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Friday, July 27, 2012

The Week of Firsts: Baby Chicks, Treehouse Building, & GRASS FIRE!

This is a picture of our family, all who live at Heritage Farm. LEFT TO RIGHT: Me, Joshua-9, James (my husband), Hannah-12, Karen (my mother-in-law), Howard (my father-in-law), Holly (my sister-in-law, who will be leaving us soon for her two-year mission to the East Africa), FRONT ROW: Noah-5, Luke-7, Nemo (our oldest beagle), and Nate-4

Last Saturday, my mother-in-law and I surprised the family by bringing home 12 baby chicks, just three days old! 

We got three each of Rhode Island Reds, White Leghorns, Black Astralorp, and Ameraucanas. They're all hens and going to be great egg layers!

This is our first time ever raising chickens. So far, so good. Oh, they are so fun!

My husband has been leading a treehouse building project in some small trees close to our house. The kids are SOOOOO excited! Even Papa joined in the fun!
Hannah's cutting branches off the tree

Dad is teaching Josh how to cut the wood

Nate didn't help much, but he was having fun!

Luke's always in the middle of the action!

Coco (3 months) wasn't sure they knew what they were doing.

When we bought our property, there was a extra-large chain-link pen towards the very back that appeared to have housed a horse. A farmer-friend told us it would make a perfect goat pen. All we would have to do is remove some wood that was thrown in there, mow down all the dry, overgrown grass, and begin to water it to green it up.

Two days ago, the kids and I began to tackle this project. We removed all the wood pieces (very carefully, in case any snakes lived underneath). Then my oldest son drove our riding lawnmower out to the pen to mow it.

There were three large holes in the center of the pen. They were hard to see, as the dried grass had grown up in them and around them. Josh mowed everything else, saving the area with the holes for last.

When he was finished mowing the majority of the pen, we carefully planned out how to straddle the holes with the tractor to mow around them. We successfully mowed over the first two holes. The last hole was the largest. Josh got off the tractor, examined the hole and the best tactic for tackling it, and we went forward with a plan.

Unfortunately, our plan didn't work. The nose of the tractor went down into the hole. I motioned to Josh to turn the tractor off, which he did almost immediately. But as soon as he did, flames ignited from underneath the nose of the tractor. I screamed at Josh to jump off, and he didn't hesitate!

Those flames began to spread fast. I remembered I had just hooked up a brand new hose that morning at the water spout outside the pen, and Josh and I ran to the hose. We got it turned on and I began squirting with all my might! I sent Josh to run to the house to get Nana. He later told me he ran with so much adrenalin, he didn't get tired at all.

The hose kept kinking, which was frustrating. I only had my thumb to make a spray. The flames were going the opposite direction from me, and were getting out of reach. There are eucalyptus trees on the other side of the chain-link fence. I was pulling the hose to get closer so I could keep the flames from getting to the trees.

Nana (my mother-in-law) grabbed a hose from near the house and came out to hook it up to the second spout. She began spraying the other side of the pen. Meanwhile, my sister-in-law, Holly, called 911.

Between hanging up with 911 and the firetrucks actually arriving, we had put out the whole fire, which had burned probably 60% of the goat pen. The firemen said we didn't do too bad...

The firemen said they see six to eight of these kinds of fires each summer, from riding lawnmowers. What often happens is that dry grass gets built up in the belt underneath the tractor, and as that belt continues to spin, the friction causes the grass to ignite.

The firemen said our motor was fine, but we'd need to get it tuned up. The heat did pop a tire, though.

My two little guys LOVE firetrucks, and the firemen were kind enough to let them sit inside.

God's hand was in so many aspects of this event.
1. Joshua wasn't hurt at all. I was so proud of him and how he kept such a level head, immediately jumping into action. No panicking at all! Without him, things could have been very different.
2. What a blessing that I had just hooked up that new hose by the goat pen that morning. If I would have had to run back to the house to get a hose, that fire would have really gotten out of control.
3. The fire didn't start until the pen was 99% mowed, meaning everything was short. If it would have ignited any sooner, the flames would have been much higher, and would have ignited the tree branches hanging over inside the pen. As it was, our flames were very short.
4. Thank God the nearby eucalyptus trees didn't ignite. Our farmer-friend had just told us, earlier in the week, to get those trees off our property. They have many negative qualities, one of which is that they burn VERY hot.

The firemen told us, in the future, to mow early in the morning, and, while you're mowing, to check the belts periodically for grass build-up.

Tomorrow morning, my oldest two children (Hannah - 12, Joshua - 9) and I will depart for a week-long missions trip to Baja, Mexico. We will build a small 400 sq ft house for a single mother and her three children. This is the first time my children have ever been on a missions trip, so I cannot wait to expose them to it. We'll let you know how it goes!

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