November reeked of chain saws here at Nebraska Knoll. Gas and oil fumes percolated through Carhartt work pants, jackets, wool hats, and gloves. I asked the guys to leave them in the mudroom, or better yet, to air them out in the woodshed.

November resounded of chain saws whirring at assorted pitches from all quarters of this valley: the call and response of men clearing roads, yards, and sugarbush tubing lines.


It wouldn’t be right to drift out of November without citing the wind storm that altered the sugarbush and altered the course of work and life here at Nebraska Knoll. In the wee hours of Halloween, roaring in from the southeast, a furious wind uprooted the spruce, pine, and hemlock trees. In forty years here we’ve never witnessed destruction on this scale.


The next morning (Halloween) a crew of seven got to work clearing the driveway (Falls Brook Lane). Freedle and Ben, the guys in red rain jackets, grew up playing in the sugarhouse. Both just happened to be around; with great good cheer they dropped other plans to capably run chainsaws and the truck for five days. Those first few days felt rich in community.


Eleven loads for Old Blue cleared much of the road. Only softwoods succumbed to the wind. We are saving the wood to burn next year in the sugarhouse. On the lower part of the road some trees brought down the power line; we left them for the town crew to remove.


Next came an assessment of damage in the sugarbush. Most maples survived the storm but the tubing was buried or mangled. Chief of Operations had just completed routine fall tubing maintenance a couple of days before the storm.


A wind storm breeds lists:
A list of chainsaw parts and supplies: gas, oil, bolts, washers, screws.
A list of instructions for crew on how to safely proceed with tubing repairs
A list of groceries: ground beef, chicken, potatoes, eggs, milk, butter.


Yes, and wind can do this.


Wind can do this?









Midway through work liberating the Main Central line.


Chief of Operation writes about this photo: Main Central has been resurrected (Yeah!), with ample hangfire accentuating the setting. Truth be told, the looming hangfire resulted from concern of removal danger rather than aesthetics. [NOTE: Hangfire is an avalanche term for the remaining piece of unstable snow slab that has not slid. In this case, a synonym for hangfire is widowmaker.]


Current status of cleanup: Corridors have been cut for the mainlines. Reworking the mainlines  requires two skilled workers. Chief of Operations and crew fit it in here and there around other work commitments. November was relatively cold and quite snowy. Unless December is mild they will be fighting the weather soon. Sugar season isn’t far off; we’ll be tapping in two months. It would be very good to finish this project by Christmas.

We feel as though we can now relate in a very small way to the hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, Texas, and Florida. Media coverage has moved on to the latest disaster, but you know if you stop to think about it that the tedious work of recovery plods on and on. We are grateful that we didn’t lose many maple trees. By the way, the wind strength registered 126mph on top of nearby Mt. Mansfield that night.



10 thoughts on “The Wind Storm of 2017

    1. It could have been so much worse. I heard trees crashing in my sleep but am disappointed I didn’t wake up to take it all in. The boys were up during the storm and commented that the air smelled of pine. It all happened between 2-3am. AC


  1. This helps me understand the extent of what you have been dealing with. And remembering you were without power for 5 days? More than 5 days?


    On Thu, Nov 30, 2017 at 11:03 PM, Nebraska Knoll Sugar Farm Blog wrote:

    > nebraskaknoll posted: “November reeked of chain saws here at Nebraska > Knoll. Gas and oil fumes percolated through Carhartt work pants, jackets, > wool hats, and gloves. I asked the guys to leave them in the mudroom, or > better yet, to air them out in the woodshed. November reso” >


    1. Yes, we were without power for four days. It wasn’t much of a hardship since we have gravity-fed water from a spring above the house, cook on a gas stove, and heat with wood. I had oodles of candles left over from last Christmas, and we always keep on hand those fat emergency candles that burn for hours. AC


  2. I’m shocked. That so many spruce, pine and fir went down, and the maples were spared is interesting (and no doubt explainable; is that the difference between hard woods and soft woods?). Good crew, but so much work! Mary


    1. Mary, We think the maples were spared since there were no leaves on them to catch the wind; the softwoods with their evergreen boughs caught the wind. Most of the trees, hardwoods and softwoods, have shallow roots due to the ledgy terrain. It is fortunate that the storm struck in post-foliage.

      The direction of the wind was a factor in the destruction. Most winds here come out of the northwest and the trees have developed stronger roots on that side. This storm blew in from the southeast, hammering the trees on their weak side. AC


  3. the amount of damage to your property is almost stupefying. What a crew to put it back in working order for sugaring. Yes, quite a community gathers around you. Nina


  4. Yah, amazing effort to get a handle on all that – wow, major carnage. Might make for better flavor in the syrup without those softwood flavors tainting the nutrients in the soil 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s