Chicken House Fire!
by Jennifer Hallmark
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The week had been extremely busy and I am still amazed how much plain old hard work is involved in having a career as a writer. Websites, blogs, articles, research; yes it had been a busy week. Add in the fact that I have started the search for a literary agent to promote my novel, Journey of Grace and I have been asked to become a contributing writer for brandlady.com women’s magazine and you can imagine the week of work, decisions mingled with a bit of fear and exhilaration.
Has anyone out there, besides me, noticed that in the life of a Christian if good things are happening, our adversary, the devil, isn’t happy about it? You might notice also that at times people you know aren’t too happy for you either but that is another story…
The good things had happened and then on Thursday problems began, starting with my son’s car acting up. Now it is under warranty which is a positive so we made plans to take it to the shop on Friday morning with the added bonus of the Ford place offering us a free rental car while it was being fixed.
I decided that my son and I could do our work in the chicken houses when we returned from the Ford place. We own a farm with two 500 foot broiler chicken houses which hold 30,000 chickens apiece. The chickens are brought to us when they are only one day old and we sell them to a processing plant at six weeks of age, each chicken weighing a little better than four pounds. The work could wait until we returned so I stopped by to adjust the fans and check things over before we left.
I adjusted the fan time in the second house, noticing an odd reading on the computer board. Upon walking in the door at the middle of the chicken house, I could see something orange near the back wall where the fans are placed. It looked like a small patch of flames surrounding the fans!
“Jonathan!” I hollered at my son who was waiting outside, “Come quick!”
He ran toward the back of the house to see how bad it was while I went back to check the computer panel again. In a moment, he returned.
“It’s a fire on the back wall!” he said, breathing hard as he called 911. Running back to the car, I drove the short distance to the house and woke up my husband who was asleep having just worked off of night shift.
“Danny, get up! The chicken house is on fire!” I said, frantically as I shook him. He jumped up and started dressing and we took off to help Jonathan.
Meanwhile my son had grabbed the small fire extinguisher and had exhausted it on the flames but it wasn’t enough. Danny grabbed a garden hose near the computer control room and while I waited for the fire truck, they were able to put out the fire. Soon our farm was crawling with the local volunteer fire department, curious neighbors, family and folks in the area that heard the news on their scanners. The fire fighters checked the ceiling and walls in the surrounding area making sure there were no hidden hot spots.
When all was said and done, there was a 25 foot section of wall and ceiling destroyed by the flames and 20 chickens died, not from fire or smoke but probably shock. Some neighbors and a carpenter came and walled in the area so it will be weather tight until we sell these chickens and have the back part of the chicken house rewired and replaced. A faulty plug had shorted out, it was thought, sending sparks that caught the chipboard wall on fire.
The natural gas people, people with Pilgrim’s Pride who we grow for came and everyone agreed it was a miracle that the house had not burned to the ground. When you understand that the houses are made of wood, heated with natural gas, with pine shavings on the floor and plenty of fans to fan a flame you will know why most houses that catch on fire burn down in less than twenty minutes.
This fire was just smoldering however and though it had obviously been burning for a while was very slow in movement with the fans seeming to have no effect on the intensity of the fire. In fact, the way the fans were running only on the opposite wall helped keep the flames from fanning up. As things were winding down that day I was just continually thanking God for his protective hand over our farm. One look at the pictures our daughter had taken that day of the damage is enough to remind me of how blessed we had been and how God truly watches over us.
We continued to monitor the houses as we waited the next few weeks to grow out our flock and fix the damaged area completely. The chickens sold, the wall and roof were redone and we placed well against the competition of chicken growers that week despite the fire. God is my rear guard as I try to take each day and live it for His glory in my work, home life and community.
“You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah** Psalm 32:7 NKJV
**Selah means to pause; stop and think about it.
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