24 May 2008

A simple math lesson involving horses and fires.

So let's be clear. I was never in any danger of burning up, nor was my ranch or any of my horses or my customers' horses. We were lucky ducks compared to a lot of folks still worrying about their property and their animals. But here's the thing in a fire. When you see a fire moving down out of the mountains at an alarming rate of speed, all of a sudden you have to figure out, what are we going to do with the horses? And you start to have a big math problem to solve. Here's the equation:

X = (amount of horses)
times
Y = (amount of horse trailers)
/ divided by the fact that some trailers hold 2 horses, some 3 horses, some 4 horses, and so on up to maybe even 9 horses, except right here and right now are the 3 and 2 horse ones but maybe the bigger ones come later variable.

Here's the square root now. Some horses are too big for some trailers or need to ride in the front or can't turn around in that trailer or ride next to that horse or that one is a crappy loader.

And the word problem part is where are you taking the horses and how long does it take to get there and they have room for how many horses?

And you have an unknown variable involving potential damage and injury to horses at unknown places to balance out with potential no injury if fire Doesn't move down mountian times higher chance of worse injury or worse if fire Does move down mountain.

Divide that by how long would it take the fire to come over that ridge closest to us with the subset of once it's smokey the horses are not so happy to just hop in trailers?

Multiply by Oh Shit the Wind Changed Again and LOOK HOW FAST THOSE GIGANTIC FLAMES ARE MOVING DOWN THE MOUNTAIN.

Addition part: Add to your new list of 90 gazillion phone numbers each call that you are getting non stop, all day. Much of the first fire day was spent on the cel phone. Talking to all the people that assume that being a trainer, I will know Everything and What To Do so they call me. Except I'm calling other people I think know Everything at the same time. Mostly people are calling to find out about the safety of their horses, and then people calling to see how they can help. People I don't know or used to know or know their name or never heard of them and I am talking to them and we are all trying to figure out what to do with their horses and our horses. And people I don't know come in and offer help and we send people out to people they don't know to offer help. Everyone is on best manners and behavior and only thing anyone is thinking about is how do we get all the horses somewhere safe.

Pretty much I was doing mathematical equations all day long on the fire day. I never was any good at math but sometimes you just need to make yourself good enough at it to get by because everyone just assumed I was the math whiz and so I tried to let on like I am the Professor of High End Math here and I will figure all this out. I had a lot of help and I have a partner who is a super Professor of High End Math. I think I mostly just talked on the phone. We only moved enough horses out to make the math problem seem less hard in the event the fire did make it to the closest ridge. Which it didn't. And we were able to get all the horses back easily and undamaged the next day. Better safe than sorry was Everybody's motto on the first fire day.

Lots of people did not come out so lucky and are still up there, waiting to see what happened to their places. We watched all day the second fire day helicopters scooping up water, and buzzing around in the smoke like bees in a lilac bush dropping their water out. A normal day at work for a helicopter fire guys I guess. I had a nice normal day at work, all safe and sound because the wind had ended and the fire stayed put up on the mountain instead of coming down to us in the foothills. I read in the newspaper some people lost dogs and cats and other animals because they had no time to get out. All of ours worst fear. I had my dogs with me all day, they went everywhere with me. The only running they did was when I had them out on a walk early that first fire morning. For some reason, I put my phone in my pocket which I usually don't do to walk the dogs. Leave me in peace for a tiny part of my day. It had been a bad Timmy night. Got the first call asking me were our horses ok in the fire and I was like "What Fire?" and good thing we are a super fast dog agility team, me and those small dogs you should have seen how fast we hauled ass back home to jump in the car and go.

2 comments:

Pacco de Mongrel said...

all that sounds really complicated to work it out... definately needed some math expert

take care TSD and the horses ofcoz...

Elayne said...

I'm very glad everything worked out o.k. I live on the edge of town next to the foothills and we had a wildfire come within 3/4 mile of our house. It was scary & chaotic enough to have to pack up our possessions and the cats/dogs, I can't even imagine the complicated logistics and hassle of evacuating a ranch full of horses.