Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Chicken House Fire

Today I'm happy to host Jennifer Hallmark, one of my fellow writers of the book A Dozen Apologies.

“You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah” Psalm 32:7 NKJV

The year was 2009. The week had been busy and I was amazed by how much plain hard work was involved in a writing career. Websites, blogs, articles, and research vied for my time, not to mention my regular life. Add in the fact that I had begun to search for a literary agent to promote my novel, Journey of Grace and had been asked to become a contributing writer for brandlady.com women’s magazine. Can you imagine the week of work, decisions mingled with a bit of fear and exhilaration?

Has anyone out there noticed that in the life of a Christian if good things are happening, our adversary, the devil, isn’t happy about it? On Thursday, problems surfaced, beginning with my son’s car not running right. Now it was under warranty so we made plans to take it to the shop on Friday morning to drop it off and get a free rental for our trouble.

I decided my son and I could do our work in the chicken houses when we returned from the Ford place. At that time, we owned a farm with two 500-foot broiler chicken houses which hold 30,000 chickens apiece. The chickens were brought to us at one day old and we sold them to a processing plant when they reached six weeks of age, each chicken weighing a little more than four pounds. The work could wait until we returned so I stopped by to adjust the fans and check things over.

I adjusted the fan time in the second house control room, noticing an odd reading on the computer board. Upon walking in the door at the middle of the chicken house, I could see something orange near the back wall where the fans are placed. It looked like a small patch of flames surrounding the fans.

“Jonathan!” I hollered at my son who was waiting outside in his car. “Come quick!”

He entered the chicken house and ran toward the back to see how bad it was while I went back to check the computer panel again. In a moment, he returned.

“It’s a fire on the back wall!”

He called 911 while I drove back to our home to wake my husband who had worked off night shift.

I shook him. “Danny, get up. The chicken house is on fire!” He jumped up and dressed and we took off to help Jonathan.

Meanwhile my son had grabbed the small fire extinguisher and had exhausted it on the flames but it wasn’t enough. Danny grabbed a garden hose near the computer control room and while I waited for the fire truck, they were able to put out the fire.

Soon our farm was crawling with the local volunteer fire department, curious neighbors, family and folks in the area that heard the news on their scanners. The fire fighters checked the ceiling and walls in the surrounding area making sure there were no hidden hot spots.

In the end, the fire burned a twenty-five foot section of wall and ceiling and 20 chickens died, not from fire or smoke but probably shock. Some neighbors and a carpenter came and walled in the area so it would be weather tight. We would rewire and replace the burnt area after we sold the chickens in a few days. A faulty plug had shorted out, sending sparks that caught the chipboard wall on fire.

The natural gas workers, and people with Pilgrim’s Pride agreed it was a miracle the house had not burned to the ground. Most chicken houses are made of wood, heated with natural gas, with pine shavings on the floor and plenty of fans to drive a flame. Most houses that catch on fire burn down in less than twenty minutes. This fire only smoldered and though it had been burning for a while when we found it, the fans had no effect on the intensity of the fire.

As things were winding down that day, I continually thanked God for his protective hand over our farm. One look at the pictures our daughter snapped that day of the damage is enough to remind me of how blessed we’d been and how God truly watches over us.
 God is a proven rear guard and I’m forever thankful.


Jennifer Hallmark: writer by nature, artist at heart, and daughter of God by His grace. She loves to read detective fiction from the Golden Age, watch movies like LOTR, and play with her two precious granddaughters. At times, she writes.

Her website is Alabama-Inspired Fiction and she shares a writer’s reference blog, Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My! with friends, Christina, John, Ginger, Dicky, and Betty. She and Christina Rich share an encouraging blog for readers called The Most Important Thing.
Jennifer and her husband, Danny, have spent their married life in Alabama and have a basset hound, Max.
Links to Jennifer:

Join Jennifer and me in the adventures of Mara Adkins in A Dozen Apologies.


  1. Thanks for letting me visit, Phee!

  2. That is an exclamation point after your name, not an l... :)