I’ve been away from this space too long. I think of it often and then so quickly something else fills up the time I might spend here. So much happens in a day, week, month even in a minute sometimes. There are so many fun pictures and stories of life on the farm and homeschooling three kidlets I’d love to share, but it feels a little funny to just pick-up the blog as usual without writing about our barn fire. I don’t really want to write about it, I’m quite ready to move on. It’s occupied enough space in my mind, and heart and life. Phone calls, insurance etc. But it is a still an event that can hardly be glossed over and so I’ll share here quickly and give it it’s due then I can move forward to other things in life and here on the blog
This farm, where we are so fortunate to live and raise our kids and make our living on is pretty good sized. The short version of my standard spiel which I blogged about is HERE. The Farm consists of two farms that have been merged together over the years. So we live in the main farmhouse with the BIG BIG barn and the pole barn and tool shed etc. and at the top of the hill is a second smaller old farmhouse and another barn. That barn was used mostly for storage and part of it was a bunkhouse for our seasonal employees.
On New Year’s Eve, the kids and I ponied up to go to town to celebrate First Night. A wonderful night of music dancing and arts with venues up and down the street from schools to churches all hosting music every hour. Many of our friends and community head out to this family friendly event to ring in the New Year. It starts at 4pm and so far with the ages of my tribe we have never made it until midnight. Consequently, we usually start early to enjoy as much as possible of the evening before we head home. My Farmer opted not to go. He works so hard, he tends to be quite choosey about how he spends his down time PLUS he had to do evening chores from 5-6:30. Then he was looking forward to a quiet evening at home until we returned.
It was forecasted to be a super cold night and First Night involves a lot of walking so I had packed up our cooler bag with warm empanadas and baked potatoes wrapped in foil to be dinner and handwarmers.
The kids and I were off as we listened to Irish music, jumped in the bouncy house and played with friends at the Fun Fair and did some Contra dancing.
We were just about to help set off some beautiful paper lanterns before heading to the 9pm show of a local bluegrass band when I had a minute to myself and pulled out my phone. Rob had sent 3 texts (unheard of!) and a missed called saying call it’s important! My phone was on mute (because of the music shows you know…) when I saw my mother in-law was calling. This made my blood run cold. She wouldn’t be calling me at 9pm on New Years on my cell. With the missed calls and text from my hubby……I answered and she told me that the upper barn was burning down!
I gathered the kids to say their goodbyes to friends, got a few drops of Rescue Remedy from my dear friend Kathleen to keep me from shaking on the drive home and back home we went.
As we got close to home we could see the smoke billowing up into the snowy night and the fire trucks on the hill. Our town and two other neighboring towns had sent firetrucks, there was also an ambulance and The American Red Cross was arriving just after us to deliver hot coffee and snacks to the fire fighters, remember the temp was -5F and a barn fire is big!
It was lot of commotion and excitement. My adrenaline was running high. My farmer had been home when the fire chief and rushed in (he is our neighbor across the street) telling him the barn was on fire. Some guys had been icefishing on our pond and stepped out of their shanty to a blazing barn fire on the hill.
Rob hadn’t been able to get a hold of me, the former employee who had been staying in the bunkhouse though the winter, the family living in the small farmhouse or our business partner and landowner!
So out he went through the fields to take a few pictures of the biggest fire he had ever seen.
This is what My Farmer saw when he stepped out the door!
A picture from our neighbor’s home, taken with a zoom lense by Stephen Amos
Picture by My Farmer Rob
Once home, the kids and I bundled back up to go check out this fire. To me it was surreal, was this really our farm? The kids were amazed, over half a dozen fire trucks, an ambulance, The Red Cross. Our farm was like grand central station.
Photo by thisfarmwife
Our neighbor Chief Brown
photo by thisfarmwife
The firefighters were there until the end, on their New Year’s Eve.
A firefighter talking to my kids. Photo by thisfarmwife
We are so grateful for them.
Photo by thisfarmwife
We owe them, our biggest heartfelt thanks for keeping the house next to the barn from catching fire as the fire burned hot.
Photo by thisfarmwife
A side note: Thank your Volunteer Firefighters! They are an incredible bunch of men and women in small towns across America who do so much and are so very vital to our communities.
Photo by thisfarmwife
My Farmer and I both recalled later that evening the story of Thomas Edison whose barn and shop burned down full of his inventions and work. It is said that he when he saw the fire he yelled “Go get my wife, quick, we’ll never see a fire this big again!” We both really tried to keep that spirit in our minds as we went through varying feelings that night and the next morning. It’s all about attitude. Believe me when I say, it was sad and stressful and horrible but still, it’s all about attitude.
We were incredibly fortunate in that there were no people or livestock in the barn.
Though there was a sweet kitty cat Floey who did perish. Rest in peace Flo.
We had used it for overflow for farm equipment a little farm truck, single row corn picker etc, but all of our tractors and most of our implements had all been stored for the winter in the lower barns. My farmer had bought a 1972 super beetle (2 actually, 1 for parts) that had come from California and was rust free ( a rarity in this salted roads part of the world). He had been storing it for the past 6 years hoping eventually when the kids were a little older to rebuild it with them. So long Super Beetle.
Photo by our neighbor Suzanna Hayes
Karen, the woman living there did lose all that she had, her clothing, her favorite books, her yarn collection and more…many things dear and special to her.
The outpouring of love and support from our community was amazing.
Really. Truly. Amazing.
It brought tears to our eyes.
So many donations to Karen, and offers to come to help us re-build.
Just kind words and love all around.
We’re still getting through the details… the insurance…. how we’ll house our interns this summer.
Photo by Suzanna Hayes
In many ways we’re grieving the loss of an old barn that was a piece of history and the New England cultural landscape that My Farmer and I treasure so dearly.
Hand hewn posts and beams, that barn held stories and was a part of many livelihoods.
We know it’s a process and in the same breath of sadness, every day awaits anew, change happens and new blessings arise from the ashes.
Damage was minimal, no humans hurt, these are great great blessings….and the view from that upper house of the White Mountains just became incredible….that’s a blessing right?!
We’ll count every one we can get…
Photo by former neighbor and dear friend and photographer Rita Mae Muller almost a year ago