But there is hope. I have a fair amount of trees that just might make it. Not sure I'd wanna move back out there to live if there were no trees. While I likes my open spaces, I also like stepping out and hearing birds sing. There were still birds singing there yesterday and today.
I took these pictures coming in from the North headed south.
The pasture grass burned pretty good. I figured the field next to the road had been burned, but the wind was out of southwest, so the fire moved to the northeast. The emergency guys said the draw helped them stop the fire.
Actually, the fire did run along the edge of the field and the ditch, but they got it out.
Those two hedge trees (osage orange) have been lonely outposts there for years. Not so much now.
This is the shelterbelt of Dutch Elms on the north edge of the place. I had some old oil drums out there for targets, and there is some disease running through all the old elms (I'm tired and just can't remember the details), so the trees were kinda thinning out, and I and my pals pretty well cut two of them down out of the center when I had my rifle range all set up. From the drive next to the house to the very south side of the trees was a hundred yards.
Traveling further south, looking east, we see the grain bin that made it, and where the old garage and chicken house used to be. That grain bin to the left is junk, been that way for over forty years. I doubt the grain auger is any good - the belts are all burned off and the motor is scorched. That garage was an old single car unit with two lean to's attached on each side. My neighbor who uses this pasture and the farm had a bunch of metal fence posts in there, plus several spools of new barbed wire. Perhaps the posts will be ok, but the barbed wire did not need the heat treatment. First time you put a fence stretcher on it, well, it's gonna break.
Now we see the yard looking east along the driveway - the house should be to the left. The windmill still works and is pumping. The trash bin has two wheels and two plastic puddles now. I'm not sure the propane tank is safe. It was venting when the firefighters got there, and it was just too dangerous to get close. Flames were shooting up forty and fifty feet high, apparently, plus the ammo and a few propane bbq bottles were cooking off. They don't wear Kevlar, so they were somewhat reluctant to spend much time close to the house when they could actually save something by stopping the fire moving north in the pasture. The house was long gone anyways.
Here is a view from the road looking east.
The view from the drive. That tree to the left is pretty hollowed out - not sure it will make it.
The old C-band dish and the DirecTV dish. The C-band was not designed or made to point that far west. The feedhorns in the K-band dish are melted out. I'd had a tree fall right along the path you see with the white ash some time ago, and had never cleared it out. My cousin was whittling it down for firewood. As you can see, it got pretty hot - that white ash is it.
This is the view on further east on the south side of the windmill. That little round dealie in the center is my water well head. It will need work. The drifts are ashes from round bales. That is also what is left of the trees behind the wellhouse and windmill. Some of them are locust trees. The area to the right going back to the east was my father's garden. My nabe filled that up with bales as well.
When I was a kid, some of my buds and I would pick cherry tomatoes from the garden and spear 'em on the locust trees, calling 'em tomato steaks, of all things.
Then we make a hard right and go by the what is left of the old bunkhouse. When Sis and I were little, Dad usually had a hired hand that he'd put up out there for the summer, so they didn't have to drive much, or just to have a place to live. They always ate at the dinner table and pretty well just treated that as an extra room. One high school kid later became our county sheriff. In later years, that was Dad's man cave, where he kept his model airplanes (and his stash of Playboys, as I discovered. Heh.)
Looping back around the house to the north we can see that there is no wooden corral fence left. The nabes had to put up an electric fence. Dad nabe says he has enough panels around to rig up a better setup.
Looking a bit more closely at the stock tank and some of the stuff that is left. That's an old portable water tank from years ago there on the right - it got so leaky it was useless. The pipe on top? Sis and my old swingset. It just ended up there, never hauled away. The wellhouse would have been just to the right off camera.
The contents of the well house. The concrete water storage tanks are at the left edge. Back in the day, one would keep milk jugs in those tanks, and the cool water would keep the milk. As the windmill pumped, the tanks stayed full of cold water, and they drained into the stock tank outside. I won't be using that air compressor much, I fear, nor will the transaxle that fits the front of my pickup be of much use. That is a Cannondale bicycle frame - worthless now. Ther is even part of an old butter churn there to the right of the compressor behind the transaxle. That twisted rectangular thing used to be a shot upright freezer that we used to store stuff after it shot craps. That appears to be what is left of the power line draped over the transaxle. No insulation no mo.
So, there have been two funds set up for me in the two banks in Cimarron. The high school gym is a collection point for donated furniture and whatever. Sis came up right away and was waiting for me to get back from Michigan and did a yeoman's labor getting a bunch of stuff set up. One of my Facebook pals and former classmates - a rather well regarded nurse at the medical center in Dodge - got me a real decent batch of samples for my drugs. I only had until Sunday night on me. I also called my pharmacy, and the gal there told me most insurance companies will allow a one time reset of prescriptions in a case like this, and when I got back and stopped by, they had ALL my stuff ready to go. Just had to pay the copay.
Sis also got me hooked up with the Red Cross. I was eligible for a grocery and some other payment that amounted to a $160 gift card. The stuff I buy with that will be tax free. I am also eligible for up to $450 first months rent. I was eligible for four night of motels, but I had not applied soon enough. Which I could not do, seeing how I was some distance away. It still took some paperwork from the county EMS coordinator that stated I had lost everything in the fire on that date. She is the wife of one of my longtime pals, and she and the main "boots on the ground" guy took Sis and I out to look at things yesterday. He had me tell me where my various guns were at, and dug around with a shovel and actually found some. Others had found some of my rifles. All of them look like they'd been planted in the garden for years, and just dug up. My S&W 686 looked to be in the best shape, but it's still useless. Just less rust. That was my favorite handgun. I still have an M4gery in my pickup, my Glock 22, and a few shotguns and war surplus rifles I had been keeping at the nabes. The keys to my gun cabinets there were in an aluminum gun case with my three .22 handguns in it. We found my S&W 22A out of there. I'll probably have to destroy the locks to get in to the cabinets now. Oh well. I don't have the keys to my safe deposit boxes in Cimarron anymore, either.
It's still burning, or smoldering. You can hear things still doing the Rice Krispy sounds. The wind, out of the south, carries the heat north. One does not really want to stand on the north side of foundations for very long. One comes away heated and smelly from the smoke.
I've got two places to live. The first place is nabe's son's home. He's moving out and I'm moving in, probably tomorrow. It's the old Wright place, for those of you who know about it and where it's at. It's just into the western edge of Hodgeman county east of the Finney county line. Jetmore is the closest city. Another long time dear friend has his mother's old house out for rent, and it just came open. However, he and his wife thinks it needs some new carpeting and tile installed. I'll get to move in later.
I also have two very good leads on large amounts of furniture. My old friend who lives in Nebraska is faunching at the bit wanting to bring me a trailer load of stuff that was her father's. I also have a long time pal in Garden City who has a similar situation. Her father just passed away, and she has about a month to haul his stuff out to auction, or give some of it to me. Her father was a hell of a cook ( used to cook at the old Depot bar in Cimarron, as well as farmed and all sorts of other jobs), and his furnishings sound a hell of a lot better than anything I had. My Nebraska pal's does as well. I know I'll have a washer and dryer for sure if I want to go to Fowler and just pick it up. Just have to see what my Garden City pal has first, I guess.
I know some things are on a short list that I just eventually gotta have. I think a microwave and such appliances are pretty much a given, considering, but I really liked my cookware. I'm also gonna want a deep freeze badly - I used mine all the time. Plus, I hate to sound whiny, but I'm gonna be wanting a decent television and a surround sound system. Gonna be hard without that.
I've got my phone and internet provider helping me out at the Wright place. It's out of their phone territory, but they'll let me use one of their wireless hotspots until I move to Cimarron, then I'll turn it in, turn on my phone and DSL in town. They've got a tower out there for their wireless telephone service withing a a mile or less.They are taking care of me big time. Normally there is a two year contract involved with those hot spots. DirecTV also told me not to worry about the receiver that was torched - and my account is suspended for a month. If I need more time, just call.
So, what started all this? Inconclusive. Some of the guys think electrical fire. Others (and that includes my Cuzzin' Tom, who was in EMS and did this for years), think it was started by a cigarette in the very southwest corner of the place along the road. Tom even found the cigarette butt. He figured the fire started there, started burning the grass, started the old dead tree up and fired up some serious heat. The foundation bricks on that and the north side showed a lot of heat damage - they were broken out on the outside and not on the inside. Tom thinks the fire came in my cellar, ran under the house, and started the porch on the west side up. The house was probably full of smoke for some time before it really went up.
One of the windmill laborers (putting up wind generators in the area) actually called it in, and he said the house was completely ablaze but he did not see the grass to the south on fire. That is why the other side says electrical fire. The firefighters pretty well had to just let it go - there wasn't going to be anything worth saving anyhow, plus they didn't feel like getting blown up by the propane tank, or hit by a round cooking off, or the little propane bottles taking flight and smacking 'em. Can't say I blame 'em one little bit. Sis - somehow related to Miss Manners (not sure about me) got the guys some cookies to take out on fires with them for something to snack on. I think she even put 'em in big Ziplok bags so they could seal 'em back up. She's taking names of everyone who has helped, so she can send thank you notes.
As for myself, there are two things that are bothering me. One - I cannot understand how I deserve all this help and largess. I don't think I'm much different than anyone else, but I'm hearing that I'm not. Apparently my pal who wants to rent to me and my Cuz got together and figured this might just be a way for me to see just how good people could be, and teach me to take it. I've always been a do it yourselfer. Nope, don't need no help doin' that thang. Hate to bother ya, so I'll do it myself.
Well, I cannot survive without sacrificing that kind of thinking.
Plus, I'm still pretty shook up about Rooster. Every time someone asks how I'm doing, and I bring that little so and so up, I break up. I'm sorry, but I was not there for him in his hour of need. I do not see how he could have gotten out, and I hope and pray he was overcome by smoke inhalation and died in his sleep. Cuzzin' Tom told me he could find him if I wanted, but I'd just as soon not have him disturbed. There is always hope, but is sure seems unlikely. If I had any say in the matter, I'd have traded it all for him to survive. Take the rest of the crap, just leave him alone.
But that ain't the way the dice were loaded. I had about eight great years with the stubborn little turd, and he probably about had me trained as well. He was definitely my cat. My friends tell me he had a good life - he was a rescue cat from the pound in Dodge..I picked him up while unemployed before I even started at my current job. I'm not sure they'd let me adopt knowing how much I'm gone these days. I'm not sure I want another cat right now, either. Don't know if I could handle it.
At any rate, I'm alive and fairly well, other than it's hotter than H. E. Double Toothpicks here. I'm in Garden City at my favorite motel for when I just don't feel like driving home and driving back super early. I wanted one in Dodge with my reward points, but the ones that I could use were full up. Sis is heading back to OKC first thing in the morning. Some little pissy assed thunderstorm came through and knocked this section of Garden City out of power about an hour ago, and I'm tethered to my phone for internet access. Battery is pretty well down now, so I'll be shutting down and calling it a day. It's been a long one. And I mean a long one.
Hope you are all well. I certainly appreciate the positive thoughts and nice comments. Until the next report......