Let me set the stage for you. It was a midwinter day in February but nice, and a few degrees above zero. A perfect day to place some concrete in our pony walls for the Lord & Burnham greenhouse. Concrete was ordered and we got a call that it was on it's way. We're a little ways from the batch plant so the job would have to be fairly efficient. Brad had never placed concrete before so he was pretty excited when he told us he thought he heard the concrete truck coming. A few minutes later still nothing. He strolled up the driveway only to return with a guy in an orange and yellow jumpsuit - probably the driver. This can't be good...
Shall we get the tractor? ...um, no. We'll need something bigger. Turns out the driver had pulled into the wrong road, drove over the cattleguard with his front axle but the guard couldn't take the weight of a fully loaded concrete mixer and he broke through with the rear axle. Filled with concrete. Our concrete. And it was setting up fast. Within seconds we were in the pickup truck off to Bill Cook's place (Bill has an assortment of heavy machinery the way you or I have screwdrivers). Moments later the logging skidder was pressed into action, a plan was hatched and was being carried out.
The trick was that even if we could get this fully loaded truck out of the hole, then we still had to get the front wheels over the cavity. Clint swung into action with his chainsaw and carved up some big timbers to put in place for the front wheels once we got the back ones out. It all worked like a dream and in short order we were placing concrete. Not gonna lie, it was getting pretty hard to work with towards the end but it got done, everyone was happy and another little disaster was averted by our resourceful neighbours. Then we drank beer.
Texas Creek social at Cat Creek gully
We've learned a few things pretty quick up on the Creek. First is that the tasks our neighbours get up to are limited only by the size of their machines and their imagination. Second, the best way to meet other Creekers is wait for a minor disaster to happen and then everyone shows up in pretty short order. Such was the situation one fine day when an 18 wheeler with a load of semi-crushed cars complete with a large loader on the deck took the tight turn at Cat Creek, well a little too tight.
Next thing he was on his side with the load dragging him into the gully. It was only moments after that the social began. What was he even doing here? Seems the neighbours south of us had set up a car crusher and were just bringin' 'em in and... crushing them. Of course. So we watched the driver balance on the side of his flatdeck and cut the loader loose into the creekbed, then haul the truck out and then the loader itself. All in an afternoons work around here. Meeting new neighbours and friends is alway a highlight on Texas Creek Road. One fellow hit it off pretty good with Stefan and finally made a personal enquiry: So, are you a farmer or are you a logger?
Gotta love this place.
What happened to the... barn?
It was the night of Apricot Festival in Lillooet, the neighbours called in to see if I'd join them but it was so beautiful that chilling at the Ranch seemed a better idea. Having a glass of wine, taking some pictures of an odd cloud moving over the ranch... and then the shit hit the fan. Looking north and south the evening was just lovely except directly over the Ranch. The next morning dawned clear so I went for a walk in the vineyard. Turning to look at the hay barn some words crossed my lips: What happened - to the barn?
The day changed radically at that point.
Not only was the barn down but Clint's tractor and stacker were underneath it but haying was in full swing and that tractor was going nowhere fast. By the next day George Milne had graciously accepted the task of dismantling and rebuilding the barn and fast. Second cut was coming in and we had no place to store it.
A plan was hatched in short order and as is the way on Texas Creek Road it was being implemented in short order. Our crew had the barn taken apart in 3 days and the task of rebuilding began. We vowed that never again would that barn hit the ground so we rebuilt it to withstand pretty much anything Mother Nature could throw at it.
It's built to last and looks a little like the Parthenon which has been around for 2000 years. We've taken to referring to it as the Temple of Hay.
A toasty bouquet - Lillooet Fires 2009
The summer of 2009 was one of the worst on record for forest fires in British Columbia. In our area it culminated with an 11th hour backburn on Mt. McLean just behind the evacuated town of Lillooet.
Rarely if ever does one see such a wall of flame (next video) so close to an urban area, and then have the community escape complete disaster. Sadly there was one fatality, a helicopter pilot whose craft crashed into the Fraser River while filling the bucket.
The fires burned for weeks on end. We never had flames at the Ranch itself but we had to keep a constant eye out for still burning embers from the Intplam fire landing on the ground and in the forest.
We truly consider ourselves fortunate that events did not take a turn for the worse at the ranch. After the main threat had passed and the barn was rebuilt we folded up the huge tarp we had put over the hay in case of rain and it was a pretty creepy feeling to see the dozens of melt-holes on the tarp from burning embers. We then realized how close we had come to a much more serious outcome at the Ranch.