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We Are Flying Solo

July 9, 2016

The Day The Sheds Flew: Farmpocalypse 2016

As I was preparing horsey dinners last Wednesday, I never imagined the building I stood in would be torn violently apart 30 minutes later.

So many stories are overdue, but this one must be vexed about not getting a full telling, since it revisited last night!  I hope you'll forgive my job for swallowing me whole -- wildlife don't seem to courteously time their activities to my convenience, alas.

It Seemed Like A Normal Day 

Just home from work, I noticed the darkening sky, but it wasn't unusual for an early July evening.  Carolina summer frequently includes late-day cloudbursts, when hot, humid air blows its soggy overload.

Glancing west as I carried buckets to the boys, I was arrested by this...thing:


I know just enough about clouds to be afraid, very very afraid.  Convinced the Hand of Sauron itself was coming for us at an unsettling speed, I secured horses & hay in a record 7.8 seconds.  My ears popped as the temperature & barometric pressure went into freefall.  The passing Coast Guard rescue chopper you can hear in the video did not seem like a good omen.

My run-in, hayshed, & house are all engineered for 120 mph windstorms, my construction default here in hurricane country.  Feed & tack I keep in smaller kit sheds, but both have weathered much larger storms & are stuffed with heavy objects.

So while I wasn't thrilled by less than five minutes of warning, I hunkered down in the house feeling that all major bases were covered.  NOAA weather alerts showed this particular beast hurtling SE at interstate speeds, with angry windshear.  And hail.  (Some news photos of aftermath in the area here)

Run with the Tolkien theme
Fortunately, I keep 17 water bottles filled in the fridge, because I had time to run a whopping 1/2" of water into the tub before the power blinked out.  I was a little surprised, as in three years, I've lost power (>5 mins) exactly 0 times.  Hazarding a guess from the perfectly horizontal rain out the front windows, I'd say there were probably some trees down already...

But Solo & Encore have their safety walls I built during our first brutal winter.  I uneasily watched the now-rain-hail-mix swing 180 degrees from West --> East to East --> West in 10 seconds, but I was glad they were protected.

A half-hour seems a lot longer in the dark.

I went out front as the rain stopped, to attempt salvage of my now-shredded hay tarps before the next band moved in.  It was then I noticed the horses standing in the farther corner of their paddocks.  Which they only do if something scares the bejeezus out of them.

Like, I don't know, flying walls?

The remnants of Structure Formerly Known As Feed Shed

Priority One:  Horses

Both horses were luckily unscathed.  It's always a dilemma of intense storms:  flying debris risk vs. building catastrophe risk.  Sometimes you get both -- along with storms that don't read textbooks!

Incredibly, both fencing tape & posts held.  I called my Miraculous Rescue Neighbour as I had to get buildings off the fences & important gear/feed under cover immediately, because more rain was on the way.

Tack shed flipped off foundation

My big lag screws had been ripped out of the walls, but stayed in the brackets, so I made sure to account for each one as I dragged scattered panels out of horse areas.  Red arrows in the pic show locations over about 3/4 of an acre.  The last thing I needed to add was a punctured hoof.

Priority Two:  Additional Waterlogging Prevention

Homeless things
Gear got hurled into vehicles as quickly as possible.  I was grateful I hadn't unloaded three bags of feed in the backseat of my truck.  Although improbably, feed lid bins had stayed on & watertight!

We only had about an hour before it started raining again.  Just enough time to get pastures cleaned.  And just enough time for the full weight of the damage to begin sinking in.

Bathed in exhausted sweat, I was very glad it was at least 9 pm & NOT 100 degrees as no power = no shower.  And given the chorus of sirens in every direction, it wasn't returning anytime soon.

We gonna eat it all!
The horses were ok.  I was ok.  Major structures & vehicles were ok.

But rain had blown UNDER my hayshed walls in seemingly impossible ways.  I finally got the tarp off the roof, but some of my beautiful bales were decidedly wet:  not ok.  And it's pretty hard to keep mice out of a building with one wall, which didn't bode well for feed security.

Two words echoed in my head:

23 comments:

  1. Your carport stayed up though! Bummer about the feed shed :(

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    1. They both definitely did! Worth paying for and then some. New shed will definitely be required to meet wind standards!! I just have to find imaginary money, but I did get to see exactly how much stuff I can sell since I won't be competing anytime in the near future -- Involuntary Not-Spring Cleaning?

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  2. That's a heck of a wall cloud you had there - holy crap! Will the new and improved feed shed get some tie downs? I have 20,000 lb x 4 on the Shimmy Shack.

    Glad it wasn't worse. Ponies and people okay - thank goodness. (((♥♥♥)))

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    1. I was duly impressed! And yes, part of quarter scrounging will include REQUIRED windstorm package. To be fair to old feed shed, it was excellent, free, & technically heavy things did hold it down. Just insane windshear ripped all my reinforcement brackets out so that even though the floor didn't move, the rest was, er, disembodied. 0.0 It was essentially tornado-like wind forces, rather than the far easier straight-line winds of our hurricanes!

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    2. Those windshears can wreak havoc!

      My two hay sheds and Val's barnette just sit on the ground. :( I'd always convinced myself that thousands of pounds of hay + gear would weigh them down. Rethinking that now...

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  3. Wow that was really scary. I'm glad that everyone is okay but the stress of it all!

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    1. Thank you! And yes, I think a few more years off my life! Although I'm kind of glad I did not know about it until it was over. Had I seen building pieces flying around, I might have passed out right there...

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  4. This sucks. Thankfully everyone is ok. I have to say that scary cloud sure is beautiful though. I've seen a handful of those myself and they are mesmerizing. What a total pain to track down the screws. I have a kit shed like your feed room in my backyard and I have two sets of Hurricane anchors set in concrete with the heavy duty metal chord across the roof. I still worry about it taking off in a storm.

    Hopefully your power was restored in a timely manner. :)

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    1. Thanks, Julie! Yes, the biologist is me appreciated the amazing formation of the cloud & impressive energy.

      The anchors are great, I have them on the big sheds & even an old temporary shed, even though it required neighbour's hydraulic driver to make installation "pilot" holes in our rocky Piedmont soil. I also have strapped down my truck's camper shell, which makes a makeshift "lumber shed" -- and then storm broke the tie downs themselves & slid it off it's base too! And it's very very heavy, nature will definitely have it's way when it wants too. From what I can tell based on how things came apart & landed, when the wind reversed direction, a massive burst of up-shear curled around the corner of the roof from below, shot in behind one of the door hinges, & BOOM, literally exploded it from the inside. The only way I think it could have survived was if I had wrapped it around the sides & top to bottom with giant metal bands.

      But I am so very grateful still, as it could have been much worse. The smaller tack shed appears largely indestructible due to being a sturdy 4' square, & protected the saddles even sideways! I like your guy-line idea very much & I believe I will add that to the tack shed for future winds which decide to come from non-prevailing directions, thanks!

      We did get power back about 5 am, so everyone got showers & fans the next day, whew.

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  5. Ok that's downright horrifying ! And incredible that all creatures made it out unscathed. Sorry about all the damage tho. Hopefully it cleans up easy and the rebuild isn't too expensive / difficult :(

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    1. Thanks -- and yes, any freak act of violent nature which we all survive unscathed definitely goes in the amazed appreciation column!

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  6. Oh my goodness... I'm so glad you and the boys are OK! Super scary.

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    1. That was much more polite than the words I used... ;P Thank you!

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  7. Wow! So glad everyone is OK. I hope the rebuilding isnt too stressful. Also, I want a neighbour like yours ☺

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    1. I found him first! ;) But in all seriousness, I am overwhelmingly grateful for our wonderful neighbours every day, couldn't make it without them!

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  8. Yikes. So glad you and the boys are ok.

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    1. Thanks, SB -- glad you are having fun with your boy!

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  9. Holy crap that cloud would scare me too! Glad the damage wasn't worse.

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    1. You can imagine how quickly my blood pressure shot up when I saw the second coming a few days ago then -- I'm beginning to ponder digging a burrow instead. Moles: underground with their eyes closed, smarter than me!

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  10. SO scary! Glad to hear everyone is doing ok.

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    1. Soggy but stable (no pun intended!).

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  11. Yikes that is so scary. Glad you and the boys are ok even if the bales are lost

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    1. Thank you -- and keep fingers crossed for the hay, I'm holding out desperate hope!

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