Ice Storm – A Pioneer Spirit

As I stepped out into the wind this morning, I took off my ear flap cap and let the wind ruffle my short, unkempt hair. Finally and enjoyably, Mother Nature was providing the first well-above freezing temperatures of the week. City workers restored power to our neighborhood last night, and I slept well knowing the worst of the ice storm was over. “Silly hat”, I thought. I really did not like wearing any head covering, but comfort and protection from the cold made it necessary to don one this time of year. But this morning, I wanted to feel the wind and sun!

The news will report that Oklahoma and parts of Texas have been devastated by an ice storm this week. Statistics, however they are wielded by the hand that delivers them, can make a situation fit anywhere in the spectrum from catastrophic to minimal – a positive experience or a very negative happening. Since Forrest works on the generation and transmission side of the power grid, I understand his perspective on the monumental damage ice storms can cause, and the cost and labor involved in repairs. But I also understand the perspective of an outside observer – namely, me.

This group of elms is where I go with my pole saw each day to cut branches for the deer. Now I won’t have to carry the pole saw around!!

As a person deeply connected in nature, I have my own measuring stick for what an ice storm means. I was raised to take on whatever came my way. Like the wild critters, I prepare early and squirrel away food for winter, listen to instinct, and do what comes naturally for survival – hole up during the storm and, when things calm down, get back to achieving and living. To me, it is fruitless to allow fear to enter into the equation. One does what one needs to survive. If one is lucky, a silver lining is found in the experience.

While I was out in the elements over the last couple of days tending to the chickens and fawns, carrying water to the house, preparing simple meals, and living a bit more in survival mode than we are used to, I found myself feeling very alive and thankful. When faced with adversity at times in my life, instinct has always guided me to the side of fight or flight. Growing up on a farm as I did, one could never give in to fear or whining around and moping about what misery life might bring. I have never seen wildlife give up despite being wounded or in a bad spot. The will to survive is strong in me as it is in the wild critters.

Rock House backyard and clothes line. The maple tree (center) took a beating, but the pecans to the left and right also lost several limbs to the heavy ice.
The landscape will look a bit different in the Rock House front yard this year. Trees are very resilient. Even today as ice melts, branches spring back up and the trees look a bit better!

This morning, I dragged downed elm branches from the pasture to the deer pen and put them over the side of the fence. I was elated that nature had trimmed the trees for me, and made my job fetching browse for the deer much easier. I even wondered that the storm bringing limbs down with leaves still attached might actually be a boon for the deer since the leaves will be attached longer, allowing more available browse for an extended period of time.

I also saw birds flying, and squirrels out scampering around, all getting back to the normalcy of life. Most of the trees that remained standing would survive. Some would not. That is nature’s way. While I picked up visible deer scat in the deer pen to clean things up a bit, I found a little sparrow that had not survived the storm. And we will likely find more death as we venture into the orchard later today. This is the business of living and dying. It is normal.

Somehow, the fawns managed to keep from being injured by ice-laden limbs falling into the deer pen. We checked regularly to see that they were alright. Forrest did have to take down an electrical connection from the well house to the old playhouse that could have posed danger had it come down with branches. But for now, there are lots of yummy pecan, maple, and sycamore branches and leaves to nibble on!!

As I walked around this morning, feeling alive and well, I found myself happy for the experience of doing without for a few days, the change of pace it brought, and feeling exhilarated at having weathered the challenge. I especially loved the beauty the ice storm created, and how witnessing its splendor first-hand made me feel like the luckiest girl alive.

Hackberry trees are tough. Very few of those succumbed to the ice!

People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong. Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?” Thick Nhat Hanh

© 2020 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


35 thoughts on “Ice Storm – A Pioneer Spirit

  1. What an opportunity to see nature in the thrall of creating new forms. Through your lens we can see so much! The beauty of life. The beauty of death. It’s all part of the same cycle. As Shakespeare said, “A thing is neither good nor bad but thinking makes it so.” Thank you, as always, Lori, for sharing your perspectives with us! 🙂

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    1. Hi Monica!! I love that quote by Shakespeare. There was a lot more I longed to say about the negativity I’ve been seeing for so long. I think people tend to draw trouble to themselves when they practice ill thoughts which adds to their misery. There are no mistakes in nature. Today was a grand day, seeing what is left of the trees spring back to life – losing the heavy ice. The sun shone and things dried off a bit. Our drought is over. All is good!

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  2. Wow, y’all did have some damage! Didn’t you feel a little sad when you first saw the condition of the trees? Personally, I’m glad you kept it up there. {insert smile} Our water heater busted and we spent the day sweeping and mopping water out of the garage while the temperature never rose above 38, and I was afraid the ice you were getting would nip us down here in Central Texas. You didn’t say, but I hope no tree branches fell on your house.

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    1. Have you noticed water heaters just don’t last long? We’ve lived here thirteen years and we’re on our third one! That’s ridiculous! I’m glad you didn’t get ice but did you get some rain? It was a huge system. No branches fell on the house. We spent 8K last year having lots of trees removed from our house and around the rock house, and now we are glad we did that. A neighbor down the street did have a limb crash through their home, and another neighbor’s fence got crushed. We did lose a small building in the back yard of the rock house that we’d planned to eventually make into a chicken coop when we have a smaller flock one day. A large limb fell through the roof, so that shed is toast. Maybe it was for the best – it wasn’t in good shape!

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      1. We’re on our 5th water heater in 18 years. Our water is rough on them; the geology is heavily limestone and the water has lead. Yes, we got a small amount of rain, three-tenths, but could use more.

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  3. GEEZ! What a mess to clean up but all will be well soon. I have quite a few Chinese Elms here and a few years ago they took a similar beating. The worse I was in was back in the end of March or Early April in 2007 when I lived in southern Missouri. The Oak trees even took a tremendous beating and when their limbs started falling it sounded like a war zone. The Oak forests around us looked like a big weed-eater had been at work. Hundreds of utility poles had to be replaced and power was out for a long time. Like you said, we can never give up and the wildlife sets a good example of that. Thanks for sharing and many are sending prayers your way.

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    1. It does look as if a tornado hit here, it isn’t pretty. Even one young oak lost it’s top, and our oldest oak lost several limbs, but I think most everything will survive. It will take several years to drop limbs and branches hung up in other limbs, and to fill in the gaps. I’m sure every tree has a story… ice storms, tornados and strong winds make for plenty of interesting scars.Thanks for the prayers! Keep well, my friend.

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    1. It sure was nice to see birds and squirrels out and about this morning. I noticed a mother doe and this years fawns down in the canyon having some breakfast at the feeders. We heard several flocks of sandhill cranes flying over, heading south for the winter. It’s business as usual in nature! I hope tomorrow I can venture into the orchard. Today the wind was up too high for it to be safe, but I’m anxious to see if we have any woodland and orchard trees down.

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  4. I know it was a bit of an ordeal that kept you busy dealing with broken tree limbs, a potentially dangerous power line, etc. It’s good to hear your can-do attitude carried the day. On a purely esthetic level, I wish I could have photographed the ice-covered forms on your property. For one thing, I’d’ve had a great time with the clothes line and all its little icicles.

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    1. Forrest had just rehung that clothesline for his “short” sister! I think it’ll be plenty low for her to reach now! Ha ha! You would have loved photographing trees and plants in their frozen state. I did take a few of those images and should have included them in this post. We had about 3/8 inch-thick ice on plants. And when the sun finally came out late in the afternoon, the ice was stunning!

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  5. I guess an ice storm is what we call hail, large chunks of ice falling from the sky. There was one here yesterday but thankfully I could see the ominous sky but my place was on the very edge and about 7 small bits of hail fell on my place. Lots of damage in town

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    1. We get hail stones here too in the warmer months mostly, and we did have sleet (frozen pellets) that fell prior to the ice storm. Ice is rain that freezes on everything and forms layers of frozen water. The weight of the layers of frozen rain causes tree branches and limbs to get so heavy that they finally break and give way. Most plants are flattened as well. I am glad you got lucky and did not sustain damage from your hail! The thing about hail is, if it stays small it’s not such a problem, but sometimes those hail stones can be big as a grapefruit and that can do some damage!

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      1. Wow….I am glad no ice storms here. The hail yesterday was not quite grapefruit about 5 miles from my place(a bad conversion from metric probably) Thanks for the information 🙂

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  6. Your attitude spoke straight to my introverted self, Lori! While many people have had it tougher than us this year, we have had our own challenges. It is easy to succumb to the chitchat and ‘woe is me’ negativity. I’m so glad to read that you felt grateful and happy for the experience. I think I would too, because mostly this year, I have been both. I liked Monica’s quotation from Shakespeare. We can let things in and feel the pain of them, some things are just painful. But we don’t have to dwell there. We can live with the difficulties of things but simultaneously be grateful and at peace. That looked like a lot of damage, and we have seen a lot of damage lately with the bushfires here in Australia, but we have also seen how quickly Nature regenerates. Sending you some good vibes. xx

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    1. Thank you so much, Ardys. I sometimes come off as tough and callous, but that is not true. I have moments where I am hurt, but I know it isn’t good to wallow in self pity or even to become some kind of victim. I allow for a little grieving if I need it, but I also know we get every experience in this life that we’re supposed to have, and we learn. Lingering in what was, what we think should have been, or what we could or should have had is just wasted time. Most unhappiness comes from having expectations or thinking we know how things should be. We become disappointed or angry having those thoughts. And then when we hook up with others who support our negativity, we feel even more miserable. Thank you for sending good vibes and positive energy! I’m going to run with it and be joyful!! 🙂

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    1. Aw, thank you, Anne! I used to let the Eeyore in me dictate a lot of negativity and misery. Being on the other side of that, life is good and full of happiness and adventure. We all learn much from other’s experiences! I love reading about your close-knit family and friends, the weather, the beauty of your mountain area, and especially those letters of your time in England forty years ago. I’d say you are resilient yourself!! 🙂

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  7. Very much food for thought and a perspective I agree with. Despite, thankfully, not living in an ice-storm affected climate I can relate… Most commonly our extreme weather involves rain, sometimes too much at one time for the river and landscape to deal with. So flooding. Over bridges. Across roads. That lead to town. Cutting them off for a few days. I avoid to town as much as possible anyway! Because the infrastructure has been upgraded we don’t lose power as much as we used to. But we’re still prepared for it to happen. It’s like camping out. So long as lives aren’t lost or things badly damaged life goes on.

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    1. We often see how wildfires and floods ravage your part of the world. We understand how each part of the world sees extreme weather and conditions at times, and how life of all sorts manages to move on (or not). I liked what you said – “It’s like camping out”. That is how I felt this week, and a looking at how we carried on, it looked a bit like roughing it in the house. Shifting how we lived during this time, allowed us to see what we could improve on. These changes and improvements take time of course. I admire the way you live, and the thoughtfulness behind it all. It’s a good life.

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  8. We very occasionally have that sort of ice storm, and when they arrive, it’s chaos for a while. A friend lost every one of his palm trees in one storm. Another storm arrived when I was living aboard in a marina, and a good friend got iced into her boat. The stories are endless, but one thing the storms have in common is the wonderful tinkling sound of the ice as it begins to thaw and fall off the wires and limbs. It’s the sound of normalcy returning.

    What you say about fear and coping resonates. I still think from time to time about an experience I had after hurricane Ike. We’d evacuated to Tyler, and our slight miscalculation of the path meant Ike came right over us. The next morning — only hours after its passage — I left Mom in Tyler and took some things to a friend’s house in Nacogdoches before returning to Tyler to take Mom to Kansas City to wait out the recovery at her sister’s house. Even before the power crews had hit the roads, the ranchers and others had been out with their chain saws, and the roads were clear. In fact, one store in a tiny town had hot coffee available. It’s the little things that count!

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    1. Forrest’s sister (who is in the process of moving into the rock house) was just saying last night about some of the hurricane evacuations they had taken part in and the chaos and worry is a big part of it all. Finding gasoline just to keep moving can be a real problem! They have lived in Slidell, LA for many years, and have grown tired of continual hurricane damage and repair. It’s a huge responsibility you had, looking out for your mother as well as yourself. I imagine an evacuation with family could be a real challenge!

      For those three days of ice, it was a continual sound of cracking and crashing of limbs in the woodlands and orchard behind our home. I cringed thinking of the loss, but it was also an amazing sound of the power of Mother Nature. I am always awed at that… how continual drizzle can form layers of ice (that don’t appear to be much of a big deal) that can bring down huge limbs and even trees! We finally took off on foot Thursday to see what damage the orchard had endured. Not one path through the woods where we drive our UTV through, was passable. But we saw signs of deer having nibbled on downed branches with leaves (I was able to observe what browse I might add to the girl’s nutritional needs!), and we saw squirrels checking out their new digs! Birds were back at their daily business. And a hawk who has been frequenting our place was back at its post near our chicken pen thinking about a meal.

      Good, hot coffee seems to be an essential in any situation. The old camp stove top coffee pot came out, and we had a good laugh since none of us could really remember how to perk coffee in one of those! The first pot came out a little strong, and we got better at it each try. We learned a lot about how we could be better prepared next time, and changes we need to incorporate here… because there WILL be another storm.

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  9. Hi Lori, I am glad ice storms are not something I have to deal with. The trees on your property certainly took a beating.
    Regardless of any COVID-19 restrictions in your part of the world, you have been kept busy full time on your property looking after the deer and keeping the place ship shape. Boredom is not something you contend with because of your round of daily tasks.
    I have enjoyed all the photographs of the deer as they have grown and changed with the seasons. I hope they will continue to thrive.

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    1. Your observations are correct, Margaret. Life is full here, and unless I’m laid up with an injury, I’m never bored. I love what I do on this place. Walking through the woods west of here and also the orchard on Thursday, gave me a chance to see what Mother Nature brought down, that the wild deer were eating. I found a couple of trees that had been heavily eaten on by deer, that I can now incorporate into the girl’s diets. And just this morning, I saw a mama doe and her twins in our pasture south of the house eating leaves from elm branches that had fallen. I later noticed them just in front of the house, nibbling on another elm, and some oak. And, one of the fawns ventured to the deer pen. These wild deer are aware of the fawns we are raising. I’m thrilled that the girls will already be familiar with scents and presence of other deer. These storms present opportunity for all of Nature. I look forward to seeing how new growth blossoms in the spring! And of course we’re excited about releasing the girls on January 16th, weather permitting!

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    1. I think Mother Nature knows what she’s doing. I tried this time to see the positive… and there were some. Sometimes it’s also good to appreciate conveniences like electricity, when we go through something like this! Thanks for commenting! 🙂

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  10. Life is what we make of it. It seems that if we look hard enough there is something good in most everything. Not 100% but most. Broken limbs for the deer is an excellent example. As we were talking about power stations the other day and what they are made of, this reminds me of the same in your comments about Forrest and the work of restoring power.
    You’ve a great outlook on dealing with the bumps in life’s road. Moaning never solved anything. We might get a moment’s comfort but in the end dealing with it makes us stronger. How fortunate that the fawns avoided injury through the storm.
    We missed a repeat of a damaging Halloween storm similar to one we had in late October of 2011. That one destroyed trees and property almost as if a hurricane had blown through New England. Nature does what Nature does and we humans have to adapt…it’ll never be the other way around. I look forward to our coming ice and snow storms although will happily accept less damage. Glad to hear that your area is recovering and that you sustained only manageable damage on your farm.

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    1. I have often wondered why humans tend to veer to the negative of so many events and happenings. If only we could shift to acceptance of what is, and find some good in it. I marvel at how in difficult weather and fire conditions, Mother Earth finds renewal and flourishment. Even in death, the breaking down and decay of matter presents wonderfully rich soil and micro life to benefit from it. I’m no Pollyanna by any means, but I do observe and try to find something positive in the situation. The ice was beautiful. Being in survival mode and having some fun making do with what we had, was rather adventurous and fulfilling. We found ways to get what we needed.

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  11. Ice sort of happened like this while we were there, but it was not so extreme. The forest was not damaged much at all. In fact, I do not remember any damage. I just remember that the car was covered with a very thin layer of ice, and when the ice melted and slid off, it took some of the peeling paint with it. There was not enough foliage on the trees to get too weighed down.

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    1. I think the leaves still being on the trees was what brought many of them down, but then too we had much more than a thin layer of ice coating everything too. I wonder what year you were here – I should know, as you’ve spoken of it often. We have ice storms most years, but most of the time it’s like what you experienced. Sorry about your car paint. That’s a bummer!

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      1. We arrived in October of 2012, and left just prior to New Year’s Day of 2013. Although I did not attend, we were there for the Grand Opening Celebration of the Devon Tower. I saw the last few windows installed. The weather did not get as harsh as I was expecting it to get. The paint was peeling for a long time prior to the ice. That poor car has had it rough.

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      2. Actually, you are likely familiar with Ginger’s Folly Farm at the end of Jack Rabbit Run in Newalla. That is where we were. There were no deer there back then, but there were many other houseless domesticated animals, and all sorts of native flora. I am investigating real estate in Oklahoma presently, but it is not in the region of Oklahoma City. It is mostly in the region of Woods County in the northwest. I still investigate the region of Latimer County in the southeast, but it is not as inexpensive.

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        1. We are in Caddo Country, just south of Woods County, and more in the SW area of the state. I can imagine Latimer would offer much more in the outdoors with varied plant and tree life. Fish and wildlife plentiful. I think it would take a special person to love and enjoy the NW part of the state. It’s fairly desolate up there, but it is nicely wide open and has a prairie feel to it.

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          1. Well, it has a lot of what California lacks. It is not as desolate as Trona or parts of the Mojave Desert where I am also considering real estate. It is amazing that some of the emptiest space in America is in the same county as the second most populous city. (Los Angeles is actually the most populous city if New York City is considered to be four distinct boroughs, as it should be.) I did not realize that you were so far from Pink.

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