Monday, May 24, 2010

Mtn. Lions, Hail Storms and Battered Truck

What an incredibly crazy day in the life of this little ol' Country Chicken Girl.

It all started late last night when we had a very loud thunderstorm and rain. The thunder was so loud it shook the house. Dan the Man was having a hard time sleeping because he was worrying about his cows and calves.

Just as we were starting to fall into a deep sleep around 12:30 am, Dan the Man bolted out of bed because the cows were running around in the pen in front of the house making all kinds of commotion! Last time we were woke up by the cows like this, was when one of the neighbors had 50 calves get out of his corral in the middle of the night and caused all kinds of trouble.

If you you missed that story, here it is... CRAZINESS

Well, this time it was different because one of the mother cows was throwing a complete conniption fit and the rest of the cows and calves were running around in the pasture! For those of you who don't know cattle, let me just tell you that mother cows can be very protective of their young. When a cow is mad, she'll let you know by making a wildly weird sound know as a "beller" or "bellering." I don't think that is how you spell "beller" but then again I was not an English major and don't proclaim to be one! Anyway a "beller" is an unmistakable sound that can set your hairs on end and make you cry for your mommy. Well, that is exactly what one of our mother cows were doing.

I'll let Dan the Man tell the story this time. This is what he wrote to his cow talkin' buddies in his email group.

"Last night (Sunday night) a thunder storm started to roll through at about 10:30 pm and quit at about 12:00 am we got .40 inches of rain and a lot of lightening that made the house shake. We are currently dry lotting our cattle, waiting to get our pasture set up to start grazing, about 100 yards south of our house. At about 12:30 am I woke (I sleep very lightly the boys were never able to sneak home late) to a commotion going on outside with the cows.

I got up and ran out on our front deck in my underwear and I could see the silhouette of the cows running around in the pen and one cow I could not see was madder than a wet hornet and sounded like she was going to stomp something in the mud. I yelled a couple of times hoping if there was a predator out there my big scary voice would chase it off and then I started back in to get dressed and head out to see what was going on. Meanwhile my wife was up by now and asking "why is that cow going ballistic?"

Well we got out there and the cows were settled back down other than breathing hard and coughing from running. We didn't find anything so we headed back in thinking we may never know what was going on."

We have never lost a calf to any predator before and Dan the Man wasn't about to let it happen last night!

Seeing the best as we could concerning it was pitch black outside and convinced that the cows and calves were okay, we continued our romantic (ha, ha) midnight stroll and checked on the bulls, steers and the chickens. Everything seemed to be in order. Not knowing what else to do, we walked back to the house (holding hands, ya right!) and tried to go back to sleep. Sleep eluded Dan the Man because he was still trying to figure out what had possibly gotten those cows so worked up.

When morning came, I awoke, fixed my coffee and headed for the computer (my morning ritual.) As I was scanning Facebook I noticed a post from one of my friends who lives about 4 miles from our place. They had lost a calf the morning before to a mountain lion.

A mountain lion! Holy moly, maybe that was what was in with our cows last night! I ran into the bedroom to let Dan the Man know and he said we would have to be sure to look for tracks and see if we could find any. When we went out to do our chores, we did just exactly that, but the only tracks we could find were coyote and raccoon. No mountain lion that we could see.

After chores were done, we needed to take Skyler into Scottsbluff. He was going to fly to Phoenix to visit his aunt, cousins and grandparents for a couple of weeks. The weather looked as if it might rain, but the skies didn't look too threatening. When we got to the airport we discovered that Skyler's flight has been delayed for 35 minutes and he wouldn't be able to make his connecting flight in Denver, so they booked him on the next flight out of Denver, which meant that he would have to sit at DIA for about 5 hours.

Since we had a list of things to get while we were in town, we left Skyler at the airport and went on our way to get our list and things so we could get back to the ranch and start on the day's projects.

First stop was Menards (save big money at Menards!) Do you have the song stuck in your head now? You can thank me later. Anyway, Dan the Man and Chris went to the hardware part of the store while I went to the garden part. I noticed the skies turning a little black to the south but didn't think that it was really suppose to storm. Then I noticed that there were several employees covering all the plants with huge tarps. I thought to my self, "Well, they must think it is really going to storm. Seems like they are going to extremes here!" Since I felt like I was in their way trying to look at the plants while they were trying to cover them up, I went to find the men.

After they had all there stuff, Dan the Man had one last thing to get. He needed some gravel which was in the garden center, so off we went back to the garden center. As we were loading the bags of gravel on the flatbed, it started to rain. Not wanting to get wet, we stepped up our pace and tried to hurry so we could pay for our stuff and get back to the truck before it really started to rain.

As we were paying, it started to rain a little harder and Dan the Man ran out to the parking lot and got the truck. As he pulled up to the loading area, it started to hail. I thought the logical thing to do was just wait inside the store until the hail was over, but not Dan the Man. He just wanted to get the stuff loaded and get out of there. All of the sudden the skies opened and the hail was golf ball sized and coming down like crazy.

We got back into the store and waited in the garden area part that was covered. Pretty soon, it was hailing with such force that the hail was coming inside the store and the automatic doors would not close. It was getting a little crazy for me so I went into the main part of the store. Soon Dan the Man and Chris followed. It was so incredibly crazy loud in the store because of the metal roof and the hail that although Dan the Man and I were standing face to face, we could not hear what each other were saying. Then the skylights above us starting breaking and falling down because of the hail! I tell you, it was crazy.

I don't know how long it hailed for because I lost track of time due to the fact that it was one of the craziest, scariest hail storms I have ever been in. I was also concerned about Skyler and what it was doing at the airport. After the hail stopped we headed outside to find our truck and several other vehicles with broken windshields. Ours just wasn't broken, it was literally shattered over the whole thing. We also had some pretty major hail damage to the body. Some of the cars had their entire back windows broken out.

Then the tornado warning siren started blowing. Not really knowing what to do, we headed back to the store. We were informed at the door that if we were coming in, we would have to go straight to the bathrooms. So that's what we did. I texted Skyler and he said that it had only hailed at the airport for a bout 20 seconds. His flight had been delayed again.

After we were released from the bathroom at Menards, we headed to the truck once again and decided that we had to get the windshield fixed before we could do anything else. Skyler was content waiting for his plane while we got the windshield fixed. On the way to the windshield repair place, Skyler texted me again saying that they were headed for the bathrooms because of the tornado warning. A few minutes later he texted again saying that they were not in the bathrooms anymore and he was going to get something to eat at the restaurant at the airport.

We were lucky and one of the first to arrive at the windshield place, but the phones were ringing off the hook and total chaos was about to break out because several people had lost windows in their vehicles during the storm.

Well, to wrap the story up, it took 3 hours to get the windshield fixed and all of the flights out of the airport were canceled. We had to pickup Skyler and finally headed home sometime around 3:30 pm. We were just praying that all would be okay when we got back home. Thank God, everything was fine back here on the ranch.

What a day! Wish I could have gotten more pictures, but I only had my camera phone. We saw several vehicles with major damage and several hotels, especially the Super 8, that had nearly all the south facing windows of the property broken or cracked. The stucco walls of the hotel had huge pits in it because of the hail. While we were waiting for the windshield I over heard the guy talking to someone with the State of NE and they had 28 vehicles that needed new windshields.

Hail that come out of the downspout at Mernards.

Notice the big hail stones in the bottom right hand corner of the picture.
This is under an overhang at Mernards.

Wish I had something in the picture as a size reference for the hail stones.
They don't look as big as they actually were.

Our windshield, totally shattered.

Our windshield.

Not a fun day, but we feel very blessed to not have been harmed!

Now we are praying for a nice day tomorrow. Skyler will try again to get to Phoenix and we will try again to get the supplies we need from town!


  1. Wow! That was some storm! Thankfully you are all okay!

  2. Hey there Kathy - my brother got one of my pictures posted on FB of the calf - Have Dan the Man take a look! It makes me want to take the cattle and just dry lot them next to the house all year! Jennifer

  3. Here are some comments posted from Facebook:

    Sarah said: "I too was at Menards during the storm. I stood right next to you in the bathroom and thought, "That looks like the Country Chicken Girl", but had only seen your pictures on the website. Wasn't that storm CRAZY?! Our side window was broken in, with glass all over the van and car seats (rain too) and the windshield has 6 large strikes in it. It is still like that since I had to get husband home so he could go protect and serve (and mostly direct traffic). Sheesh, I'm so glad that our farm didn't get hit, but so sad about my van. :("

    Michelle said: "All I can say!"

    Shirley said: "What a day, indeed! I just missed you at Menards - I got home just before the hail got here and gave the front of our house a "makeover"!!"

    Emily said: "Wow! I've never seen hail bigger than pea sized."

    Jim said: "Hail is one of those things that can do all sorts of damage and then disappear by melting. Your pictures showed it was big, even without a reference point."

    Michelle said: "Sorry to hear about the damages -- Shirley, for you, too! We were fortunate to escape damage, because of all the tall trees in the yard. The hail was marble-sized here."