Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene's Wrath

This was the morning that neighbors checked on neighbors, long distance friends devotedly contacted their pals in Vermont and adult daughters called their mothers.      People from surrounding communities came to help clean up the damage, console home owners,  rent chainsaws, drain water filled cellars and help farmers salvage crops from their fields.

What a horrible couple of days it has been.   Although we stayed upbeat about the impending impact of Irene, none of us fully understood what was going to happen til she got here.   Although I can personally attest to 3 solid days of anxiety about water levels and livestock, even I could not have predicted the true outcome.

Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time she hit the quaint and quiet little state of Vermont.

By the time she left she had rearranged the landscape, destroyed 200 year old historical covered bridges and eliminated many major roads.    Many residents barely escaped the flash floods with their lives.

Sirens could be heard in distant communities all night.

Eleven towns were made into islands in an instant, surrounded by flood waters from multiple brooks and streams that had turned into oceans of turbulent water, with no way out.  They are still cut off from the rest of the state.

263 roads are closed or destroyed.   A large percentage of bridges are closed, damaged or missing.

Many residents are still without power.  Some no longer have a house to return to.

The complete assessment of damage, commercially, agriculturally and personally will take weeks.

Last night Irene went right over this old 200 year old farm house.  Water poured into the cellar.

This morning the sun woke me up immediately as it streamed into my window.   I quickly drove to the herd and saw that they had finally ventured all the way out to the field to graze.  Life was back to normal, even though the fields are soggy and the air is filled with the sounds of rushing streams.

The bull, exhausted from trying to breed cows in extreme weather, was laying down recovering from a weekend of bad dates...

The deer and turkeys have all returned to the fields to graze. 
The hummingbirds and goldfinches never left the bird feeders the entire time. Not for a second.
 Mavis slept for 2 solid days and would not go outside in the rain.      

Even though I fulfilled my list of preparedness things I had to get done, the only thing I wish I could of done before the strom hit was get another big jar of Miracle Whip.
Tomatoe sandwiches really gotta have it and that was what we had planned to eat if the electricity didn't come back on.

Now for some of the worst Vermont videos:

If you haven't seen this video of the river sucking the huge 141 year old Rockingham covered bridge into the river, here it is:

Just found out that this bridge was insured for 1 million dollars and will eventually be rebuilt, but not in time for leaf peepers this year.
A horse and rider carried medical necessities to the other side of the washed out area in Rockingham:
And the Quechee covered bridge:
Northfield Falls covered bridge barely survived:
Bridges floating under bridges:
Here is what the covered bridges all looked like before Irene came:
I appreciate all the calls checking on our welbeing up here in rural Vermont.

Also I am grateful for many National and Regional Disaster Animal Response Teams for contacting me for assessments and information. 

Noahs Wish ( and the Animal Control Officers Association of Massachusetts ( were very concerned for the people and animals of Vermont and were waiting to assist in any way necessary.

Today is the 6th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  (Hurricanes Rita and Wilma too)

Thank you to everyone who came to assist the people and the animals of the Gulf Coast.

Please light a candle tonight for those who lost their lives during all these storms and for those whose lives have been changed forever.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Irene is 20 miles away

Its been raining hard for 17 hours now.

Flooding everywhere.

Now the rain is coming down so much harder than it has all day.  And the wind is here now.
Storm Trac says Irene is right down the road from us.    She will be over our heads in about 25 minutes.

I have been checking on the herd throughout the day.

Their field is getting soggy.

I was relieved to see that Guy had found his way back to the correct side of the fence. 

The herd came over to the fence to get some more giant squash.

I pray that we do not get the bad winds.

The flooding is very very very bad here already.

Worse yet.....
Several historic covered bridges have disappeared into flood waters.   Including my favorite fishing place in Bartonsville. The video of the huge bridge sliding into the raging river is heartbreaking to me.

I hope at sunrise we are all still standing and not swimming......


Hurricane Cows

The rain arrived quietly at 1 am this morning.

At 9 am it came down harder.

I went down to the herd just as the wind started.  It was just a hard breeze. Not a damaging wind--yet...

The herd are now on the highest and driest part of the farm.  Lots of grass to eat and some protection from the wind.

The first thing I saw as I drove up to them was that Guy,Y-1, was on the wrong side of the fence.

Don't know how he got out and I wasn't going to dismantle the fence to get him back in, so there he stays till he figures out how to go back to his mom.  He has lots to eat on "his side' of the fence.

The herd was calm in the rain.

But they were defiinately wanting some treats.

So, because there was a Hurricane coming, and because I had a 12 year old guest who had never fed cows before and because I just happened to have 2 full boxes of cinnamon covered nabisco graham crackers--the cows had an Irene feast.

My camera got soaked as we opened and fed 6 packages of snacks.

As we were feeding the cow, the wind started getting stronger and the rain came down harder.

I know the cows will be OK.     The raging stream is now 1/8th of a mile away from them.

I will go back later to check on them again.

Parts of Vermont are flooding, especially in the southern part of the state.  8 emergency shelters have opened and some evacuations are taking place.
Many roads are already closed because of flooding and Irene isn't even here yet.

The electricity has already gone out a few times this morning....

Hope you and your animals are high and dry.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pre-Irene Preparations

Its been a marathon kind of day.  Trying to get every last detail accomplished before Irene comes barelling into Vermont.

I emptied the big porch of all the beautiful flowers and furniture.  I left the hummingbird and finch feeders up so the little ones can eat until the last possible moment.

Anticipating that my garden will be decimated from the winds and rain, I went to pick as many big green tomatoes as possible.  

I then looked at Dr Rowe's rare heritage beans hanging from the bean pole and knew I had to do something.....

Either I pick them or Irene will.

So I did.

They are such beautiful bean pods.

And they make beautiful beans too.

I picked some prematurely, but they are young and tender.  Perfect for suckatash.

While I was picking veggies I also checked on all the squash and found some real pretty ones under the giant vines and leaves.

I *think* these are Turk's Turban.

Very colorful!

I took a few last photos of my garden.

I know the winds and rain will roll off the mountains and do some serious damage in this tiny rural village.

I have checked off 79 things I had to get done before tonight and all but one has been accomplished.

Tomorrow morning the herd is being moved to the driest piece of field, the one with the best drainage, with trees on the outside of the fences and the strongest fencing on the farm.  They will be away from the giant powerlines, the barn, the equipment and the stream. Those are all the items we have determined that are dangerous in high winds and rain. 
There are predictions that we may get 8 inches of rain. I have rain trauma...
Last Fall, after 4 days of unrelenting rain, the culvert in the pond above the cow field burst and caused massive damage to roads.  The raging river started a mudslide and pushed a house right off its foundation.  The house has been condemmed and the road is STILL being repaired.

So I do not want my cows anywhere near that stream.

Today they were still grazing, totally unaware of what is going to happen.

Gwen is in a very good mood.

She is the current "date of the day" of the bull.

Being with the herd, even for an hour, really helps to keep me calm, focused and happy.

I hope that every thing in the path of Irene stays safe.


Friday, August 26, 2011

The Calm Before the Storm

The herd grazed calmly this afternoon. 

Blue skys and a gentle breeze distracted us from the big weather upset that will be here on Sunday.

The bull continues to do his important job.

The calves are growing quickly on the good grass.

Tomorrow the herd will be moved to a safer pasture.     All farmers in Vermont are trying to make the best decisions for their livestock.

Preparations continue tomorrow.   Still lots to do.   Hope you have all made preparations and plans.

Today I could not stop thinking about the Chincoteague and Assateague Ponies plus all the other wild ponies on the Outer Banks.        I always worry about them during every storm.

I do hope they can survive Irene.


Thursday, August 25, 2011


It is dark and windy here this morning.
The sky was red at dawn.

My disaster teams have put me on "alert" status.

Vermont has a tendency to flood and we are also anticipating that our sister state, New Hampshire, may need assistance.

Today my own personal disaster plan is in full swing.

I have filled containers with water, tied up my sunflowers, removed all my big tomatoes, took down my scarecrow, stored all my outside furniture in the garage and am going to tank up my truck.

We are planning on riding out the storm here at the farm.

Haven't determined yet if the cows would do better in the field or in the woods.

Here are a few other things you should be doing to get ready for the uninvited visitor, Irene:

Before the hurricane:
  • Check your emergency supplies and replace or restock as needed. Your disaster kit should contain items such as gallons of water, non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food and sanitation and personal hygiene items. More information about what you should include is available on the Red Cross web site.
  • Create an evacuation plan with members of your household and practice it to cut down on any confusion.
  • Plan routes to your community’s shelters, register family members with special needs as required.
  • Make plans for your pets and livestock.
If a hurricane is predicted for your area:
  • Bring items inside that can be picked up by the wind.
  • Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings and keep them closed as much as possible so food will last longer if the power goes out.
  • Turn off any propane tanks and unplug your small appliances.
  • Fill your vehicle’s gas tank.
  • Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If you don’t have hurricane shutters, close and board up your windows and doors with plywood.
  • Listen to local authorities and evacuate if advised to do so. Be careful to avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.
  • Know where your nearest emergency shelter is

Here is another excellant map to track Irene:

She has moved a little more West, which isn't good for any of us  : (


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bear vs. Corn

Lots of great farm stand signs in this state.

Here are a few of the ones I found today.

One of the largest fresh beef farm stands.

My favorite sign.  I am still chickling over this one.

My herd greets me each time I enter the field.

A very sweet ride outside my grain store.

I pray they sell raffle tickets on this one!!

I hope they get this truck under cover before Hurricane Irene comes to visit!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cowdog Mavis......

Every morning I move the herd to a new field.     I bring Mavis to "help" me.

This morning most of the calves watched as Mavis and I walked up the road.

As we walked across the field the calves "focused" on the familiar little black dog.

Instead of Mavis helping me move the herd to the new field, the calves starting playing a game of "Lets chase Mavis."

And chase her they did.

All the way out of the field.

Being the good, faithful companion that Mavis is, she made her way around the field and found me at the other end of it.   She sat and rested, satisfied that the calves were now on the "other" side of the electric fence in the new field.

Then she went home and took a long nap.           Good Girl, Mavis.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

John Deere Cows

It was foggy this morning when I moved the herd to a new field.  Fall is in the air.

As I drove to work I explored a rural road and found an unusual mailbox.

And some beautiful cows.

I walked over some downed trees to take some photos....and then....

I sneezed....and started a stampede.....

I felt the earth move as they thundered in the other direction, udders swinging wildly.

They settled down at the other end of the field, so I got a few more photos and left before I sneezed again.

I often wonder why some farmers don't paint a green cow, using green food coloring.

There is no doubt this is John Deere country!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Blue Ponies

On a rural back road I found one of the last remaining carousels and its magnificent horses.

This is where the magic starts for children.

And where young girls start their obsession with horses.......

So many to ride

The Merry Go Round of my childhood had dogs, pigs, ducks, chickens, goats, sheep and....cows.

My dad would strap me on my cow or dog and he would ride alongside of me singing to the music.

When I rode on other carousels,  I always rode on a blue pony.  

Blue ponies were rare and I loved them.

And sometimes I would ride a red one.

Because I thought they were faster.

Which one did you ride ?