Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Sunday, December 4, 2011

Part Two: They Call the Wind . . .

I know how it feels.
Wind is hell awful.
In Southern Alberta, farmers and ranchers plant three rows of trees.
The first row, furthest outside, is a row of caragana bushes.
They grow the fastest and protect the other, slower-growing trees.
Next come the poplars.
Not quite as fast-growing, but faster than the pines, which form the third row.
The three rows together form an effective, natural wind break.
But they take a while to mature.
Sigh.
My brother, Jerry had a dream.
He wanted to raise hydroponic tomatoes.
He had done his research.
Tested the water.
Literally.
I guess hydroponics have certain water requirements.
Besides 'wet'.
He was ready.
He built two large buildings. Frames really, which, when covered with heavy-gauge plastic, became hydroponic barns.
Perfect for growing wonderful, delicious tomatoes.
He set up his equipment.
Rows and rows of it.
And planted.
And tended.
And watched as his crop grew, flowered and produced little tomatoes.
Which continued to grow.
And were nearly ready to pick.
Remember at the beginning of the story, when I mentioned wind?
This is where that comes in.
Jerry's barns were at the top of a small hill.
His windbreak was in its infancy.
So a plank wall had been built.
Surely that would protect his precious crop.
The wind began to build.
The heavy plastic was billowing in and out.
A great gust went over, kicked up into the air over the barns by the impermeable wooden wall.
It sucked the plastic up with it.
Jerry was standing in his barn when it happened.
In a split second, he saw the walls of plastic lift six inches from the ground.
He had only a moment to consider what he could do to save his barns and his precious crop.
Nothing.
The next gust took the great plastic covers with it.
His crop was destroyed in seconds.
What was it I said about wind?
The Southern Alberta winds yearly cause a lot of damage.
I have lived away from them for over three decades.
I still can't sleep when the wind blows.


8 comments:

  1. I can not begin to imagine the despair he felt seeing all his hard work go for naught.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is some tougher living than is required of most of us. No matter how deep the snow drifts become.

    ReplyDelete
  3. AAAARRRRGGGHHH!!! The wind downunder is scary too - but not THAT scary, and we don't get tornadoes! Hope he had insurance ...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Good morning winner of Little Owl...please pop your mailing address over to me at ournest@live.ca....congratulations.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I grew up in hurricane country, so I know what you mean. Everything leans to one side on the coast, and is small, tough and scrubby. And yes, I guess that could include the people, too.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I remember the year that several individuals started hydroponics. The wind took all the plastic to Saskatchewan. I'm sure it was plastic from Southern Alberta that choked a flock of geese in Hudson Bay. And they were in flight!
    Back home only the green houses made of steel and plexiglass survived... Until the bottom fell out of the tomato market.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Diane, I'm so sorry about your brother's tomatoes. How heartbreaking to lose in seconds what it took so long to grow. It's just awful. I too am quite wary of the wind. For years I lived in the Caribbean and my kids and I lived through so many hurricanes, it's not funny. Hurricane George was one of the worst. We thought the roof would surely fly off and we'd be sucked into the ether. I can still remember us huddling together, praying, crying, and shaking like leaves. It was quite traumatic to all of us and would you believe every time I feel strong winds, I'm transported back to that horrible time? We were without power for thirty days. It was the most awful time of our lives.

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a sad ending for all your brother's hard work :( I've lived through hurricanes, but they have not been terribly bad, praise God! But, the wind and the noises are scary so I can't imagine losing so much in such a short amount of time! Thank you for sharing another riveting story at NOBH!

    ReplyDelete

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