Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Drive - A Memoir 113th Installment

not be saved. The fire had traveled around the entire U and the whole thing blazed high into the night. This is when we saw the 'tornado of fire' from the center of the U shape. The fire spun out and shot a twenty foot wide flame funnel a hundred feet into the air. As we watched we could feel the air blow against our backs as the fire sucked in oxygen to feed the fire and exhausted the heat up the funnel. I can’t think of any way to explain the intensity of this fire. Think of the biggest fire you’ve ever seen and multiply it by a hundred. It was then we saw the real tragedy. The feedlot corrals went into the open end of the U-shaped hay stack, and we saw the burnt cattle, black lumps in the fire light. Later, we learned about fifty head of cattle had been burnt alive. We shook off the horror and worked at saving anything that could burn. We carried away things we could, and threw water on things we couldn’t move. Luck was with us because there was water in the nearby irrigation ditch to fill our buckets, wet our burlap bags and soak ourselves in the cool water. The Rigby fire engine arrived about an hour late but did save the ranch house, pumping water on the house, outbuildings, farm equipment and vehicles.

We were still working to save animals and buildings when some farm ladies came around with trays of grape juice. I snagged a glass and gulped it down. Maybe I drank it too fast, or it was the exhaustion, or the smell, or the smoke, but my churning gut came up hard. I bent over and retched over and over. (I never touched another drop of grape juice!) Everyone worked throughout the night, and by day the fire was smaller, but even with the warmth of the morning sun, the fire seemed hotter. The mound of hay glowed and writhed like the surface of the sun. The burnt cattle looked surreal without shape, but we knew what they were. I happened across a burnt cat that I guessed took a wrong turn and was overcome by the heat. The burning farm now looked like a war zone. We had to leave in the morning, so we could finish our chores.

Later, the Old Man told us that the fire had burned for a week before they could drag out the ash and cinder and completely put it out. They had eventually set up irrigation sprinklers around the smoldering mass and moved the water closer as they cooled the pile.

It was the fall of that year, and the most difficult farm harvest work was over. We had a little more time to hunt and play. Of course there were still chores to do, taking care of the animals and doing the milking.

This is all we knew – hard work and hard play – to us it

500 more words tomorrow

Related Articles


Post a Comment


Powered by Blogger.