25 October 2013

Save the Barn!

Welcome back. It was a difficult night, but it could have been much worse.

Glancing out her daughter’s bedroom window at the midnight sky, Shirley was startled to see flames rising over the large shed roof. She rushed back to her bedroom to rouse her husband, Muns.

Muns pulled on pants and shoes and ran from the house to the area behind the shed. After a quick assessment, he hurried into the barn to uncoil and stretch the garden hose from the well pump. The 500 gallon gasoline tank, propped on the ground too close to the burning farm equipment and structures, steamed from the hose’s cooling spray.

Shirley phoned for help: first, her mother to come mind the girls; then the closest volunteer fire squad, whose call center was manned by a hotel desk clerk. Getting the desk clerk to answer was easy; getting him to wake up was not. Though Shirley’s persistence was finally rewarded, she also called a second fire squad located farther away.

She then began calling neighbors. One rushed to the scene and, responding to Muns’s appeal for more water, quickly adjusted the barn’s well pump, increasing the hose’s water pressure. The hired farmhand also came running from his nearby home. His wife accompanied him, enlivening the scene by screaming.

Soon, the local fire truck arrived. The firefighters doused flames and protected what they could, but it was too late for the chicken coops, corn cribs, tractor and green (fodder) chopper. At the moment the fire truck’s water supply was drained, Muns heard the siren of the other fire truck--the rescuing cavalry’s bugle call--which arrived in time to save the barn.
Site of the fire. Two chicken coops and two corn bins were
built out from the shed on the right. (Note the edge of the
shed’s roof, notched for the roof over the coops. Siding on
the shed is and was metal. The gasoline tank sat near the
middle of the yard. Holding the hose attached to the barn well
 pump, Muns stood beside (and behind) the far corner of the
shed until steam stopped coming from the hosed-down tank.

The Alert

The afternoon before the fire, my wife Vicki, about two years old, was down for a nap on her parents’ bed. She spied their wind-up alarm clock. The old clock’s face cover was gone, leaving the clock hands exposed.

Vicki’s time adjustment went unnoticed when Muns and Shirley bedded down, pulling out the alarm button for the early morning milking. Surprised to be awakened by the alarm in the middle of the night, Shirley decided to check on Vicki, then Vicki’s sister Cam, whose bedroom window offered a view of the shed and barn--and a view of the fire.

Wrap Up

I’ll try to anticipate your questions. The fire was probably caused by an electrical short in the tractor, which Muns had been running all day, pulling the green chopper. Farm ponds were uncommon. It wasn’t winter, so the cows were in the pasture, not the barn. There were no chickens. Muns’s father had passed away, freeing Muns, who’s not fond of chickens, to rid the farm of the birds and use the coops for storage (thus preventing me from writing any smart comment about fried chicken).

And regarding the alarm clock, it was Muns, certainly not me, who said that Vicki never could resist getting into everything, for which on that night at least, they were most grateful. Thanks for stopping by.


Don't wait to enter the latest Retired--Now What? Blog contests.
- Write about a goal that you, someone close to you or your pet accomplished or failed to accomplish – see Goal-Setting Writing Contest, 18 Oct 2013

- Photograph humans or whatever accomplishing or failing to accomplish a goal – see Goal-Setting Photo Contest, 22 Oct 2013

1 comment:

  1. Pretty darn serendipitous that the clock wasn't replaced months earlier for want of a glass front.

    - J