Friday, May 4, 2012

Hurricane in Illinois?

Clare enjoying the new buffet of leaves and branches!
"When it rains, it pours" is more than just a meaningless cliche here today. I knew today was going to be interesting because we had goats being shipped out of the Bloomington airport -- two at 6 a.m. and four more at 6:25, and they're supposed to be dropped off two hours earlier, which meant we were getting up quite early for the hour-long drive to the airport.

Hickory trees in front yard --
most of the branches on the right side
are ripped off and hanging down to the ground.
Shortly after 1 a.m., however, life got interesting. Normally I'm sleeping at that time, and this morning was no different. Then a massive storm hit us. Sleeping through it was simply not possible. They say that a tornado sounds like a freight train coming at you, and that's exactly what it sounded like outside. Mike pulled up the radar, and we could see that we were completely engulfed in a large magenta colored mass with pink next to it. Pink? I've never seen pink on the radar before. I looked at the key and saw that it was worse than magenta -- and that purple is even worse than pink. I wondered how on earth anything could be worse that what we were experiencing. I could hear windows rattling and other creaking noises, and our house is only seven years old. I had been about a hundred miles inland for hurricane Alicia in 1983 when it hit Houston, and this was worse than what I remembered back then. Later I learned that last night's winds were gusting up to 70 mph.

After half an hour, the noise finally died down, and the radar confirmed that the storm had passed. It was 2 a.m., and Mike and I foolishly thought we could get an hour of sleep before heading to the airport. I did sleep, but it might have been a mistake. It was really tough to drag myself out of bed. Walking across the yard in the darkness to the barn, I couldn't really see much. There were a couple of small branches in my path, so I tossed them aside. By the time we got the kids all loaded into their respective crates and onto the pickup, it was about ten minute to four. I wondered what we'd see when we came home after sun-up.

This branch is laying on an electric fence.
The experience at the airport was interesting. Because it is a small airport, we have to check in the goats in the same place as people check in, so you can imagine we got a lot of attention. It took a full hour to get the goats checked in and on their way. Each of the six goats had to be removed from its crate and inspected by the TSA people. That's when things really got ridiculous. All of the people standing in line were oohing and aahing over the goaty cuteness, including one woman who said to her child, "Look at the lambs!" I smiled and didn't correct her. And the cell phone cameras came out, and people were snapping pictures like crazy of us holding the kids. I imagine our pictures are all over Facebook now, on walls of people we've never met, with captions about the goats at the airport. And several people asked us if they were "special goats," so I took the opportunity to explain the awesomeness of the Nigerian dwarf dairy goats and why people love them so much. When the TSA people realized the goats had their names on their collars, they started calling them by their names. They especially loved Ursula's name.

The man doing our check in briefly scared me. "You got a reservation on this flight?" he asked. I said, yes. He didn't look happy. Apparently the computer was telling him that the goats could not go on the flight on which they were scheduled because the transfer time in Atlanta wasn't long enough. But he double-checked the times manually and said there was plenty of time for the goats to get from one terminal to another.

I wasn't exactly happy that they took all three crates to a back room after the TSA inspection. He came out and asked me which one was going to Arkansas, and thank goodness, I had labeled the crates with their destinations. I told him about the labels, but I really should have just asked to see the goats again to be double sure. I worried all morning that the wrong goats were jetting down to Arkansas.

That is not a bush in front of the shelter.
It's part of a tree and is about 8 feet high.
The goats will only be able to reach about a fourth of it.
On the drive back, we didn't really see any storm damage until we were about three miles from home. A couple pieces of wood from a hog building were in the road, and we saw a couple of large branches fallen from trees. But I really started to get worried when we were half a mile from home. Someone moved in a few months ago and planted a lot of five-foot tall evergreens. Some of them had been ripped up by their roots. The next home had five or six trees with massive damage. One tree with a trunk more than a foot in diameter had snapped like a toothpick. Several trees were missing about a third of their branches. Mike drove slowly as soon as we reached the edge of our property.

We saw the sheep walking around happily in their pasture, and then we noticed a huge tree that had been ripped up by the roots and was laying horizontally on the ground. We saw a large tree with huge branches ripped off and laying on the ground -- and then we saw another and another, including one that was laying across an electric fence, which meant the fence was shorted out and worthless. Beyond our driveway, a tree was in the road. As soon as we pulled in front of the house, I decided to walk around to get an idea of the damage.

So far we haven't found any property damage other than fences. Mike's gas-powered chainsaw is broken, so he'll have to haul a generator out to the pastures to do some of the fence work with an electric chainsaw. It took him about an hour to get the limb off the electric fence with a hand saw, but another one is too big for that. It's good that it isn't going across an electric fence though. He spent a couple more hours cleaning off other fences. At least the goats are happy with their windfall. They are stuffing themselves with all of the leaves that are now at buffet level. Although it's a pain to deal with all of this, I am extremely grateful that none of the animals were hurt, and we didn't have any expensive damage.

Mike has a busy weekend ahead as I take off for a book signing in Wisconsin tomorrow and a speaking engagement at the Green Festival in Chicago on Sunday.


MamaTea said...

Well gosh, that was stressful just reading about it...I can't imagine really being in it! A giant storm...AND goats at the airport? You're one tough cookie! Good luck at the book signing and the speaking engagement!

Nancy K. said...

It sounds like you dodged a bullet! I'm so glad that nobody and no animals were harmed and no major damage. Things could have been so much worse.

And now, life goes on as if nothing happened!

Charlotte said...

Glad no one, human or animal was hurt. I bet the goats were a hit at the airport. I know when I pick up chicks at the post office they get a lot of attention.
Hope you have a great trip.


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