barn

On October 8, 1871, one of the worst fires in history started in Chicago. Rumor has it that a cow kicked over a lantern in a barn, and the ensuing fire killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. According to the legend, the fire broke out after the cow, belonging to Mrs. Catherine O’Leary, kicked over a lamp, setting first the barn, located on the property of Patrick and Catherine O’Leary at 137 Dekoven Street on the city’s southwest side, then the whole city on fire. You’ve probably heard some version of this story yourself. People have been blaming the Great Chicago Fire on the cow and Mrs. O’Leary, for more than 130 years. Mrs. O’Leary denied this charge. Recent research by Chicago historian Robert Cromie has helped to debunk this version of events.

From that event, came a proclamation by President Calvin Coolidge that the first National Fire Prevention Week be held on October 4-10, 1925. The move started a tradition recognizing October as Fire Prevention Month, the first week in October becoming Fire Prevention Week, and the second Saturday becoming Home Fire Drill Day. Fire Prevention Week is observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which October 9 falls, in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire, which began October 8, 1871, and did most of its damage October 9. The month and week are filled with information designed to teach people how to prevent fire disasters, as well as activities for children designed to teach them too.

None of us wants to have to really get out of a home fire situation, but it is really important that people know how in the unfortunate event that their home does catch on fire. So, the last part of Fire Prevention Month is Home Fire Drill Day, which is today, October 14, 2017. It is a day to plane your escape routes, and practice getting out, especially with children. It is designed also, to point out where you might be vulnerable and what equipment might be needed to make your home safe, such as smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and escape ladders. Whether you have little ones or not, it is so easy to get confused or disoriented in a fire emergency. Just like in the schools, routine practice makes every step of a fire evacuation a habit, and it could very likely save your life or that of your family. Why not start today?

1779808_10151865058222237_1602427287_n12974521_1524900421151122_5616398070330787217_nMy brother-in-law, Mike Reed is a man of many talents. His wood working talents are known to many people, and those who have been blessed to have some of his work can attest to that. Mike makes all kinds of furniture, from tables to beds, and everything in between. Mike’s work is detailed and beautiful. His talents especially lean toward the rustic, and that also shows in work they are having done at their ranch west of Casper. Mike is having a barn remodeled into…well clearly not your everyday variety of barn. Mike is an avid hunter, and this “barn” will become a beautiful showcase for his hunting trophies, and an entertainment space for barbeques and such. Mike and my sister, Caryl love to have people out to the ranch…especially their kids and grandkids. They keep horses there and the horses are great fun for them and the family to ride, as well as entertaining to watch.11057409_1452960625011769_5585380818628242805_n

Last year, Mike and Caryl took their kids and grandkids on a wonderful trip to Miami, along with a cruise. They all had a great time, and it was really the trip of a lifetime for all of them. once your kids are grown up, you don’t often get to take vacations together anymore. Everyone has their own lives, schedules, and ideas, so coordinating such an event takes a lot work, and a lot of planning. Nevertheless, they pulled it off, and had a great time doing it. I’m not sure if this was when Mike caught his amazing swordfish or not, but it definitely is a trophy piece.

Mike has been a part of our family since he married my sister, Caryl in 2002. It was a blending of two families, that was a blessing to all. Mike is kind-hearted and generous. And he makes my sister so happy. It doesn’t get any better than that. Theirs has been and will continue to be a life filled with adventure, because that is the imageimagekind of guy Mike is. It’s strange to think that Mike and Caryl have been married for 14 years, but on the other hand, it’s like he’s always been a part of our family. You can tell when someone is a great fit, by how right it feels to have them there. Mike is helpful and capable, and always willing to be the jack of all trades when needed. We can’t thank him enough. Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

So HappyWhen we first met my brother-in-law, Mike Reed, I don’t think he was really ready for our family. That phase lasted for just about five minutes…and then Mike was showing off his great sense of humor. He loves to pick on his sisters-in-law, and nobody is safe. Mike is quick witted and funny. Half the time, you have no idea what to expect from Mike, but then maybe his teasing is in self defense. I think my sister, Caryl really enjoys that about Mike. A home that has laughter is definitely a happy home…and they are so happy.

With the purchase of a place in Casper, on Poison Spider Rd, we are looking forward to the day when they will finally live closer to us. Mike and Caryl have been spending a lot of their weekends at their new place, tearing down old buildings, and putting up fencing. It just looks better and better every time they come down. Mike is very talented at most carpentry work, as well as lots of other household repair jobs, so he doesn’t need to hire the work done for very many things. He has become one of our go to people for things around my mom’s house too. It can be a real asset to have people in the family that can take care of the things that need done around a house, because it saves you so much money…and Mike often works for food, hahaha!! I think that is how we get back at him for all the teasing he does to us. Just kidding Mike!!

Mike is a very loving family man…devoted in every way. He has made the transition into a blended family better than most stepfathers would have. That is because he really cares about the kids, and now, grandkids that he and Caryl have been blessed with. Now with the addition of the new place and the future addition of horses, I know the kids and grandkids will all love Mike in the Bahamasto come to their place. That might just apply to a whole lot of the nieces and nephews too.

Caryl and Mike love to go 4 wheeling and camping, and can sometimes be found doing just that with our sister Allyn, and her husband, Chris Hadlock and their family, and our sister, Alena and her husband Mike Stevens. They enjoy sitting around the fire and just enjoying the evening. Caryl and Mike also love to entertain, and have barbeques and get togethers at their place and at their cabin at Seminole Lake. So, we have all had the chance to enjoy their places. Thanks Mike and Caryl!! Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

In a time where it seems like it is every man for himself, I like to look back into the family history and see how things were done back then. People in the towns banded together. If someone needed to build a barn, they had a barn raising. All the neighbors came over…and brought pot luck dinners to feed the workers. These days you have to buy your friends a case of beer and a steak dinner just to help you move! Now, I know that doesn’t apply to every situation, but think about the number of times you or someone you know couldn’t get anyone to help them move without bribing them.

If we look back a few years though, we see that harvests were often brought in with the help of neighbors. They would start at one farm, and move to the next and the next, until the harvests were done. Harvesting can be a huge job, and one family really can’t harvest a big farm alone. Their neighbors had the same problem, so by working together, they could all get the job done, and everyone made a profit. Farming was and is a tough life, and when money is scarce and equipment was expensive, it was a real struggle. Many people couldn’t make it just because of weather alone, much less the inability to get the harvest in, in time to save it from the elements.

These days, so many people are struggling to make it on their own, because there is no one to help them.  I don’t mean lots of government help. I mean good old fashioned elbow grease and muscle. Most people can do most things on their own, but sometimes it is easier or more fun with the help of friends and neighbors. That is how things were back then, and the best part was that it gave these neighbors who often lived miles apart, a chance to get together and enjoy each other’s company. So many people miss out on the camaraderie of friends, because they don’t allow themselves to be willing to help out a friend. It’s something we should all think about.

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