So, Sunday was supposed to be our day off but with Kate keen to complete the feeding on her own we decided to have our lie-in but carry out clearing up later in the day. I was awake shortly after 8.30, although not disturbed by Sammy who we had allowed to sleep on the bed as a special treat (for us!). As I went downstairs to put on the coffee machine (we had borrowed from the cabin because Kate didn’t need and couldn’t use it) my phone connected to the wifi and there were the messages from Gaylene. The horses water feeds were electric so the one thing we hadn’t checked because it was deluging from the skies was their water. I wasn’t too concerned, although she appeared to be but not enough to come back, because there is a residual reservoir in their bowls but let her know that I would ‘get up’ and sort it out, subscript – even on our day off!
I eventually managed to separate a stack of buckets by flinging them across the ground when they refused to disengage and my fingers were getting sore from trying prise them apart. Fortunately Kate didn’t see that bit but Joker did, poor boy! I took Kate round to show her how the various feed mechanisms would work, only to find that they did! I wasn’t confident enough that they weren’t just using up the supply in the pipes to leave the horses without a bucket so issued those as well with strict instructions to the horses to be careful with them. When going back and topping them up later, as they weren’t very big or I couldn’t have carried them, MissG and Joker were obviously unimpressed with theirs and patently ignored my edict, deciding to kick them over, ungrateful wretches!
Roger and I enjoyed a cooked breakfast before embarking on the main tasks for that day. Kate had been loading up the Gator since finishing feeding with the shed branches from the yard, driveways and piles we had made the day before when clearing the worst from the pens and paddocks. We tried to get her to take a break but she insisted on helping with more clearing for a while. We started on Meg and Angel’s paddock, adjacent to Johanna’s where we noticed a huge tree sitting on her power lines at a 60 degree angle, its 3 foot stump being stabilised, marginally, by the wire fencing from our side around which the trunk had grown. It all looked very precarious.
I wanted to go round to check she was ok and apologise for the previous night as well as tell her about the tree so hopped on the bike to save time. As I was retrieving it from the shed I heard the siren of a fire engine, not a good sign, and saw it go past the end of the drive as I set off. I popped round and found no-one in her cabin and stupidly hadn’t thought to bring a note in case of this eventuality so rode back and scribbled one. On pedalling back between the properties I saw the fire engine parked down at the next junction, fortunately there was no evidence of smoke, but this was a bit close for comfort in the circumstances.
I returned to the scene of worst destruction which we were going to start tackling. Roger had to go back to the garden shed to collect some other tools and as he did so a couple of guys in dark uniforms walked up to him. As they turned around I could see that they were firemen, fortunately, looking quite cheerful. When Roger returned he informed us that they had been called by Gaylene, just the other side of Vancouver, because her horses were without water, for less than 24 hours and 3 people on the property!! Perhaps there were some slightly more needy cases in this worst storm for over 10 years!
We got on with clearing the paddock by chain saw, brute force, effort and the Gator festooned like a Christmas tree at times, its load almost too expansive to fit down the wide path to the compost heap at the bottom end. We decided that the fallen wood on the garden side could just be stacked for removal later but at least the paddock was safe for the horses to return, or so we thought.
We learnt from Johanna today that this morning (Monday), she woke to a fire where one of the live wires had actually broken under the falling tree and started an underground smouldering, beneath the carpet of wet leaves when the power was finally returned at 5am. I know that was the time because I was aware of the generator suddenly silencing. Gaylene hadn’t responded to my message on Sunday morning asking her how long the generators lasted and whether they needed refuelling. I assumed they had run out of gas before realising that there was an outside light on.
Johanna had no water supply so on seeing the smoke, had come round for some buckets but luckily realised that it wouldn’t be such a good idea to chuck water on the live wires, just in time. She also had no means of calling the fire brigade so had come to use Gaylene’s phone. Must have been a bit of a joke to be called out to the adjacent property after the previous call but at least this one proved legitimate but no damage done, apart from to her frayed nerves. Ironically she was due to have the power turned off today so that the trees which were in too close proximity to the wires could be dealt with. As the power company and the tree guys couldn’t get hold of her by phone to let her know that they wouldn’t be able to do the work today due to other pressing committments, as she had no communications, they had both swung by to let her know, just as the fire dept turned up. They were unable to put out the fire until the power was off and the trees made safe so fortunately all the appropriate people happened to be there at the right time.
We managed to complete our clearing up by about 4pm. Gaylene had messaged at 1pm to find out how we were doing and remind me to get the meat out the freezer in the barn and into the one in the main house which still had power. I replied with an update on the situation and at 7pm received a ‘thanks’!