Being a thousand miles away can be a blessing when tragedy strikes at home.
Last Christmas our family, Terry, Lillian, Hayley and I, visited my parents in Florida. On Christmas Eve morning, Terry and Lillian were riding bikes when he received a phone call from his sister, Becky. A huge fire was engulfing our farm shop and attached machine shed. Terry’s parents, three-quarters of a mile across the field, discovered the fire when they opened their drapes and saw smoke.
Not knowing whether the house, shed or show cattle barn were on fire, Terry’s mother, Betty Jo, called Mike Pruitt, our farm helper and a full-time firefighter. Five fire departments responded to the blaze. The shop and shed, an unattached old garage and their contents were a total loss.
• A farm fire struck when the family was away on vacation.
• The community responded to support the Hayhursts.
• What “didn’t happen” was a gift from above.
The buildings housed the combine, drill, planter, semi-tractor, trailers, all-terrain vehicle, sprayer, antique tractor, farm truck, manure spreader, forklift, seed tender, feed cart, mowers and fuel tanks, plus tools of Terry; his dad, Dale; and his late grandfather, Kendall.
What caused the fire? Our best guess is an electrical short between the farm truck and an old block heater connected the previous evening.
When we arrived home 36 hours later, we were met with still-smoldering debris. Though we shed tears and dealt with shock, we knew the Lord was with us.
• We were with family when we got the call.
• Within 20 minutes of the first call, I felt the Lord’s presence settle around my very tense shoulders.
• We were spared the physical anguish of watching the fire.
• Our farm helper, Mike, took care of our farm as if it were his own.
• Hundreds of friends and neighbors offered help and provided food.
• A local restaurant provided a meal to feed firefighters.
• A neighbor who heard explosions in the fire fenced our cattle away from it.
• The shop sat only 25 feet from our home’s attached garage. There was no soot on our siding, only minimal heat waffling.
• The shed is 10 feet from our farm office. Only 6 inches of siding melted.
• The breeze is almost always from the west. That day it was from the east, helping blow the fire away from home and office.
• The tractors, tillage equipment and semitrailer were stored elsewhere.
• We didn’t lose any cattle, or our farm dog or cat.
• We liquidated our hog operation Dec.14, giving us space for a temporary shop and storage.
Though it’s been a long process assessing, cleaning up, planning new facilities and purchasing equipment, we know 2 Corinthians 12:9 to be true: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Hayhurst writes from Terre Haute.
Up in flames: There wasn’t much left of this combine after fire swept through the Hayhursts’ toolshed.
This article published in the December, 2011 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.
All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.