How To Deal With Tornadoes On The Homestead

Tree Damaged Roof
Dealing With Tornadoes On The Homestead

You’ve seen them on TV, or in our case on The Weather Channel dot com, since we don’t have a television. Kind of exciting, tornadoes are, from afar. That is, until you experience one first hand. Mostly in the mid-west, you’ll see video clips of these destructive twisters carrying heavy rain and hail, and high enough winds to uproot a tree in your front yard. Or even carry a house away.

Monday July 18 2016 began with a list of jobs to be taken care of. I wasn’t feeling great because of multiple yellow jacket stings to my left hand, which left me with a low energy level. I had checked the weather forecast which every pilot, sailor and farmer does several times a day. Last Monday called for a good chance of rain and thunderstorms in the first of the morning forecast. When I noticed the clouds becoming thick, heavy and dark, I checked the weather again. This time the forecast carried a special weather statement: Significant chance of tornadoes in our county, in fact our town was on the list that could be affected.

I pulled the field onions, both yellow and red, and loaded them into the lawn cart and parked it near the shed. Then I fired up the rototiller and tilled where the onions had been, and tilled in some organic matter, which I do now and then. And then planted some late season kale where the onions had been. By this time, say, around two in the afternoon, we stopped for lunch. The clouds were really becoming dark now. Another check of the weather and the chance of a strong storm was a certainty. I took the goats out of their pasture and secured them safely in their barn stalls. Later I would be so glad that I did.

As we ate lunch I noticed it becoming really dark. I mean, REALLY dark. So much so that I lit the little lantern that we keep on the kitchen table. Knowing that we were in for a nice summertime thunderstorm, I suggested that we have our lunch on the front porch so that we might ‘enjoy’ the event even more. Ha Ha. We chose not to do this, and it was a good thing. Moments later where we would have been sitting, a maple tree occupied that spot. Back in the kitchen, the lightening was striking all around us and repeatedly. Then the hail. Oh, what a hail storm! The forecast called for quarter-size hail, though this was probably dime-size.

All of a sudden I heard a thud. I figured a tree had fallen out front somewhere. Where I sit at the kitchen table I can see the road out front. A car pulled in the driveway, lights on. I thought they just wanted to be off the road for a few moments, but when it coasted closer to the house I went to the front porch to see what was up. That was when I noticed the maple tree gracing the front of the house, all the way up and over the ridge. Ugh! The frame of the house seemed okay, but a few metal roofing panels were damaged. I figured I could handle the repairs myself. All in all, not too bad. It looked worse that it was. Removing the tree might prove interesting, but considering, we were not in bad shape. I determined all of this with a glance.

The driver of the car, Monica, came into the house and sat out the rest of the storm with us. Turned out we know her, so it was good to catch up on some gossip as the storm was winding down. Then we three went outside to investigate. The road was a war zone. Trees and electrical wires down everywhere. Needless to say, we had lost our power. Looking at the carnage, I guessed that we would not have power till the end of the week. Little did I know at the time, but our electricity would be back on in less that forty-eight hours. The crews of CMP and Lucas Tree are amazing! I cannot begin to explain how impressed I am with them, and their professionalism.

Luckily, we have a primitive solar panel set-up. Danielle and I have been talking and researching our next step in expanding the solar array. We have also talked about getting a hand pump on the well, or digging another well with a hand pump. With our solar we cannot run the refrigerator nor well pump. But we can and did run lights, coffee grinding, and cell phone charger, etcetera. Between that and the dry compost toilet, we were in pretty good shape to be without power.

The animals were all okay. Luckily I had the foresight to put them away in the barn when I did. The greenhouse experienced torn plastic, but no structural damage. I am going to remove the rest of the plastic for the remainder of the summer, which will actually be good for the soil inside. Field crops did not fair as well. We lost allot of leafy greens and tomatoes outside the big greenhouse. The smaller greenhouse, which did not get any damage and which contains sixty plum tomato plants, did really well. Leek and potato plant leaves were damaged from the hail, but are green so far. Have to keep an eye on them, but they might make it. The indestructible zucchinis are making a come back, so lock your car doors. All in all, we were lucky with regard to the garden.
Hail-damaged Leeks

Two days later on Wednesday, I removed the tree from the house. Danielle was right; the trunk is fourteen inches in diameter; I thought it was bigger. The first several cuts at the trunk were a tad scary for this undisciplined chainsaw-ist, I but managed to get the job done. Brenda was right: Lots of firewood.

The only remaining work to be done is to replace some metal roofing panels and trim, which is on order. After all is said and done, we have a lot to be thankful for, in that no one was injured.

Stephanie Reiser

About Stephanie Reiser

After many years in retail sales, writing, and part-time editing for a small newspaper in New York, I began studying organic gardening and farming, and animal husbandry. I began to read a lot about homesteading, off-grid living, consumerism, materialism, economics, and economic history.