Looking a Monster in the Face

Looking a monster in the face is overwhelming, leaving you wasted, empty and yet whole, knowing you are still breathing; devastated knowing that others are not.  I saw two living monsters yesterday, faced a death caused by our hand and saw the face of beauty which outshone them all.

This is the face of one of the monsters we saw day before yesterday, rising it’s massive head above our valley.


This is the West Fork Complex fire, Wolf Creek Pass area, where for years lack of moisture has led to an epidemic of beetles which killed many miles of pine and spruce trees.  That has been a devastation waiting for lightning.

Seeing it out your window gives a new meaning to the news of all the fire destruction going on in the state right now.

Driving home from Breckenridge yesterday, upon hearing this one is the largest and fastest moving fires in Colorado right now, we could barely see in Salida where smoke is settling.

Update: Thank you to Jen from The Crowded Acre for sending me this haunting video of the West Fork Fire Complex. Absolutely amazing.

Checking the sheep when we got home we saw that one of our large lambs we castrated had died.   During the winter we had foolishly let a few of the male lambs slip past getting banded and so we decided to castrate them on Wednesday.  One of them had part of its intestines coming out of where he had been castrated minutes before.  We have no idea how that could happen, and I knew I had to act fast, knowing that my dd and dh could not do what I had to do to put him out of his misery right then.  Halal method. Ugh.  The others seemed fine and we vowed never again to castrate lambs, they must be different than the hundreds of calves my dh has castrated in his life.  He feels so sad.

The highway we go on to get home was closed yesterday about 70 miles past us, at Creed, because of the fire.  We could see it’s massive head spreading and wanted to get up higher for a better view.  Last night we drove to Lake City and saw another fire, closer and redder, and could smell the smoke, on the other side of us.  Little Cimmaron fire.  Freaky, and of course I cried.

We had dinner on a patio, listening to chatty conversation from tourists who seemed oblivious to this monster looming right above us, as it billowed and grew, looking like Mt. St. Helens.


The news we could get about it was that in five hours it would engulf the town of South Fork, which had been evacuated the day before and now it was heading toward Creed which was being evacuated. As of this morning it seems both towns have been spared.

Perhaps it is rude for me to call these next beasts monsters, but they are.  Wolves.  Wolves have been released in parts of the US because of their populations being wiped out in several areas and there are rumors of them being spotted in Colorado.  Anyone having read the Little House on the Prairie series, riding along in your mind with Pa in the midst of the wolf pack and looking out the window at night with Pa and Laura at the massive wolves will agree, they are monsters.  The problem with releasing these monsters in the wild and giving them “no shoot” protection, gives them a brazen boldness that they have never had before.  Coyotes and lions are such a massive problem for deer, elk, sheep, calves… when left unchecked, but wolves are another matter.  If people were allowed to create “no wolf zones” around their property then the wolves would better respect those areas and would be safe in the “no shoot zones.”  History will show how this experiment plays out.

Some people brought some of their “domesticated” wolves to Lake City last night, for display.  Looking into their wild but caged faces was sad for me, seeing them tolerate the lady being in the cage with them, trying to show that they were as tame as a dog.  They were not amused.


They were taller than Ajax and Helena, but skinnier, probably because we feed our livestock dogs real raw meat, eggs, milk… and these poor caged things were being fed dry kibble.


As the sun was going down the massive plume started glowing red and orange, sending chills up our spine. We wished that there could be a cage around this wild beast, but know that is impossible.


Recounting our breakfast we had that morning with beautiful people makes us smile. We were with one whose beauty outshone all other beauty, for he is so like his beautiful brother, whom we dearly miss. His voice, humor, mannerisms, kindness, generosity are so like our hero, it of course makes me cry, but comforted in seeing this beautiful family again.  I love you my dear uncle.

6 thoughts on “Looking a Monster in the Face

  1. Pingback: Chryptorchids and Katahdins | grassfood.

    • Oh Jen, thank you so much! No, we had not seen that and it is absolutely incredible! I have never seen a forest fire up close, it must be so terrifying. I hope your hubby and all the firefighters are doing well. Wow.

  2. We live in BV, and my husband works for County Fire, he is currently in Walsenburg area at the East Peak Fire. I sincerely hope the best for all humans and animals in the face of these fires. It must be scary to come through Summit Co, seeing all the beetle devastation there, and living near the West Fork Fire as it spreads. I do enjoy your blog and I truly appreciate your way of life. Jen Welch thecrowdedacre.com

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