As this month went on, we just could not believe the rains kept coming. After four years of drought, our area of Oklahoma had been designated as having “severe” drought status while conditions in the area just west of us were considered to be in the “extreme” drought category. As such, I never heard anyone complain about the first torrential storms that came through. And, given the much-needed rain, few even lamented minor tornado damage a couple of weeks ago. As usual, Oklahoman’s accepted what Mother Nature doled out. And when the recent flooding came, I still did not hear complaining. We all knew we needed water, and lots of it. Our ponds, lakes, and rivers were drying up.
The most welcomed rains began May 5th. The first one doused us with 3.45 inches of rain overnight. In the days that followed, another inch or two of rain, and sometimes three or five, fell in a single day. Fortunately for us, we had installed two drains up top on our property after Hurricane Erin trekked inland and dumped torrential rains upon us for three days straight back in 2007. With our recent rains, these drains were kept busy funneling water down a pipeline to the bottom of the slope where it gushed out into a little “dry” creek bed we had fashioned out of rock several years ago. Day after day, the rains came and the grounds all around the property became saturated to the point where it looked like we lived in a marsh. I half expected alligators to show up, searching for unattended Japanese Chin as they patrolled the moat around the house! Ok, maybe it was not quite that bad, but I absolutely did not venture out without first donning my muck boots!
Decades ago, before the trees of the bottomland established a presence up top, FD’s Grandfather built a couple of catch ponds in an area above the canyon. Now grown up in trees, I had never seen more than knee-high water in the deepest of the “ponds”. But the one particular pond flooded one night recently, with water spilling over its dam and paralleling my electric buggy path down to the bottom of the canyon, then gushing on north towards the neighboring pecan orchard.
After exploring the area the next day, I could not believe the mess I found in some places – lots of dead wood, leaf, and plant debris washed down in small gullies. I also discovered that the rushing water had turned my buggy path into a trail of mud and mostly exposed tree roots. It is obvious that I will most certainly have a bumpy ride to the bottom from now on! In other places, oddly, the floor of the woodlands looked very clean – the rushing water having completely stripped the debris and plant life, while leaving a smooth, dirt surface behind.
After three weeks of continual rain, the pecan orchard finally flooded, and now the water is backed up to our fence line. I have never known it to come back this far. No wonder I have been seeing so many water turtles around the property lately – a snapping turtle and several red-eared sliders. There are many little land turtles seeking higher ground as well. Daisy deer and two does, along with a little yearling buck, have been hanging about also. Apparently, the foxes have found dry ground in our area too, as have a few skunks and an old opossum that I have seen at the feeders. I hope the wildlife in the river bottom further west have managed to find safe places to relocate as well, as the river has just come out of its banks today. Oklahoma has broken nearly every historic rain record for the Month of May, and it appears we are not finished setting new rain total amounts, as more rain is forecast this week.
And even though this particular month of rain and flooding is quite an event, I do not believe I have seen anything compare to the storm that resulted from remnants of Tropical Storm Erin, on August 18, 2007. Our area was inundated with over twelve inches of rain in just five hours. Several lives were lost in the flash flooding. More than one hundred and fifty bridges were washed out and countless roads were reduced to mere gullies or completely washed away. Farmer’s lost their crops and their land and, in some cases, their livestock as well. Protective dikes broke out and pond dams crumbled away. People lost their homes. The damage was catastrophic.
This evening, while venturing out to do chores, and listening to the squish, squish of my boots as I slopped my way to the chicken barn, I looked over at my garden. With all this rain, it has been in limbo all month. Oh well, nothing much flourishes without the sun, I thought. I walked past my fruit trees and noted the black apricots and peaches dangling from the branches. Back in April, it looked as if we would finally have a bumper crop, but now, sadly, I might only have blackberries and possibly a few apples or pears to harvest.
On a brighter note, I have been thankful not to have to drag the water hoses around every day as I had to do over the last four years and, without much sunshine, I had not had to mow much at all either. Also, my gardening workload has been much lighter this spring. Yes, it has been an exciting time of rainy days and cooler temperatures this spring!
And I know it sounds crazy, but I am a little excited about having just a few more rains in this area. For Daisy deer has not birthed her babies yet. And, if you remember… Daisy always has her babies in a spring morning’s rain.
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