Fire changes everything — temporarily

The most predictable thing about my life at the moment is its unpredictability. Things have been up and down since last fall, with a  disaster this past Friday evening when we had a major fire on the property.

We think it may have started in the chicken coop, where we had a heat lamp. The lamp had a metal guard all around it, and was on a timer to be used only in the very coldest weather, and we don’t know how it started, but that is not important in the scheme of things. What does matter is that we lost our dear hens, the beautiful workshop building and all its contents.

Luckily we have good insurance, but Tom’s new mower and other lawn-care equipment, his hunting paraphernalia, all his tools, the children’s bicycles, and shelves and cupboards full of “stuff” are completely gone, as well as some large trees.

By an unpleasant coincidence, I had written a column about the chickens which appeared in the paper two days after the fire. They were pets rather than farm animals, watching for me every morning as I appeared at feeding time and flying up to be petted as well as fed, and I miss them so much. Our little animal cemetery is filling up much too fast, with the four hens and dear Archie buried there in the past year.

But things could have been much worse. The beautiful Amish-built building went up in towering flames, but we will replace it as soon as we can with one as identical as possible, and no one was hurt.

The Clinton Township Fire Department was wonderful through the whole experience and we are so grateful to them for their efficiency and sympathy. The house and the propane tank were not threatened, and we have received so many thoughtful and incredibly generous gifts from family and friends, including new bicycles for the children and promises of help with the work to be done.

The way things work together for good is really extraordinary. I took the leftover chicken food and equipment up the hill to a farm where I had seen chickens ranging around and met some friendly neighbors I had not met before. To our delight, they have expertise with fire restoration and construction. How blessed we are!

After some automotive problems dating back to November on and off, we now have three well-functioning cars for the three drivers in the family, so all is well on that front, and with two more drivers already thinking about driver’s training in a couple of years, that is a good thing.

The whole family is going through changes. One granddaughter has passed her nursing state board and will be married this summer and working in Indianapolis, a grandson will be graduating from Columbian and starting college in Indiana, my son-in-law Jeff is in Korea working on rigging lighting and equipment for the Olympics, my sister’s husband died just after Christmas, my grandson Tom received a promotion at work which he wanted badly, Brittany started a new job last summer which she loves and Noah will be starting high school in the fall.

I am sure you would rather be reading about cabbages and roses and lawns than about stuff that is happening in my life, but there is a whole gardening year to enjoy and write about in the weeks and months to come and I can hardly wait to get on with it. My seeds are here and I need to haul my shelves back up from the garden shed into the sun room and get 26 packets of seeds safely tucked into their little pots under the lights

Life goes on. We are finding out such good things about our family, neighbors and friends, and everything will get back to normal eventually. The weather will improve, the garden will grow, the new workshop will arise. And I may be driven to open a “Kale, Swiss Chard and Collards” booth out by the road to sell all the six packets of crops from the seeds I bought for the chickens to enjoy.

Janet DelTurco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program.

Contact her at: