By Judi McLeod
It was definitely in a “glad-I’m-still-here-to-see-for-myself” mood that Doug Bronson ventured outside early to see what kind of damage Hurricane Irma left on his multi acre farm, near Haines City, Polk County, Florida.
Doug, known fondly as “Dub” had spent Sunday at his house, hunkered down with neighbors and friends listening to the shrieking winds, house pounding and lashing rains of Hurricane Irma. He was pretty sure that his 45 KW, 30 HP diesel generator would keep the electricity running, and it did.
Knowing how folk were worried about his being in Irma’s path, Dub used typical Bronson humor on the emails he sent out: “We’re fine guys.” “Bout two o’clock this morning I’d had enough. Grabbed my lariat, roped Irma, tied her to the back of my truck and drug her out of Polk County up into Orange, fightin’ and kickin’ the whole way! Pecos Bill style!”
Being much longer in humor than he is on patience, in the wee hours this morning, Dub decided to venture outside to survey the damage to his kingdom. He knew he’d find flooding, downed trees, but never expected to find what he did.
“This is what I found in the middle of our drive going toward the entrance—a calf born last night during the worst of the storm. Her umbilical cord was still wet.”
Downed trees and flooding marked much of the wide Florida landscape on the morning after the storm. “Power outages may last weeks in some of the worst hit areas…Miami Dade comes to mind,” Dub wrote. “Lesser hit areas, a week, maybe 10 days.”
Dub, wife Kathrine and all friends who hunkered down with them during the hurricane were grateful that the generator kept the electricity on, not to mention the bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables for which the Bronson’s Isaiah Garden is so famous.
Dub’s long been a proud prepper and advises generators for one and all. “Not bragging by any means, simply saying that we try to be as prepared as we can in this crazy world we live in today. “We bought it in 2007 and have used it once since then…until this storm.
“Kinda like a gun, you hope you never have to use it, but if you do ever need it, you’re going to need it BADLY!
“The baby calf’s momma wasn’t nursing her and was weak. I heated her up some milk and sugar and got (farmhand) one-eared Bob to help me feed it and she got a belly full. Felt better and energy level picked up. “Fixing to go check on her again.”
“Their mommas will walk off and leave them, but come back later to keep them fed, but I worry if her having the calf in the storm the momma may be mixed up too. It got bad here for 3-4 hours. I can’t imagine having a baby in the middle of that.”
Also spared in the storm was Kathrine’s little house tucked on the island of Little Gasparilla, near Charlotte Harbour. As Dub points out, “the turn back to the east probably saved it, or at least kept it from heavy damage.
“A lot of people from a little north of Naples on the west coast were spared BIG time by the eastward drift. “Heavy, heavy populated areas. “If that eye wall had gone up that Western coastline…Phew! Storm surges would have taken much of those areas out.”
So instead of cursing the downed trees, the flooding and the FRIGHT of Hurricane Irma, Dub’s got a newborn calf to feed. The first thing that came into his mind upon seeing her is a prayer that many must be saying today: “God is amazing!”