Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A Kiss From God

Monday, October 15th 2018 - Day 5

I can't get over how fortunate we were yesterday to have found hay close to home! I worry for all my friends with farm animals that they won't be able to procure feed. For this reason we set up another meeting tomorrow with our hay provider for neighbors and friends.

A bittersweet day. We lost another goat today. I have to say we were very fortunate that the majority of our animals fared well through the storm and for that, we are thankful, but saying goodbye is never easy. So blessed to have a tractor!

Today we drove to Dothan, 55 miles north, following our friends, Brad and Jamie. We've decided to purchase a second generator to run the house and use our original for the well pump. It's just too hard to drag the machine back and forth from one house to the other every day! (700 feet - about TWO football fields!)

  Leaving the farm and traveling north was a bit startling - the devastation continued for miles but gradually lessened as we neared our destination. The road was filled with signs of hurricane relief: linemen, utility poles, construction and roofing companies... Gas stations were doing a booming business and the stores were crowded with post hurricane victims trying to find supplies.

We shopped at an all inclusive store, specifically for a larger generator, but filled the cart with other odds and ends as well, and proceeded to the check out line.

 When I went to pay for the items my wallet was missing! I dug through my purse some more, completely confused as to why it wasn't there when Scarlet spoke up,
  "I know where your wallet is Grandmommy."
  "Where honey?"
  "It's by the the door in the scrap room. Remember you asked me to get it for you the other day - I didn't know where to put it so I put it by the door."
I broke down and began to cry like a baby.

    We asked the manager if he would hold our items for us, but it was getting late and we weren't sure we could make the round trip and home again - 3 hours worth of driving - before curfew.  It was irrelevant because the manager could not hold items due to corporate policy, which made me break down again, but he promised he would be sure to have a generator for me in the store the next day.
I felt totally defeated.  I had wasted our precious time in making this long journey to come home with nothing.

  Brad and Jamie had a little more shopping to do, and we still needed a few parts for the chainsaw so we all went over to Lowes and split up. We found that the store shelves had been plundered of all hurricane aftermath necessities; all the items we needed were gone- defeat again.

But God showed up. He was way ahead of us!

Unbeknownst to us, while we were in the store, a woman approached Brad in the parking lot and asked if he needed a generator.  She told him that God had told her to go to Lowes and that there was someone there in need of a generator and that she should offer hers.
Brad told her that he had already purchased one, but that he knew someone else... and led this sweet lady to us.
When she told us her story I cried again.

Sometimes angels are just ordinary people...who help us believe in miracles again.

Written in honor of Tammy King,
with our humble gratitude
for her kindness, generosity and willingness to be obedient
to the voice of God.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Day 4 of the Aftermath

I posted this on Facebook the other day before I started blogging again:

1 YEAR AGO TODAY... Tuesday, October 9th...
Hurricane Michael was heading towards the Florida panhandle as a Cat 3 storm. We weren't overly concerned - we lived 40 miles from the coast and had weathered hurricanes before, but we shopped and prepped the well-worn generator and fans.
Jess and Melissa were booked on a birthday cruise that Friday so Mel and John had just flown into Orlando and had temporary living arrangements there. Jess' husband, Rob is a firefighter, required to remain active for the storm - the cruise was out, but how wonderful to have a safe place for my children and grandchildren to go and spend time with Melissa and John!!! Blessings in the midst of the storm!

5 days later....  Sunday Oct 14, 2018
The kids are coming home from Orlando today. Melissa and John went ahead and left on the cruise they flew here for, but Jess is bringing everyone else back.
They had a great time together and I'm so thankful the children were indulged with fun, laughter and family time rather than to have been exposed to the fury and fright of the storm!  (Joel was traveling to Alaska at the time helping a friend move there so he missed the excitement)

This canvas hangs in my living room now - a reminder of what is most dear to me and how God kept them all safe.
My kids are awesome! While still in south Florida Jessica organized a fundraiser and filled every spare inch of her truck with supplies to bring back to help others in need. she wrote:

"Coming up with a game plan! Most aid are providing water and other basic essentials so thinking a little outside the box! Any special requests will be honored! Thank you so much for your support!" 

As a mother of toddlers she was thinking (and purchasing) diapers, wipes, formula, bottles... Things that were immediately necessary but perhaps overlooked.  By now aid stations were being set up all over town overflowing with good will, but mostly with things like water, tarps, food, flashlights and batteries. 

 As she received monies and shopped, Jess posted her receipts online so that generous donators could see how their contributions were spent. I'm so proud of this girl!

my journal for today day reads:
Sunday, Oct 14 - LEVI'S B-DAY - Day 4

* chilly last night - Thank God - noon and the house still feels like the AC is on
73 degrees @ noon - Hot outside
* visited with Jamie and Brad
* went to Piggly Wiggly for gas and feed - line too long - went home

* fed farm - hay barn flipped so hay is moldy and hot but the animals are loving it!


* milked goats - calf is keeping cow stripped  (we had been milking our Jersey cow and bottle feeding her 2 month old calf, but without grid power we decided to reintroduce the calf to her mom to make life easier)
* Bob unloaded trailer - plan is to go to Joshs' and see if we can get hay and drive to Chipley or Freeport for feed, parts for the generator, stove and chainsaws.
* Used the Kia to charge batteries
* Rested and waited for Jess and Scarlet
* Bob is using the tractor to move and snap trees out of the way
  oh - 1st day - went out to the car and it locked itself with the keys in it (faulty wiring that acts up when wet)
        2nd day - truck battery was dead - after clearing tree from driveway we towed the truck out from under another tree with the tractor and used the Mahindra to charge the batteries.
* Took a chance and drove the trailer to Joshs'.   HE WAS THERE!!  Amazing!  Got 5 rolls and set up to meet again on Tuesday.

 There is a huge pecan tree lying on the ground behind this impressive root ball!

* Home - Bob changed oil in generator - ran fans - HOT outside! and DID LAUNDRY!
* Made burgers for dinner
* Refrigerator in bunkhouse is shot
* Fridge here not doing well (even with the genny)
* Plan to go to Dothan tomorrow to buy another generator 
* Saw Kira and Shawn - Thank God they're ok!
* Heard from Kim - She's ok too - had internet while away from home

Finally... a beautiful end to a very full day!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Hurricaned Hives

Saturday October 13, 2018 - Three days after the storm

Cat 5 winds will wreak havoc on a beeyard! Three days after the storm we went to see how our hives had fared 500 feet down our driveway and to pick up the pieces.
We were amazed to find that we had lost very few hives, and that even the boxes that had been dumped over were continuing to function, broken apart without lids / bottom boards!
  We probably had about 10 bee hives blown over off their stands, so we set to work righting them.
We don't wear suits, and rarely wear veils and today I couldn't find them anyway, so Bob began by smoking the hives to quiet the bees.

It was easier to replace them box by box - a full hive body box with bees, brood and honey can weigh up to 80 pounds and an additional honey super anywhere from 40 - 90 pounds depending on the size of the box and its fullness. Not to mention they are awkward to carry and are home to 10 - 60 thousand tiny stinging insects!   They are glued together with propolis, which the bees make themselves. Propolis is a glue they make from the sap of trees and use to seal cracks to control the flow of air inside the hive. They do this to maintain the temperature and humidity of the hive. Beehives must be kept at 95 degrees to keep the brood alive and to produce honey.

It was fascinating to me that even though their homes had been knocked  over by 150+ mph winds and were lying open on their backs or sides, the bees we able to reorient their sense of direction and continue forraging.

Look how far off their stands they had been moved! A few were completely buried under downed trees!

It was quite a mess to start with, but Bob was able to put this yard in order in a relatively short time.

Unfortunately, we were unable to get out and visit our beeyard farther south. By the time we did we had lost all 10 hives.

This is my journal for today:
Sat Oct 13 - Day 3

This Is Our New Normal
* Phones worked this morning - sent out messages
* Heard (rumor ?) PC won't have power for 2 months - Mexico Beach Gone. Looting has begun
* Yesterday we fortified the front gate - Today we're carrying concealed
* Righted beehives - most were still there! No stings - No suits - can't find veils
* We're running the genny 4-5 hours / day - at each house every other day and hooking up well pump same to fill animal waters and shower
* Curt (on the corner) came over (under the fence) to invite us to a bonfire - we didn't make it
* Jess and crew are returning back from Orlando tomorrow
* Filled waters - SHOWERED!!
* Drove to Piggly Wiggly for ice - too late for gas
*watched movie (via batteries)

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Living Witthout Power

Living without grid power is quite a challenge - especially on a farm!
After the initial shock and assessment of damages, it becomes time to maintain and manage what's still intact and necessary - ie FOOD and WATER!!
My husband Bob initially set up our one running generator to supply our house with power - mostly to keep our refrigerator and freezers running.

We  did not hook  up to the power panel in the house, but ran power cords out the windows to the generator running in the front yard, but by day two the animals needed fresh water and our well  pump is located at the original house 700 FEET down the driveway, which meant toting the VERY heavy and awkward machine (with NO WHEELS!) back and forth through the fallen debris every day on a two wheeled garden cart!
  To make matter worse, the well pump was quite inaccessible; our normal walkways buried in fallen trees!

So over the barbed wire fence we went!

Hooking up the generator initially was no easy matter. Minimal length power cords are ideal for lack of power loss, but the closest we could get with the genny was approximately 60 feet away with a 12 guage, 220 Romex wire.
  The generator had been used only once or twice in the past 20 years so the fuel system was not at its most efficient!  In other words, only Bob could keep it running with a piece of wire and baling string to hold the throttle open, while I ran to and from each of the water spigots to fill the 15+ tanks of water scattered throughout each of the many animal pens.  It was no small task considering that 2 freezers at this end of the farm had to be plugged in with 150 feet of extension cords to refreeze them.  This took a minimum of 4-5 hours of running time every other day as we alternated between houses.

Continually, throughout our ordeal we found so many things to be thankful for:

Just 4 days before the storm, Bob had finished building a new breeding pen for the goats. It was the only fenced pen that remained intact afterwards.



I began to journal two days after Hurricane Michael. This is what I wrote:
Friday, October 12, 2018
I feel so good - so at peace.  6:30 PM we just finished netting most of the debris out of the swimming pool, so we're clean and refreshed.  The fear is gone and though it's overwhelming I am RIDICULOUSLY OPTIMISTIC!!
Today we: 
*worked on 2nd generator
*penned loose goats
*fixed collapsed wall in milking barn
*had chix salad sandwiches with Brad and Jamie (dear neighbors)
*called family
*powered up our fridge and freezers
*cut trees in driveway
Left the key on in the truck so the battery is dead, but we'll fix that once we can get down the driveway.
Bulb broke on chainsaw but we have a second
Found chainsaw sharpener
*The stars are AMAZING - There are absolutely no lights from anywhere!


Friday, October 11, 2019


Ridiculously Optimistic. That's what my daughter posted on Facebook from Orlando after she heard from us. 

   "Just heard from Marcy Grant  and they are running off generator power but are ridiculously optimistic and in good spirits." 

   I love this. I can't say that I've remained this way the entire past year; some days it's very overwhelming, even now, but when we walked out of the house that day alive and well, we knew that nothing else mattered. We knew it would take a lifetime to clean up and rebuild, but, having been given that opportunity, we were THANKFUL and... optimistic!

  These are a few of the images that we captured that day of our farm:

 Uh oh. This is our beeyard. Not so happy bees right now, but we'll have to deal with this later.

this is the back of our original house

This is the front.

Our greenhouse didn't fare too well either - the wind knocked it a foot off the foundation (in addition to losing most of the glass panels)

Our animals, for the most part, are ok. We lost several chickens under the collapsed coop, two turkey hens - they are somewhat delicate birds, and two young goats. I wish I had thought to bring them inside but it didn't occur to me until the storm was raging.

Almost all of our fences are down, so securing the animals will be a priority, but for now they are all very happy eating all the green leaves that have carpeted the ground!

We ventured out on Thursday to go check on a friend's farm. They had left to stay with parents during the hurricane and were unable to return safely. This is what the roads looked like the next day:

Power and phone lines are down everywhere!
Unbelievable to see phone poles snapped in two like twigs - almost every  one was down!!!

Traffic had to be rerouted into yards to avoid the trees, poles and lines!

Already neighbors are out with chainsaws clearing the roads. I was humbled to see these men leave their own home devastation and families to go out and help others by making the roadways safe and passable.

Back home
Time to get to work. We need to start with the basics - food and water.
Thanking God for this...


Our water well was spared - It may be months before grid power is restored. 

to be continued...

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Remembering Hurricane Michael

ONE YEAR AGO TODAY... Wednesday, October 10th 2018

We live 40 miles from the coast and were amazed at the magnitude of this storm! It struck sometime after noon and thankfully, lasted only 3-4 hours. Any longer and we might have lost our house. We live in a mobile home, and at one point during this Category 5 storm, the center ridge flashing must have flipped up and water poured in between the two halves of the doublewide. Our saving grace was that the wind was blowing from the north against the end of the trailer rather than the face. I question how much longer our home could have withstood the winds. My heart aches for the people of the Bahamas. I could not imagine the sheer terror they went through! The intensity of this storm was terrifying. So grateful that Hurricane Michael happened during the day! 
At one point we tried to rest - I wanted to go to sleep and wake up when it was over, but not a chance; the howling wind, the pelting rain and the sounds of debris crashing were too frightening to be able to rest in a dark room, so we went and waited it out in the living room.

 We didn't see it go, but there used to be a greenhouse covering the tables outside this window.

We found it days later across the property, bent up into a ball.

Debris was everywhere!

   When the storm died down we went outside to survey the damage.  Though the destruction was all around and overwhelming, the reflection that we were alive and safe, with a home intact gave us an incredible sense of relief and, surprisingly, peace. 
   We hadn't walked very far when we decided to go and check on our neighbors one farm over down the street. 

 The loss of many of the magnificent trees on their property was heartbreaking!
Our friends also live in a mobile home and they related their experience during the hurricane.... They would hear a loud "CRACK"  and yell, "TREE" praying all the while it wouldn't land on the house.  You can see how close these huge trees were to her home and shed! There is  no  doubt in my mind that the hand of God was over both of us that day!