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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Blown Away . . . Nearly

Things always go crazy here on the farm when Ethan is in town. After I finished my lawn mower post, I looked outside to see the boar and feeder pigs had broken out of their pen. Our land is completely saturated with all of the rain we have had, and they are just popping posts out of the ground. Ethan was playing softball and didn't have his phone on so I started rounding up the the feeders. By the time his game was over, I had most of them in. We got the rest of them and the boar in around 10:15 - after they had had some fun in the shed with the feed bags.

Last night was an even crazier night. There were more storms, and this time they were bringing tornadoes. One particular cell, that had a tornado on the ground about 35 - 40 minutes from our house, was slowly making its way east - right on track to where we live. Ethan was on his way home from Des Moines, and actually took a different route to avoid the tornado area while the tornado was on the ground. I was here at home with the kids: Caleb now 6, Hannah -4, and Isaac 19 mo.

We don't have a TV due to reception issues in our house, but we have a NOAA weather radio, and I get NOAA updates on my e-mail. They usually give a good amount of warning time so I was watching them really closely. And I was watching the sky looked uglier and uglier. It soon got quite dark and started raining. I rechecked my e-mail and didn't see any "take shelter" updates and there hadn't been anything come across the radio so I thought I would wait a bit longer before going to the storm shelter. We haven't cozied it up yet with benches and things, and since I didn't know how fast the storm was coming I didn't want to spend an unnecessary 30 minutes or more down there.

I should have listened to my instincts, however, about the sky rather than waiting for the weather radio. Almost simultaneously, the wind got crazy, I saw the hog feeder blowing across the yard as the kids' wooden playset was blown into the hog fence, and the weather radio started going off. I didn't take time to listen to it. (It turned out that from my NOAA e-mail that I read later it was the tornado warning), I grabbed my kids, who were in hysterics about the playset, and headed out to the storm shelter.

When I got to the end of the porch, which is protected from the wind, I wondered how I was going to get all 3 kids 15 feet to the shelter by myself at once. I didn't want to take them in shifts because I didn't really know what was going on out there. So I held tight to Isaac and told Caleb and Hannah to run.

I will admit that is when I got a bit freaked out. We managed to get to the storm shelter, but I could hardly get the door open due to the wind. I had to hold Isaac with one arm while pulling on the door with the other. I vividly remember seeing Isaac leaning away from me and feeling as if he was being pulled out of my arm. At the same time, Caleb and Hannah were being blown to the ground, away from the storm shelter. Every time they would stand up, they would get blown down away from the door again. After I managed to get the door open and got myself wedged in front of it, I was able to use my free hand to pull them back over to the door.

Once we were all down, I called Ethan to tell him to just stay where he was at. And I as I was sitting in our "glorified septic tank turned on side" - without benches, I had never felt safer and cozier!

30 minutes later, I half expected to come out and see something completely blown apart or away, but the only thing missing was the cows. Their water wagon had gone on a ride through their temporary fencing, thanks to the wind, and they had gotten out. I noticed that the pigs were also starting to get out where the playset had hit the fence. I got them in before they went too far, fixed the fence (quick fix), and then went inside and waited to round up cows (they turned out to not be too far) until Ethan got home (who had to turn around and take another route because of a tree across the road).

I am curious to just how strong the winds were and am thankful they were just strong winds. It looks like most things can be put back together just fine, including the playset. Although we would have been fine staying in the house, and although I miss having a basement, I'm glad we have our shelter - and next time I might just head there a bit earlier!

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Ryan Marquardt said...

We have often wondered how to get small kids from the house to the shelter. My shelter has been getting about 18 inches of water seeping up through the floor every day. I keep a small pump set-up in there so I pump it out every day.

That is way too close for comfort and very scary. I hope it is not something you will ever have to repeat.

I have had a lot of trouble with keeping the cattle and sheep in (they run as one herd) recently so I can sympathies with you livestock containment struggles.

Nancy M. said...

Wow! That is so scary! I am so glad y'all are okay and that it was just strong winds and not a tornado!

The Beginning Farmer's Wife said...


How far away is your shelter? When Ethan is home, it isn't that bad. He carries the older two and I take Isaac. I will have to just plan on going early if I am ever home alone - maybe take some snacks and stuff. Thankfully ours is tiled and still drains, so we haven't had a water problem.

This rain and muck is causing problems for everyone it sounds. Our pigs were out 3 or 4 times today. I forgot. I know there are lots of people stressed about hay too. Hope your livestock behave soon and that it dries out just as soon!

Enjoy that little one!!

Emma said...

I am so glad you made it safely to the shelter and everything turned out ok. God was certainly looking out for you.


yikes! that's so scary! glad it all worked out.

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