Wednesday Nov 07, 2007

Sunset on the Witch Fire

Some of my friends and colleagues, who live down the hill, posted pictures of the Sun through the Witch Fire smoke. Here is my contribution to that genre. The sun sets over the hills of Ramona. In the foreground, the chaparral is scorched and the winds have blown all of the soot, ash, and sand away towards the ocean.  This picture was taken on Wednesday October 24, 2007, three days after the start of the Witch Fire.

 

Life after the Witch Creek fire

Life is a long way from normal here in Ramona. 

We are still without electricity, and may not have any until the 11th of this month at the earliest. Cold showers are getting a bit old! Fortunately, we can come to one of our favorite hangouts, the Ramona Cafe, and get online somewhat regularly.

We can't thank our family, friends, work associates, etc enough for all your phone calls and e-mails. It really means more than you know. If you have tried to call and haven't reached us, don't worry, we are still spending most of our time outside as usual. Without electricity, we can't run an answering machine.

We hope that this picture will give some of you an idea of why we felt our ranch would be okay. This pic is taken from across the valley--way across the valley. As you can tell, our pastures/barns/home etc are all kept very clear, and very clean. The big dirt lot next to the house is our cow pasture.  The girls keep it nice and trimmed. We knew our animals would be safest right here at home. However, we don't suggest anyone else try to stay home with their critters--it was not fun watching the flames run down the fenceline and devour most of our neighbors' homes. What you don't see in this picture is several homes which used to be here.

 The Ranch from across the way

And just to answer a couple of FAQs:

NO, the animals did not panic. Not at all. Some of them watched the fire go by, a few just kept on eating their dinner. These guys felt safe in part because we didn't panic. And living where we do, they have seen tons of fire engines, cops, wrecks, fires and even helicopter landings. We told them they would be okay, and they believed us!

What about the smoke? Answer---What smoke? When the winds are between 70-80 mph, trust us, there is no smoke!
It just flies right by!

What about the embers? Well, we fought them. Thankfully, there weren't too many. And yes, it was scary, hot, dirty, and generally unpleasant. We don't recommend it for a first date...

What about the animals? Once again, they are FINE. Yep, all of them. Seriously. And, of course, we have lots of extra guests at the moment. Our current project--trying to corral a herd of wild goats that suddenly appeared on the hillside. Never a dull moment!

Why don't we have a generator? We do. Two, in fact. We are using them to run the pumps and such so that we keep fresh water for the animals. That's our primary focus right now.

What about the wildlife? Good and bad news. We are a haven for all kinds of wildlife at the moment, especially birds. And that pesky bobcat. The bad news--lots of small animals lost their lives in this fire. We forgive the bobcat--he lost his mate.

Ramona is slowly trying to recover. We are more fortunate than many of our friends, who lost homes and animals, too. At least the armed guards patrolling the town are gone and most of the roads are open. So don't be shy about traveling up to Julian for those hot apple pies and antiques. And on your way, stop in the Ramona Cafe, or as we now call it, our flexible office!

 

 -- richard and regina

PS for more Witch Creek Fire coverage visit the Ramona Home Journal 

 

 

Sunday Oct 28, 2007

Dirt don't burn

We really appreciate all of the well wishes, comments, and offers for help after the Witch Fire burned through the ranch. It has been 7 days since it started and I am just now able to get time to get on the 'net and see how many e-mails I'm behind on (1,745). We've still got a lot of work to do around the ranch to get things back to normal and we may be without power for another week or two.  I could really use a hot shower. Here is a picture of the ranch taken from the hill behind us.

Richard's Ranch after the Witch Fire 

You can see that the fire burned right up to the back pasture's horse fence. We had a few small fires in the llama pasture, but they didn't cause any real concern. In the distance you can see some hot spots still burning.  The rocks in the foreground are scorched. A week later, and there are still a few hot spots around.

In case you are wondering, all of the animals are fine.  It will take a while to repair the damage, though. Most of my neighbors have lost their homes and the community of Ramona is rallying to help.

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