Storm Update

Sharon August 30th, 2011

o we made it through. Let me just note, however, that anyone who says that Irene was a wimpy storm that didn’t do much damage shoulda been here. We’re safe, but it was a near thing.

We had close to 9 inches of rain and wind gusts that I’d estimate above 60mph – they took down two big locust trees and several willows. One of the locusts came down 10 feet from the buck barn where the buck goats and the calves were, another 10 feet from the rear of the house, while my kids were sitting in the room reading. Our enormous beech tree was entirely surrounded by the rushing creek (it is normally well up on the banks) and it rocked and creaked a few times, but did not come down, which is a good thing, since it would have taken out a good chunk of the house.

Both barns held up well – they got a little wet but not too bad, and will need only minor repairs. The goats are presently outside clearing fallen brush, and in the net pretty happy that these yummy trees came down. After they are done with them, we’ll move on to firewood.

The creek did cross its banks, but the house is on enough of a rise that we didn’t flood – but again, it was a nearer thing than we’ve had before. My neighbor, she of the shared sheep was not as lucky – she evacuated, her home flooded and her livestock are spread among friends and neighbors. Our friends down in the Schoharie Valley and at the lower ends of Schenectady have it very rough.

We lost power on Sunday afternoon, which worked out very well, since the sump pump ran most of the day. We were out until this morning, which again, isn’t anything I can complain about – we’ve had longer outages in winter from random storms. As always, we’re pretty power-loss ready.

Besides the trees and one of the barn doors ripped apart by the winds, the biggest loss was my garden – the main garden was under nearly 2 feet of water. I had debated harvesting a lot of things on Saturday, but elected to spend the day at a foster parent event instead. I lost a lot of stuff – including, sadly a lot of the flowers that were slated for table and bimah decorations at a friend’s bar mitzvah this weekend – I’ve been planning all summer for this event, but most of the flowers were blown down or broken. I’m working on finding more, but a lot of the farms around here have similar damage Still, this should be the worst thing that ever happens to us! A few broken flowers and rotting squash are small potatoes.

I’m not sorry I spent Saturday at the foster parenting event, however, instead of harvesting. Some of you (who track my stuff on facebook) will know that we were called on Wednesday to take a group of five kids (and no, not the same group of five kids that they wanted us to take the previous week, believe it or not), several of whom were suffering some severe health problems due to neglect. We got the call Wednesday afternoon and expected to have the children (ages 6 1/2 to 5 weeks) arrive that evening, then we were called suddenly and told that the judge removed only one of the children, the one who was actually hospitalized.

We weren’t able to find out a lot more information immediately afterwards, and I admit, I’ve been losing sleep worrying about the kids not being safe. I hadn’t intended to spend my Saturday afternoon at this picnic, but went in the hopes of getting more info on the kids. Fortunately, it worked – I met someone involved with the case who was able to tell me that in this case, she thought the decision was right. The parents are young, overwhelmed and have missed some major medical issues they should have caught – but from ignorance. The parents needed services and support – and now they will get them. I have to say, that did more to let me sleep well than knowing the basement was dry.

The creek has gone down enough that I’m not scared either the kids or the baby goats will fall in and drown, and I’m grateful for our near miss. I don’t usually put “hurricane” on the list of major threats to upstate NY, but I might as well add it to the list of reasons why I’m glad we stay prepared.

I hope all of you are safe and well. Please let us know how things came through in your neck of the woods!

3 Responses to “Storm Update”

  1. Casey says:

    Sharon, thanks for posting. I’ve been worried about your family and wee baby goats. I am down here in sunny Florida and went through Hurricane andrew in 1992, front row seat,so I know first hand that wind is not to be taken lightly and this year has been a year of wind.
    Unfortunately, there is another queued up in hurricane alley….already 40mph and lots of warm ocean to cover.
    take care. Glad to hear the damage is minimal.

  2. Raye says:

    I was blessing you for days last week, as I made final batten-down preparations for Irene.

    I bless you for the encouragement and information, for preparing to do without amenities. Mostly, I have a better ability to think through likely scenarios and have Plans B, C and D in mind.

    It was really raining starting Saturday evening. We brought the ducks into the storm shelter. I’m guessing we got about nine inches of rain total. The big winds were Sunday and Sunday night for us.

    The kale I planted on the hugelkultur bed were mostly okay. Timing was in our favor – the sprouts were just a half inch tall – too short to blow over, but rooted deeply enough to stay put. And up on the raised bed, which is about 30 inches high, the two inches of rushing stream of runoff didn’t touch them. Note to self: some taller raised beds are a good idea.

    Similar story with the collards and buckwheat – high enough to be out of the rain, low enough to miss some of the wind.

    Saturday early morning, I heard a crack-thump. It was about 25 feet of a dead birch snag falling about that distance from the house. The sugar maple and pignut hickory held up like champs.

    We lost power 5:06 a.m. Sunday morning. It came back around 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

    The manual well pump was installed Friday, up and running by 2 p.m. Just in time.

    We had everything we needed and more.

    We cooked a few meals in the solar oven, very easy to do. I lost my rocket stove mojo, meaning it took me over half an hour to get it working correctly the first couple of times, but by the third meal I was getting it back.

    Glad I am beginning to can some things – we lost some items in our small freezer. This reinforces my preference to can, dehydrate, and grow fresh.

    For next time, I want a better transition plan for things from refrigerator and freezer. In fact, I know I want to get away from using that appliance at all, but another household member feels differently.

    The well pump has already improved community in the neighborhood. A few neighbors seemed interested or impressed. In fact, one neighbor has already come by once to grab some water as I had welcomed her to do.

  3. Jerry Grabarek says:

    Here in SE Connecticut many are still waiting for power as we just had ours restored today after 5 days without. We have generators to milk and run water but you have to be careful not to overload.
    Our baseball themed corn maze took a big hit and is currently on the disabled list with possible season ending injuries. I design the maze myself and spent many hours cutting paths with a half Fenway Park half Yankee Stadium design. Decision time will be next week when the rest of my silage corn will be harvested. That corn also suffered around a 30% loss. Such is farming.
    We had only about three inches of rain from Irene so flooding was not a problem. We did have extreme downdrafts that led to some corn being flattened while other areas not affected. My Holsteins were unaffected yet I had a lot of fence to check and some wild cherry that had to be cleared up and removed to prevent prussic acid poisoning. All in all it was just more work just like a major snowstorm.

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