The Homestead Organic Journal
August 7: Fire at Drought Hill! Or as I call it, The Furthest I Can Throw An Unsold Zucchini From My Front Deck. That's how close we were to the initial flames, though, owing to the buffering effect of 97C, we never felt anything like the threat that we felt from the fire two years ago, save for maybe those first few uninformed minutes. About those minutes: I had missed the early cues, having assumed the sirens I heard were for, I don't know, a dignitary's cavalcade, or maybe the Kelowna Rockets having scored a goal up on the highway. It was Torbin, our German farm-guest, who pointed out the plume of smoke and the suddenly-obvious commotion.
It's crises like this that often separate the wheat from the chaff. I immediately thought about the one neighbour on the fire's side of the highway, yet my response was to run up to the highway to get a better sense of the situation. Terrible, Jordan; it's terrible. In establishing this, I had wasted valuable minutes and was now far away from my car. On the bright side, I was called Sir for the first time in months when an RCMP constable asked me to get the heck away from there.
Torbin and the farm's owner, Joe, meanwhile, tossed some shovels in Joe's truck and roared up the wash-boarded, circuitous driveway to our neighbour's house to make sure she and her dogs were safe. They were. Emergency responders were on scene, refused Joe's offer to help fight the fire, and sent him back down just in time to have his beloved Ford doused with retardant from the first pass of the air tanker. I saw it all from my vantage on the highway, where I was also being useful...as tits on a bull.
I can't stress enough the rare treat, and bizarre circumstances, afforded by the curious geographical relationship among the fire, the farm, and the shelter of the highway between. We were so close to it; yet, never in any great danger, no evacuation was ordered. We were thus treated to a better air show than I might ever pay an admission for. The air tankers, the water bombers, the helicopters--all skimmed the tips of the farm's treetops, and one even landed in our hay field, as they fought the blaze. I was due to host a dinner party that night, and proceeded with it. It went off without a hitch, save for the pilots' engines drowning out all my best carrot-harvesting stories. They saved the farm though, so I guess we're even.
August 9: Fire's out. A little hazy, but otherwise back to normal. I'm not a very patriotic guy, but watching the firefighting apparatus spring to life to put out the fire made me proud of the society I live in. I'm never sure how to strike the right balance between gratitude for, and healthy criticism of, one's governmental institutions, but when you can point to a blaze a few hundred feet away as the reason for turning away some tourists who showed up unannounced for a tour, but really it's because you're inside baking a peach pie and you're trying to keep the pastry as cold as possible before it hits the oven, well, I think that calls for some unbridled gratitude for those institutions, and the people that comprise them.
August 10: Clarice is getting bigger. Clarice is the Black Widow that Ryan found clinging to a head of lettuce he had harvested (thank goodness he found it!). Ryan, perhaps driven by a stirring of his paternal instincts, deposited Clarice in an unused wash sink in our processing tent. She's made a home there, and we've been feeding her grasshoppers ever since. You can see some photos and video of Clarice at thehomesteadorganicfarm.ca/blog.