Lightening rods like this on our barns did not stop damage last week.
Powerful, prolonged lightening and thunder flashed and boomed twice in our valley Saturday evening the 15th, as part of a front that brought 5 inches of rain in three days. This elegant lightening rod was taken down from the house we renovated, while those on the barns remain in place. It appears they served modest purpose, for damage from lightening in the barns was signficant. It took us a few days to discern all the problems, but the list so far stands as follows:
Two lights in our south walk-in freezer were extinguished.
The temperature alarms for both the south and north walk-ins were rendered non-functional,
A wire in the compressor of the north freezer was fried, rendering the compressor useless and shutting down the freezer,
Two free-standing freezers in our two market-trailers were fried,
A newly installed smoke alarm in the renovated house kept activating,
Internet access in the new house became intermitant.
We had to do a lot of scrambling. Fortunately, the south freezer was still functioning, only in darkness, but we were able to off-load 40 boxes of meat from the north freezer into the aisle of the south. We found one of the two freezers in the market-trailers in time, but not the other. We ended up having to discard nearly 200 lbs of meat, which was depressing. At the same time, we broke the 4-wheel driveshaft of one of our 20 h.p. tractors and had to have our Kawasaki Mule serviced for the second time in a week.
Defrosting freezers is a crisis-situation, which raises blood-pressue. But we advanced into the situation one step at a time, making calls to critical support services. They responded and within a few intense days, we were back into a stabilized situtation. The two freezers in the market trailers have been replaced and refilled. The errant wire in the north freezer was identified and replaced, so the freezer is now back to providing friendly service at 10 degrees Fahrenheit. New lights in south freezer have been installed, and I figured out how to disengage new smoke alarms. The machinery is still being repaired, but we are back to a semblance of normal.
Part of normalcy was sorting through the ewe flock at the end of the week to find cull ewes and eartag-and-band the lambs.
This was a gratifying process, for both ewes and lambs looked healthy. Lambs registered at 130% of ewe numbers, which is good for lambing on pasture, as we do. Last year at this time, we were at 110%. The difference is we are moving the flock more slowly across their allocated paddocks, giving each paddock longer recovery periods, approaching 60 days. This in turn provides sufficient time for parasites to die. Clark and Mike have been diligent about using electrified nets to subdivide paddocks, thus slowing the rotation. The results speak for themselves, in terms of health, as shown in the picture on the right in particular.
We also picked up a second load of weaned Berkshire pigs, and after a few days combined them with their older bretheren who arrived a month ago. Clark is doing a great job of tending to these piggies, so full of personality.
The past two weeks have been particularly gripping. Baby lambs, young pigs, crises with freezers, lost meat, and malfunctioning machinery are forces that catch one's full attention. The lost meat was discouraging, the healthy lambs heartening.
But another even more amazing event transpired pretty much during this same period of time. Mike's Kawasaki Mule was stolen just before dawn one morning. We were able to track the vehicle's movement to the top of the ridge behind the farm, and learned from a Mennonite that he had seen the vehicle pass by his house, with lights off and two young men in it. Where they went from there was impossible to discern, for all of Appalachia lay before them to hide in.
But Mike employed his Instagram account to spread the word, and two days ago, about two weeks later, the vehicle was returned to the driveway of a relative of Mike's!... It is interesting to imagine what it took to reverse the energy of that whole illegal and intense transaction, that the vehicle was fairly quickly returned to its rightful owner. How amazing. I think it is an affirming story of the power of unknown people to do good and to turn an event around, though certainly a difficult anecdote to be party to. We were all shaken by the event at the outset and are wondrous at the mystery behind its outcome.
Smoked chicken, tomato salad, and rhubard custard graced the table several evenings ago. We have a rash of smoked chickens ready for the markets. If you would like to reserve one, let us know.
White lightening put us through our paces, but it also may have returned to us a stolen Mule. We are continually humbled and enriched by what we witness on the path to generating health, taste, and connection.
Susan & Drausin