Friday 24 February 2017

Doris Raises The Roof

"Entry Wound"? Only 3 panels ripped off the front of this
out building. 
From an unpromising start, the latest 'named' storm, Doris, blew up to become our scariest and most damaging yet. She felled a tree, ripped a huge hole in the main hen-house, flung two jackdaw pots into our East Field and damaged the poly tunnel. But let me start the story a bit more gently than that while she was still only 'looming' and we were going to bed. We'd seen the weather warnings but by bed time we still only had light winds. I even left a window a-jar to let the cats in and out.

"Exit Wound"? Half the roof is missing this side!
Around midnight I'd been woken a couple of times by the rising wind noise but, you know, cosy warm under the duvet, safe in the nice strong house.... At around 3 a.m. the bedroom door slammed shut - not a normal occurrence. I was immediately awake and quickly aware that there was quite some storm blowing. The a-jar window had been blown fully open and I sprinted round battening down the hatches - pulling all the windows properly closed and closing vents.

We're not leaving the site till this tree is out of the way.
In the right side of the pic between the green and the grey
tree-trunks you can see the root-plate of the down one.
I couldn't stop the noise though and lay there wide awake listening to every blast and buffet, every flex and reaction of the house, every external noise and howl of the wind in the wires and chimneys. I was scared stiff imagining all manner of destruction and wrecking going on out in the dark, unable to do a single thing about it, offering up fervent prayers that surely it would soon be over and the gaps between gusts were surely getting longer.

More firewood. I cut a gap in the tree so that we could come
and go up the driveway.
We woke up at first light - around 7 a.m. to Poppea barking madly - we still do not know what she was hearing; there was plenty of choice once we started looking out and exploring. One of the medium sized trees in our 'woods' had fallen across the drive and was lying half way across the lawn and part buried in the fence. We could see 3 panels had been ripped off the chicken house on the yard side (front). Half the roof was missing from the back, with 8 foot long corrugated sheets and pieces of roof timber strewn across the East Field. One corner of the poly tunnel had been 'walked' sideways so that the door no longer fitted and had been twisted off the bottom hinge. 2 of the jackdaw pots had been flung down from the chimneys; one was half way across the field.

Chicken shed with temporary tarpaulin covers.
But that was it and the rest of the 'damage' was just superficial stuff - pots and an rabbit hutch over-turned. The fence. The garden strewn with blown bits of twig and tree. They were all manageable problems and some even had up-sides. We were just going to have a couple of busy days sorting stuff out. No humans or livestock had been killed or hurt in the storm. The only immediate cost was that I had no tarpaulin big enough to cover that hole at 6m by 6m - I managed to find a 6 x 8 one at €130 on the Internet. The supplier could get it to me by "tomorrow" on the excellent couriers that ply our roads.

Once I had sliced out my chunk of tree
the stump gently rocked itself back upright
3 good friends (Sue and Rob plus 'new' friend Jim B) heard of our plight and volunteered smaller, temporary tarpaulins and the man hours of help needed to rig them. They would also return today when I had my new, big, tarpaulin. Angels. I love that about small-holders. Helping each other in times of difficulty goes with the spirit of the thing.

The trunk appears to hover 3 feet above
the ground. 
Our tree proved to be a black spruce aged 53 years. It had been 22m (72 feet) tall and was 1.42m (4.6') circumference at chest height. It was easy enough to cut out the drive-way gap and the trunk is, amusingly, now suspended at about 3' from the ground sitting on its side-branches as if it was on the perfect saw-horse. The bottom ten feet or so of trunk gently rocked back upright pushed by the springiness of the huge roots and pulled by the weight of the root plate. When you are a rookie chain-saw man you learn that trees can do this violently and with a real whip-action as soon as you cut the heavy top-parts free of the base and if you are wise, you position yourself and saw accordingly.

Life under canvas for the chickens and ducks. 
So with the drive clear, my crew turned up and Sue and Rob had brought spare old tyres (for weighing down the tarps) and a big reel of fencing cable to use as "guy-ropes". That was Thursday and Doris had not quite finished with us. It was still quite squally with some hail-storms so battling the tarps over the roof was quite challenging. It was a cold, wet gang who retreated indoors to welcome tea and buns laid on by the Lady of the House. The chooks were not too keen to re-enter their building - as well as having scared them half to death last night by falling apart while they slept, it was now semi-transparent and had a flappy roof.

That's more like it. Big new tough tarp well lashed down. 
By today my shiny new bigger tarpaulin had been delivered, so all my crew had told me to call them back for Round 2. By today the wind was mercifully almost gone and it had stopped raining and hailing. We made fairly short work of the big new tarp and the house looks like it could cope with a bit of weather again. The birds were much keener to go in on this 2nd day, even though it is now dark inside.

Rosy has been at the mineral lick again.
Note the brown nose and lips!
We are all praying that the next storm (Ewan) does not come along any time soon and that we will fairly soon be able to do a proper repair, replacing all this canvas with new corrugated. Friends of the Blog though, may find all this very reminiscent of the winter snug-down of the Cambria Sailing Barge - tarpaulins laced down with ropes, rubber tyres hung 'over the side' to protect you from damage to the paintwork against stone piers and wharves while you rode up and down on the tide at the moorings. We are very happy with this 'bodge' and reasonably confident of its ability to take some weather. The birds are snug inside. We will cope.

Still in the pet-carrier.
Finally a couple of pics of the new poults, our "Suzy's Six" mentioned in the last post but without a picture. Also a HUGE Thank You to my riggers who generously supplied tarps, tyres, 'string' and manhours, Sue and Rob plus Jim B, and to Liz of course for throwing ropes over the roof in between cooking up marvellous scones, dillisk biscuits, cake and tea. What a team.
Released into the covered rabbit run.

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