Sid and Nancy survey the damage. Two weeks ago the Met Office, terrified of a repeat of 1987, exploded into the media. Seven days ahead of the hurricane. Not unlike a hurricane themselves, they blew us away with gusts of satellite images of Atlantic storms vortexing towards us; earnest, school boyish forecasters found themselves headline news and expelled torrents of hot air about isobars, low pressure, floods and fallen trees. Miraculously they were right. And we were prepared.
I spent Sunday lashing down everything on the farm that might wobble in a breeze. Compost loos were strapped to steel poles driven five feet into the earth; glamping cottages were propped with 12 foot chestnut stakes; canvas shelter covers were nailed down. We sent all our glampers home a night early, telling them the roads would be awful in the morning (and not that we didn’t want to find them crushed under a tree). We spent the night wide awake listening as the wind crescendoed around the house. Mrs B was so worried that the giant oak outside our bedroom would topple onto us she moved into another room. Being a Man, I stayed put. I noticed she didn’t overdo the ‘why don’t you come with me?’ entreaty.
At 6 in the morning, I went on a tour of the farm, walking at the unusual angle of 45 degrees to the ground. I swelled with pride as I saw all my roping and lashing had worked. Not a single compost loo had tipped. No logfired shower had crashed to the ground. All the cottages were still upright. Even the roof shingles were still in place (can’t claim credit for that).
I was comforted to see that two trees had hit the deck – no point in having a hurricane if you don’t lose some trees. And relieved too to see the goats were still alive despite the fact that their entire shelter – all 30 feet and one ton of it – had been plucked from the ground and thrown over a hedge. Must have been a hell of a surprise for the goats.
Exuding the sort of masculine composure that only a man at one with nature can command, I strolled back into the house. ‘All fine’ I said. ‘Couple of trees knocked over. Goats OK but house gone. Nothing to worry about.’
‘I’ve got netball in ten minutes’ said Mrs B. ‘You need to feed the animals. Why didn’t you rope down the chicken huts? They might have been killed. Are my baby goats OK? They must have been terrified. The rubbish bins are all over the ground. We need some milk and we’ve run out of pig food. I’ll be back at 11. Bye.’
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