Deosa Wholefoods owner Sophie Ramos holds one of the feathered survivors from the bushfires that destroyed several Nymboida properties at the weekend.
Deosa Wholefoods owner Sophie Ramos holds one of the feathered survivors from the bushfires that destroyed several Nymboida properties at the weekend. Adam Hourigan

Sophie's choice: 'I didn't want to leave them'

IF you had just one hour to pack up your home and evacuate from a bushfire, what would you take?

For the Ramos family of Deosa Wholefoods in Grafton, it was an easy choice: their animals.

But after securing their sheep, dogs and cat for the journey, time had run out. The Ramos family were faced with the difficult decision to either stay and rescue their 50 chickens or leave them behind at their Nymboida property.

"I was so distressed; I didn't want to leave them, but we had to or we wouldn't have gotten out," Sophie Ramos said.

In a last-ditch effort to prolong their chances of survival, the family watered the orchards next to the chicken pen before evacuating.

"I was just praying that they would survive... hoping that they would get away," she said.

After the inferno passed, the family returned to their property in the hopes of finding any survivors.

"We heard that we lost everything, and when we got there, our house was gone," Ms Ramos said.

But upon reaching the chicken coop, Ms Ramos couldn't believe what she saw.

"The orchards were still green and all of the chickens, except for two had survived," she said.

"We worked out that the ones that had roosted inside the coop had survived because they were protected from the grass fire underneath."

Ms Ramos said her husband returned later that night to rescue the chickens, bring them to Grafton and work out where to put them.

"We had them all out the back of the shop in our cars and the very lovely Lindy from A Touch of Paradise let us park in her backyard while we tried to re-pack everybody," she said.

Despite the traumatic experience, Ms Ramos said the roosters in the flock still kept up with their duties a few hours later.

"We couldn't believe it; they started crowing at the crack of dawn like nothing had happened!" she said.

"The Grafton CBD sounded like a farm that morning."

The chickens have since been temporarily re-homed.

Deosa Wholefoods will aim to reopen their Grafton café this Friday.



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