May 16, 2013 by Carrie Mess
Here in Southern Wisconsin, Tuesday was a beautiful day. After a cold weekend and a Monday that struggled to get to 60 degrees the almost temps reaching almost 80 on Tuesday was extra nice. Being as that I am a Wisconsin girl I know that temperature swings like that usually come with storms, but the forecast for the day was nothing but sunshine. Not only was there no storms called for on Tuesday, there wasn’t even rain in the forecast until Friday! This was great news for us because we need some dry weather so that the ground dries out enough for us to plant our fields.
Then sometime around 6:30 on Tuesday night I noticed that it was getting cloudy pretty fast while I was out picking asparagus. No big deal, clouds scmouds, right? I hopped in the car and took some asparagus up the road to the farm for my in-law’s. On the way up I stopped to take some photos of the clouds.
Wow… That looks pretty cool.
Boy, it sure looks like it’s going to storm…
So, I checked the radar. I mean, there was no way that clouds like this wouldn’t result in a storm, right? On the radar it showed a few somewhat angry looking dots just to our South. It looked like we might just miss the storm by a few miles. I dropped off the asparagus, checked in with my husband who was finishing up milking cows and headed back home. As I pulled into our driveway the wind started. I watched a cloud of dust kick up in the field across the road from our house. From my truck I watched it as it crossed the field, then the road, then came up our driveway and I felt the wind hit my truck. The truck shook a little as the dirt hit it. The maple trees started to shimmy and shake. In my rearview mirror I could see that there was a rainbow over our barn. I had an important decision to make… do I run for the house or do I get the photo?
Sometimes my decision making leaves a lot to be desired. This photo is a little blurry, that’s because the wind was strong enough to make it impossible to hold the camera still. I got 2 shots before a branch smacked some sense into me.
The wind got stronger.
I kept waiting to hear the weather radio go off with a warning but it stayed silent, even as the winds got so strong that they blew a few of our empty calf hutches into the driveway. I called Hubs to check on things at the farm but there was no answer. By this time the wind had to have been at least 50mph. I knew this wasn’t good. Then my phone rang. It was our neighbor calling to tell me that our silo cap was gone. The one with the American flag on it in the photo. It had been knocked loose in an earlier storm. We don’t keep feed in the silos so it wasn’t a priority to fix. I can’t see the silo top from inside the house so I snuck out the back door.
And I started to swear… not just that the silo cap was missing but I knew that wherever it landed it was going to be a problem. It was still storming like crazy but I started booking it to the backyard, where the silo cap had likely landed and where we have a small group of heifers on pasture. I made it back there in time to see the heifers start to run. Piece of the silo cap were in their pasture. Empty calf hutches sent flying by the wind had taken out the fence. The heifers were scared and they did what scared heifers do, they ran. At this time Hubs called me back. I got out that the silo cap was gone and that the heifers were out, I needed his help. He got out that he was currently holding onto calves that had suddenly found their hutches lifted off of them and thrown across the driveway. He was slightly unavailable to help, meanwhile the calves that I was following were across the field and not slowing down. Did I mention that it was getting dark and these heifers were mostly black? Did I mention that these heifers were born last fall and they can run very fast?
With the help of some neighbors pointing us in the direction they last saw the heifers running we (this became a group project) were able to track them down. As the heifer runs they had travelled over a mile from our farm.
Can you see the calves in the photo? Thankfully after their run they were tired and cooperated with us when we arranged some trucks and our livestock trailer into a catch pen and loaded them up to take them home. Bribing them with grain didn’t hurt.
We ate dinner at 11pm that night after checking all of our animals and buildings. The next morning we were better able to get a look at the damage.
All in all, nothing horrible happened. We are all safe and nothing major is damaged. We lost a few hutches and will have to spend time fixing a few roofs, fences but what we had happen to us was nothing compared to a farm not far from us who lost animals when parts of their barn were blown in. What we had was nothing compared to the people in Granbury and Cleburn TX who lost loved ones and all of their possessions last night. My little sister lives in the area that was in the path of that tornado. While I spent a bunch of time cursing the weather here before I knew how bad it was for others, I said prayers of thanks once my perspective was broadened.
It really is all about perspective isn’t it?