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'Weather' we like it or not, dealing with storm damage is part of rural living

"An 80 mph wind ripped through our farmstead near Larimore, North Dakota, toppling trees, some of which landed in inopportune places."

A pile of trees and branches near the back of a white house.
A July 22, 2022, downed trees near Ann Bailey's house.
Ann Bailey / Agweek
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As a farmer’s daughter, I know how frustrating weather-related damage to crops is and recall the disappointment of having hail beat down a beautiful crop of wheat or seeing windrows of pinto beans, driven by gale force winds, sailing across the field

Although my husband, Brian, and I don’t farm, we still are, every few years, reminded of the damage that weather can wreak, in a short period of time. The most recent occurrence was a couple of weeks ago when an 80 mph wind ripped through our farmstead, toppling trees, some of which landed in inopportune places.

We got wind of the downed trees and damage that resulted from the storm that hit the night of July 22, 2022, when we were on a family vacation visiting cousins near Milwaukee. After seeing many photos of damage in nearby Larimore, North Dakota, which were posted on Facebook, I texted my brother, who lives two miles down the road from us and our neighbor, whose farm is about a mile from us, as the crow flies, and asked them how bad it was at our house.

Both of them sent me photos of the wind damage, which fortunately, didn’t seriously harm the house. Unfortunately, the wind broke off several large cottonwood tree limbs, a few trees and scattered a lot of branches across our farmstead.

We would have cut our vacation short and returned home if it looked like the house had sustained damage, but because it didn’t, we stayed for a few more days, driving home on Wednesday, July 27, as we had planned.

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The next day, Brian, who took an extra day of “vacation” from his job in Grand Forks, North Dakota, set to work removing tree limbs from the yard and patio, sawing some into manageable pieces, using the tractor bucket to push others into the tree grove surrounding our yards, and raking smaller branches into piles.

A deck with white pillars and an upper deck with a broken rail.
A tree limb toppled a section of the railing of the upper deck of Ann Bailey's home.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

When Ellen, our daughter, and I finished work for the day, we joined Brian outside, and picked up small limbs and branches from the yards and helped pick up the piles of branches. By 7 that night, the yard was starting to look like it did when we left for vacation.

Over the weekend, I mowed the yard, which besides, cutting the grass, chopped the twigs into small pieces, and then I used the lawn sweeper to pick them both up. After several hours of mowing and sweeping, the lawns looked normal — not perfectly manicured — but as presentable as we have the time and energy to make them.

A pile of trees and trim limbs.
A July 22, 2022, windstorm at Ann Bailey's farmstead near Larimore, North Dakota, resulted in a lot of clean-up work, but she and her husband, Brian, are leaving the biggest mess to a commercial tree remover.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

Meanwhile, we also removed the branches that were on our house’s upper deck and roof and I cleaned out the gutters on the porch roof. (A side note: Brian also removed our cat Frodo, who followed me up the ladder and joined me on the roof, but couldn’t figure out how to climb down the ladder).

After checking the roof and upper deck, it turns out that there was more damage to the house than we first thought. Tree limbs gouged some of the shingles when they hit the roof, smashed a gutter and took a major toll on the deck railing.The large limb ripped out most of the north deck railing from its anchor before landing on the patio below. Fortunately it didn’t damage the patio floor and also narrowly missed landing on the barbecue grill.

A tree limb landed on a patio with a barbecue grill, table and fire pit.
The tree limb that broke the railing on the upper deck of Ann Bailey's home missed the barbecue grill.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

The only area of the farmstead that we didn’t get cleaned up is the backyard behind the bunk house where a large cottonwood tree fell. We are leaving that work to a guy who has a commercial tree removal business and the machine needed to do the job that’s too big for either of our tractors.

All in all, though the windstorm created extra work for us, our farmstead came out of it relatively unscathed and for that, we are grateful. Besides the virtue of gratitude, the windstorm was another reminder that life can change in an instant and that things are just that.

A white house surrounded by green grass and trees.
After several days of clean-up, Ann Bailey's farmstead is pretty much back like it was before the July 22, 2022, windstorm, except for the broken railing on the upper deck.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

Ann Bailey lives on a farmstead near Larimore, North Dakota, that has been in her family since 1911. You can reach her at 218-779-8093 or abailey@agweek.com.

Related Topics: RURAL LIFETREESWEATHER
Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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