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Well, I didn’t really loose a friend, but I feel like I did.

With the intense drought conditions we‘re experiencing in our state, we’ve had a LOT of prairie fires.  About ten days ago, when I got off work, my daughter told me there was a fire burning about 12 miles north of her dad’s place.  We got up out of the river valley and we could see the smoke, some 50 miles away.  That fire burned thousands of acres and very nearly took a couple homes.

Late last night after my son’s ballgame, I got on facebook and saw that one of my BFF’s had shared a newsclip about a fire two miles west of him. Eight hundred acres burned. I clicked on the clip and recognized the landscape.

And shortly after that, my BFF popped up on an instant message and said “Your old place is gone.”  

Yes, the farm I grew up on was destoyed by fire.  When I visited with him, my friend said the tree grove was still burning.  

 It brings tears to my eyes to think about the rough old cedar trees going up in flames.  Two of the biggest were off to one side of a lean-to hog barn and supported my old tree swing.  It was nothing but an old bed spring held up with cables tied to the trees. It had been there ages already when we moved there.  But it was the perfect place to hid and swing and stare at the clouds and dream dreams.

Four of my dogs are buried there.  The last one being a tiny mutt I aquired in college.  He could cross four lanes of traffic in the city, but got run over by a grain truck on a quiet country road.  Dad buried him in the bottom of a post hole since he was building new fence.

And the barn.  The thought of the barn being gone leaves a hole inside me.

It was on old barn, leaning sharply to the left and missing it’s roof when we moved there.  MY granddad had been in the process of tearing it down when he passed away.  When we moved there, my other grandfather looked over the situation and told dad how to straighten the sturcture and put a roof on.  That first summer, between my fifth and sixth grade year, we fixed the barn.  I didn’t realize till last night how much of my life was involved in that old pile of lumber.  I halter broke my first show cattle in that barn.  I went to that barn to cry on the horse’s shoulder when my dad was in intensive care.

I learned a lot of life skills there.  Backing a truck up to a loading chute, giving a horse or cow injections, sorting pigs, basic carpentry, branding horses and cows, basic animal nutrition......

In the summer of 85, on my days off work, Dad had me painting that barn.  I only got halfway done with the south side.  Or maybe dad ran out of money for paint halfway thru the south side.  Either way, mom and dad moved in 88 and that barn stood till yesterday with that south side half red, and half silver gray bare wood.  You could see it from the highway and it’s bugged me all these years that it was only half done and the subsequent owners haven’t bothered to finish it.  

Guess I don’t have to worry about it anymore.  Goodbye old friend and family member.


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