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the fire 🔥

let me set the scene for you.

i woke up on saturday, june fifth and went about my day as normal.

i did morning chores which consist of bottling calves, feeding all the outdoor cats (my favorite part of the day because they are so excited to see me. actually, it's probably the food for most of them. but, a few of them need their pets before they eat & that makes me very happy) and water my garden.

i then made my way back to the house and emptied the dishwasher, made and drank my celery juice, drank my cranberry juice, and then sat down at my desk with my tea and my water to get a little morning computer work done. i'm a person who very much has a routine. at 8:30 i headed back to my workout room, donned my tennis shoes and banged out a great workout.

at the end of my workout, i sat down on my yoga mat to do my usual yoga/stretch routine. & i started crying. not sobbing, no hyperventilating. just a steady stream of tears that wouldn't stop.

tears of gratefulness. of wholeness. of wonder. of contentment. i felt so much peace.

this is not an abnormal thing for me. tears form while i'm on my yoga mat quite frequently. it's always such a grounding moment for me. a time when my mind can slow down. when i find appreciation in everything around me.

---please, if you haven't tried yoga or meditation, give yourself the gift of it. if you've tried it before and haven't experienced this kind of peace, keep trying. it will come. it took me time to get comfortable in it too. & now my nervous system boots down the moment i step on the mat.

i finally made my way downstairs to make my breakfast and take the indoor kitties out on the porch for some fresh air (we do this when it's nice out while i eat my breakfast; i'm telling cats have a great life).

& i shared this photo on my instagram story.

the caption reads :

had myself a moment on my yoga mat this morning. (they always tend to show up there - get yourself on a mat, friends!) anyway, was just thinking about how grateful i am for this life. it's quiet, filled with only people i care about and care about me back, it's peaceful and abundant. i'm healthy, have a garden on a bunch of land, a beautiful home and the best farm kitties i could ever ask for. also, i can poop on my own. (had to. 😜) don't lose sight of what's important, friends. let yourself take a moment of gratitude today. really, dig deep and feel it.

now, looking back, i feel like there was a reason why that major wave of gratitude hit me that day.

at about 3:45 on that same day, june fifth, keith came in the house to tell me the farm in iowa was on fire.

& it was bad.

my whole body immediately started to shake, but only for a moment. no tears. no anger.

i knew everybody was okay.

i dropped what i was doing, hopped in the pickup with keith and we went to finish move hay from the field to the barn. & kept in close contact with everybody about what was going on.

this is my family's livelihood.

but not just that.

it is keith's too.

i felt blank. empty. helpless.

we finished out the day with burgers, a drink and a beautiful sunset.

more perspective.

another reminder of how damn lucky we are.


you see, i had this crazy mix of emotions that i honestly could not understand. & felt bad about.

it felt like i was supposed to be mad, scared, upset, frustrated, annoyed and angry.

& while i may have been at moments, it wasn't how i was feeling overall.

i was thankful, grateful, peaceful and overwhelmed with love from all of you. i was flabbergasted that the parts of the farm that were important to our livelihoods and sentimental pieces like the house were okay.

i just couldn't' move past it. i felt stuck in the feeling of gratefulness but i felt like i shouldn't be feeling grateful over such a tragedy.

but, you see, it wasn't a tragedy.

sad? yes.

scary? yes.

a little heartbreaking? yes.

horrifying to lose livestock like that? yes.

but i can't call it a tragedy.

everybody i know and care about was okay.

& the feelings of that will forever outweigh the feelings of the little loss that did happen.

that doesn't mean it didn't suck.

it did.

we lost our north barn, our large white barn and all of the cattle yards.

the hog yards, chutes, shop & offices, and the family home were all okay.

well, i should say the hog yards looked okay. lots of smoke damage. not sure at this point how usable they will actually be.

let's start here

the cattle yards are where the fire started.

the cause of the fire was ruled undetermined, but it was most likely electrical. it was one of the oldest portions of the farm.

this is the point when josh manternach noticed the fire while driving by (nobody was there), called it in and then notified our family and jeff shady.

thanks for the photo, hilary hogan.

it didn't take long for everything to go up in flames.

between the wind and the poor cattle who caught fire and were on the move, everything was bound to burn.

the next morning i hopped in the semi with keith to head to iowa and see the new landscape.

it wasn't pretty.

but again, no tears.

a blank feeling. strange. shock. a little empty.

but again, mostly gratefulness.

it was nice to hug everybody and see their faces.

see that they were okay.

glad i made the journey.

here are a few pictures of what i saw.

my first view as i got out of the semi.

actually, the first thing keith and i did when we got there was put out a mini fire. the fire department had just been there again right before we arrived. they had to make a few trips to water everything down.

i'm sure you can imagine what i have blacked out. no need for you guys to see that.

the heat from the fire melted the siding right off the house. it also damaged some windows on that side, which will be replaced.

nothing but a bunch of concrete and metal left over.

my dad's edge (his extra car; you need one of those when you're a road warrior) and the skid loader have seen better days.

where the big barn stood.

kind've sounds like a book title, doesn't it?!

the landscape looks quite different now

when i got back home that night, i came home to this.

wow! painted skies will always get me.

again, thankful.

i was exhausted, emotionally and physically drained, but full of love.

love for this home.

love for my family.

love for my husband.

love for my cats.

love for life.

but i will tell you, monday morning rolled around and this girl was all up in her feels.

just couldn't shake the feeling.

a little sadness, quite a bit of overwhelm and a whole lot of gratefulness because the outcome could have been much worse.

{let's get a little sidetracked here.

how often do we put ourselves down? way too often if you're like me.

i try my best to not participate in those behaviors, but i'm not perfect at it.

improvement every day is the goal.

noticing it in this video is progress.

progress over perfection. always.

so, I will say....

you look great kirsten. you shouldn't feel guilty for having a happy, wholesome life.

& to those of you who struggle day to day or here and there like me, it's okay to feel it.

it's okay to tell people how you feel.

it's okay to reach out to people for support.

we were never meant to do life alone.

yet, somehow, so many of us do.}


i can't write this post without thanking a few people.

monticello, anamosa and cascade fire departments. thank you. i know it was a tough one. we are very grateful for you.

josh manternach for calling in the fire, notifying us right away and moving jeff's semi trailers out of the way.

jeff shady for racing back from cascade sale barn to save some of the livestock before the firefighters arrived. & for every other thing you did that day and have continued to do every day since.

& to randy shady for helping bury bales in an effort to stop the fire, your support and your help with clean up.

to all of you reading this who reached out to me or any other member of my family sending good vibes, prayers and condolences our way...

we can never thank you enough.

& lastly, i couldn't not share a photo of a beautiful sunrise behind the barn.

i took this on september 7, 2019 at 6:29am.

how cool is technology to remind me of that.

grateful to have this photo.


kirsten ☀️

tell me what you're grateful for today in the comments below.

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