2021 was our first official year as an herb farm. We broke new ground and planted a lot of medicinal herbs out on the property at 25-mile creek, near beautiful Lake Chelan. Our humble beginnings included a vintage Brewster-built trailer that Oro refurbished. We would come out to the farm once a week, or so, to tend the farm and stay one or two nights.

It was a heat dome summer with multiple long stretches of 116-degree weather…sweltering. Despite the heat, I poured my efforts into turning another trailer into our first herb processing facility. Working with what we had and to be earth friendly, I sanded down reclaimed wood to build my drying rack and frames. I even had some fun and painted the floor to look like fish scales and my mom and I painted herbs on the outside. I had hoped to have that up at the land and in use at the beginning of the summer, but alas…it took longer. Unsure of the reliability of the tires and having asked a friend to haul it up for us, we didn’t want to take any chances, and bought new tires for the trailer.


Finally, we were ready to roll! My intuition was pulling at me, I felt I shouldn’t take it up to the land yet. Logically, that made no sense as I was beyond needing it to process the herbs. I pushed past that intuitive nudge, and up the trailer went. I loaded it with a beautiful batch of Tulsi holy basil, magnificent! I could finally harvest the herb, walk it down to the trailer, load up the drying racks-finally some efficiency!

After visiting friends departed from a fun weekend visit, I was excited to start garbling and packaging up some herbs. It was SO great; all the work was paying off and I was feeling good about my phase-1 facility. I was in my groove when Oro opened the door and said, “There is a fire!”. We had heard gunshots not long before, likely the culprit.

We moved quickly, setting sprinklers on the upper slope of the property, thinking that was the threatened area; a dry field, a sea of wild mustard tumbleweeds. We all thought the fire would move away from us and over the mountain. Once the water was set, we decided to pack what we needed, to get out of the way for a few days, not thinking about packing what we wanted to save… until I saw a fire tornado, spinning like a Tasmanian devil and felt the hot gusts and spitting embers on my exposed skin.

Then, I knew. We had a few more minutes. The fire was on both sides of our road out, about to wrap around us.

Earlier in the year, our van with towing capacity broke down. We had figured we could borrow a neighbor’s truck in the potential event of a fire, usually not a problem to do. This fire moved too fast, was too intense and there just wasn’t time. We drove out through thick smoke shrouding fire crews unable to recognize our once familiar path.

Amazingly I found my wedding ring!

We went to our house in town and set up beds for our neighbor friends. I woke up in the middle of the night, the first time I’ve experienced vomiting from intense emotion, worry, and trauma. Some of our friends stayed behind to try and save their homes, which they did indeed, the only reason their homes still stand. But for that night, unsure of their safety, we prayed for their lives.

I can’t remember when it was, perhaps that same evening, when my dear friend Josette called and told me it was all gone. What I do remember is exactly where I was, in my kitchen, while a grief swollen scream, tears and wailing that arose from my body.

More than a week passed before we could see it with our own eyes. We weren’t officially owners of the Farmland yet and weren’t allowed past the barricades. The land was like moon dust, devoid of life, a hot ashy mess. The garden we thought had been spared. Instead, the alfalfa mulch became tinder and caught fire to the surrounding Tulsi, and tomatoes scorching them to death.

The burned trailers left little identifiable material. Though, by a miracle, I pulled my wedding ring out of the rubbage. There was no time to mourn, we needed to get to work cleaning up the mess. There were trees to fall, fencing to erect, and yes, more trailer work. When a trailer burns, even as hot as this one did, it leaves the steel frame and tire hubs behind. Working in the hot ash, with land still smoldering in places, Oro cut apart the heavy frame with a borrowed acetylene torch from our neighbor. This work was not easy, we couldn’t escape the unbearable heat, not to mention a surprise encounter with a rattlesnake. With help from friends, we loaded up all the charred remains and hauled them to the dump.

Oro and I weren’t sure what would happen next. We questioned our future and whether we wanted to continue on this path at 25 mile creek. However, when our dear friends offered to sell us the property, we didn’t hesitate to accept the stewardship of this beautiful land. We committed our hearts and minds to moving forward with our dream and started again.