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machinery to the center of a bare field. (It is much easier to control fire on the ground with no fuel of deadwood or dried grass adjacent.) Cool, calm, collected John was overseeing it all. John’s primary focus was preventative fire

fighting. His inexhaustible energy and common sense had seen him spending the last few days installing more heavy-duty hydrants and placing what seemed like miles of unwieldy hoses. We are fortunate to enjoy water supplied from a mountainside waterfall, channelled into pipes that culminate in 180 psi shooting into an industrial- grade irrigation system throughout the property. Soon cascades of water were dousing buildings. In addition to the obvious concern for the living, we had to try to keep the large barn that housed thousands of dollars of our Equimat inventory safely soaked. Our home, haven and livelihood were all potentially going up in smoke! The evacuation itself was a success due to the

efforts of too many people to mention; we are forever indebted to their selflessness, energy and patience. The first trailers left with local boarder’s horses to return to their respective homes. When it came to moving the newborn foals, help had come for this day years previous without us realizing it at the time. In Germany we were taught to train newborns within days to lead by tying them with a lead rope around their mother’s neck. So a procession of mares and foals, one just two weeks old, began marching quietly on to trailers with dividers removed. The yearlings and two year olds also learn to load early and are handled daily; they behaved impeccably. Claudia saw that everything was done calmly and in an orderly fashion and it was as if the animals knew it was in their interest to cooperate. These youngsters were destined for two horse

farms well away from the endangered area. Claudia would bunk down at one and she and Dana would rotate between the two sites. Claudia’s fantastic organizational skills and Dana’s versatility running anything from computers to heavy machinery, a blessing already much appreciated on a daily basis, was to prove instrumental to our success as we all lived a nightmare. Tack, years of “collections” (i.e., 300 plus Beanie Babies fit in four garbage bags!), antique furniture and memorabilia all passed from person to person as if on a conveyor belt to various cars. We saw the material part of our life march away destined for an empty local barn. The Equimat stock was too voluminous to consider moving; we just prayed

that the storage building would not catch and we kept the sprinklers on it. I was quietly counting my blessings that we had recently outfitted a major California barn that had taken a large amount of inventory. The atmosphere was surprisingly charged with humor as I watched my underwear drawer carried by a grinning teenager leave the house. The comradery and unity of purpose was unfor- gettable. Coffee was on drip feed; John kept everyone fuelled with hearty sandwiches. Morale remained very high. At 5:00 a.m. I went into what had been my

office, now only housing easily replaced furniture and a laptop. I began sending what would become a series of sanity-preserving e-mails. Lilly, my special needs rescued Cockatoo, assumed her stand next to the computer. Even she sensed it was time to behave. The first message was explaining the situation to owners that we could not reach,

advising all: “No need to panic—we aren’t. Every animal and human has been tended to and is at, or is in transit to, a place of supervised safety. The phone lines may go down but I have options for e-mail so you will be kept informed. There is nothing more anyone can do but say prayers and remain calm. We will get through this.”


Dawn didn’t really register as the smoke was very thick and lying on the valley floor. After reviewing the situation to date, John and I decided to remain for the time being on the farm, caring for our conglomeration of rescued animals that would not move easily; a half-blind horse, miniature donkeys, manic parrot, etc. All were housed indoors where the air was clear. I wrote, “The smoke is now so bad

they have pulled the fire crews out. We are in the middle of yet another electric storm creating new strikes and fires. Oh dear, a big one opposite, will write later....”

We had done all we could do for now, so we

tried to catch up on the night’s missed sleep on a makeshift mattress in the middle of the sitting room. Chatter and constant activity had given way to unwelcome silence. The house looked as if it had been burglarized. The barns felt abandoned and eerie without their usual residents. Exhausted, dammed tears finally came as the enormity of the situation took hold; at risk was Dreamcatcher Meadows itself! Created from countless hours of labor fuelled by love, the materialization of our dreams could go up in flames. I was also agonizing

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