Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Coming Home to Hail

As we were loading the last bits of gear into the car before embarking on our trip to Yellowstone last Thursday I stopped to snap a few photos of our tulips which Matt and I agreed were looking exceptionally lovely this year.
We camped Thursday night through Saturday night.  We'd intended to camp Sunday as well, but it was pouring buckets and windy as all get out so we called it a weekend and returned to Billings through a steady downpour.  There was a beautiful rainbow leading us home for the last 45 minutes of the drive or so.
And as soon as we hit town we could tell that there has been quite a storm at home, too.  The streets were littered with debris from the landscaped medians and surrounding trees.  Eager to see how we fared we immediately set to making a round of our place--outside and in--once we got back to the house.

The house itself suffered one broken window, but nothing major.  Thank heavens.  We lost some paint on our fence and picnic table, but, frankly, it wouldn't hurt to give both of those a new coat of paint anyways.  It also pretty much shredded the cover we had over our cooling unit, but that is highly replaceable (and not even that expensive either).
The garden on the other hand had clearly taken a good beating.  Matt started raking and cleaning up and it looks much better now, but man, at first pass it looked just terrible!  Our poor plants had been looking SO good, too.  I was a little crestfallen looking at it--though as I said it looks much better now that the hail has melted and Matt cleared away the torn and damaged leaves.  Matt was glad he hadn't been home watching it happen and knowing there was nothing to be done about it.
But, those pretty tulips?  It was a like a tulip bomb had gone off--petals scattered all over the ground around the now-bare stems.  The purple and white one, which Matt had fancied in particular, was snapped off at the stem and plastered into the mud.
There were branches and leaves and blossoms strewn about every where.  Piles of hail had accumulated along the hedge and edges of the house and garden beds.  Some of those hail stones were pretty darn big!  Most were closer to pea size, but some were golf ball sized.  The grass was full of them.  It almost looked like it had snowed.  Its amazing the damage hail stones can do in such a short time.
The row covers over the greens had taken on so many holes as to have the look of Swiss cheese, but they must have deflected some of the blows because the plants beneath don't look so bad.  The rhubarb, cabbage, and well, pretty much anything broad leaved also were punctured and ripped.  The wee little peas plants were battered into the ground just as they were reaching their tendrils to the supporting lines strung above.  Everything had a water-logged, smashed sort of look to it.
We have high hopes that most everything will spring back.  The garlic may not as many of the stems were snapped off outright, but the rest of the plants should eventually grow more leaves and get back on with things.  It will just take a little longer before we're eating off them.
It was a bummer, but nothing insurmountable.  Freaky weather hazards come with the territory of agriculture whether we're talking a full-fledged farm or single raised bed.  The scale doesn't change the devastation.  I told Matt that when I worked for USDA I once saw a whole wheat field reduced to stubble.  I'd seen it three days before and it was ripening nicely and then...it was just gone.  That is one of the things I quite like about agriculture.  Its impossible to be disconnected from Mother Nature in all her wonderful and terrible power when you're working with the land.  We, as humans, may like to think we're in control of things, but in so many critical ways they are absolutely out of our hands.  I find that both comforting and distressing, but it is what it is.  We just have to roll with it.  So often blessings come in disguise.  I've never had one come in the disguise of hailstorm before, but....its possible.

6 comments:

  1. I snickered at your tiny little AC unit. In the south we require bigger ones! FYI There is a Trane plant here in Lexington! Sorry about the plants.

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    1. And that comment made me chuckle! :) I'd never considered that my AC might be "tiny" If it were up to me we'd probably not need one at all, but Matt would melt...

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  2. I gotta tell you I envy your spirit and optimism! I would have blown a gasket! Thank goodness you're more level headed than me- maybe gardening isn't such a great idea for me after all ;)

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    1. :) Thanks, Autumn. I was pretty sad during that first pass through the garden, I must say. But actually I think that gardening might help in this regard--cultivating an optimistic attitude about setbacks. There are always things that work great and then some that don't work out well at all. Matt and I always say that gardeners are "next year people" because we like to say "There is always next year."

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  3. good grief, I'm so sorry about the hail storm! How lovely to have the tulips in a photo (but I'm still sad they were shredded!).

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    1. Aw, thanks, Margo. We've had our garden hailed on three times this year already. Its been wild up here, weather-wise. Its also taken to raining every day lately (not all day, but a little bit every day). Wild. We just have to roll with it...

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