Weathering the Storm
A brief but mighty storm roared through last night at about 5pm. Our dogs trembled and stuck to us like glue while the rain and hail battered our house, and strong winds rushed through our shop throwing many items askew. After the storm had passed, we walked the farm to make sure everything was alright. We knew our power was out and there was a line down on our neighbor’s drive. This in itself makes for a lot of work with our many freezers of meat and fresh veggies to keep cool in the summer heat.
After straightening up the shop and setting up a generator, we went to the chickens to be sure everyone was ok. In our 6 years of having the General Chicken (our tank-like moveable chicken house, pictured below), it has never had any problems, but the very strong winds last night blew it over. We were able to get it right side up and repair the damage to the house, but sadly, we lost about 10 laying hens.
Next was to run over to the cows to make sure no trees were down on our fence and no cows had breeched the perimeter. Cows were all where they were supposed to be and just stared at us as we ran up – storms don’t bother them; they’re pretty hardy animals. Claire walked through many poison ivy patches to check the perimeter, while Marc moved the cows to new grass and filled their water. A total of 6 trees were down on our fence, so Marc had to chainsaw in the pouring rain a bit later. Then it was back to this side of the creek to make sure all pigs were safe. Everyone was fine, perhaps a little shaken, but some scrap watermelon solved that problem. Two more trees were down on this side’s fence. Whew. (For those who do not know, electricity is vital to our operation because it allows us to rotate our animals easily, with moveable electric fence. It protects the chickens by keeping predators at bay, and also allows us to section up the pasture for porcine and bovine rotational grazing. Without electricity and these lightweight fences, we wouldn’t be able to manage the animals like we do. Instead we’d have to build a lot of wooden fences to section off the pastures, as each day the cows get about a 1/2 acre to eat.)
Marc spent the evening and most of the night hooking up different freezer plug into the generator. Finally Duke showed up at midnight and worked til about 4am to get the power on. Makes a person want to go off the grid!
Thank you CSA members and customers for helping us buy the tools to keep this farm operational and rolling. Our chainsaw started up flawlessly 7 times in the rain to cut up the fallen trees with a half hour to spare before sunset. The Bobcat and John Deere helped us flip the 5000 lb layer house back on its wheels and then compost the 10 unfortunate chickens that ran the wrong way when the house flipped. The John Deere towed a trailer of scraps to the pigs to keep them distracted while the electric fences were brought back into operation. The generator kept all 7 chest freezers and 2 refrigerators cool until the power came back at 4AM. I know we say that we live a kind of old-fashioned lifestyle, but this ain’t no low-tech farm! Hope everyone else stayed dry and safe during the storm. And let’s hope that the system that is coming through over the next few days does not do any more damage.