Monster Murders Livestock
FUTURE NOT PASSED
Everything was coming early this year, the seasons seem to be sped-up. Although the plants are still following their genetic coding which will allow for such flexibility, we farmers haven't changed our management style yet to make a good dance happen here. In other words, it's o-k for seasons to move more swiftly, but we need to follow the rhythms of the environment more tightly to do our job right.
September brought us into the 4th decade of temperatures (the Farenheit 40s) before Labor Day (Shannon's Birth Anniversary), so we thought, "Autumn!", but it's soooooo freakishly cold that it's really mid-autumn on the Equinox, making Halloween the official beginning of Winter (rather than the Winter Solstice--or mid-winter!). Finally, if we are indeed moving towards a 2-season year, then instead of Winter beginning (at the earliest accounting) on Halloweeen/Samhain, it is instead beginning at mid-autumn (the Solstice of Sept. 21st). But before any of that could happen, we had to take care of some legal business and funny business, and that means a switcheroo for the Chearcus...
Butte Fire is Beautiful, Harsh & Deadly
Our new friends formerly from Iowa's New Hope Catholic Worker Farm came to visit and evacuated with us the day after we shot these pix with the smoky sun just above that Catherine's House tree in the upper center of the dark shot on the left:
On September 11th we voluntarily evacuated our livestock to a neighbor 90 minutes away (35 miles), albeit in the same southerly direction which the fire travels. It doubled in acreage every 12 hours from the 10th to the 13th, and was 50,000 acres of devastation by the time we skee-daddled from Calaveras County with 2 alpacas, 6 goats, 2 guinea pigs, 2 cats and a naked parrot named Turkey. You can see some of us in the video of our evacuation
There's a regularly updated map here on this PUBLIC INFO (YubaNet) site for your convenience, which looked like this on the 12th of Sept:
but was constantly changing as the fire changes.
That map above covers about 600 square miles,
and only 2/3 of the 70,000 acres wiped out by the fire.
On the 12 of September, the Iowa family and the Farm community had breakfast at the Montesano home (the founders of the CW Farm) in Tuolomne. Chelsea went back to work, we enjoyed the Acorn Festival with the Miwok hosts at the powow grounds of the casino-land in Tuolomne, and took care of the livestock at their "hotel" south of Jamestown. Our neighbor at Earth Abides has refused to leave the her property next-door to the land-trust, and she's having a peaceful time, and feeding the chickens we left behind!
The map below shows closer where proposed fire breaks (bulldozer-ripped lands) could be starting on the 14th of September.
Folks started returning home to Amador County areas (if they had homes remaining) on the 13th of Sept. This site tracks the traveling smoke for fun: smoketracker.
Here's the larger map including parts of our three counties (southern Amador, middle Calaveras, northern Tuolomne), in case you are unfamiliar with our region of Gold Country:
UPDATE 13 SEPT 15
Hooray that the fire-fighters got it back to 20% containment! Over 4,000 people working on this Butte Fire, and the spread of Butte has slowed down. Love willing, we'll be back at the CW Farm in a few hours (when the crews unblock the roads) as most of the danger has passed the CW Farm and diminished in general. Keep going, fire-fighters! And the rain just started--keep raining, Brother Sky!
UPDATE 14 SEPT 15
Hooray that the fire-fighters got it 30% contained! And more rain today!
UPDATE 15 SEPT 15
The Evacuation Order finally came through for our neighborhood (the sub-rural Sheep Ranch/Arnold area of Armstrong Rd. @ Scott Rd.) ALTHOUGH the fire's been burning less than a mile from that part of Armstrong Rd. for over a day. That was a pretty-late advisory, but the 30 homes of Armstrong Rd. all seem to have residents who are WELL-AWARE of the danger, so those who smartly wished to evacuate DID DO SO at a good time (3 days prior to the evacuation notice specifically naming our street in super-rural Calaveras County). We still have two neighbor ladies holding tight up at their properties, to the east and west of the Catholic Worker Farm, although neither have phone service and only one has internet. As of this morning, we don't know if the 23 barred rock chickens have survived. We expect to be home to fix things up later today.
The Sacramento Bee reported on the situation. The good news is beginning via Sacramento's NPR affiliate.
UPDATE 16 SEPT 15
At last, the Butte Fire is 45 percent contained, and 71,780 acres have burned, but 4,865 folks are still working on it, and the fire engines have been reduced to only 519 and 94 bulldozers. We are checking on our garden and infrastructure. Since we are off-grid, we're not in as much trouble as the folks in nearby Sheep Ranch who lost power and water, but now have phone service again. The good news today comes via the local newspaper.
UPDATE 17 SEPT 15
Now at 49 percent contained, we saw that all was well this past week at the Farm. Only our electrical battery system had trouble. Tom's taking care of two cats at the Farm while the other livestock stay south of Jamestown and at Me-Wuk Village 'till the current Butte Fire is extinguished. The Calaveras Enterprise published this morning: "The southeast quadrant of the fire is particularly worrisome today, the plan says, because forecast winds will align with uphill slopes, increasing the possibility of line jumping and rapid spread. That’s also the quadrant of the fire with potential to spread through the Sheep Ranch area toward Murphys, Avery and Arnold. Crews in recent days have cut several bulldozer lines to defend communities in case the fire resumes its activity." So we are not finished with the wild rip-m-up evacuation rituals yet.
UPDATE 18 SEPT 15
As always, there are reasons to celebrate. Sept. 19th (tomorrow) is the end of National Farm Safety and Health Week. The CW Farm is apparently currently safe & healthy. Since our Equinox party is tomorrow after 6pm, and the eve of Fall Astronomy Week, we'll be able to see the stars as the smoke clears from the Butte Fire. So come to Earth Abides Catholic Worker Farm (4 miles west of Arnold & 6 miles north of Sheep Ranch) to enjoy a potluck dinner and celebrate National Butterscotch Pudding Day, National Eat an Apple Day, as well as International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Bring a poem or song and/or prayer to share, and a musical instrument in addition to your voice, if you wish!
UPDATE 20 SEPT 15
The Equinox gathering was a success, and sad as we heard more personal stories of the devastation for more than 500 families locally. Our neighbors are surviving, and life has returned to "normal" for our garden. Jenn & Kevin & the kids stayed overnight and are helping get things back in a good rhythm for our gardens. Rob (Tom's friend) was here too for his quarterly farm visit, to help out. We'll bring the main livestock back on Wednesday the 23rd of September.
UPDATE 24 SEPT 15
We sent Onya and two kids home. The kids belong to our neighbors, who's house was incinerated. These kid goats have a barn still standing next to the incinerated home, but there's no fence/yard and no people living there in the rubble, so we'll hang on to the kids for a few months until the new home is finished for our neighbors. You can see the return to the Farm, hosted by Turkey & Pegasus on our channel. We'll bring the other animals home on Monday, when their barns & yards are ready (predator-proof).
UPDATE 25 SEPT 15
Today is "Hug A Vegan Day" and the horribly sinister news doesn't seem to stop, including this news of nanotechnology working in the bloodstream of mammals. The ideas move forward, with no discussion of warnings of the hazards of robots in your blood.
UPDATE 29 SEPT 15 And the work continues. Electric power companies are rebuilding infrastructure (as you see here with a new pole placed on the hillside by groundcrew plus helicopter). The National Guard is still transporting their soldiers all around, i don't know what kinds of projects they are working on. A few lucky (and God-knows-how) folks are out there cleaning up the toxic waste of their buildings burnt to the ground with all the standard home/car/buildings contents of plastic, asbestos, and other horrors melted into the environment. I just updated the video with our animals coming home, phase two above (same link, new video file).
UPDATE 12 OCTOBER 15 In the past 2 weeks we tried twice to get Ricardocito to come home, but he is still with the other ballsy goats over in Jamestown. Ricardocito's our last animal to return, although the fire's been contained for 2 weeks now. I think he's finally coming home to the Catholic Worker Farm on Thursday the 15th of October. Here's a ton of artistic shots during the honeymoon phase of the disaster, documenting the machines and counties from which all the workers came to help us out--this is a colorful listing of those jurisdictions in slideshow format, along with grateful civillians and chocolate chip cookies, and the final 8 minutes of it shows the toxic waste and other damage to material culture from the PG&E/Butte Fire: Butte Fire Workers' Tribute. The slideshow is evidence of the workers coming from the towns & counties where Chelsea & I grew up, and only a few of the places where we've been arrested.