Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Ice Storm---Five Months Later

The Heart of the Matter

Here it is five months later, although it seems that it's been much longer. Debris clean up is still ongoing. Sometimes it feels like progress is being made but other times its just depressing to see how much more needs to be done. The effects of the Ice Storm of 2007 promise to linger on for years and years. While the green leaves have helped cover up scars, the trees are a ragged looking outfit this year. Many trees have the tops broken out or rearranged into twisted tortured shapes. There are still 'hangers' (limbs that are still attached, but broken) in many trees, some are dead and some are still tenuously hanging on to life. The dead limbs are stark against the greenery. Some trees that had extensive damage to the tops and lost many limbs are compensating by sending out hundreds of tiny shoots all along the trunks and remaining limbs. They look like so many groups of old men, huddled together with fuzzy hats topping their heads. Its rather like living in a jungle, with all the bizarre and abundant growth.

Each time we have a wind or heavy rain, limbs will crash to the ground--some of the dead ones, others green and seemingly healthy--one can only assume that they have fractures and weakened areas from the ice. One large limb came close to crashing into my folks house and a few weeks ago, when we had a strong wind, a family friend was nearly badly hurt by one. She and her husband were driving into town, when she saw a large limb start to come down towards their truck. While her husband reflexively tried to avoid it, the limb came straight towards the passenger side and only at the very last second twisted away so that it hit the truck more in the front. The vehicle has extensive damage, but the passenger was spared, thank God.

Its been difficult to see old, beautiful trees that have been around for all my life, to suddenly be gone---either through the initial ice storm, or in the removal efforts afterwards. Many of the trees will recover in the years to come, but for others there are big empty places on the skyline where they once were growing.

The debris clean up crews are still working to clean up the sides of the roads, although us civilians have not figured out FEMA's removal plan. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to how they remove standing trees or existing debris. They will work a section of road, but still leave large piles of limbs when they leave. The worker's are evidently not well trained in highway safety as I've had several heart stopping moments when I rounded a curve to see the trucks and workers all over the road, with the traffic director somewhere off in the ditch, waving his sign around as he talks with co-workers.

I still have a large pile of debris down in my road ditch, that I'm hoping the county will eventually clean up. Its most of the top portion of the tree, and the county supposedly bought a wood chipper to do the clean up--so I'm hoping for free mulch out of it...but we will could be a looong time before that happens and in the meantime I'm heartily sick of looking at it. :-)

On the home place there are still two major areas of clean up needed with a third that will need some work in the fall. I finally started on Blue's home paddock, and have made a good dent up there. There is still an hours work or so of finishing up stacking brush and then some chainsaw work on a couple of trees that were uprooted, but did not topple completely over. One of those is on a fence line and has caused considerable havoc, by heaving up the round and fence and causing gaps under it. I had to do allot of cobbling together wire and boards to keep the lambs from slipping under it. I don't know how/if this can ever been fixed, at least not until the root ball rots away. In one section inhabited by a maple tree, it was like playing pick up sticks, only with large limbs. They were crisscrossed and stacked, and some were still stuck in the air, and even entwined with others. You pull the next one you need but you must definitely be alert and aware so you don't pull down a mess on your head!

The tree limbs seem to hang much lower this year, so who knows how extensive most of them are damaged. I have one elm in my yard, that I have trimmed the branches multiple times so I can walk under them. Then I go out the next day or two and they are drooping even lower. Its not new growth, just the limb slipping lower as the burden of the leaves stress existing fractures.

People have slowly returned to normal (or as normal as we all get!;-), but conversation will often return to the Ice Storm and how we 'survived' or the on-going clean up. I expect it will be a topic of conversation for years to come.

Its really quite odd too, that sometimes when its rainy or cloudy, the memory will come back and my innards tense up. I especially noticed this one quiet, rainy evening a while back. I decided to read and didn't turn the t.v. on. Suddenly the quietness and the sound of rain closed in on me, and it was like I was back in the middle of the storm!

The electricity going out is now accepted with a grim resignation. No one now assumes that we always will have un-interrupted power. We prepare and when the lights flicker or go out in the random fashion that they often do these days, a feeling of sickness oozes through a person. At church the other morning the lights flickered, so several of the ladies matter of factly fetched candles wedged in coffee cups and matches and sat them on the piano, just in case. Even though the lights flashed on and off dramatically several times, we didn't have to use the candles. But we were ready.

I decided to price a handy pump invention that lets you have a hand operated pump attached, along with the existing electric pump. Water was my key concern during the the power outage, as I had so many 'mouths to water'. Otherwise I was fine, since I heat with wood and have kerosene lamps etc. So back to the pump----lets say it was good thing I was sitting down when I read the price quotes! Just the pump (w/out all the extra tubing etc.) was around $800.00! Whoa... for that price I can buy a nice generator, thank you very much. Quite silly if you think about it. So probably at some point in my life I will purchase a smallish generator. Not likely this year though.

The pictures I've included in this blog entry are of my wood pile right after my wood guy delivered a load sometime in February. I chose these pictures, because this wood was from a hundred plus year old oak tree that stood tall and proud in the midst of a field for all its life. For many years it was a favored resting place for folks traveling to and from town (this was before the era of automobiles). Its shade refreshed many a hot weary traveler. In later years, it served as shade for livestock and a landmark for locals. Finally though, along with many other trees, it shattered and sighed to the ground on an icy January day this year. The wood pile is just a small section of this huge tree. The final task of this old oak will be to warm my home and several others in the winter to come.

1 comment:

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

That's a sight to warm the heart, before the wood itself warms the body! I noticed yesterday that the wood remaining in our woodshed is a tumbled mess. I asked Brian if he had been climbing on the wood, but he said he hadn't. Maybe it was just gravity. It will be a mess to restack, but we'll have to do it to get more wood in there for this winter.