Well, we finally got a real good soaking rain on Friday night! 3.2 inches of it, actually! But the rain wasn’t the star of the show…
Friday morning I saw that we were in the heart of the severe weather bullseye drawn by the national weather service.
Normally, I am rooting for a storm to hit us, as we often need the rain and I love the energy of a good storm. But this didn’t sound like a good storm at all; this was one I’d feel better about missing out on.
Having a baby and a high tunnel have both made me a little less of a cheerleader for team Stormbringer, it seems. It was oppressively hot and swelteringly humid, so the promised temperature drop of nearly twenty degrees sounded heavenly – but such a drastic relief would come at what cost?
So I spent the day rather compulsively checking the radar with my phone, watching little blobs of storms flare up to our west, and then dissipate or simply miss us. Toward evening, a large blood red system marched eastward past Saint Cloud, heading generally in our direction – but on a course to miss us to the North.
But as I watched (updating a new frame every five minutes), an angry red arm stretched southward from the main storm and began to thicken. The arm clenched a knobby fist, flexing its muscles menacingly as it swung across Minnesota toward us.
The greenhouses were open, plants in trays outside, a shade canopy over the processing area tables, and all of us occupying various lightweight shelters anchored to the ground only by the grace of gravity. As I stood up to go consult with Farm Boss, my phone sounded an alert – and said a storm was approaching with 80 mph winds and golf ball sized hail.
On the radar, the storm’s angry arm unclenched one finger of the fist hurtling our way, and gave me the bird.
Within minutes, we had alerted everyone and gotten the hatches, such as they are, battened down. Greenhouse doors and vents descended rapidly as the western sky darkened and curdled and flashed, and the trees nervously clenched their toes into the sandy soil. 5 adults, one baby, two dogs, and a cat gathered at the mouth of the root cellar – our private concrete cave, refreshingly cool. Kristin took advantage of the opportunity to organize the canned goods, Ace happily sprawled out on the cool sandy floor, Widget found security beneath a shelf. the kitty snuggled into its carrying backpack, and the rest of us sat in the truck topper-roofed atrium watching the pummeling rain blast through the whipping tree branches.
I had a knife at hand in case I heard the high tunnel flapping loose – I’d cut the plastic free if needed to save the frame. The sky was green and sounded like an engine, but the fist never really struck. When the worst had past, we took stock – structures all intact, no major trees down! The corn rows were smashed almost flat, sunflowers had toppled onto various crops, the peppers and bean plants were tipped over and violently tousled.
Over the following minutes and days we got a sense of what we’d been spared – miles of blasting wind damage across the state, marked by downed power lines and shattered tree trunks.
“widespread straight line winds raked across northern Polk County. Most of the damage was to trees, although some light structural damage was also noted. Trees fell toward the east southeast, which is consistent with the strong west northwest wind. Maximum wind was estimated at 90 mph given the tree damage and a measured gust of 84 mph in Cushing, WI (Polk County.) The same weather station measured a sustained 73 mph wind for 5 minutes.”
In other news, we went foraging a bit and made a delicious cake with the blackberries and raspberries we found.
And upon investigating a strange metallic chewing sound, I made friends with a flying squirrel that had been gnawing the grease off the grill.
In the Box
Pea Tips – Turn a boring limp salad all fancy and delicious, or add to a sandwich for a good time.
Onions – we left the skin on so you can store them if you want, in a cool dry spot
Beans – beans beans and beans, three colors of em!
Basil – basil basil and basil, three kinds of it. (Lemon, Mammoth Italian, & Purple) . Clip the stem ends and do the water in a vase on the counter thing.
A recipe for basil AND beans:
Beets – beets beets and beets – three colors of them
Radish pods – “Pop the pods off the stem and enjoy their zippy flavor in a salad or on a sandwich. They will lose their heat if cooked but you could stir fry them.” – Kristin