Our insurance agent of twenty years sat at our kitchen table helping us formulate a defensive plan against the threat of losing our homeowners insurance due to the remoteness of our Timber Butte Homestead and the looming danger of fire in a place where there is no fire department. We always knew that it would be up to us to defend our place against brush and grass fires at least until the Burial of Land Management (BLM) or the National Forest Service fire fighting crews managed to get here. Living in the country as we have for so many years has always provided this stress and responsibility, but this was the first time our homeowners insurance had been in jeopardy. Our agent, who has become a friend through the years, told us that after the horrendous fires in California the year before the rules for brush clearance and the costs of premiums had radically been increased in outlying regions. The thought of losing our coverage altogether was a scary proposition. For this reason we have tried to go the extra mile taking preventative measures.

One of our greatest threats is dry lightening which commonly  plagues southern Idaho at the end of every summer.  Over the past six years of living in this area we have experienced three or four narrow escapes with dangerously close summer fires. Some years the landscape gets so dry that any spark could set it ablaze. When conditions are right, especially when hot high winds are blowing through with dry lightning storms it stimulates a certain kind of tension on the residence here that many folks couldn’t fathom. This past week these dangerous storm conditions have passed to the north of us every evening. Nancy and I have sat up late watching the lightning strike the dry hills in the distance over and over again, wondering when the horizon might begin to glow with hot uncontrollable flames. So far no great damage has happened, but it is a constant reminder to do our diligence mowing grass, disking weeds and developing an emergency water delivery systems.

This year we planted a green belt of pasture on the west side of our home due to the fact that most storms move from west to east. We purchased a “brush hog” mower that runs off the power takeoff of our tractor, which has been an excellent tool for cutting weeds and brush back 200 feet from our living area. I have run our weed eater up and down our lanes and in places that can’t be reached with the tractor, and we have been developing a fire hydrant system that pumps a 2-inch head of water from our pond to the yard. In addition to that we installed a backup electrical power source for our house that is capable of running our well in the event that the power goes out during times of severe weather or fire. We still have more to do, but we have really been trying to do our diligence knowing just how devastating fire can be.

This morning we woke up to a wonderful down pour of rain which is not only refreshing, but has relieved the stress of the dangerous past  weeks of prime fire conditions.