This is it! I thought, as I sat hugging my knees on the bed. The soothsayers were right, its the end of the world.
Then I could hear it building up, a great roaring and the house started shaking. Outside, metal sheeting was flying around the yard, the noise of it had woken Tim up and he had just gone as Jacques the cowman came into the yard for milking, beeping his horn.
Upstairs, in the attic bedroom the eight cousins (our three girls, Jiggies and Als three offspring and Tims younger brother Richard and Mary (Dicky and Fairy)s two) were woken up as the skylights blew open, they were terrified. The three brothers were out like a flash to move the cars from the front of the house as the tiles were blowing off the roof. We couldnt see it at that point but they were stacking in piles of four or five on the edge of the roof just waiting to drop. As Dicky moved his car – the last to go – they started falling.
The problem was where to put the cars. Corrugated sheeting was blowing off the cow shed, there was nowhere big enough to house three cars, Jacques backed his up the yard away from the house, the others were moved on to the grass.
The cows were moved into the collecting yard to group them and stop them running about – the far end of the cowshed had caved in. There was no electricity and, as it was still dark, it was impossible to see the extent of the damage, but loose sheeting on the roof was banging and bending with the force of the wind, making a terrible, eerie noise.
From the house we could make out an apple tree down and debris in the garden.
Jiggies and the men (now wearing hard hats) could do no more outside once the cows had been fastened into the collecting yard, it was too dangerous with stuff blowing around. Fairy had the kettle going on our (luckily) all-gas cooker, so everyone came in to eat until it settled. Al had bought a flitch of British bacon which was sliced and fried to fortify the fighters.
Daylight came as the wind eased off, but by then Jacques, calling home, wanted to get back to help his wife, as water was flooding their basement, and with no power they couldnt pump it out. However, by this time a number of trees had fallen and he couldnt get up the hill. A friend had our chainsaw, and he was blocked in, so Jacques wife carried theirs across the fields here so that they could clear the road. When he went to get his car he found a 4000-litre drum, which had rolled off the yard outside the dog kennels, parked 12in behind his van.
Tim, having a dose of the flu, hadnt got the muster to park the tractor in the cowshed the night before, so it wasnt under the collapsed walls and roof (neither were the heifers!).
Dad Green and Sheila had a bedroom in the Chateau (as we only have four bedrooms and we were 16 in all) but it took until nearly lunchtime before anyone was able to go and collect them.
By 9am the tractor was running the generator and the cows were being milked.
That was Boxing Day.We were back on mains electric the next day, but the Chateau was without power until the following Sunday.
Our neighbours, who caught the full force of the wind lost most of their roofing, a building and electricity, and couldnt get into their parlour for a day and a half.
Our friends Deb and Joss lost the power but had a generator. However, they had problems with the bulk tank and the dairy wouldnt fix it until they were back on mains, consequently they ended up throwing four days milk down the drain because they couldnt cool it. They finally got the power back on New Years Eve.
No end of trees have gone on the farm, around the Chateau and in the area. All in all we were very lucky compared with others.