Peregrine Farm News, Vol. 9 #19, 7/25/12, The Big Storm

What’s been going on!

Another late newsletter this one due to cleaning up from Tuesdays big storm and while some folks have seen pictures on Facebook, this is the official (long) version.  We know lots of folks had some kind of impact because of the storm from trees and limbs down to power out, some for 24 hours or more.  In the ranking of storms we have weathered over the last three decades this relatively small thunderstorm stands at number two in intensity and number one in monetary damage.  Of course hurricane Fran will (or hopefully will) hold the top spot forever in wind speed, flooding, trees down and length of power outage but we had no serious damage to any building or equipment from it and not too much crop loss.

We have had record rainfall events (10 inches in an hour and subsequent flooding), we have seen the record snowfall (20 plus inches), huge ice storms and hail storms but most of those just resulted in loss of power.  This storm was fast and hard.  The big straight line winds came screaming from the west and from our experiences in Fran (80 mph winds for hours) and other hurricanes like Isabel (60 mph winds for a long time) we estimate these winds at 65-75 mph but for only about 10 minutes, the rain lasted maybe 45 minutes then it was over.

As we stood in the living room looking out towards the field we could see debris flying through the air until three large oaks and one huge maple came down and blocked most of our view.

As soon as we could, we headed out on damage assessment and to check on our 90 year old neighbor (no damage there) which required us to drive around through the field because the driveway was blocked by some huge limbs.  The turkey fence was blown down and the turkeys dazed but we quickly got it back up.

Next check was on the rest of the buildings, all unscathed except the well house which was blown over and exploded with water flowing out of one pipe, a quick fix.

Of course we had immediately seen that the Big Tops had sustained tremendous damage but they were the last thing we got a close up look at.  Of the eight bays only two remained undamaged.  As they got further away from our neighbor’s western tree line the bent metal and torn plastic got worse.

These Haygrove tunnels are designed to take 70 mph winds and we have seen them through some big storms with winds in the 50’s and 60’s and have uncovered them when hurricanes are on their way but this was so sudden there was no way to anticipate or know that such winds were on the way.

With the huge sheets of plastic now draped all over we quickly, with the good help of a neighbor, got all the plastic off to both reduce further damage to the crops or what frame was left undamaged.

With the early triage done and no power, we went out to dinner and a few nerve easing beers.  First thing Wednesday morning we dismantled the worst of the mangled metal so we could pick tomatoes today.

We have had an amazing outpouring of support and offers of help and we cannot thank you all enough for your concerns but at this point we have everything cleaned up or stabilized enough that it can wait until we get to it either in a few days or this fall and winter.

Many have asked were they insured and the answer is no because we were under the impression that most companies won’t insure such structures because this is the kind of thing regularly happens to greenhouses but I have now talked to several farmers who have gotten theirs insured.  We will certainly pursue that after we rebuild these.  In the meantime our best estimate is $10,000 worth of damage.

So we were already worn down after this wicked hot summer and now more so.  After this Saturdays market we begin our annual summer break.  A bit different this year spanning two weeks instead of one.  Betsy and I will attempt to take most of the two weeks off while Jennie is here the first week to harvest a little and do the other chores to keep the place rolling while Liz takes the week off, then they will trade places the second week.  Not really sure how this will work but don’t be surprised to see at least Jennie or Liz at market selling for us, might be Wednesdays only or could be one of the two Saturdays.  Probably no newsletter the first two weeks of August either.  When we return on the third week of August it should be time for the first pepper roasting of the season, until then enjoy and thank you for your support.

What’s going to be at the market?

Make sure to look for Jennie or Liz in our regular market spots during the next two weeks.

With the tomatoes now uncovered and left to the ravages of nature they will probably end sooner than we expected but there is still a fair supply but much fewer heirlooms.  In reds we have an abundance of full flavored Big Beefs.  Still good amounts of Cherokee Purples.  A small supply of pink, low acid German Johnson.  Plenty of the fruity bi-color Striped Germans.  In orange/yellows there are some Orange Blossoms and the beautiful Kellogg’s Breakfast.  In cherry types we have a very few Sungolds but more of the mixed Sungold cousins Sun Lemon (orange), Sun Peach (pink) and Sun Chocula (I did not make these names up) and the bi-colored elongated Blush.  Still an amazing amount of the Italian Oxheart sauce tomatoes and beautiful Romas, if you want to make sauce, now’s the time.

The peppers are starting with lots of Shishitos and Padrons for appetizers.  In hot peppers plenty of Serranos and Jalapenos, Anaheims and Passillas and a few Poblanos.  Purple Bells and Cubanelles for salads.  Sweet Red Onions and Basil to go with tomatoes!  More of the great heirloom Italian Eggplant.  A new crop of Cucumbers too.

Many of the flowers were blown down by the wind but there are new plantings behind those for late August.  The Crested Celosia wave is beginning to roll with large heads.  More long lasting Lisianthus, queen of cut flowers, mostly in purple with some pink and white.  Annabelle Hydrangeas for drying and the great Limelight Hydrangeas starting.  Beautiful Bouquets!

As a reminder if there is anything that you would like for us to hold for you at market just let us know by e-mail, by the evening before, and we will be glad to put it aside for you.

Hope to see you all at the market!

Alex and Betsy

If you know folks who you think would be interested in news of the farm then please feel free to forward this to them and encourage them to sign up at the website.

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4 thoughts on “Peregrine Farm News, Vol. 9 #19, 7/25/12, The Big Storm

  1. So sorry to hear about your mess! I hope it all works out and isn’t too painful of an ongoing process! Sending love and good thoughts!

  2. Alex…So sorry to hear about all the damage. If y’all want to get any boards out of those trees that fell I’d be happy to mill them up for you. Any other help you need with the cleanup please let us know.

    Gil & Cheryl

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