Gone in 60 Seconds

Where should I even begin? Where do you start when you have witnessed both the good and bad of humanity, seen animals alive that shouldn’t be and had an outpouring of help similar to an old-fashioned barn raising?

The beginning of June is always my crazy busy time for work.  The first Saturday in June marks the Vintage Indiana Festival, the event I hold to celebrate Indiana’s wine industry.  The Friday before is my setup day. I spent the entire day at Military Park in downtown Indianapolis setting up the festival. It was a hot day of determining porta-potty placement, stage locations and lots more. When I left the park that night, the park manager told me that bad weather was expected for Saturday during my event.

I hit panic mode. I spent Friday night awake, worrying about where I would send 10,000 people if a tornado struck downtown Indianapolis. My worries were for naught, during the festival. We had a few brief rain showers, but overall it was a beautiful day.

That night I took my student workers out to dinner. My head finally hit the pillow at the hotel at 11:30pm. At 1:30am, my husband’s phone started beeping. My cousin, who we farm with, had texted to tell us a tornado was close to our house.  Now it was time for my husband to hit panic. He was dressed and out of that hotel in 15 minutes, after only having 2 hours of sleep.

It only took about 20 minutes for him to call and tell me the tornado had destroyed one of our hog barns. I immediately started crying. I was so upset for him. My husband farms with my family, my Dad, Uncle and cousin. All he wants is for this hog farm to survive and he pours every ounce of himself into the farm. It is his life’s dream to be farming. And I felt like his dream was being shattered once again.

Once daylight broke, I couldn’t believe the mess that I was standing in. Metal and debris littered the farm and fields for miles. The roof of the barn, which once was planted firmly on top of the barn, was now floating in our lagoon, leading my husband to say it looked like Noah’s Ark.

But the amazing thing through all of this, we only lost a handful of animals. In a barn that houses hundreds of sows and baby pigs, we lost 12. That’s it.  They were safe in gestation crates that kept them from blowing away in the 165mps winds that blew back sheet metal like it was paper.

This barn is not the ones at our house, rather 4 miles south of our house. We do have 3 folks who work for us who live in a house at this barn and only one shingle came off the house. No one was hurt. God was watching over everyone.

I can’t even begin to quantify the outpouring of help we’ve had from the community. I keep saying this is why I live in rural Indiana. People have just showed up to help.  I don’t even know how we’ll begin to thank everyone when it’s all over.

Farming sucks. If it’s not raining, it’s hot and dry. Or a tornado comes and blows away in seconds what it took decades to build. It’s always something. Honestly, you can not make any money farming. And people gripe so much about how we raise livestock, that we should let the animals roam freely in fields, blah blah. Let me tell you, had these pigs been roaming in a field when the tornado hit, everyone of them would be dead. The stall they were in saved their little hams! And that’s my soapbox…I’ll step off for now.

But it’s still a lifestyle we fight to save. Because I can’t imagine living any other way. And my husband wouldn’t trade the hours, headaches and heartache for any other career. The barn may have been gone in 60 seconds, but the determination to survive continues.


  1. Thanks for truly speaking from your heart and for getting on your soapbox. You are absolutelly correct that by raises your pigs in barns and more specifically your sows in stalls that you were able to save more animals than if they had just been outstide.

    I can’t imagine what it was like when you got that initial text and then your husband’s phone call.

    Thanks for having the determination to survive. 🙂

  2. oh wow. Everyone is so lucky they were not hurt. And you’re totally right about farming – it sucks. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    A tornado hit my hometown in 2005 and I remember the amount of help and support we got. Rural midwesterners are awesome!

  3. Thank you for sharing your story, during such a stress time in your life.

  4. Wow. I hope you all are doing better. These IN storms can go away now.

  5. Your blog was on a list for me to look at before I attend Blog School next week. Your story about losing a hog barn caught my attention. My husband and I farm 2000 acres in Benton County and raise feeder cattle.

    I think that was the same storm that took out several fields of corn on 352 just south of Fowler, where we live. If it wasn’t, I still feel your pain and frustration and determination. One farmer’s field here was entirely flattened by softball-sized hail, and his barn went down or up depending on your perspective. I grabbed our girls, after the storm passed, and put the in the van so we could go check on one of our fields close to ground zero.

    It was up, but damaged more by wind than hail, which makes insurance claims just that more tricky! Weeks later, the damaged corn is now down in crop circle-like patches. It’s hard to look at, but at least it is still standing and now pollinating as best it can.

    Glad your hogs were in their crates. You should pass that experience along to the HSUS people when they are claiming how terrible these crates are to anyone who will listen to them. We (I am a member of Farm Bureau) are gearing up for a media campaign to fight the negative messages sure to come.

    Nice to learn about another farm girl out there fighting the good fight. I look forward to learning more!

    Lana Wallpe


  1. […] too long ago we had another tornado, this one striking a barn about 7 miles away.  Then there was a fire that burnt a barn down on The […]

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