Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Homestead Evacuation Plan

This post has two messages:

First, after such a dry winter,
just as many predicted, fires are raging.
There are a couple in particular that are posing
threats to many homes and ranches of north-eastern Oregon.
The Canyon Creek Complex Fire near Canyon City has burned
26 homes and 100 structures (confirmed.)
Though the community is rallying together to help
those who have lost their homes, there's more.
You can see yesterday's news report here.

We were just over this road about 2 weeks ago.
This is a rural ranching community so not only homes,
but also animal barns and hay barns are ablaze.
My niece is on the Cornet-Windy Ridge Fire south of Baker City.
She sent a text and said one of the saddest things she's seen is
a rancher's nearly full hay barn burning and the rancher
out in the pasture baling hay as fast as he could hoping the fire
wouldn't burn the bales as fast as it would run up the windrows.
She grew up on a ranch and understands that it's more than 
just a pile of hay.
If the cattle make it through the fire, what will they eat through winter?
In addition to fire-fighters and emergency crews 
trying to save structures and contain the fire,
they have also been saving animals if they can catch them.
Again this is not just poodles and puddy-tats.
They get horses, cattle and other livestock.
The only humane society in north-eastern Oregon
is based in Pendleton.
They have sent dog and cat food, but also a trailer of hay, grain, and
other feeds to the area.
They are trying to get animals matched up with owners,
but in emergency situations, this takes time.
Animals, even tame, will panic and run from a fire.
That said, if you are so inclined
here's their site link if you would like to help out.

The second part of this post is asking you a very serious question.
Do you have an evacuation plan for you and your critters?
With the above fires encroaching on towns,
there are level 2 and 3 evacuation notices. 
In other words, be ready.

So what's your plan?
Here are a few things to think about.

* Obviously, you and your family as well as important papers, etc.

* Access roads available to you.

* Animals: 
If you have children, are they big enough to
get the bunnies or chickens in travel cages while
you load up the larger livestock?
Put the cats in the cab of the pick up and dogs in the back.
What do you load first?
Do you have a trailer large enough for all your stock?
Don't count on your neighbor's trailer.  They be using it in this situation.
If not, which animals are broke to lead?
You can (in emergency situations) have small animal cages
strapped to the top of a trailer and halter trained animals
tied - horses, milk cows, etc. then would have to drive
extremely slowly heading out.
Note, where are the bungees and extra rope or para-cord? 
Also a good idea if time permits, is to throw in some feed
for the various animals (buckets or coffee cans available?)

* Where would you go?  Is there a friend or family member
within a reasonable distance with room for your entire ensemble?

* If you have children, do they know how to drive?
Licensed or not, this might mean you can get another rig 
(be it car or tractor) out of danger- either loaded or not.

* Worse case scenario, if no notice - get out fast,
at least open gates and cages.
Animals will bolt and at least have a chance.
If cooped, caged, or corraled, they will be doomed to the impending danger.

These are just a few things to think about
that I don't see mentioned very often.
If you have a plan, chances are you won't need it.
If you need it, you'll be thankful you have a plan.
It's a lot easier to make decisions when you aren't in panic mode.

Wishing you all safe and happy homesteading.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

18 Aug. 2015 PM - update
Found out that one of the homes lost was that of a classmate of mine.
Another was that of a couple who happened to be our neighbors when I was in high school.  He actually took my Sr. pictures.  They had just enough time to each grab an armload of things.  They each hopped in a rig to leave.  He didn't have time to hitch up the trailer but was able to throw the gate open.  The barn
was already burning.  They allowed him back in yesterday morning (or the
evening prior) to see if there was anything left.  The house, barn, corrals, etc.
were all gone, but his two horses were standing there nickering at him
from where the corrals once were.  They had some smoke inhalation but are
expected to be just fine.
Support accounts have been established for the victims of the fire:
for further information, the contact is
Grant County Federal Credit Union at (541)575-0264.
Prayers always accepted of course.


  1. I almost threw up when I read about the hay barn and baling while it burned. I'll be sending some help. Horrible, but important post, on several levels.

    1. I thank you on their behalf. They didn't ask me to post. I was just impressed that they would help neighboring counties in such a fashion. There is another update on the post if you are interested.

    2. Her niece who told of the burning hay would be my 19 yr old daughter. She has been gone for 9 days. I have spoke with her briefly about 5 times. The first time her voice cracked with sorrow was telling about the helpless feeling when they saw this on their way out for the night shift. And the flames were quickly approaching the far end of the field. That same call she was very upset because she also passed a house she thought had been saved only to see it burned when returning to camp the next morning. The next time she was nearly in tears when she was called was after talking with a local rancher. She and her engine partner were headed back to camp after their 6pm to 9am shift. A rancher stopped them and thanked them and asked for information. They told him what they knew and let him know there would be a community meeting that night. The poor guy said he didn't have time to go to the meeting .....he had to keep looking for the rest of his cattle, figure out what to feed them since most of his pasture and hay had burned, and also make sure the dozer line around his house continued to hold. That was about more than she could take. And then to top it off they saw a burned cow and blackened, yet living chipmunks on their way back to camp. It's not good out there........

  2. such distruction and it seems the rain will not fall, we who live in different countries etc find it hard to visualise the effect the fires have but you have certainly brought it home to me and my heart goes out to all those effected, take care now

    1. It is interesting what the threats and concerns are in various countries.

  3. It is so awful what is happening in these areas. Thank you for posting the link to help.

    A great post on being prepared! I agree that it is better to have a plan, with hope we never have to implement it, than to not have one at all.

  4. This is so horrible. No, we don't have a plan but we don't have anything but some chickens and nowhere to take them if we did have a fire so we'd just boot them out of the coop and hope for the best. We would try to get the cats and go. This year it was very wet but in past years when it's been dry (Missouri) it's worried me when people were burning leaves or setting off fireworks. What I don't understand is why they eliminated ashtrays from cars. I don't smoke anymore but if I did, where would I put my cigarette? I suppose there are soda holder ashtrays but if they did not have one, they would probably throw it out the window, littering and potentially causing a fire. Our neighbor was burning his side yard when it got out of hand and the fire dept had to come before it hit the dry trees. It could have taken out the neighbors next to them and continued up the hill. Scary.

  5. I live in western WA, the extent of the fires is very sad and distressing. I can't imagine the future impact. I just know we need to do more about climate change.

  6. Just found your blog and want to offer up prayers for you guys. We are smoke logged here in Idaho and the thought of having to evacuate our place is just overwhelming, it's just an awful thought. Again, lots of prayers to your family and neighbors and happy I found your lovely blog. Thank you for the great advice, too, btw!!

  7. Wow...you see smoke all day as well..... good suggestions for everyone to think about so we can prepare for many types of emergencies.