It was hot and dry. Rain hadn’t graced their farm in many, many months. The best the farmer could do was move the animals to shade and water and pray for rain.
Storm clouds brewed in the distance. Lightning flashed across the sky in fury. Not a single drop of rain.
The lightning was fierce and it shattered a tree. Flames of fire erupted.
Another tree was hit. More flames! And finally a third tree was overpowered by lightning and it too lost its life to fire.
It was the perfect setting for fire and it took the advantage. Fire consumed everything in its path.
Southampton Homestead, a sweet little farm stood directly in its path.
The firemen came with their trucks, but the already the fire was too much for them. The firemen quickly found themselves surrounded by the fire with no way out. They parked the truck in the clearing of the driveway and wet the whole thing down with water. Then they all closed themselves up in the firetruck and waited.
The fire hurled across the driveway and the flames licked at the firetruck. The side mirrors melted away and I don’t know for sure, but I can imagine the firemen were praying for their lives.
The firemen came out unscathed.
The fire left the farm black and desolate.
The charred remains of pigs and cows and chickens were found everywhere. Most of the animals had made it to the river, but even that water wasn’t enough to save them.
Jeff found himself having to start over.
He’d been working the farm for several years already. Waterlines were run, fences put up. He was practicing rotational grazing and finally starting to get a handle on the brambles. Grass was starting to grace his pastures. Perhaps you can relate?
Now? Utter ruin.
10,000 acres were burned. His house was the only one lost in the fire. You can see the ancient farmstead in all its glory here.
Joel, Daniel and I had the privilege to visit Jeff and Michelle’s farm in Ballingup, Western Australia. This was 2 years after the fire.
Jeff welcomed us to their current house – a metal barn. Michelle gave it homey touches complete with a dining room table, rustic kitchen and a living room section.
They are currently raising ducks, trying to get the pastures back up.
Jeff’s attitude about it all was amazing. He made this comment: “I’ve decided that I know so much more about farming now than I did 2 years ago, so I can get ahead a lot faster without making the mistakes I did the first time around.”
I remarked on his positive attitude and he said this. “Well, there were certainly days, I just laid on the ground and cried.”
What strikes me most about this couple is this. They cried. There were probably times they were angry.
But they didn’t give up.
They’re following their dream. No matter what it takes.
I think Jeff’s t-shirt said it all:
Nothing to Lose. Everything to Gain.
With that kind of attitude, they’ll conquer the world!
Jeff and Michelle are heroes in my eyes.
This amazing couple has the courage to go on.