Monday, August 17, 2015

We will fire no weed before it's time.

This weekend was Hempfest in Seattle. 24 years of the Marijuana community coming together and having a huge party. There are bands on stage. There has been Bong-A-Thons. Celebrities show up like Tommy Chong and Woody Harrelson. Then why was I 180 miles east?

I was in for a Man –I-juana weekend. It was a week ends of firsts and of high danger. This was not a Kumbaya love fest where everyone holds hands. This was a joint smoking, beer swilling, everyone grabs a shovel to save the Farm weekend. I got in late Friday evening when one of my clients called about Chelan being fired and what was his coverages. From that we developed a plan.

We were going to talk in the morning and evaluate the situation, get power running and the farm up and running. The farm survived the night as it raged on one mountain side. The sheriff ordered an Evacuation level three (everyone out because of danger) and at one point told them that ‘they wanted that pot farm to burn to the ground.’

When I showed up the entrance to the valley was blocked and the sheriff was not letting anyone in. By checking the map, I saw that there were other entrances that got to where I needed to be so I found a secondary route into the valley. I got to drive over some power lines and headed to the farm.

I had my first introduction to the team and the first silver bullet for the night. There was ash raining down in the air as we checked the electrical lines for the greenhouses. Since everything was 110 plugs, it was a matter of running electrical cords with a generator. I had a 135 watt solar panel with an 800 watt inverter attached to the deep cycle battery. I need a better battery pack and possibly a stronger inverter. It was weird that with so much going on there was no cell services so my wife wouldn’t get my call until I hitched a ride into town.

Before diner a woodpile flared up across the way and so we grabbed shovels and went for it. A couple of the neighbors showed up with an Orchard sprayer and shovels. The neighbors were amazed that an Insurance guy would be out in the smoke with everyone and they gripped that they couldn’t get coverage for their cherries. There was a good dirt road to act as a barrier and the first appearance of the fire department. We hung out and found out that they weren’t going to do anything major until structures were threatened. This means that crops and livestock were not on the list to be saved and for the most part we were on our own.

We retreated for the food and to watch the hillside slowly burn. Booze, burgers and joints were passed around as we talked under the glow of the wildfire until one by one the majority crawled into a bed. There were rockslides, burning logs and bleating goats to wake everyone on a regular basis. Every couple of hours a spot light from the road would shine up at the fires. We would all say to each other, ’Yup that’s a fire,’ to highlight the ridiculous attitude of the officials. A few of the guys stood watch throughout the night. We knew if it hit the hay field then we could lose everything in a firestorm.

I rolled out of bed around 5:30 as the fire was to the first hay field. The fire department finally made an appearance with an engine. After a coffee run and what seemed like hours of debate. They finally let the farmer disk the field and the fire to burn itself out. We retreated again for food and work as the fire department watched the situation from a comfortable distance.

After we got generators up and running for the green house fans, it was pretty clear that the action was done and my smoky butt should go home. After a day and a half, I felt like I rubbed myself with cheap grocery store bacon. We learned some good lessons.

1. Don’t expect the police to be friendly despite doing a legal business.
2. Do expect the power to go out.
3. Do build a way to defend property against fire and a team that will fight.
4. Do look at insurance coverages for property to give you options.

Man –I-juana is a the can do spirit of the entrepreneur that will fight to build an industry. Will stand and deliver when others run from the fight. You may never see any of the guys that I say on a main stage celibrating, they are too busy with the hard work of fighting fires with shovels.

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