1207635_1396641089.1065_multiThis e-mail just came in from the listserv of Rehoboth Ranch, the Texas farm which was hit by a tornado last week. The author is Robert Hutchins:

Here is the basic info about our experience with a tornado that touched down at Rehoboth Ranch last Thursday. Elizabeth came to town and put this information out using a borrowed computer. I will leave it here for those that have not seen it yet. My update is below.

At 8 PM Thursday a tornado came through Rehoboth Rnch. Three of our barns were destroyed and the house damaged. No one was hurt at our home, but one of our neighbors house was destroyed and some of their family members sustained injuries. We are very thankful to be safe and unharmed, and are praising God for His protection and care.

Of the animals, the goats, cows and dogs all came through just fine. The pig hillside is pretty damaged and a few pigs are injured, but most are fine. The laying hens were hardest hit — the two Eggmobiles are completely destroyed and most of the hens did not make it through.

The market trucks and trailers are mostly intact — huge praise!

There has been and army of people out here today — we are so grateful for all of them! They have done a huge amount of cleanup and repairs, and thanks to them it will be possible for us to come the markets tomorrow.

So, here is the plan: we will be at the Coppell, Chestnut Square and Dallas Farmers’ markets during regular business hours. There will be beef, pork and some chicken available, as well as plenty of eggs.

We are sorry, but we will NOT be able to fill pre-orders. There have just not been enough hours in the day today. We appreciate all of you who place your pre-orders, and hopefully by next week we will have the freezer room cleaned up enough to fill them again.

Looking forward to seeing all of you tomorrow. We have often said that we have the best customers in world, and the last 18hrs have proved us right yet again.

People have asked us what it was like in the house when the tornado went over. It all happened very fast. Just like thunderstorms always do, the skies turned black and the wind increased in speed. We got a little hail, and I thought, “not a big deal…and we wasted all that time moving vehicles into the barn.” Then the winds got faster and faster and more and more chaotic. Nancy was yelling for the children running back from the barn to hurry up and get in the house. I was standing on the front pork watching for a funnel cloud, like you see on TV storm watchers. I never saw one because the sky got so dark. I was listening for the “freight train” sound that is supposed to be a tornado, but it never came. It was just a deafening roar of a mighty wind. Nancy called the last child into the house, me, just as the worst of it hit. We were all in the central hall of the old part of the house which is made of concrete blocks back in the 1950’s. The whole tornado passed over us in less than a minute. Very quickly there were so many leaks springing from the ceiling sheetrock, no one had time to go outside and see the extent of the destruction. We were just trying to get pots and pans under all the leaks. Right in the middle of that drill, the sheetrock started crashing down on top of us and a lot of stuff. We then diverted our attention to getting everything out of those wet rooms and dried out. Meanwhile, Caleb had been texted by someone wanting to know if it was our house that had “blown up” on County Road 1081, as they had heard on the radio. He asked permission to go check on the neighbors and took off running only to discover that the road was strewn with trees that had been uprooted and broken. The road looked like someone had thrown a giant set of Pick Up Sticks (if you don’t know what Pick Up Sticks are, ask your parents or grand parents) down the county road. Caleb picked his way through the fallen trees and was the first to arrive at our neighbor’s the Millers. He found that the windows had indeed blown out, or in not sure which, and there was “blood everywhere and people screaming.” He made sure there were not any spurting arteries and then went to meet the first aid responders who were just arriving. They took care of the injured while Caleb and the rest of the first responders cleared the road to the Miller house. We are very proud of him for thinking clearly and doing what he did under a great deal of pressure.
The last few days have gone by very fast. We have been blessed beyond measure by people sorting through the debris, bringing food to feed the crews, offering encouragement and prayers, and giving gifts toward rebuilding our home and farm business. Here is just a short and incomplete list of what has been accomplished:

about 40% of the roof has been covered with tarps and plastic to prevent further leakage
soaked carpet has been ripped out of the damaged rooms

fallen sheetrock and other wet sheetrock has been removed from the house with all the wet insulation

project leaders have been identified to replace the blown away porch, replace the sheetrock, put down a floor, and re-roof the house

outside cleanup has started with the trees being removed from buildings first, fences second, and then the remainder of the trees and branches that are down.

the barn shop full of tools has been covered to keep them dry until we can get a shipping container in to store them in until we can get something rebuilt in the way of barn or shed
the rest of the barn has had the vehicles removed and work continues on sorting out the re-cycle sheet metal, re-usable lumber, splintered lumber to burn, stuff that needs to be dry and stuff that can sit out in the weather for a while

the goat dairy is not in good enough shape to be able to sell milk at this time. Only one goat was killed in the tornado, but the rest were pretty upset. We are still getting a lot of good milk, so we are giving it away to people who come to help clean up.

we did make our three farmer’s markets on Saturday with product to sell. Thanks to all of you who turned out to purchase what we had in the freezers. We have no place to handle pre-orders, so the pre-order process will have to be suspended until it can be managed on our end.
many people and organizations have been bringing food – Red Cross, Salvation Army, church families. We have been keeping the work crews well fed and supplied with high-energy snacks
We have been working on putting together plans for the various projects that need to be done. Some are final and some are still conceptual. Our first focus was to keep the rain out of the house. Second was to keep our frozen meat from thawing. Third was to care for the live animals that made it through the storm. It looks like within three to four weeks we can have a permanent roof back on the house, sheetrock replaced, repainted, and flooring down. Outside projects will take longer – rebuild the dairy, big barn, and equipment shed. Getting the trees off the fences and repairing them will be ongoing. The downed trees that aren’t laying on anything need to be sawed up for either fence posts (there are a lot of Bois d Arc trees uprooted) or firewood, and the branches burned.

Apparently the tornado blew so hard on the stand pipe drain behind the lake dam that the horizontal pipe, ,that passes through the dam sprang a leak at a weak poinrt. It will have to be dug out of the dam and replaced. Please stop praying for rain until we get this damage fixed. Thank you.

Several people haven asked if we have insurance. We do not, and there is an interesting story behind that. We had farm and ranch liability policy through Farm Bureau for years. In 2003, the same year we got our license from the state of Texas to sell raw goat milk, the Dallas Farmers Market established a new requirement to have product liability insurance. I called the Farm Bureau to ask for a quote for the product liability policy. In the ensuing conversation about the liability policy, I revealed that we had been licensed recently as a fully legal raw milk dairy. As a result, I was given a “no quote” on the liability insurance for the farmers market AND my current farm and ranch liability policy would not ben renewed in a couple of months when it was due. In other words, our fully legal raw milk dairy prevents us from getting insurance of any sort with Farm Bureau. Thank you, Farm Bureau, for supporting local farmers. I took it up the chain of command to a Vice President, but no one would listen to the facts about the safety of properly licensed raw milk. Roll the clock forward to 2014. Another market, McKinney, is now requiring $1M of liability insurance for their markets. The broker that I finally found to write a policy for the Dallas Farmers Market, buy not the farm, can get a policy for another market, but at a substantial cost. I wondered if I would be able to find someone who would be willing to write a policy that covered the farm AND multiple market selling locations. Not a very exotic idea, you wouldn’t think! I got the names of three insurance brokers who were writing liability policies for “cottage industry” producers who sell at farmers markets. They assured me that they could find a farm and ranch policy that would cover the farm and multiple selling locations (markets). Each one called back with a “no quote” for the same reason – raw milk dairy. If any one of them would have come up with a policy, I would have bought it last week, just days before the tornado hit. But that was not meant to be.

I believe God had something else in mind that would bring more glory to Him. That is exactly what is happening now. People are pulling together and giving of their time, talents, and resources VERY generously. We are humbled and amazed, but not really surprised. The God we serve is a big God. What we see as devastation to Him is opportunity to show His goodness and for His people to show their sacrificial love so that everyone will be pointed towards the Son, Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the redeemer of the world.

No insurance — and their farm is mostly destroyed. No insurance, because they sell raw milk, legally. Everybody’s pitching in to help rebuild. If you have not given alms this Lent, there’s a Texas farm family who could use some love. I give all thanks to you readers who have donated to the Hutchins family relief fund these past few days. If you know any agrarians, Christians, raw milk folks, or anybody in the food community who has something to give to rebuild this farm, please pass this on.

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