The Great Hailstorm of 2013

Two summers ago a hail storm hit the area. It was so severe people still talk about it. It was bad. Break out windows, ruin a years worth of work bad. At the time I was traveling the southern portion of the United States marveling at nature and her beauty…Which makes this story so, so ironic.


Two rows of our shelter belt.

It begins with an explanation of the setting. In the prairie the wind blows almost all the time. Which is a good thing because when the air is still the mosquitoes come out of hiding and hunt. If you were to tell me the writers of the movies Predator or Aliens wrote about a summer in Montana, I would believe it. Most homes are equipped with at least three bottles of repellent, and the remains of gadgets that were tried and failed to meet our expectations. In addition to those I have two in every vehicle. You never want to run out of that stuff. Any person from a rural area can relate when I say the taste from an overzealous spraying stays with you for days. And it is worth it.

But I digress. The wind. The wind is strong enough to pull an anchored trampoline and drop it 1/4  mile away. After strong winds people will posts findings and losses and most of the time the item is returned to the right owner. There is the occasion where the owner planned on getting rid of the item and then it’s one of those possession is 9/10 situation. To protect ourselves from the wind we have shelter belts. It is a band of trees  and bushes that wrap around the house to form a small barrier of protection against the wind.

This is what easily 50 trees look like.

Exhibit A

When we moved here the summer of 2014, a year after the great hail storm I looked at my husband and thought “what the what did we get ourselves into?”  There were so many trees and bushes that looked like exhibit “A” that Jason, Micheal and whatever remotely located I’ll kill you character would say, “nothing to see here folks,” and move on to the next house. People weren’t kidding when they said it was bad.


Pruning dead branches from the bushes.


Chopping wood to be hauled into the pile.

We got some work done, but not a a lot because Montana summers are short compared to the 300 days of sun we left in Phoenix.  It was our first time experiencing a season of being stuck indoors and seeing work and it being too cold to do anything about it. And so we arrive at the summer of 2015. So far this summer has been a good one. The accomplished tasks from last summer yielded lilac blossoms and some trees presumed to be dead  took a turn for the better.


One of the piles of wood.

It was enough to renew our sense of purpose. For a while. After two weeks of chopping,hauling, piling and seeing the “to do” pile was still larger than the “done piles.” (Seriously we have enough wood for five or six viking funerals) My husband was hearing my special words.

And then the Schwan man arrived. With ice cream! He came with his version of “The Great Hailstorm of 2013.”  It may have been the sugar from the ice cream, or the matter of fact mild tone in his telling of the natural disaster story or both.  It worked. I picked up my tools sheepishly kinda sorta apologized to the husband and picked up another piece of dead lumber. And the work will continue until we are done, or winter stops us.

And so this blog closes with this encouragement. Sometimes you walk into a mess that’s bigger than you realize and harder to clean than you imagined. If your friends and neighbors are anything like ours, someone will have the right words, or maybe just the right flavor of ice cream to make it better. And my hope is this: that they get to you before you have to use those special words.

Until the next blog,



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