Sunday, April 24, 2011

Disaster Strikes

I must have really angered the gods yesterday when I wrote that there was nothing new at the farm.  They targeted us with a vengeance last night.  There were thunderstorm watches and warnings all evening, but the worst of the storms had already passed and I think we weren't even under a warning condition.  It was very windy all night, but it's always windy here.  I've gotten to a point that if I don't hear the wind chimes, I figure the wind has blown them down.

About 9:30 we were sitting on the couch watching TV and the local CBS station was breaking in during commercials to give updates.  Nothing serious in our area at all.  It was mostly south of us and the storm was moving more to the east toward Dallas than north to Ft Worth.  We heard a bang, I saw something flash past our window that faces the backyard and the lights went out all at the same time.  My fear was that one of our light poles in the pasture had been blown over.

We walked outside and saw something laying across the front of our barn doors.  Upon closer inspection we found that it was a portion of the tin roof from the south side of the barn.  The roof piece took down the power line that feeds the barn, our house along with our neighbors, and my office.  The wind had torn off the entire southern half of our barn roof. 

The morning after

There were huge pieces of metal all over our yard, in Chet's garden as well as in our neighbor's yard directly to the north.

Power line taken down

We lost half our garlic crop as the roof made its way over the garden and into the next yard.

Huge pieces of our barn roof in our neighbor's yard across the fence.

We have large portions of fencing bent over between our pastures and between property line and our neighbors.

The good news is that none of the animals were hurt.  If a piece of roof had hit one of the alpacas, it would have been deadly.   Waylon was in an area all by himself and out of the the direct path of the flying roof.  The other boys were all out in the upper pasture away from the barn.  Luke, one of our Anatolians, must have been in the barn when the roof got torn away.  We found him curled up a ball, refusing to move from his corner in the stall.  He was quite terrified.  He's much better today.

We don't usually see sky from inside the barn.

 I called Allstate right away to start a claim and in the back of my mind pictured the commercials where the insurance person shows up immediately after a disaster and helps make everything right.  Must have been a State Farm commercial, because I won't see an Allstate adjuster for a week. 

However, they did contact an emergency restoration company who showed up about midnight last night and tore down remaining pieces of roof that were flapping in the wind.  They came again today and removed the debris from our neighbor's yard and are out there right now tarping the barn so that we don't get any rain damage until repairs can be started. 

So, it could have been much worse and I'm thankful that no animals were injured.  It was pretty terrifying though and for a while we went to our "safe room" (aka bedroom closet) while the wind was at its worst and we could hear pieces of the roof smacking against the barn.  We'll be in recovery mode for a while and we won't have power to the barn or my office until we can get an electrician to do repairs.  Kudos to the electric company, TXU/Oncor, for coming out and getting the power to our house back on in a timely manner.

The weather alert radio has just gone off again - tornado watch.  Texas in the ain't all bluebonnets and sunshine.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


When I quit my corporate day job, I figured I'd have plenty of time to keep up with the farm, the dogs, housecleaning, cooking, dog training business, spinning and the blog.   Hasn't quite worked out as I thought and I feel like I'm not giving any one thing the attention it needs.  I've got to get better organized.  Not sure how I did ANY of these things while I worked full time. 

There's not been too much new going on at the FFF farm recently, other than the hens are laying eggs like crazy now.  We've got plenty of baby chicks available for sale, too.  Email us if you're interested in either. 

Shearing day has come and gone.  I wasn't entirely happy with the process, but it's done and our boys are pretty cool now without the excess fleece.  If you want details on who we used and why we will be looking for someone else next year, email me.

Chet scans the web for potential alpacas in need of re-homing and found a single boy south of Dallas last week.  We made arrangements to pick up him today.  I was worried about getting him loaded in the trailer since Chet is recovering from hand surgery.  He's still all bandaged up and is not supposed to be doing anything like lifting an alpaca.  The folks had the animal in a barn - thankfully we didn't have to chase him around a field.  We haltered him without any fuss and he walked willingly into the trailer where he was treated to some alfalfa (like sweets to a kid). 

His name is Waylon.  His buddy, Willie, died last year and he's been lonely since then.  Alpacas are herd animals and they do much better when they live with their own kind.  We'll keep him separated from the rest of our herd for a while until they get to know each other.  Waylon is on the left.

He's a beautiful dark fawn with a coppery hue to his fleece.  He rolled in the hay in the trailer on his way home so he arrived quite messy.  His main issues we can see right away are his feet and teeth.  His back nails were overgrown and curled over so he's not able to walk properly on his back legs.  He's also got some badly overgrown front teeth.

Alpacas generally need a pedicure at least twice a year.  For most animals, it's not a problem once you get them secured, but it does take 2 people to get it done.  Some alpacas never need their teeth trimmed, but those with a serious underbite will need trimmed down.  This usually gets done at shearing time.

We were able to take care of the back feet right away.  The teeth will have to wait until Chet's hand heals up some more and his stitches come out.

Welcome to the farm, Waylon!