Posts Tagged ‘weather’

And my family elsewhere in the south appears to be okay too. I’ve got an older relative in Huntsville, AL, but remembered that the sister of a dear friend lives there, and she’ll check on him in person tomorrow.

I will admit that I’m tired of hunkering down, backtracking around flooded roads, and revising the hail damage report for my insurance company, but what we’ve had here is nothing compared to Alabama.  I hope that all of my blogging friends are weathering the storms safely too.

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Arkansas is back into the triple digits with summer heat, after a couple of days of reprieve.  At least it finally rained here, after all measurable rainfall detoured around the homestead from July 13 until yesterday.  Today we actually got close to half an inch of rain, if the gauge is correct.  That rain was followed by air so thick with moisture that it fogged up our windows from the outside.  It’s easy for me to long for cooler days.  But then I remember how long and dark winter was for us in early 2010.  It was cold.  The garden wouldn’t grow.  We got cabin fever.  Maybe I can deal with a few more triple-digit days if it means the days of summer can continue just a bit longer.

Which is your favorite season?

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.

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In case you haven’t figured out from my scant posts, things have been incredibly busy and stressful around here lately.  I want to take a little time out tonight, though, to mention those campers who lost their lives last night on the Little Missouri River and those who lost their businesses on the Caddo River.  Having been in an urban flash flood once in my life, I can barely begin to imagine what it would be like to be in a flash flood in a campground.  (A timeline of the flooding is here, but it does not adequately convey how swiftly the water rose and with what force.  For that, see the Little Mo gauge and the Caddo gauge.)

We’ve camped at the Albert Pike Campground on the Little Missouri.  We’ve shopped at the businesses that were affected.  The flash flood took place well over a hundred miles from here, yet it is a place we know well.  We also know some of the private boaters (rafters, kayakers, open boaters) with swift-water rescue training who are part of the rescue and recovery mission.  I also know of a few people who made the decision that they do not have the stomach for a recovery mission, especially for children.

The flash floods in southwest Arkansas help put our woes on the homestead in perspective.  Here no one has died on our little croft, and within a few months we will have forgotten these trying times.  Too many times this year I’ve had to say it, but my heart goes out to those who have been impacted by storms.

Addendum:  I just read that one cabin, securely anchored and raised on stilts above the flood plain, survived  not only the raging water but also impact by an RV, a pickup, and another (unsecured) cabin that had gotten picked up by the river.  If you have not already read my post on the May 2010 Tennessee flooding and how people can live next to rivers with a greater measure of safety, see here.

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We’ve had more unseasonably cool weather.  Today the temperatures struggled to get out of the 50s F, when ordinarily we’d be at least 80 degrees F for the daytime high.  These cool temperatures make me rethink both kitchen and garden.  Tonight for dinner, for instance, I served up a variation on Thanksgiving, with my treasured frozen turkey stock enriching both dressing and gravy, chicken leg quarters roasted with rosemary and apple cider (see below), green beans with onions and crumb topping, and cranberries cooked with apple cider and maple sugar.  Ordinarily at this time of year, I wouldn’t be heating up the house with this much cooking, but the cool temperatures made it the frugal thing to do.  I worked on cleaning out the freezer at the same time.  And oh my stars, the whole house smells like rosemary and roasted poultry now!

In the garden temperatures like these make me wonder if I could plant another crop of lettuce.  I know it’s risky, so I content myself that if I cut off the heads of some leaf lettuce and they grow back, we’ll have more than enough lettuce until hot temps make that crop untenable.  I checked NOAA.  Are we in a La Nina pattern now?  I can’t tell.  La Nina could change all of my garden plans, bringing extended spring to Arkansas summer.

Weather is why agriculture has always been a gamble and always will be a gamble.  If you want to feed yourself (or a nation), you must always be prepared for the unexpected.

Roasted Rosemary Chicken Quarters

  • 2-3 chicken quarters, skin on
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 3-4 large sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 sweet onion, cut into slivers
  • 1/2-1 cup apple cider (or 1/2 cup cider vinegar and 1/2 cup cider if you want to make gravy–see option below involving potato flour and whole-grain pastry flour)

Preheat oven to 325-350 degrees F.  Salt and pepper the skin side of the chicken quarters.  Heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a cast iron pan (with lid!) that’s big enough to hold your leg quarters, tightly.  Brown the skin side of each quarter over medium-high heat, salting and peppering the non-skin side as you brown the other side.  When the quarters are browned, turn off the heat, put the quarters non-skin side down on top of the rosemary sprigs.  Spread the onions on top.  Pour on the apple juice (and cider, if you want), and put on the lid.  Bake for about an hour.  The recipe is so simple, but the flavor and moisture in the chicken could not be much simpler.

Gravy Option

If you want to make gravy with what’s in the pan, toss 1 tablespoon potato flour with about 1 tablespoon whole-wheat pastry flour with the onion slivers before you put them on the chicken.  Toss on the flour mixture with the onions.  When you pour on the cider, be sure to pour it over the onions, so that you moisten the flour.  By the time you get done cooking, you’ll have gravy.  Seriously, the gravy really is going to make itself.

By the way, this chicken works really well in a Dutch oven for camping!  I won a Dutch-oven cookoff last fall with a similar recipe.

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  All rights reserved.

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In the early nineteenth century, Southerners fought federally sponsored “internal improvements” like canals because they didn’t need them; they had a network of navigable rivers to transport crops.  Those same rivers are both life blood and death for some Southern areas today.  This week Clarksville and Nashville, Tennessee, experienced deadly flooding.  (I have family in the area and am grateful to have no fatalities to report but lots of loss of property.)    One of the causes of flooding, we now know, as in Katrina, is poor engineering by the Army Corps of Engineers:  flooding caused by failed flood control.  Other people simply face flood waters this week because of the volume of rain and their proximity to rivers.  As people told story after story of rising water and devastation, a lifetime of memories washed away even when lives weren’t lost, I could not help but think of people  I know in Arkansas who live adjacent to rivers yet who do not experience floods with the same agony.  These people love living along the river and thus have found ways to work with it instead of letting it deluge their lives.

On Big Piney Creek near Highway 7 north of Dover, Arkansas, many families live in peace with the river.  They built their homes to be flooded.  The first level is concrete block with a bare concrete floor.  Should a flood come through, they roll up their carpets, move fragile furniture to the second floor, and wait it out on high ground.  When the water recedes, they return, wash the mud out of the first floor, and move back in.  Your home may not win House Beautiful awards this way, but you will not fear a flood–and you get to live on a beautiful river.

Addendum:  Recently a flash flood swept the Little Missouri River, but one cabin home, anchored securely on stilts well above the flood plain, withstood not only the raging river when it rose 8 feet in ten minutes on June 11, 2010, but also an RV, a pick-up, and a cabin that had not been tethered when all three of them slammed into the well-anchored cabin in the early hours of the morning.

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Short excerpts with full URL are welcome.  Please contact me for permission to use photographs.

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The NWS just extended a tornado warning to our county again.  There are six tornado-producing storms in the state right now.   Just heard on the news that a trained spotter has confirmed that the storm headed our way has produced a tornado on the ground.

Update:  I headed for the neighbors’ storm shelter but am back home now and able to watch the news again and check internet.  I’m hoping we’re in the clear for the night but will stay up until I know for sure.

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We just got into the house from a rare dinner out, and I heard my cell phone beeping that I had a message.  It was my neighbor, calling to invite us over to their storm shelter.  Arkansas is under several tornado warnings at once tonight, and the storms are tracking into the Missouri Ozarks.  I’m keeping our neighbors near and far in my heart.  For now, it looks like the storm is passing north of us, so we’ll stay put, but I am so thankful that we have near neighbors who are kind enough to offer us a safe place should we need it.

Update:  Tragic news is pouring in from nearby Van Buren County and the community of Scotland, where one death and numerous injuries are being reported.  This community is near the track of the huge storms that came through in February and May of 2008.  Readers, please keep our neighbors near and far in your hearts tonight, and if you have anything to give to aid operations, please do give.  (Updated 5-1 with better news, fewer fatalities.)

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Today I headed out of town in the midst of warm, humid weather.  I could tell as soon as I stepped outside that the skies were readying for storms.  At this time of year, storms are both blessing and trouble.  Here I am, half way across the country, and I see a big spot of red on the radar over my home county.  I hope that the warm air heats the ground and the rain soaks into the seeds that I planted the past two weekends (peas and lots of lettuces and other greens and turnips and so forth) but that the storms prove to be less threatening in person than they looked from afar.

(Signing off not from the Ozarks but from Phoenix.)

Update:  A tornado did in fact destroy a home in Pearson, Arkansas, last night.  It was the red and hot pink I saw when I checked the radar from Phoenix.  My thoughts are with that family tonight.  Word is that Arkansas may be on its way to be tornado alley again, thanks to a combination of moist air and a shift in the jet stream.

Update 2:

Apparently one man died last night and three family members were seriously injured in Pearson.  My heart remains with that family and the families in Center Hill and Benton who lost their homes last night.

(Signing off from Portland, Oregon)

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