One week ago, Oklahoma was hit by a historically damaging ice storm.
At one point, 388,000 Oklahomans were without power.
Bear with me, this is a long post, but a lot of readers have been writing to me asking what’s going on.
What I thought was a double whammy ice storm was actually a triple whammy. Three separate storm surges pummeled much of western and central Oklahoma. Driving sheets of freezing rain and sleet fell, and later, after the trees and power lines were thoroughly ice-coated, cold rain fell pulling on limbs and branches that still held crystalline leaves.
This 1-2-3 punch spelled disaster for much of the state even though it wasn’t reported on the national news.
On Monday evening, we finally lost power.
We still have no power, but we’re not powerless.
As of today–day eight–we do not have electricity outside of that powered by our generator. After a really cold Monday night, Bill and I searched all day Tuesday for a generator. At 3:30 p.m. we finally found a Miller welder/generator, and Bill was able to install it. I so appreciate my husband. He can almost fix anything. If we ever have another storm like this, we can flip a switch between normal electric power and generator power.
That’s no small thing.
The generator can power the water well pump, some of our lights, our wifi, and one hot water tank. It does not power my electric stove, oven, washer and dryer, or the central heat. These appliances all pull way too many amps. Our house is totally electric-powered which is unusual in Oklahoma. It’s a long story, but we don’t have natural gas where we live. Because of a blizzard when he was younger, when Bill built the house, he didn’t want to be dependent upon propane. He couldn’t get propane delivered during a blizzard and normally, electricity is more dependable unless you have a freak ice storm.
It is not lost on me how fortunate we are to have farm equipment and the money to buy the generator along with gasoline to power it.
Since we don’t have any heat, I’m very grateful for our wood-burning fireplace at night. The days have been warmer.
There is no place like home.
Our daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter also lost power from the storm. They stayed with us until yesterday. They now have electricity so they moved home to use a washer and dryer and hot showers in their own space.
About the garden.
First, we cleared the driveway and paths through the debris to get to the firewood pile.
Below is a video I took that day. Honestly, the damage is simply overwhelming. We’ve been through many ice storms before, but nothing like this.
Second, we cleaned up the front and side yards as much as possible. [Click on images in the gallery to enlarge them.]
We now have a huge brush pile in the meadow. If we decide to burn it, we will bring out our water truck and choose a very calm day to burn. We’ll also pull the pile apart into several smaller piles.
I really can’t think about that right now though.
Our acreage is mostly wooded.
Most of the five acres where we live are wooded. We own another 2.5 acres across the street that are also wooded. I know most people think Oklahoma is a prairie state, and they are half right. West of I-35 is composed of prairie along with a large sandy section and the rolling Osage hills.
We live east of I-35, and our acreage is composed of post oaks, Quercus stellata, blackjack oaks, Q. marilandica, American elms, Ulmus americana, and cottonwoods, Populus deltoides. Invasive eastern redcedars, Juniperus virginiana, also grow here, which is why we call our garden Little Cedar Garden, partially in homage to Big Cedar Lodge.
Our trees are quite large and old.
In the lower pasture, we have an elm that is probably 60 feet tall. It lost a huge limb and many smaller ones in the storm. The oak trees are shorter, but some are still 30 feet tall or more. Bill moved here in the 1970s, and we’ve nurtured our property ever since. When I began gardening here 32 years ago, we placed the back garden in a mostly sunny spot between two oak clusters. As the garden grew, it is expanded to a shady spot between one of the clusters. We built the little green she shed at the edge of these newest beds. As you can see from the photos, limbs are all down in these areas, and once we get the tree limbs out of the garden, we can finally assess the damage. Because the biggest oak lost so many limbs, the garden will not be as shady as before.
Some things like this small precious weeping Japanese maple were severely damaged when limbs fell on them. I will need to dig it up and throw it on the debris pile. I’m already thinking about its replacement. Originally, I had a coral bark Japanese maple in this spot which I lost because of irrigation problems one year. I chose the red and green blown glass in the lower garden as a color echo of the original maple. Maybe I’ll plant one there again. Maybe. I’m going to give myself time to think about replacements.
The glass is buried underneath giant limbs right now anyway.
I’m still in the grieving stage, but once we remove these limbs I’ll move on. Gardeners are resilient.
I am grateful the sun is shining, and our weather is beautiful. That makes it easier to work on the trees. I hear Bill out there on the tractor right now, and I’m going to join him as soon as I finish this post.
In other news, voting.
Today is election day. I’m really tired of Google, Facebook, and Instagram telling me to go vote so I’m not going to tell you to vote either. If you’re eligible you’re a grownup and can make your own decisions. I’ve not missed an election since I was eighteen, but I wanted to share this piece from Steve Hartman on Susan B. Anthony. In fact, it made me tear up.
At 1:00 p.m., I went out, stood with my masked neighbors, and we voted. Truly, I saw three of my neighbors there. They don’t have electricity either. It always fills me with such pride that everyone takes it so seriously. As we waited in line, as one, we moved several older and handicapped voters up the line. There was no arguing, not a cross word spoken. Everyone was unified. Everyone was kind.
The podcast and our social media webinar must still go on.
Carol and I recorded this week’s episode of the Gardenangelists’ podcast yesterday morning. It will drop on Wednesday morning. We also worked on our social media webinar for Thursday night at 6:00 p.m. CST. You can sign up for the webinar if you’d like. It’s open to the public. We hope to show how to use social media, but not get drawn into partisan arguments or doom scrolling. Yes, that’s a thing.
A quick story about a dog.
During the storm, a beautiful female Rottweiler showed up. I finally got her to our vet yesterday, and she was chipped. Through the power of Facebook, we found her owner who picked her up last night. Thank you to everyone who shared my post. In my opinion, this is one of Facebook’s best uses. Arguing about politics is not.
I only mention the Rottweiler, because I feel like she is a symbol of how we are making progress. A man is coming to give us an estimate on some of the debris removal this afternoon. Again, I am so grateful for some help. We have a brush pile in the meadow that is nearly the size of our house, and that was only from the front and side yard. The scope of the damage is simply immense and too much for us to handle alone.
I’ll keep you apprised of how things continue to go especially as we assess the damage and make changes to the garden. Although the world may seem overwhelming, you’ve got this. I’ll talk to you soon.