Problems, like bananas, always come in bunches and last week I harvested a particularly large batch of them. As has been the case for the past several weeks, I went to bed with the TV weatherman warning us of impending storms and heavy rain during the night. I always worry about the effects of nasty weather on my livestock, but our bedroom is actually in the basement of our home, so I usually feel fairly protected from high winds and tornados.

At 3 a.m. I was awakened by a power outage that shut off the CPAP machine that I’ve been sleeping with for the past ten years. Getting up and looking outside, the lightning-filled skies revealed a wind-driven rain that both looked and sounded ominous. I quickly realized that without electricity, the sump pump that keeps our basement dry would not be working, and a wet carpet would result in my wife’s wrath. That would be the biggest banana on the stalk.

Hurriedly, I dressed and headed through the blinding rain to retrieve my little, portable generator to provide emergency power for the sump pump. By the time I walked the 100 yards to the shop, got the generator, returned and got it started, I was more than soaked. After shedding my wet clothes, I sat at the kitchen table and listened to the hum of the little generator and worried about the cattle and fences at my creek farm. The rain continued.

At 5 a.m., the sound of the purring engine stopped. Thinking it was simply out of fuel, I proceeded to redress (with dry clothes) and head back to the shop to get the gas can. If possible, the rain was coming down even harder and mixed with a little hail. I filled the generator and pulled the starter rope. Nothing. Twenty more times produced the same result. In a panic, I carried it into the dryness of my garage and checked everything I could, but in the darkness I could not find the problem. Knowing that the basement would quickly become a major problem, I headed back to the shop to get the big generator (after the ice storm of ’07, I’m prepared).

My bigger generator is on two wheels and weighs close to 300 pounds. but I knew it had to be done. One tire was flat and my air compressor also runs on electricity, so I attempted to start the engine that I hadn’t run in about a year. It cranked, but wouldn’t start. I sprayed some starter fluid in it and it would fire, but wouldn’t keep running. Then, my sleep deprived mind realized I hadn’t turned on the fuel line. Once I did that, it started right up and I was able to plug in the air compressor, air up the flat tire, and then head back up the hill to the house, pushing the behemoth tool. It continued to rain. Hard!

I got the bigger generator plugged in and working the sump pump at about 6 a.m., came inside, and shucked the second set of soaked clothing on the pile with the first set. At 6:15, the lights came on in the kitchen. I redressed for the third time and went back out to convert the sump pump back to the house current, turn off the generator, and add a third set of wet clothes to the pile.

It’s been a week now, and I still don’t have all the fences rebuilt at the creek place. Two pond embankments have washed out and have to be repaired. I fixed the little generator. Judy washed a few more loads of laundry than normal.

I hate bananas.

Jerry Crownover is a farmer and former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University. He is a native of Baxter County, Arkansas, and an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry, go to and click on ‘Contact Us.’


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