According to the very expensive, precise and scientific bucket that was left sitting out, we got a total of 5 inches of rain yesterday, 3 inches in the first hour. When that kind of rain hits the farm I like to put on my raincoat and spend time looking around. I want to know where the rain is soaking in and where it is running off. Is there any soil washing out? Did any lids blow off of chicken tractors? Are the ducks teaching the chickens how to swim? We’ll start at our broken old bridge to nowhere.
There is normally a trickle of water flowing through here. The kids crawl through the tunnel and hunt up crawdads or pretend it is a fort. Today it is roaring as water flows through. I’m glad to see that there is not more water flowing through. This tunnel is fed by the overflow from the pond (not much is overflowing yet thankfully), the runoff from the alfalfa field (again, just a trickle) and the runoff from the corn field and feedlot and the ditch across the road (the majority of the water you see). It looks like most of my water is either soaking in or being delayed in reaching the branch. I love it when a plan comes together. But the pond is receiving quite a bit of water and topsoil from the neighbor’s field and then there is that feedlot. Well, not much I can do about that. Following the water downstream I’m concerned the branch will flood the bottom…where the chickens are currently.
The water was about a foot from coming out of the banks. Too much water for me to cross so I can’t go any further to the North. Within an hour the creek was already receding so I slept soundly believing the chickens to be high and dry…until I heard it raining again about 2:00 in the morning. (Skip to the end: chickens are fine). No choice but to go east. Cows are out in the open east of the yellow house. I’m taking advantage of the cool weather to graze open areas right now. The cooler weather will end this weekend so we’re watching the clock. The cows are so full they are a little hard to move. I’m giving them larger areas right now to get back to the trees in time. We will have a big, square cutout in the pasture that will remain ungrazed until fall. That’s how it goes I guess.
Further east the little wash is flooded and we are just about to lose our fence. I stop to adjust the insulator a little bit.
This water is either overflow from the neighbor’s new pond or runoff from the eastern half of the alfalfa field. There is a dry dam on the alfalfa field that is making a huge sucking noise as the water rushes through the pipe. It was too dark in the woods to get a good picture but a dead tree was against the drainpipe and it was spraying water in two directions. There was a huge pool of water there. I’ll need to take some corrective measures to heal that forest floor. When I say “corrective measures” think cow hooves. Most of the green you see is poison ivy so it won’t be milk cow hooves.
Finally I stopped by a mulberry tree for a snack, something I try to do a couple of times each day. Mmmmm, freshly washed fruit. I’ll get tired of eating mulberries in a few weeks…about the time I run out of berries I can reach. Mulberry trees will grow anywhere a bird can poop. They are tough plants, will take serious pruning, will grow from cuttings and make good firewood. They are all over the farm and I try to visit each one regularly. There are some deep in the woods that aren’t ripening yet extending the harvest season.
Let me know if you got any of this rain too or if you have any ideas for preserving mulberries. I don’t care for them frozen and we don’t tend to make jelly. Wine maybe?
One additional note:
The chickens are a long way from the cows and have been for about 2 weeks. The chickens are currently housed in our portable layer houses. That design has worked well for the last year but has its limitations. We will be re-purposing those structures or the components. One severe limitation is the lack of portability over distance. We are moving to a new design on a wagon running gear so we can close it up and head down the road (cause we can’t cross the broken bridge). I have been delayed getting that project finished. Look for pictures soon.