By Julie Vaughn
On April 10, 2009, Good Friday became known as “tornado Friday” in our family’s history as a twister touched down on our farm in Eagleville, Tenn. This same tornado minutes later struck nearby Murfreesboro as a class F5, destroying homes, businesses and taking the life of a young mother and baby.
It was a crazy day anyway, much more chaotic than our “normal” crazy farm life. We each had our assignments. Jim would take his parents to the doctor in Nashville. Along with my two boys (then ages 4 and 1), our part-time employee Kelley and I finished harvesting vegetables and packing half-bushel boxes for our local CSA distribution.
Of course, when you are shorthanded, things are always a bit more stressful. The wind that Friday was making our work nearly impossible, as our spinach was flying away faster than we could harvest it. My 1-year-old son simply would not take a nap at his normally scheduled time, and one of our expectant ewes was going into labor and seemed to want to do it her way (out in the field) instead of my way (in the barn). It was about as much as this farm wife could handle. I had no idea how much more I was about to be called on to manage.
When the harvest was finally complete, we decided to take a break for lunch. The 1-year-old finally was napping peacefully, and the day was feeling a bit more manageable when I heard a screaming noise coming from the west side of the farm. I ran to the kitchen door and tried to open it, but it would not budge. At the exact same moment my ears and Kelley’s ears popped, our eyes met and I knew something big was going on outside.
You might wonder what was going through my mind? One word sums it up: BATHTUB. Yes, bathtub. That is what I said, and that is where we all went. All FOUR of us! In our more than 100-year-old farmhouse, the bathtub is indeed as safe as any other location.
The screaming sound continued, followed by strong wind and hail that seemed to last a long time, but in reality it was over in a few seconds. Seconds indeed, but that was all it took to remove the roof and sides from our hay barn, completely collapse our hen house, damage countless stretches of fences, twist off and mangle massive trees and completely destroy all four of our greenhouses.
You might think I would have cried seeing all that damage, but I did not. Instead, I looked at my two boys and my friend Kelley, still in the bathtub, which was still located in my house, which was still standing, completely untouched by the wind. I was so very thankful to God. The damage was painful and would set us back in finances and time, but everything that was destroyed could be replaced, and I knew it was the hand of God that protected my home and family.
As crazy as that Friday began, so it ended with neighbors bringing food and promises of help. A few chickens found their way home from their windy trip to who knows where, and that stubborn, uncooperative ewe safely delivered twins that we aptly named Tornado and Twister.