Monday, August 31, 2015


Mike and I went to the farm at Gilbert today in order to survey the wind and fire damage sustained there on Saturday. Before I begin, let me say that scores of families are homeless due to this season’s wildfires, and our hearts go out to them. What I’m reporting here amounts to some excitement in a quiet community which resulted in the loss of a few trees. We’re nostalgic over them but we'll recover.
The fire may have started at that power pole.

Actually, Mike and I missed the excitement. We had planned to stay at the farm all day Saturday and stop for dinner at the Mexican restaurant in Orofino on our way back to Clarkston. If we had done that, we would not have missed the excitement. However, the smoke at the farm increased overnight and we decided to return to town Saturday morning.

Looking west to the north field from the road
At the culvert in the lane looking west into the draw
Here’s the story: About 3:30, the wind blew a power line down, and a spark ignited a fire in or around the north field, perhaps in the stubble. All vegetation is so very dry. Alert neighbors, Pete Curfman and John Richardson, both retired farmers, spotted the smoke and came with equipment. John disked a wide fire break in the north field to keep the fire from spreading and protect the house. Someone called authorities because before long, a busload of firefighters was brought in. They must have been nearby because by 5:30 the fire was controlled.  

I don't know if these apple trees will survive.
From what we could see, the fire appeared to move in a northerly direction away from the house. The fire fighters moved into the draw below the north field in order to build a break and keep the fire from sweeping toward Little Canyon. You can see from the pictures here where it burned. Really that whole area where the road curves into our lane is badly charred. Also affected are the trees midway the lane, including the apple trees. This could be where the fire started.

Pine limbs cover the cherry tree
We also experienced wind damage. High gusts broke the top out of a large Ponderosa pine in the grove. And I hate to tell our daughter but a big pine limb fell on the little Lapins sweet cherry tree we planted last May. It was doing so well. It has just one limb intact. This is at least a setback. Well, it can be replaced.

A small crew of fire fighters from Boise were on site this morning.

So, we have some decisions to make regarding the disposal of burned and broken trees and perhaps replanting. Otherwise, it wasn’t so bad. Evidently our power was never off, so I didn’t have to deal with food issues.

Sometimes a fire brings renewal. We’ll see what happens. KW

[This farm was homesteaded by my paternal grandparents, Julian and Ina Dobson in 1896. My dad, Vance, was born here in 1904.]


Hallie said...

I love the photo of Nellie standing in front of the charred landscape. The colors are lovely and something about the light makes Nellie's image shine. I am sad about the fruit tree and also about the big tree in the grove. :( I will focus my energy on being relieved that the fire wasn't worse.

Kathy said...

Nellie was very photogenic yesterday. Over the years she has loved looking for apples under those trees in the lane.

One has to be philosophical about country property.

Chris said...

Wow! That fire was quite close! Glad the wind didn't whip it right up to the house. I applaud your philosophical acceptance of country living. I'll have to ponder if I could be as accepting.

Kathy said...

We keep the house and grounds more simply than I would like because I know it can all come to naught in a trice. When you plant a $40 tree and you know it might not survive, you think twice about planting. In the house, a mouse can gnaw your doily or your afghan, literally while you sleep. As for stuff, the things I consider irreplaceable (pictures and family letters) are stashed in town. In the end, you can't take any of it with you, so what's important is what you do take with you -- your values. And that's a work in progress for everyone.

It's amazing to see how close the fields come to the house these days. In the old days, the fields were some distance away. Something to be said for that.