This whole saga with the fire would have been much worse if it had not been for some phenomenal friends, family and boarders. From my husband’s best friend from childhood getting here before the fireman, to all of the community member and fire fighters, to friends I have only seen a handful of times since our 4H years to what were complete strangers, the people have been amazing through this.
The day of the fire, friends took off from work to load up and deliver and set up their own round pen panels so that we could have stalls. The horses had to live out for a few days until the smoke cleared up. I was only willing to bring them in to be grained while I could be with them. We had stalls set up that very day (in my beautiful indoor footing).
Calling boarders to let them know that the barn is on fire but there horses are okay is not a fun phone call to make. Rosie’s owner lives right around the corner as do Fern’s, so I called them shortly after to let them know that the horses were okay and not to come. One boarder I thought was out of town, so I did not call her and she found out from other people that our barn had burned – I feel terrible about that as she came running up in tears. Lazlo’s owner had not even had him here 24 hours before I let her know that her horse was okay but everything else was a complete loss.
People showed up with piles of halters (I only had gotten two out with the horses) and lead ropes, buckets – all sorts of “little basics” that are completely essential. Two people I had not met before drove out mid-morning to let me know they had some extra stalls and could take some horses for us. I ended up sending Whitman for two weeks since one does need a stall for stall rest. They wouldn’t take any money for board either (need to get a proper gift card for that one). Current and former employees came to help pull anything out that could be saved. Some of my high school students drove out to let us know they had a “work force” all ready and on call to help shovel up debris. It was two weeks before the fire was out and there was no way I would have taken them up on the offer – but was so incredibly touched that they did. A good friend and co-worker fielded all sorts of offers of help and acted as a clearing house so that I could focus on what needed to be done here. The fellow that had hauled Lazlo down for his owner was retiring and closing his barn – he sent down all sorts of buckets, trunks, and even saddles for us. We have met twice. People I have never met sent all sorts of stuff that Lazlo’s owner ferried back and forth in her station wagon for us. I tried keeping lists and taking pictures to help organize who did what and I have no way to list and keep track of everything. Sometimes a muck tub would randomly appear in the front yard. Considering my cynical nature – this has actually greatly increased my faith in humanity.
My poor husband was in the middle of the grape harvest and had loads to pick the day of the fire. Another farmer who has a similar harvester (these new harvesters are like space ships) came and ran our harvester and crew so that Mr. Beer Budget could stay on track with the farm and literally and figuratively put out fires at home. I didn’t make any mistakes marrying that man. He is incredibly stalwart and has a ridiculously impressive skill set.
I haven’t even gotten to all of the food and bottles of water that showed up. We could feed all sorts of masses of helpful people and ourselves. It is also amazing how much water you need when dealing with smoke inhalation. For the people on the front lines, I think our kidneys were all well flushed out.
We told the boarders that their horses could either stay and “camp”, or we would move them to a new facility temporarily or permanently with nothing but the best wishes, but everyone chose to stay. Lazlo’s owner (who again had not had him here for 24 hours) decided that even if it was going to be “rough conditions” for a bit that if we would go into a burning barn to get him out then his best option was to stay with us.
Speaking of the old campaigner – Lazlo decided that his day was best dealt with by taking a nap. This may be why at 23, Laz barely looks a minute older than when he left seven years ago.