Saturday, September 8, 2012

Farm Happenings . . . and then the Hail

This post was begun yesterday . . . and finished today. How quickly things can change! 
As you shall see . . . 

As I sit here putting together this post, thunder is rumbling in the distance . . . and it is coming closer! Since our last over three inch rain, we have had two more small rains, and now another rain is on the way. What a blessing all of it has been!

 Only a few days after the remnants of Isaac moved through, there was a very notable difference outdoors . . . things were green and growing! In fact, I had to mow today as the grass had grown so much! Thanks to all of the rain, we are on our way out of the drought slowly, but surely . . . we've stepped down from being in an 'exceptional drought' to 'extreme' and maybe only a 'severe' drought. (That still sounds bad, but at least it isn't the worst drought level there is anymore!)

Life has been pleasantly busy here, and these end of summer days have been wonderful. Several different times as of late, I went out and photographed a bit of what is going on around here on the farm so have a lot of photos to share! 

Dad just recently finished a cage hanging system for our rabbits which is very nice! Through the unusually hot summer, we had to improvise with the rabbits as the lean-to shed we had had them in was way too hot for them during the day. So during the night they were moved into the chain link chicken pen to prevent raccoons from getting to them, and during the day, they were all moved out into the shade under the trees. It was rather labor intensive, and little by little as Dad built the new area for them, fewer and fewer cages of rabbits needed to be moved.

It is a hanging cage system, with PVC pipe covering the posts so that no predators can crawl/climb up them. We still need to built a permanent cover over top of them, but right now, scrap plywood is doing the job! This new setup has made chores so much easier . . . and with over 20 adult rabbits, that is a blessing! We have four more does due in the next few days (Leah put nestboxes in with two of them today), and then we have two litters that were just recently weaned . . .

The goats are enjoying the cooler temperatures and the green grass! It is so nice to have something for them to browse a bit on again.


Little Flint . . . we're wondering if his being born so early and then laying out in the cold rain before we found him caused him some damage. He just doesn't seem quite 'right', and he is growing SO slowly. He sure is sweet, though!

Aurora and Legacy munching on hay . . . their primary source of food right now given the lack of browse and grass that we had. Slowly that is improving!

 One of our hens out free-ranging . . . on beautiful green grass!

Gunner's new hoop house that was built in the rain

Busy bees!

 The rain has caused flowers to begin blooming again which we are thankful for! Hopefully all of the hives will be able to build up enough (without sugar syrup!) to make it through the winter.

Newly planted spinach growing in the garden

One of two watermelons growing on our plants . . . our vine crops did very poorly this year, but at least it looks like we'll get at least one or two melons!

The tomato plants have rebounded from the drought, heat and blister beetles like we never could have imagined! If the fall frost holds off for another month and a half or so, we should have another big tomato crop!

Tomato flowers

The wild plum trees produced very few plums this year (again due to the drought and heat) so I wasn't able to can any jelly with them. The few red fruits brightened up the trees, though!

The day before the remnants of hurricane Isaac arrived, Leah and I put new tarps on two of the hoop houses . . .

The goats thought the tarp was something to play with at first. :)

Leah, with ever-present and curious Dixie, working on attaching the tarp to the cattle panels (Dixie loves to be by us whenever we are out there!)

Our new Alpine buck, Classic! I have been meaning to 'introduce' him here for awhile . . . we had been looking for a buck to breed to our does this fall and we were able to find one that was exactly what we were looking for! He is a sweetheart, and he and little Flint have become quite the buddies.


That is as far I had gotten with this post when the 'ping' of small hail hitting the windows and a quick check of the weather revealed that the storm had upgraded to severe. I quickly shut down the computer and headed downstairs. By that time, the hail was pounding down . . . first marble size, then golf ball, then tennis ball intermixed with smaller and even some larger hail than that. It was hail like I have never seen before.   

(All of the photos of the storm were taken towards the beginning of it . . . I was too distracted - by listening to mom's phone conversation with Ryan (he was on the road home when the storm hit, but thankfully, where he was wasn't as bad as where we live and he was able to make it home okay!), trying to check on animals through the windows, and more - to try photographing during the thick of it!)

The wind was so very strong and the air was a swirl of leaves, hail, and rain. It was coming down so heavy that we couldn't see past a few feet out the windows. The noise of the hail on the roof was deafening. And our goats! We could hear our newest goat as of this past Thursday bleating and bleating in a panic. Were they all all right? Were the hoop house shelters still standing? We couldn't see if they were or not.

The storm increased in intensity and with the rotating winds, we were beginning to wonder if it was turning tornadic. But as our power had gone out right when the storm began, we couldn't check the weather. Slowly but surely the hail lessened, the wind died down.

The thunder and lightening kept up for quite awhile so we weren't able to go out and check on everything until much later. We were using binoculars trying to see out in the goat pens. The bucks were all fine thankfully, and we could see Aurora and Lacy peek their heads out . . . then maybe 20 minutes later, we began to see the dairy girls venturing out as well. We were thanking the Lord that all of the goats made it through the storm okay!

The ground couldn't even be seen due to all of the hail and the leaves/branches/debris

After the hail had passed, it rained for quite awhile and there was also a dense fog

One of the larger hailstones that was by our front door

Our poor garden awhile after the storm had passed

The goats slowly venturing out of their hoop houses

Then came checking the damage . . . a window on the west side of our house was shattered and rather unusually, a window on the east side had a large crack in it as well. The west and north sides of our house have some siding damage, and the roof has some damage as well. Here is some of what we saw outside . . . these photos were taken hours after the storm went through and after all of the rain had passed so the hailstones had melted considerably!

A Cypress tree by our house that was completely stripped of leaves

It was very interesting seeing the rings in some of the hailstones! Most of them were more of a disc shape as opposed to being round.

One of the larger hailstones (again it had already been melting for about three hours by this time!) - it measured 2 3/8 inches across.

 A pile of hail on the ground on the west side of our house

The calm after the storm - photo by Leah

So yes, there is quite a bit of damage and clean-up to do, but thankfully, it is almost all minor (just a lot of it!) We are so thankful that we are all all right, the animals are all right, and that our house and outbuildings suffered only minor damage. We have so many things to thank the Lord for! 

The evening sky was beautiful as more clouds rolled in

My lantern was utilized for the first time due to a power outage! Thankfully, our wonderful electric crews had our power back up about 5 hours after the storm went through.

Interestingly enough, this storm affected only a very small area . . . it intensified very quickly and then spent itself out just as fast. The only place that lost power around here was our small local area!

This morning I went out and took a few more photos of some of the damage . . .

No grass to be seen . . . it is completely covered in leaves, branches and debris

The back of one of our window air units

 The broken window

Gunner and Ruger are all settled now after the storm. Poor Ruger had quite the 'homecoming'!

All of the green that you are seeing in the foreground and in the first goat pen is all from leaves (there wasn't any grass here thanks to the drought.)

The poor tomato plants. It's hard to believe that just yesterday morning they looked like this . . .

Leah's crate has seen better days (it was out by the goat pen as we had just recently used it to put a goat into.)

The hoop house that was damaged the most

A poor pepper plant with one partial pepper still attached

The bark on our fruit trees was badly damaged! This morning, Dad put vaseline on all of the very many wounds

See these 'holes' and pockmarks in the ground? Those are from hailstones.

Another view of the garden

 Our leaf littered driveway.

Today the sun has been shining, the temperature is in the seventies, the day is beautiful, and the air is filled with the delicious smell of cedar, pine, sweetgum and cypress (due to all of the fallen leaves.) And while we are surveying the damage and making lists of all the many things that now need to be done, we are thanking the Lord for His protection, and yes, the many blessings that we have seen (including another inch of rain. :) He is always faithful! And always good.

"Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name." Psalm 103:1


  1. Goodness me, that must have been quite terrifying, Sarah. So sad to see the plants wrecked, and the damage to the house and the goats place.
    I dont think I have ever seen hailstones that big.

  2. Oh My! Sarah,

    God is always so good and merciful to us. That storm could have caused far more damage than it did, Thank you Lord for Your hand of protection over this family.
    We also lost our garden Thursday night. Our weatherman forecast a low temperature of only 40 degrees, instead it dipped down to 31. Because of the warm forecast, we didn't cover anything. Only our carrots, turnips and lettuces survived.
    Again, God is good and merciful - we live in the 21st century and will be able to utilize the grocer.

    Keeping your family in prayer,

  3. Oh dear :( So sorry to see all the damage, but thankful everyone survived. Hail storms are horrible. When we lived in CO they used to come in out of no where and flatten everything. :( Do you think you will be able to salvage much from your garden? Wish we were closer to come and help you all! <3

  4. Oh Sarah, I am so sorry see what has happened! It must have come as such a shock to all of you! It is so sad to see all the damage that has been done...especially to your beautiful garden. Yet, what a comfort to know we have a loving God who cares about us, and provides what we need in every situation! He works ALL things together for our good.
    I will be praying for you guys!
    Love in Christ,

  5. Well, Sarah, if it makes you feel any better, the very last photo looks exactly like a Monet! You could probably sell copies of it and perhaps recover some of the money lost from the garden, house damage, etc. When life hands us lemons, make lemonade, eh?

    So glad that no one was hurt, particularly Ryan who was driving in it.

    ~ Betsy

  6. I am so glad you all are okay! What a storm, and we are so sorry to see the damage to your nice plants. Were your bees okay? It's nice that you got some rain though. We're still in an extreme drought area but not as bad as you had it.

  7. I know about hail storms and sadly the damage can be heart breaking. I am so glad your animals had places to be safe and I hope that the garden recovers and you have some harvest.

    I am so very glad the damage to your home seems to be minimal. Such a storm can cause so much damage to the roof and windows. Your power crews did very well to restore the service so quickly too.

    The biggest hailstone I have seen was one that went through my ceiling as a child. It was stored in a 7 inch bowl for quite a long time. Dad froze it as he was so impressed with the size of the thing.
    Thankfully I was not home at the time.

    Most of all I am impressed that you are so positive and unwavering through this.

  8. Oh Sarah! I was so much enjoying the first part of your post... and then wham! What a shock to you all! We know not what a day may bring forth.

    Your poor tomato plants! And it's amazing how the hailstone even sheared off a part of that pepper and left the rest of it hanging there.

    Still, an excuse to use the lantern was no doubt a bright side! :)

    Just a note regarding your reply to my comment two posts down - the drought I mentioned is over already, so you can stop worrying!! :) It lasted about 10 years but broke nearly two years ago. We've had good rains since then.. it's pretty easy to get used to it! =)

  9. So sorry, Sarah, for all the damage, and so thankful you and the family are fine.

  10. Dear Sarah, Amen, He is always faithful! Oh, praise Him for His protection, over your family and the animals. This is our great hope in Him, isn't it... in the midst of seeing the damage caused, you were filled with joy in the knowledge of the goodness and mercy of the Lord!
    Praying for you, in this time of repairing and destroying. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Sarah...I forgot to ask a question earlier about the hoop shelters for the goats. These are very interesting. Are they enclosed at one end, or open at both ends?

    ~ Betsy

  12. I'm so sorry to hear about the storm and all the damage, Sarah. It made me think of the pioneers and the sudden storms they would have that would wipe out their crops. I'm very thankful to live in this day and age where we won't go hungry despite storms like these! But it's always a disappointment to see all the damage done.


  13. Wow, that is some big hail! I am sorry you had so much damage, yet grateful it wasn't any worse.


  14. WOW, Sarah! What a storm! I'm so sorry about your garden damage, especially. So disappointing, isn't it? But I'm very glad you all are safe (and your animals, too!), and that the damage was not worse.

    This post gave me a lot to think about. How quickly things in our lives can change! I'm so glad God knows all about the changes ahead of time.

    I know I don't comment often, but I'm still reading all your posts. I especially liked your recent one about your honey harvest. So excited for you! I hope we can get our own hive this spring or next. Dad's been talking about it!

    Blessings to you and your family!
    ~ Amber

  15. Hi Sarah,
    Thank God you, your family, and your animals are ok!! That made me sad when you mentioned the goats bleating during the hail storm! Poor little guys!'s a good thing they had those shelters that you guys had built for them!
    I remember the first year I ever planted a garden (it was very small) and just ONE of my tomato plants had snapped...I was SO bummed out! I can only imagine how disappointing it is to see your garden like that :( But, you are an inspiration, as always, by thanking the Lord no matter what! He is all knowing... Well, I'm glad to hear that everyone is safe and there wasn't terrible damage done. God Bless!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)

  16. It was a bit frightening, Elizabeth! Little by little we are getting things cleaned up . . . and some things in the garden are even beginning to grow back!

    I haven’t ever seen hailstones that big before either (except in pictures.) Event though they were rather destructive, it was neat to see them, and especially seeing the ‘rings’ inside of them!

  17. He is indeed, Mrs. B.! We are thanking the Lord for how little damage we did receive . . . and the more we drive around our local area and see how much more damage others received, we are even more amazed and thankful (not that they had a lot of damage, but that we had as little as we did! Just thought I should clarify that. :) It’s even been fun working together to get things cleaned up, and we’ve made so much progress this week!

    I am sorry to hear that you lost your garden to the frost. That would have been disappointing! And yes, it is a blessing that we have grocery stores to go to when our crops/gardens fail.

    Thank you for your prayers for us! :)

  18. Your comment paralleled some of our thoughts, Anonymous!

  19. The hail storms you had in Colorado sound similar to the ones we have here, Nabila. This storm developed so quickly and there was no time to prepare for it! No, we wont’ be salvaging much of anything from the garden, though, we are trying an experiment. Curious as to what plants can do after being so damaged, we pruned the better looking ones back and are waiting to see what happens. Then if something like this should ever take place again say in May or June, we’ll have a better idea as to what to expect as far as the plants recovery and production goes! Surprisingly, the mangel beets (which we grow for our animals) have started regrowing leaves again! They had been completely stripped of leaves by the hail, but they are growing back nicely.

    Aww, that is sweet of you! If you lived closer, we would more than welcome your help! And the fellowship, too. :)

  20. It was a bit, Karen! And thank you for your sweet comment. :) Seeing all of the damage was sad, but we are so thankful to the Lord how little we did end up receiving given how large the hail was and how much potential there was for a lot more damage. The clean-up has been going well, and it has been fun to work together on it!

    Yes, indeed, what a comfort to know that the Lord loves and cares and provides in every situation! And the promise you shared from Romans about how He works all things together for our good has been proven true yet again.

    Thank you for your prayers for us!!

  21. Why, thank you, Betsy! :) We, too, are so thankful that no one was hurt, and that Ryan was able to make it home safely! There are so many blessings and many things to thank the Lord for through all of this.

    The hoop houses are both . . . the ones in the does’ pen are enclosed on one end, but the bucks are not enclosed as they tear the backs up. (The like to head butt and horn them!) The shelters have worked really well, but now we realize that we need to put something a little stronger underneath the tarps!

  22. Yes, even despite the hail, K. Family, we were indeed thankful for the rain! :)We got over an inch from this storm, and that doesn’t count the moisture from the hail either. Little by little our drought conditions are improving! I am sorry to hear that you all are in an extreme drought . . . I didn’t realize it was so dry up there. I hope you all get some rain soon, too!

  23. Thank you, Suze! Hail storms can be so damaging . . . this is the worst one we have ever seen or experienced, though, there have been some bad ones nearby before. Hopefully we won’t have one like this again any time soon!

    Yes, the damage to our home is fairly minimal . . . the roof needs some work, and two windows need to be replaced, but that is about it! The wood siding was pretty scuffed up, but as we are going to replace it eventually, we’re not worrying about that. :) Already we have made a lot of progress cleaning up and repairing things!

    Wow, that would be a big hailstone! I can’t imagine ones large enough to go through the roof! The one your Dad saved would be quite the ‘showpiece’ to show others. :)

    Thank you for your kind words!

  24. It was quite the change, wasn’t it, Rena? I found the timing interesting that I was working on a post such as what the beginning of this one was just moments before the storm came through and damaged everything. It is indeed true that we know not what a day will bring . . . yet what a comfort to be able to rest and trust in One who does know! And Who always works all things for our good.

    The change in the tomato plants was one of the most surprising! Except for the watermelon and cantaloupe . . . the vines on those plants were completely obliterated and all that was left to be seen was a couple of melons that were split open.

    Yes, an excuse to use the lantern is always nice! :)

    I am glad to hear that the long drought in Australia is over! Thanks for sharing. :) And what a blessing that you have had good rains since!

  25. Thank you, Mrs. Anne! :)

  26. Yes, indeed, Maddy! He is our hope, trust and peace even in the midst of storms . . . or anything for that matter!

    Thank you for your prayers for us! And you’re welcome for sharing. :)

  27. Thank you for your comment, Bianca! It is disappointing seeing the damage, but we are so thankful for how little there is. It could have been a lot worse! And unlike the pioneers that you mentioned, we have resources we can go to such as the grocery store. :) And thankfully our livelihood isn’t dependent on crops like many of theirs were!

  28. It was, Amy! And thank you. :) We are thankful, too, that there wasn’t more damage than this!

  29. It was so nice to hear from you again, Amber! I didn’t realize that you still read my blog. :) I’m glad you have been enjoying it! How exciting that you might get a hive of bees sometime, too! I know that you would enjoy it . . . a lot!

    Yes, it was quite a storm! It is disappointing the damage in the garden, but we’re thankful that it was late in the season and that we were already able to put up so much produce. And as you shared, we are glad we’re all safe and that the damage wasn’t worse!

    Things can change so quickly . . . another reason why I am so thankful that we have an all-knowing, loving Father whom we can rest and trust in!

  30. Yes, indeed, Shannah! It was sad (and a little worrying!) listening to the poor goats bleating . . . we were so thankful once the storm passed to find that they were all okay!

    I remember being disappointed when one plant would die or break, too. :) It’s interesting how perspective can change! It was sad at first seeing the garden look so bad and thinking of all of the prospective produce that was destroyed, but then we look back at our gardening year and thank the Lord for how much we were already able to harvest even with the bad drought!

    Thank you for your encouraging words! It is a lesson we are still learning, to look for the blessings and to thank the Lord no matter what circumstances come our way. One thing we have seen with all the Lord has brought us through, though, is that He is always faithful . . . no matter what things we are going through. What comfort to have a loving Father whom we can fully trust and rest in!

    Thank you again!

  31. Sarah,

    I can see from reading your blog that you have a very positive attitude even in the midst of disaster. I can see, too, that this attitude flows from a heart that has practiced gratefulness and that knows that it is God to whom we owe our praise. Thank you for being an inspiration. It is good to see a young lady of such faith and competence, of such industry and diligence, and of such intelligence and sensibility. May the Lord give you the desire of your heart.

  32. Welcome to my blog, Linda, and thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words! They were a blessing!


Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)