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Tornado latest challenge for young Sask. Farmer

“Pretty much everything that could get wrecked, did.”

HODGEVILLE - Debris was scattered for miles, grain bins punctured, equipment tossed and windows in most of the equipment and vehicles blown out

Trenton Zakaluzny’s plan to take over the family farm as his father eases up has been hit by one blow after another.

Two floods, a devastating fire last winter, this year’s drought and then last week an EF-2 tornado that destroyed most of the yard and equipment on the farm south of Hodgeville, Sask., all have the 25-year-old wondering if the dream will become reality.

“Between the fire and the tornado, whatever I have in the house is kind of what’s left,” he said.

Environment Canada’s preliminary assessment of the tornado pegged the winds at 180 km-h. Three other tornados were either confirmed or suspected last week.

The Zakaluzny farm was hardest hit. Debris was scattered for miles, grain bins punctured, equipment tossed and windows in most of the equipment and vehicles blown out. Two neighbours also experienced some damage.

Trenton’s dad Eugene was in the farmhouse when the twister hit. He looked out the window to see fuel tanks whizzing by.

“He went to the other window and bins were rolling through, sheds flying away,” said Trenton.

Fortunately Eugene wasn’t hurt.

Trenton had planted his first crop on his own this year, a quarter-section of green lentils. The farm includes 1,600 acres and the plan was for Trenton to slowly do more and more of the work. He said that seems impossible now.

“Pretty much everything that could get wrecked, did,” he said.

It has already been a trying few years.

He had just started on off-farm job in Saskatoon in mid-August after the drought made it apparent that the crops weren’t going to do well this year. He has a grain vac business that has also been slow.

The family had to repair the house after two years of floods and this past January, during the windstorm of Jan. 13, an electrical fire burned two of their heated sheds and destroyed equipment and vehicles inside them.

Trenton said he has lost most of his personal belongings in these disastrous events.

He doesn’t know what’s going to happen to this year’s harvest. He and his dad have no usable harvesting equipment and while neighbours are offering to help, he said they have their own harvest to do, too.

Support has come in the form of meals and offers to help clean the glass and debris that covers the farmyard.

A GoFundMe campaign organized by a friend has surpassed its original goal of $10,000 and continues to climb.

However, Trenton said the cost to actually replace everything will be so much more that he isn’t sure they can even try. Not everything was insured and personal items, such as photographs, can’t be replaced.

“It can’t happen overnight; it takes years to build that up,” he said. “It’s tough to see it all go.”

That said, he refuses to say they will quit, only that they are “running out of options.”

Looking at the destruction in every corner of the farmyard is “too much.” The clean-up will take a long time, and he said it’s not like there is even a shop where equipment could be fixed. There are no tools or parts; they’ve been scattered for miles.

Everything that has happened in the last four years is starting to take its toll.

“Losing everything you have makes you want to take a step back,” he said, adding it’s particularly hard on his father.

“It’s not something you want to quit doing, but it doesn’t really leave him an option at this point in time. Insurance only covers so much,” he said.