May derecho left some sticks for the dog a big mess for me

It can take a lifetime to clean up after a once-in-a-lifetime storm.

My wife and I were in Kansas City when the recent derecho ravaged our area. We rushed home not knowing what to expect, but took the precaution of buying some tarps on our return trip. We assumed, correctly, that the storm would create a shortage of tarps in our area.

To our relief, there were no holes in the roof of our house. Our windbreak had lived up to its name by protecting our home from the brunt of the storm.

Shafts, however, look much worse for wear. Looks like a huge weeder has been making random passes through our grove.

The power was out when we got home, but that was no surprise. The high winds had snapped the utility poles as if they were number two pencils.

Sparkles, our cat, is an outdoor cat in the warmer months. When we got home, she came out of the barn and mewed at us in a way that sounded like, “Damn cow! You will never believe what happened while you were gone!

Bella can work and play thanks to the storm.  There's certainly no shortage of sticks to pick up around Nelson's Farm.

Bella, our dog, had been at dog daycare while we were gone, so the derecho was just a big date for her. Bella loves sticks; she must have thought she was in heaven when she got home because our lawn was covered in twigs.

The expression on his face seemed to say, “You did all this for me?” Thank you, mom and dad!

Some of our downed trees were blocking the road to the adjacent township, so I set about clearing the public right-of-way. My chainsaw was my close personal companion for the next few days.

Pick up after Mother Nature

A few summers ago, I purchased a John Deere 3010 tractor/loader combo. Some people in our household considered the purchase a foolish purchase—an aging baby boomer indulging in farm machinery nostalgia.

The 3010 was a derecho cleaning hero. She moved massive trees with ease. She helped me create a burn pile that looks a lot like Mount Rushmore, except it’s much smaller and made entirely of a tangle of twigs, branches, and trunks.

Well, the pumps don’t work without electricity, so my wife and I had to “rough it” for a few days. In this case, “roughing it” meant using room-temperature bottled water to wash down spicy takeout food purchased from a local Mexican food trailer — and washing in the shower.

Our six Jersey steers weren’t as optimistic about the situation. They stood in front of their empty fountain and looked at me like restaurant patrons who were irritated by their lazy waiter. I told my wife that the power would probably come back soon, but she insisted that we provide the cattle with another source of water.

I called a local farm supply store and was surprised to find they were open. When I entered the store, its interior was as dark as the interior of a black cow. A salesperson was asking customers to wait at the door until one of their other salespeople was available. A young, perky saleswoman, flashlight in hand, escorted me into the store.

Asked about the lighting situation, the salesperson explained that the store had a small generator that could only provide enough juice to run phones and a cash register.

Ironically, the store had sold out its entire inventory of generators.

I told the young lady that I needed both a tank and a tub. It took a few minutes to explain exactly what I meant.

After fumbling around in the shady semi-darkness, we enlisted the help of a guy who works in the sprayer department. We were soon rigged and ready to roll.

Back home

My wife and I drove to a neighbor’s farm and asked if we could borrow a hundred gallons of water. Their farm was supplied with electricity by a generator driven by a tractor.

Fearing that the beef in our freezer would thaw, we borrowed a small generator from a friend. The generator had kept our freezer cool for about an hour when our power came back.

Cleaning will take a long time. I picked about 1,283,000 sticks from our lawn using my patented BGR method: “Bend. Grunt. Repeat.”

I threw away the poles and Bella “helped” by bringing some back. She understands the concept, but not the execution.

Life is slowly returning to some semblance of normality. And I think I should recommend the 3010 for a Medal of Honor.

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