Monday, February 28, 2011


Our heifer calf was burned. This has a 4-5 days healing time on it and looks good. The fence for the pastures diverged off the front and the back of both sides of the barn. Where we had four separate areas, we now have one. We are hoping to hear from the insurance rebuild specialist soon to get a cleaning crew to get up the rest of the hardware (fasteners like screws) and the large amount of glass.

We found things we needed to bury yesterday. That was hard.

I think once we get the enormous task of filing the contents list done, it will get easier. Take pictures of everything and save them where they can't be destroyed whether is on a server or on CD in a vault. Save every receipt and file away somewhere safe for at least seven years. Save every owner's manual, no matter how unlikely it is you will refer to it. This will help you in making your contents list. If you do have a fire, go through the pile yourself and take pictures of everything you can. It will help document your ownership and trigger memories.

If you only remember one thing, remember this. I thought I knew how quickly fire traveled. I see now I underestimated it a great deal. If your house is on fire, get out as fast as you can and stay out. Do not enter any burning buildings. Teach this to your children. Fire is a ravenous, swiftly moving animal.
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Friday, February 25, 2011

The Night the Barn Burned

I have sat down to write this a couple of times and found it hard to write. I am not going to proof read. We have about 2/3 of the debris cleaned up. We want it gone so the children don't have to keep seeing it. Going through it is hard, but we needed to in order to help us remember what was in the vast amount of belongings we had out there.

Many things happened perfectly to change our normal routines and habits so we'd be up and ready to run. God's hand was very evident throughout. I am very thankful the Lord spared our lives and our home.

We had been fighting the brush fire on our place all day. There were fires all over the neighborhood and in the county. The fire personnel were stretched thin and in high demand. I was told five or six houses and another barn were lost. I know of a car fire plus nine other fires in the county. The wind kept feeding fires and sending embers to start new ones. The VFD could not be here the entire time and as soon as they left, something else would start burning. I called Clint home to help. He had some difficulty getting home because the road was blocked, but he got here.

There were lulls where the wind would go down and we could rest. We talked and joked with most of the firemen. During these slow periods, they rested in the chairs we had put out for them. Emily had seen a fireman in turnout gear earlier and had run to hide. That troubled me for the "just in case" scenario---which almost happened! We took her and Hannah outside so they could get a close up look at the firemen in the turnout gear and realize they were friends, not monsters. Hannah was held and both were fussed over. Amanda took pictures of the stuck fire engine, and the men were very good natured towards her about it. Caleb was allowed to try on turnout gear which made for one happy 9 year old! A cow patty had caught an ember and the younger firemen joked with me about what would happen to my shoe if I went to stomp on it like I had the edge of the brush fire.

During the course of the day, I had moved our chihuahuas to the RV to get them out of the smoke. The RV is parked right beside the back of the house. We moved the potbelly pigs to behind the house and put them in a corner where they'd have protection. The dog pens are lined with thick straw. The fire was going to pass right behind them, so we moved the dog houses, bowls, feeders, waterers, toys, etc into the barn. We were worried the embers would catch the straw on fire.

Because of the high winds, the fires would NOT stop reigniting. Everyone was frustrated!! One of the firemen said "We put it out and then it jumps back up!! It's crazy! We think we have it and then we get another call to a place we've just been!!"

The brush fire behind the barn crept slowly for hours. We all felt the barn would be OK. The VFD came to check on us often to see if we needed help. It looked fine for hours. Then, we had a big blow up that sent big embers flying high and far. We had to run and get Hot Shot out of his pen because the embers were hitting him. That normally cocky pony suddenly became very cooperative and obeyed voice commands! Right after he was moved, I snapped the picture from the barn door and the one of the embers flying that you see in the posts below. That was the last time I was in my barn.

A man from the VFD stopped by within a couple of minutes of that. We watched the fire and speculated on what it would do. Clint, he and I all felt the barn was OK, and the fire would die out as soon as it hit the ditch. Work was done; we could get our weary selves into bed.

The fireman left. Clint stayed outside. I went into the house to get the children ready for bed. Amanda cleaned up Emily and Hannah and put them in the bed. Amanda and the middles started picking up the den before brushing their teeth. Brandon was resting. I was very tired. I walked upstairs, thought about taking off my boots and changing for bed. Instead, I decided to sit for a couple of minutes and then go back outside with Clint. Bethany returned my laptop to me. I had it open on the bed and had logged onto Facebook to e-mail concerned friends that it was over.

Clint came in and said the fire was basically out. He sat down next to me and said something like "What a day!" He said he was going to check on things again and then we'd call it a night. Within seconds, Amanda came upstairs and said "Mom!!! Dad yelled "OH SH..!!!" and took off running out back!! I think he needs you out there!!!" I took my time. I thought the cows were out and he handles them better than I. Later, I realized something in Clint's voice must have scared Amanda because normally, she'd have followed him.

I walked around the side of the house and saw the top of the barn glowing a little bit in the back. It was just a small fire. It was hard to hear Clint. I thought he told me to call 911. I was worried, but not too much. I figured we'd lose some of the things on the second floor of the barn, but the VFD could put it out if they could respond in time. I ran back in the house, grabbed the phone and saw the laptop. I knew we needed prayer because the VFD may have gone a ways to another fire. I took three seconds and typed "OUR BARN IS ON FIRE PRAY, PRAY HARD!" I wasn't even in the house two minutes.

I went back outside and was floored by what I saw. HALF of the barn was engulfed and smoke was boiling out of the front. Amanda yelled "Dad went in there!!! Dad is IN THERE!!!" Time stopped. I could not move, think or speak. Then Clint yelled "I'm OUT! I AM OUT!!" Time started again. I realized the 911 call had not gone through. He told me it was OK; he had called them. He told me the barn was gone. I knew. I was sick about it and went into the house to tell the children.

I walked upstairs. Then I heard Clint SCREAMING "GET OUT!! GET OUT NOW!!! EVERYONE GET OUT!!!" During the actions that followed, he told the wind had picked up again and was blowing the fire right onto the house. The flames were at the very back of the house. I went to help him grab the babies out of their bed, but Brandon beat me to it. I ran downstairs to make sure no one was at the back of the house where they couldn't hear. I never got that far because I saw Amanda taking Joshua, Caleb and Bethany out. Brandon was carrying Emily and took her out the door. Clint had Hannah and was standing on the outside of the open door.

My head knew the children were all out, but my heart was afraid I had missed one of them. I couldn't move, and I could not speak my fear to Clint. We've been inseparable since 1986. That man has always been able to read me like a book. He yelled "They are all out!! Everyone is out; I counted them!! Wendy, GET OUT, GET OUT NOW!" I ran and left the door open behind me.

What I saw next scared me badly. I could see the flames right at the back of my house. My back yard was RED and ORANGE. I KNEW we'd lose our home when I saw it. I ran with the middles to my truck. Joshua, Caleb and Bethany got a good look through the flying, flaming debris of the barn and started screaming in fear. I have never heard any of my children make sounds like that. "I have to get them out of here!!" Brandon put Emily, Hannah and Amanda in his car. Clint ran across the yard between the two vehicles to make sure everyone was safe. He got in his car and we left.

There were people standing at the end of my driveway watching. There was a truck parked in the road, and I was not sure I could turn out of our lane without hitting it. The fire woman yelled that I needed to clear the driveway for the fire engine which had to go further down the road, turn around and come back. I floored it and figured if I couldn't clear the truck, I'd throw it int 4WD and move it into the ditch. I figured they deserved it for parking so close to the lane the fire engine needed to enter. I got by and drove the children to my across the street neighbor's house. I hammered the bell because I needed her to come quick so I could go back for the dogs in the RV. She came. She could see the fire and knew what I needed. She asked me how many of the children did she have. I told her all seven were there. She opened her arms like a mother hen and pulled them to her as she led them into her home. My mind changed gears.

I started running for my truck, but realized it was blocked in by Brandon's and Clint's cars. "The house is gone, Clint." He said, "I know." Me: "I have to try to save the dogs!!" He grabbed me, held tight enough to stop me. I thought he was going to try to stop me, and I was going to argue with him. "Let's pray first," he said. We thanked God our children were safe. We asked him to spare our home and to let us save the dogs. Then we jumped in the car and went back. Even more people were watching.

I saw the fire was still going strong and the house and RV were being showered with embers. I couldn't save the chickens, but I knew I could get those dogs out without harming myself IF no one slowed me down. I also knew without a doubt that if the house was on fire, the RV would go and they'd die. I have great affection for my animals, but I am not willing to leave my children for them. I had the three ways out of the RV in my head. I knew what I was going to do before I took off running. I was worried someone would try to stop me, so I put it into high gear. I heard someone following behind me and then someone else yelled "SHOWER!" I was a little stunned when the water hit me. I thought "The fire is THAT way!" Then I realized they were protecting me from the embers.

I got inside the RV, which was being hosed down. I tried to yank on the big crate to move it straight up and down, but even as I did, realized I'd have to move the dogs into a smaller pen to get them through the door. I started putting them in that, but they kept getting out. I flipped the pen so the door was up and started tossing them like basketballs for time's sake. Clint was there then. I yelled "Help me! Help me!" He said "What can I do?" I said "Catch the dogs!"

I started grabbing and slinging chihuahuas at him. Boots ran out and around my legs. She can be hard to catch. I was scared I'd have to leave her and said "BOOTS! COME ON!" It must have been my voice because she dropped to the floor in submission. I grabbed her and tossed her on top of the other dogs. Clint had to pull them out the door. As I was moving to grab another wire crate on my way out the back door at the same time he was doing that, I looked up and saw men between my house and that huge fire. I remember I was very scared for them. As I moved, I asked God to protect them. I told Him the house didn't matter to me, but those men did. I was in the RV less than 20 seconds.

I was ready to grab an end of the crate and run. There were little legs sticking out at all angles of that crate. Clint remembered the pigs. They were on one of our garden carts. We put the dogs on top and pushed/pulled them to the front yard. Clint asked me "What do you want to do with them?" I looked for a safe place. Embers were flying so thick; people were in their trucks to get away from them. I saw three separate fires in my yard. I saw embers flying all the way to the already burnt tree line up front and realized out loud, "There's no where safe! There is no where in this yard that is safe for them to be." That thought messed up my mind for a few seconds.

Somewhere in all of this, one of us remembered to get Belita (Little Beauty), our house dog, out of the house. Neither of us remember exactly how that happened. It could be one of the VFD did a walk through of the house and saw her. I honestly don't recall how she ended up in my arms.

Clint told me he was going to check on the fire. I didn't want to see it; I sat in the car. Clint came back and told me with amazement "The house is not on fire. I don't know how, but the house is not on fire. It's going to be OK." I looked up at him and said "How?" He said "It has to be God, Wendy, because I just do not know."

There was some point in time that we were told by someone that nothing in or of the barn could be saved. They had to stop putting water on it so they could have enough to save the house.

He left me to go stand with the firemen again. I saw the camera sitting beside me. I picked it up and walked out back. I saw the remaining burning skeleton structure falling. I handed him the camera and left. It made me sick to see that beautiful, old barn gone. I walked back to the car, sat a few minutes, and thought "I am doing nothing productive here. I am going to go comfort my children." I looked at the driveway full of fire equipment and realized I'd have to walk. I grabbed Belita and we went to the neighbor's house. I told everyone I passed "If my husband is looking for me, I am with my children." Some looked at me like I was crazy.

I talked with neighbors for a while until Clint came to get us. We had taken some to a friend's home where they could sleep, but went to get them since the house was OK. We came home, thanked God for our lives and home as a family. We sent the children to sleep together in the den. Clint and I did not sleep at all that night....or the next. The thought of an hidden ember kept us up the first night. The thought of "what if" kept us up the second. As of yesterday morning, Clint has lost 15 lbs since the fire late Saturday night. I've lost weight too, but not that much.

Items in our front yard had ember holes in them. Our garden and several fence posts burned. The children's playhouse and some toys caught fire from the embers. You could not have walked between the house and the fire without the flames surrounding you. Clint, Brandon, Amanda and I saw it. All four of us figured the house would catch fire before we ever got out of the driveway. The only smoke smell in the house was from the clothing we wore that night and since we've been cleaning up the pile or ruins.

We are still speechless at what we saw and what we now see. There are thousands of ember marks all over the RV from when the wind started blowing in that direction. It has a black coating from the smoke on one side. Clint and I had holes burned into our clothes. The house doesn't have a mark on the old wood, siding or house wrap. The wrap looks just like it did before with no sign of any smoke damage, warping or melting. There are no ember marks. We've spent a lot of time looking. God is the only explanation we have for it. He had His Hands on us the entire time.

But Jesus said, "No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been." Mark 5:19

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

More Pictures and Some Thoughts

From what I understand, this link should give you access to the rest of the photos. If it does not work, drop me a line at and I will try to make it work for you.

There were so many amazing things that happened, I'd be at a loss to share all of them. Just know God's perfect timing in many ways kept us safe and spared our home.

Many of our friends feel this is spiritual warfare. I can tell you I have seen good fruit develop in my family through the trials we have been through. Big trials keep coming while big blessings keep happening! I know God is doing something special. I just don't know what. We will not be discouraged from sharing God's amazing love. We will not stop proclaiming Him at every opportunity. We will not stop teaching our children about who He is, how much He loves us, how little He requires (Matthew 11:30), or how to praise Him through good times and bad. In fact, we will be more diligent about it. He is worthy to be praised!

While we do not know who, we do know this fire was set by an adult. The insurance fire investigator, a deputy and firemen agreed with us on this.

It is another opportunity to love and forgive our enemies. That is a very difficult thing to do when they could have killed our children and destroyed our home. That back corner of the house I pointed out in the photo, where the flames were nearly touching? That is where Brandon lays his head. My middle children were SCREAMING in fear when they saw the size of the fire. We lost property Clint worked hard for, and insurance will not replace all of it. Our animals died a horrible death.

I know that with God's power, I can and will forgive this person. I am able to pray for their soul, but... I have frighteningly fierce Mother Bear tendencies that would be extremely difficult to control if the person was standing before me. God is big enough to give me the power to forgive this person. I just have to let Him do that work. I time. I am not proud of the things I have said or thought, but that's me. I am fallible. I will let you down and disappoint you. It's Christ Who has the perfect love. I'm struggling with this one, but I am committed to do what is right because it is the right thing to do every situation. God is a much fiercer parent. He protects and avenges His own.

I do not believe the person set out to burn down my barn or cause my family harm. Maybe I am naive, but I don't believe it. There are plenty of abandoned homes they could have easily accessed, but they chose an abandoned lot. There's a brand new, never lived in home right down the road. I believe they thought the brush fire could be controlled like in previous years. It wasn't. If our community is dealing with a monster, they will continue to light fires like they have in the past. If it's just a person wanting a little excitement, they will count the cost and find other ways to find excitement. At either rate, God has this tremendous love for them and wants to heal them.

I hope one day, after I get a handle on this thing, they come to me and say "Wendy, I am sorry. I am the one who lit the fire that burned down your barn. I didn't mean to cause all that happened. I wanted you to know I know Christ now." I know I'll be able to hug them and welcome them into my home.

Romans 12: 19-21 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

It was VERY Close

This was earlier when the fire had come back to life and was making its way around the back. I marked the end of the house in the picture. The entire area in between there and the barn was filled with flames pushed that way by the high winds. You could not walk on the side of the house without turn out gear on when it was going. You could feel the heat in the front yard. I miss the barn. We had just painted it and put a roof coating on it too.

I know there was more than one fire department present during that long day. Thank you to everyone!

A special thank you to the men and women who put themselves in harm's way and risked bodily injury to keep our home safe.
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The embers were flying so thick in the air, I had to take this shot from inside the back of the barn. For those who know, this was the back stall on the right side.
This was the last time I was inside

These embers were in the barn with me. When we left, it appeared all was well.

Since we were running in the other direction as fast as we could, we did not get any pictures of the big fire.
This is at the end.
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News Footage

Our barn is the backdrop behind Velma Scaife during the liveshots. You can see the brown horse walking around during one and the two Angus cows during another. Little May, our Boer cross goat, got out and stood around with the reporter and Ryan Bellamy, the camera man.

It is the picture you see on the video player screen above.

Monday, February 21, 2011


In the last two days, we have seen over 60 people! Thank you to everyone who stopped by! Each person picked our spirits up! Each visit was like a gift! We've had many reasons to laugh because of our friends. Clint will be home tomorrow too. Come by and say goodbye to the barn.

We had no idea that big, old barn meant so much to so many. One of our neighbors was physically ill when he saw our barn on fire. Some people told us it was their favorite part of the view. One neighbor told us they took many pictures of the sunset with our barn in it. That was one of my favorite things to do too! It was a landmark people used in giving directions. Pilots looked for it. One neighbor told us how he use to play inside the barn as a child and run straight through it. Our farm lost a lot of character when the barn burned. It seems so plain here now. We will miss having and using it. The smoke from our barn could be seen in Williamsburg.

If you are local and have any spare dog houses lying around, we can use them. Because the dog kennels were lined with straw and the brush fire would pass within inches of there, we moved the dogs, pigs and dog houses out of the kennels. We had to put the dogs and pigs in crates inthe front yard due to the smoke. The dog houses (10 of them) we put in ...the...barn. :-/ Go ahead and laugh. We've laughed about it too. I've "made do" with a broken, "to be thrown away" dog house and took the goat's house from her, but it's not solving all of the problems I'm having.

The water heater broke this morning. Clint said the bottom coil stopped working, but the top one was working. He made a way to use the top one until we can replace it. As soon as the news leaves, I am getting a long awaited, much needed shower. I am covered in soot from going through the pile.

Please pray for the people who lost their homes in the fires here.

God is good ALL of the time!

Watch the News for Pictures

Amanda captured this picture while the fire was burning midday Saturday.

Channel 13 is getting the scoop on the barn. While they did not ask, I told them I would not publish the pictures of the barn any where until their footage aired. Velma Scaife (I think) and Ryan Bellamy are here. They are very polite, respectful people. They are busy working in their van, and we are leaving them to their jobs. My best guess is it will be aired live at 5. I am not sure if they will talk to Clint or not.
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Sunday, February 20, 2011

We Lost Our Big Barn to Fire

Last night, we nearly lost our home to a fire. We literally had to snatch our youngest children out of their beds, yell for our other children and run for our safety. We did lose our 4,000 square foot, two story barn. I will share the story and what few pictures we have soon. Right now, we are trying to solve the immediate problems this has created. Please keep the 5-6 people who lost their homes in the fires in our county yesterday in your prayers. Thank you to everyone who has stopped by, offered help and kept us in prayer.

LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:5-8

Thursday, February 03, 2011