Damphewmore Acres, Kan.
In this day and age when astounding things happen seemingly daily, I often think to myself: “That blows me away.” Well, last Friday morning at 1 a.m. that little phony saying just about became a reality as a weather event termed a “microburst” blasted through our part of the Flint Hills. Its 90-plus mile per hour straight winds did a lot of tree and property damage in our vicinity. We literally were about blown away.
Here at Damphewmore Acres, we got off lighter than some, with only major tree damage. The wind uprooted our largest apple tree. Took the top out of a walnut tree. Knocked plenty of big branches from a humongous mulberry tree. Took a limb from the apricot tree and generally made a mess of all the Chinese elm trees around our farmstead. And, sadly, the best row of tomatoes in the garden was absolutely flattened. Surprisingly, we had no damage to our home or any of the rickety old buildings we own. The only reason for that is pure “luck.”
I’m usually pretty hard to convince to retreat to the relative safety of our basement, but this storm wuz different. It hit with a ferocity I’ve seldom seen. The electricity went off immediately and was off for almost 18 hours. Nevah and I got our flashlights and were looking through the French doors out onto our west deck when “WHAM,” the wind slid and crashed all our patio furniture into a pile against the railing in the southwest corner and then “KERBLAM,” the wind hurled our heavy steel gas grill into the furniture heap. The grill hit a metal deck chair so hard it bent the legs together.
That’s when we decided that discretion is the better part of valor and headed for the basement, where we rode out the next half hour until the storm subsided.
The next morning we knew immediately the community damage would be huge. Neighbors and friends lost grain bins large and small, tin barns, sheds were dismantled, church playground equipment wuz overturned, power lines were down, vehicles and farm equipment were crushed beneath huge tree limbs, homes and buildings were stripped of shingles and roofing. A neighbor’s flag pole wuz bent into a right angle. Plus, our rain gauge said we received about 2.5 inches during the brief worst of the storm, so there was a bit of minor league flooding.
I got out my tractor and helped push limbs from the road and then I went to work pushing and tugging all the downed tree limbs into my burn pile. It took all one day and part of the next.
However, property can be replaced. Trees regrow. And, thankfully, no local lives were lost, nor injuries incurred.
I’ve mentioned often that I’m a mechanical klutz. Machines and I just seldom have a good relationship. Well, in the aftermath of the storm, something funny — not “ha ha” funny, but ironic funny — happened to me.
After about 18 hours with no electricity, and eating two meals in town so we could keep the refrigerators and deep freeze from being opened, I decided I’d best try to find a generator to keep all our meat stash from spoiling. So, I called my neighbor, ol’ Harley Ryder, to see if he had a generator.
Turns out, he had a brand new 1999-model, still-in-the-crate Homelite generator that he’d never used. So, he brought it down and we put oil and gas in it and pulled the starter rope. Varo-o-o-m, it started immediately. So, we ran a heavy extension cord to the deep freezer in the basement and plugged it in. The light went on and the compressor started up. An easy mechanical success! Next we ran another cord upstairs and plugged in the fridge in the kitchen. No light! Checked the deep freezer again. Light out!
For some unknown reason, the Homelite shot craps. The engine ran, but generated no electricity. Typical Milo Yield mechanical failure experience!
By then it wuz getting dark and I made a command decision to buy the first home generator of my life. So, into Emporia I dashed and bought a 6,500 kilowatt, electric-starter Generac. Total cost: $922. I rushed it home, unloaded it with the tractor front-end loader, filled it with gas and …… and….
…… and as heaven is my witness, plus ol’ Nevah, just as I bent over to push the start button, the electricity came back on throughout our home. I never even started my new generator. Typical Milo Yield mechanical success!
I told the Old Boars at breakfast this morning that the auctioneer at my eventual estate sale, ol’ Hayes T. Speaker, will probably be able to honestly say to potential buyers: “Here we go, folks — A brand spanking new home generator. Never even been started. What’ll you give for it?”
The best thing that happened to me post-storm is a visit from my retired Colorado carpenter buddy, ol’ Sawyer Bord, to be my first fall fishing companion. We worked hard at it all day long and the fish didn’t cooperate very well. We boated three nice bass and a crappie and a bluegill. I think the storm runoff put the fish out of eating mood.
However, lack of fish didn’t keep Sawyer and me from doing a lot of BSing, a lot of complaining about the world in general, speculating negatively about the political/social direction of our nation and what we’d do to solve its problems, and complaining about our plethora of physical ailments. Typical old geezer conversation, lubricated by a few of our favorite beverages.
End of the week musing. Not-so-wise words overheard at the local coffee shop: “My wife celebrated finding a box of clothing that still fit her. I reminded her they were scarves. I think my eye will look better tomorrow.”
Have a good ‘un. ❖