As the Boss headed out to the Market, I began to do the farm
chores for the morning. Neither of us
knew exactly what to expect of what was going to be anything but a regular
Market Saturday. We DID know that the
way to town was clear and that the animals had survived. Any other information had completely eluded
us as this point. We wondered if there would be any other vendors…or for that
matter, any customers.
Without the benefit of electricity overnight, cell phone
batteries were beginning to die. I
figured I could charge my phone in the car on the way to town, so we would have
some way to communicate throughout the day. Neither of us realized that the
wireless system was severely damaged and would cause ongoing problems for days. When the Boss got to town, he was relieved to
find that the Wharf (the area where the Market is held) was the one island of
electricity in all of Staunton. His call
eased some of my concerns. Our Market
freezer would stay frozen and the band that was performing at the Market would
have power. Maybe things weren’t so bad after all.
I took my camera along as I did chores. This would allow the Boss to see what damage
had occurred in the black of night.
|used irrigation tape and fencing from in front of the barn|
blew UP the hill to the backyard
|Shingles in backyard|
|no seedlings were damaged when the shingles|
broke the greenhouse roof
Uh-oh…missed this in my nocturnal check. Shingles damaged the polycarbonate roof of
the greenhouse. There are a couple of
holes in the roof. Fortunately, nothing
was damaged right over the plants. I had
watered heavily the night before in anticipation of a hot day, so the seedlings
would be fine until we came up with a plan, despite the fact we had no electricity
for circulating fans and the well pump.
Check out the shadecloth for the hoophouse! I guess we should be thankful for the trees. Without them, who KNOWS where that shadecloth would have landed.
The sheep, lambs, hens and baby broilers had absolutely no
issues. The ewes did seem more flighty
than usual, but they were all there and ate…so, onward to other things. A check of the broiler pen out back revealed
some damage to the top that apparently allowed some varmint access to the
interior of the pen. Yes, one broiler
had been supper (or midnight snack) for something. However, things could have been so much
worse, so I cleaned up the mess and continued my rounds.
|Big Catalpa tree|
(or what's left of it)
As I pulled out the lane and released a HUGE sigh of relief,
I noticed a tree down in the road on past our lane. Oh dear!
A large catalpa tree had broken and fallen across the road. It was obvious that someone had used a
chainsaw on it, and pushed the mess into the ditch on the other side of the
road. That explained the noises I had
heard earlier. There was one tree down
on one side of Danny’s truck and another on the far side. I thought how lucky he was. I didn’t notice until later that his generally
garage-kept BMW was right there in the middle with a limb sticking out of the
top of it! Oh, poor Danny!
|Big pine in "Pinetree Paddock"|
I stopped at our mailbox to mail a letter and looked back up
the hill. WOW! The biggest of the pines
out front had been cracked neatly in two!
I looked again, trying to understand just what I was seeing. Goodness, no wonder the ewes were
frightened! They had been in that
paddock overnight and it was miraculous that none of them had been injured as
they generally graze under the trees in the evening. Thankfully, there seemed
to be no other damage.
The trip to town was uneventful. The damage that was visible in the daylight
was far worse than it had appeared in the glow of the headlights. Big trees were down everywhere, Woody’s hay
barn had lost its roof and RG’s corn….oh, dear…RG’s corn…the whole field of
corn had been snapped in half. Ugh, I
felt kind of sick. When I got to the Market, all the vendors were trading “war
stories”. It seemed that WE may have
gotten off fairly easy. There were
multiple reports of hoophouse disasters…torn plastic and bent frames. There were LOTS of trees down and many
blocked roads. Very few folks had power.
As the customers started shopping for the day, the extent of
the damage became apparent. The area
affected was incredibly widespread. Only later would we learn that the damage
covered multiple states, not just our Valley. The newspaper had no news, as it
had gone to press before the storm. Cell
service became spotty, intermittent, and in many cases, non-existent. The reports from radio and television were inconclusive,
incoherent…and in many cases…wrong.
People began relying on hearsay to keep them informed. Many folks had
far more severe damage than we had sustained here on the hill. Totaled cars, uprooted trees, and damaged
housing were among the reports. All
morning, we heard sirens and saw fire and rescue rushing off to the scene of
yet another calamity. The fire trucks
were only outnumbered by the loads of branches and debris headed to the
Despite all the chaos, there were many sales at the Market. We
actually sold a lot of produce. The heat of the day began to wear on everyone,
and the closing bell came none too soon.
As we packed up to head home, I wondered what we would find when we got
back “to the ranch”. With the shadecloth
off the hoophouse, it was going to turn into a big oven very quickly with the
high temperatures and the bright sunshine. That would mean the end to our
beautiful lettuce crop, so time would be of the essence.
What to do with the Market leftovers? How long could we run the freezers on the
generator? Six freezers and two big
walk-in coolers and one fairly small, geriatric generator made for a real
concerning combination. We brainstormed
If we consolidated the freezers…if we cut off one cooler…if
we rationed our own electrical consumption…maybe we would be okay. I mean, this couldn’t last more than a day or
so…right? The cooler stuff and
logistical planning would have to wait.
That hoophouse was getting HOT!
|Hoophouse withOUT shadecloth. |
It even LOOKS hot!
When we first walked out to survey the damage, I was more
than a little overwhelmed. The wind had
severed all the connections that kept the shadecloth on the hoophouse. The Boss
didn’t think he had any extra rope to re-attach the cover. The shadecloth was draped over the fence with
a large portion of it had been impaled on a big poplar branch. I really didn’t
see how we could salvage it. The Boss
headed off for his boden-dick stick and instructed me to remove the cloth from
the barbwire fence the best I could.
|We never complete a job without Booooyyy's assistance!|
Booooyyy showed up to help.
boden-dick stick was long enough and strong enough and we retrieved the
shadecloth. See, some good DID come out
of saving that old thing left over from the Boss’ days with the power
company! The damage to the shadecloth
wasn’t quite as extensive as we first feared.
It really needed to be replaced prior to the damage, so we will just
re-order shadecloth sooner than we planned. The re-attachment went rather
smoothly, although the reflective heat made both of us feel slightly odd and
|using the Bodendick stick to retrieve the|
|The shadecloth has some MAJOR holes in it, but once applied|
lowered the temperature by about 20*.
On to the cooler/freezer project. After identifying which
circuit controlled each of the six shop freezers, we made a decision as to how
to best consolidate our electricity usage.
We quickly dumped all the stuff from the Market freezer and one other
freezer into a third one. This got us
down to five freezers from the original seven (counting the Market freezer)
While it wasn’t the perfect scenario, it was an improvement.
Now, what to do about cooler space? Somehow, we needed to
cram everything into one unit. Since
there are well over one hundred cabbages in the reefer, the decision was fairly
easy. We got all the essentials out of
the cooler and shut it down. The
leftover stuff would die a slow and painful death…but, it really needed
cleaning anyway, I just didn’t plan on doing it in the middle of the season. Blech! That wasNOT a job I was eagerly anticipating.
With the logistics out of the way, the Boss’ thoughts turned
again to fuel. Generators aren’t
designed for high efficiency gas mileage. We also have a limited number of gas
cans. Another trip to the gas station was in order. We knew much of Staunton
was still out of power. All of Draft had
power, as ascertained by talking to our kids who live over that way. We decided to head that direction this time.
Maybe we would pick up supper on the way home.
The first gas station had cordoned off all the pumps. NO
GAS! The second station had blocked the
entrance. NO GAS! My visions of
apocalypse returned to the forefront of my thinking. The third gas station had a long line…but,
gas was in good supply. They even had a
restaurant! Things were looking up. The
heat of the day had left me with little appetite but an unquenchable desire for
ICE. Those young ladies making sandwiches in the hot restaurant while
maintaining cheerful attitudes should have been commended.
We headed home with our gasoline and hoped to re-route the
electric load so that we could watch the evening news while we ate our subs and
relished our iced drinks. The news was somewhat disturbing, in that the damage
was horrific and unprecedented and incredibly widespread. But, we had gas, we were safe, the animals and
crops were okay, and the generator was running. We would figure the rest of
this out as we went along…because there was no other choice…
“Country folks WILL survive”.