We drove home from dinner in Montpelier on Saturday night to see an orange glow and smoke rising up from our hillside. Our hearts pounded as we raced up the hill, not knowing what building was on fire, and thinking only of our yurt with our two dogs inside of it. As we crested the driveway and saw the yurt in place, Edge said “it’s the bunker!”–our neighbor’s barn and attached garage where we had all our farm equipment, feed, and some personal items stored. I dialed 911 as Edge ran over to the barn garage with a fire extinguisher, and within moments he came running back yelling “it’s huge!” At this point, we could see the glow of the fire and smoke coming out of the garage doors, and in the 5-10 minutes it took for the first fire truck to arrive the entire barn was engulfed in flames.
Edge called our neighbors below us to let them know what was happening, and they had the foresight to call the town and get a sand truck up here to make sure our narrow dirt drive was passable for the trucks. The next call was to Hilary, the owner of the barn. We assumed she was gone since all the lights were off, but she was home and had woken up only when her dog barked as the first fire truck arrived. As I went into shock, Edge talked to neighbors and answered questions from the firefighters. It hit me in waves what it was that we were losing, and all that Hilary was losing as well. The only relief that came to me that night was in knowing our dogs and sheep were alive and unharmed, and all people were safe, too. In a way, it was amazing we weren’t asleep when it began, as well. Had it not been for my birthday dinner, we may very well have gone to bed and woken up as small explosions went off from the propane tanks and cars that were inside the barn. It’s not anything I ever imagined happening, but the fact that we were able to call when we did feels like it is worth something.
We finally fell asleep sometime after 1:00 am, before the last fire engines left. The next morning, Edge drove to Applecheek Farm to get chicken grain and enough hay to last us a few days. Throughout Sunday, friends, family and neighbors called and came up to see what happened. The constant re-telling of the story allowed me to process it, though Edge and I are still recovering from the loss of sleep and emotional impact. Within hours of waking on Sunday, calls and emails were coming in in response to an email I had sent to a few farming networks the night before. The overwhelming and immediate support has cradled and lifted us already. We’ve totaled our farm-related losses at $8,000 and our personal losses at $3,000. Though the price is high, we know that it is all replaceable, and we are so thankful to have our animals safe and all lives physically unharmed.
We will be putting together an action plan and keep everyone updated on ways to help. One of the first steps will be helping our neighbor clean up the site, as well as getting a work party together to finish the two side walls on our seed house and get it set up for starting seeds.
This afternoon when I returned home from work, smoke was still slowly rising from the smoldering remains of the barn. Hilary, our neighbor, reminded me that tonight is the new moon, and a new cycle is beginning. May we reflect during this dark night and know that healing is already in motion. The only way to move is forward, and that is exactly the direction we are walking in.