On Christmas Day in 2010 Lori (my wife) and I gathered with other expats in the city where we lived in China. We took her famous oatmeal rolls and two other dishes with us and ate with the group at 12:45. It was nice to have a break from our work as managers of a farm company and enjoy time together celebrating a cherished holiday.
Sometime in the early afternoon, our driver (his English name is Philip) received a call from our farm workers outside the city that very high winds had broken part of the barn roof. The previous night was very windy in the city. We didn’t know that the wind caused damage to any buildings until this phone call. We thought that just a few pieces of tin were gone; however, the workers called back and said the entire north addition to the barn was gone!
We decided to stay at our party until the wind died down, for there was nothing we could do until then.
The next morning Philip drove our friend Keira, Lori, and me fifteen minutes outside of town to the farm to survey the damage. Philip took several photos with his camera. It was sad—it looked like a tornado hit the north barn addition. A metal beam hit the roof of the tractor cab, and the front end of the tractor hood was smashed down, too. (This was the largest tractor we had.) The field sprayer liquid container busted after a chunk of bricks fell on it. The main portion of the barn had a few small holes in its roof, and the chimney had broken, too. Philip told us that if another strong wind would come, the north exterior wall could fall. It was weak because the roof was on the ground. He estimated a total repair cost of over two thousand US dollars.
When I looked into that part of the barn, the room we called the tractor room, I was in a state of shock. Then I was mad; I was thinking about how much this would cost to fix. I said to the others, “There goes all our pig money,” for we had just sold the last of our fat hogs for the season.
On the second day after Christmas we began to clean up the mess. Two other expats helped us and the farm workers gather the mangled tin, bricks, and iron that were on the ground or partially hanging in the air. The farm workers temporarily fixed the chimney so they could keep a fire in the pump room so the water pump would not freeze. Over the next several days they dismantled the iron frame pieces that were left from the roof.
Because the winters were so cold there, and the main part of the barn was still intact, we would not fix the north barn addition until spring. Another expat hired a crew in late March and early April to replace the roof. They used wood beams instead of metal beams.
That windy Christmas is one we will never forget.