We got the news at about 3:00 pm today and it took us about 2 hours to pack up our stuff again, load up the cats, and chickens, take down their temporary chicken run, then head for home. With a three hour drive ahead of us we didn't arrived home until 8:00 pm, just minutes before the sun went down.
With only minutes of daylight left I grabbed the dog crates the chickens were traveling in and hauled them to the chicken run. Once all 5 crates were inside the run I opened their doors. They were a little hesitant to come out of the crates at first, but once they realized they were home they started running around the chicken run excitedly. They dashed over to the grazing frames to pick at all the grasses that have grown up out of the wire in the last four days. Then moments later Barry (my rooster in training) ushered them all into the coop. He then wondered around in the run making his urgent noise looking kind of worried. They normally go to bed before the sun goes down fully so I think he just couldn't see if everyone was inside. I turned on a flashlight in the coop and he went inside and saw that all of his girls were inside, so he calmed down.
Interestingly...Big Red was on the lower roost right in the middle of all of the younger girls. This is so strange because she usually goes to the higher roost and wont let ANYONE except Barry on her roost.
|Big Red, third from the left, all on lower roost.|
I wonder if her new friendlier behavior had anything to do with this... There was an incident that happened in the temporary chicken run today where she seemed to be having a melt down. If she had been a human woman in the 1960's, someone would have slapped her to knock some sense into her (like in the old movies). She was running around frantically, poking her head through the holes in the chain-link, trying to squeeze her body through. Barry was quite worried about her acting so frantic. She tried to fly up to the roof to get out but couldn't. She was running frantically along the walls, squawking. I put a dog crate inside the run, and she ran inside and started digging around in the wood shavings, then ran back out, then in, then out again. The next time she went inside I put a towel over the sides and front so she couldn't see out. She calmed down almost immediately. She stayed in there for about 45 minutes. When she finally emerged from behind the towel curtain she was like a changed bird. She was calm and even went over and laid down with the other chickens...which she has never done!
A few hours later when it was time to put everyone back in the crates for the trip home, everyone cooperated. Big Red even put herself in the crate. With this sitting 'with' the girls on the roost thing...I don't know, but I think she had a nervous breakdown today. Which fortunately seems to have made her decide to be friends with the others, perhaps to receive some of the comfort they were giving each other. Here is a picture of them all lovingly cuddled together while she was in the crate having her nervous breakdown.
|Young chickens all napping together.|
My cats have always been loving litter mates, but today they also showed over the top support for each other. Here in this picture you see how they are literally hugging each other. When we first set out and one or the other would get nervous and start panting, the others would lick them until they felt better. It was so touching to see this.
|Cuddling on their way home after evacuation was lifted.|
The trip home was so quiet and peaceful. I was driving my van with 3 cats and 9 chickens and no one was crying out, or acting upset. At one point I could even hear Barry making his little cooing sounds that he does when he wants to get the girls to come to him. They (we) also enjoyed listening to NPR all the way home.
How did things look when we got home? Well, like I said, it was minutes before sundown so I couldn't see the mountains around us that were on fire when we left Sunday afternoon. I will have to see that tomorrow morning. Our community was not burned (although two houses on the outskirts were lost to the fire). The strong winds that caused the fire to turn on those 19 firefighters blew everything around in our yard. My barrels were practically on the neighbors property, chairs where also overturned. My garden was so dry, but I think most of it will survive, again it was dark so I will survey it closely in the morning. My planter of mint and my trays of herbs were mostly dead, we will see if they make a come back. I watered everything by flashlight.
Inside, my spouts were of course molded, and my fermented feed was totally yucky!!! I dumped it all out, sterilized the containers and started a fresh batch of fermented feed. My mealworms were down to the last nibble of potato left and it looked totally hollow. I had over 100 new Pupae that needed to be moved to the beetle box. Many of my previous pupae had turned into beetles, there were a bunch of them running around. Thank goodness our power was not out (like we heard rumored to be) because keeping the A/C on meant it didn't get too hot in the house, so the mealworms did not bake.
So all in all, everything looked pretty good. I will get a better look at everything tomorrow. I am dreading seeing the blackened mountains sides. I will be talking with my neighbors to see who is organizing what to help out the folks of Yarnell that will need to begin rebuilding, or at the very least, clean up after the fire. We are ready to get busy putting our community back together again. This is why I love small towns...you get to know everyone, and when something like this happens, we all pull together to help one another.
Well, I am beat. This has been a very long 4+ days and I need to get some much needed sleep, in my own bed! Thank you again for all of your support during this very difficult time. I am so lucky to know such wonderfully generous people.
UPDATE: Here are some pictures I took the next morning. Sorry some looks so bad, it is hazy here this morning, looks like rain today...hopefully. I could not get better pictures because we are not suppose to be out in the burn areas. These are all taken from my front and side yard up on the hill.
|A house right at the edge of where it burned.|
|Burned areas, and retardant areas.|
|See green in foreground, then burned hills in back. That road stopped most of the fire, but it crossed in this one location.|
|The red retardant is spooky to look at. See the house still standing right behind the retardant?|
|The command center this morning. They took over Model Creek School at the bottom of the hill.|
|See the burned hill behind the command center?|
Keeper of 1 husband, 2 grandkids, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 17 Chickens!
3 cats, and 17 Chickens!
Did this post stir something inside of you? If so, Please leave me a comment, I would love to know what you're thinking!!!