day.
The wildfires that rage throughout the forests in the Western U.S. have transformed trees and wildlife and homes into smoke. And this is not one or two days of smoke. These fires will last the WHOLE FREAKING SUMMER into the Autumn. We will breathe smoke until it rains in November--assuming we can count on that in this crazy year of climate catastrophe.
This is NOT what I wanted for my children and grandchildren-- a whole summer of being cooped up inside... Breathing noxious air. And what about next summer? And the summer after that? These are the very real consequences of drought and high temps, tinder dry forests and grasslands, unstoppable fires backed by fiercer than normal tradewinds.
This air used to be the forests I grew up with and loved... forests that I planned to share with my grandkids. These forests are on their way to being gone and my grandkids are already here--breathing them.
The time for talk has passed--so I say this "please for the love of God spare me your opinions."
Instead, do something, anything, to turn this around. It is ours to do and we have to do it together.