Fire Evacuations: Donkeys, Goats and Us

Before the fire season got off to a roaring start with lightning strikes and wildland fires all over California, I had been occasionally enjoying the company of the donkeys and goats that live at the bottom of our road. After my dinner I would take a bucket of apples down in the cool of the early evening. They would see me approaching and come running. Did me a world of good to suddenly be so popular.

I’ve tried many times before to sketch them at the fence where they are so adorable and engaging, but it’s impossible with all the movement. So one time I kept them waiting for their apples, while I took pictures.

The donkeys are not that much bigger than the biggest goats and I had to distract the goats who are more aggressive at the fence.

Then last week, as we were packing for a fire evacuation I noticed that the field was empty and the donkeys and goats had beat us to evacuation.

Perhaps they were taken to the county fairgrounds, or perhaps a friend’s pasture, but I hope to see them home soon. It would do my nerves a world of good to have my animal friends gobbling apples from my hands again.

It’s been an exhausting and stressful week of evacuation to three different places in the Bay Area, to friends’ homes and a hotel. But our area was saved, thanks to the tireless efforts of firefighters, police, prison inmate crews, pilots, local authorities, rescuers from far away, and so many more.

We came home yesterday to a yellow ribbon on our mailbox “crime scene” which we figured was placed there when the police made their rounds of mandatory evacuation areas. Otherwise there is a dusting of ash, a lot of fallen apples, neighbors with their own stories to tell, and Sylvester the cat who no longer lives here, but hangs out here all day.

We still have a friend who is waiting for news of whether her house will be saved. And of course there are all the families who have already lost their homes, and that rests heavily on my heart. I’d like to say I’ll get right out and do more fire story sketches as I did in 2017 and 2018, but I haven’t had the extra energy to sketch through this crisis. One spends so much time just making it through the day, calling and texting friends and family, moving possessions in and out of the car.

And now I just want to enjoy home again. After all, that is the greatest gift when you almost lose yours and then don’t.

6 comments

  1. Susan! I had to text to let you know I thought of you through out this. I really did! I’m in Windsor ( evacuated 10/2019) and had restoration from fire damage. This fire was close to our border and again fear set in. I feed my “ deer” nightly from my apple tree. But they disappeared during this time. So I understand your longing for the animals to be returned. So I hope and pray your friends come home. Please continue in encouraging sketches. I relish all your posts and am doing my sketching too. Love Ann ( of the mother/ daughter) of yesteryear.

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    1. Such a treat to hear from you Ann! I’m glad you’re still sketching. The goats and donkeys are back again and very vocal. I imagine it was pretty stressful for them to be evacuated like the rest of us. Sorry you had to go through the whole fire threat again. It gets really old.

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  2. Love the donkeys and goats…such welcome companions during stressful times. I’m happy that this round of fires is winding down. Our neighbors are moving out of state. They’ve had enough. Hope to be sketching again soon.
    Brigitte

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