On June 16, 2014, Year of THE Flood, we were hit with hail. Sioux Falls had already experienced a very damaging hail event a few weeks earlier. A large percentage of Sioux Falls’ cars were damaged, dinged, and dented. Spring gardens were destroyed. Roofs needed replacing.
This hail event is the first in my life-time that paid us insurance moneys. We have had hail before; almost every year, it seems. But none as severe as to cause cash settlements on buildings, trailers, and our home. (There is no crop insurance available for specialty crops and no insurance for greenhouse plastics.)
June 16 is Henry’s birthday and this year it was on a Monday. We decided to take the day off, leave the farm to a limited crew and a project list. But what to do? What would be fun, memorable, not so far from home (storms were brewing all around), and something that Henry/Grandpa liked to do?
“Let’s go fishing and have a picnic lunch at Lake Pahoja!” (Grandma likes to fish; Grandpa not so much.)
We found an empty dock (the whole park was pretty much empty) and threw out some fishing lines. The wind was wild but little kids and babies are oblivious to wind. Our hooks, worms and sinkers were blown onto shore. The game warden stopped, made a little small talk, ignored our fishing license. Nary a bite.
We found an empty shelter house to eat our picnic lunch. At the least, the running water smelled like fish.
Mommies took the little kids and babies to the playground and Daddies took Grandma back out to fish. Grandpa cruised the park paths in his truck, trying to find better cell phone reception; Grandpa’s work day hadn’t stopped.
The wind continued to howl. The waves lapped and slapped.
Daddies watched the storm on their cell phones as it split and went around the park. Alissa called the farm crew, “Stop weeding. Hurry home!”
Finally Grandma said, “I think the water is rising. I’d feel better if we all went home.”
Alissa and Nathan left the park first. Soon we all followed.
Grandma’s cell phone rang. “Mom? Um … Try to prepare yourself … and prepare Dad, too. The farm was hit with hail. It looks pretty bad ….”
Storms were all around. We didn’t look but went straight into the house. There would be plenty of time for looking tomorrow. Our hearts were sick. The crops had been so beautiful, so lush. How bad was it?
When strength returned, I took some pictures. We purchased back-pack sprayers and took turns spraying every crop. We waded through the mud in bare feet until we had misted every plant with fresh carbon and oxygen, a plant Band-Aid. Our goal was to seal the plants’ wounds as a scab seals our wounds, to prevent infection, weeping, and oozing.
I took pictures of the damaged plants. The gardens, in shock, stood still for about a month before crops started to recover and prosper once again. Later I took some more pictures.
Here’s our tribute to THE Power of Plants!
Your truly humbled and grateful farmer friends,
Harriet & Henry Kattenberg
Seedtime and Harvest