Let It Rain

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 woodland floor has a very different perspective these days! This is a reflection from a pool of water in the woods.
The woodland floor has a very different perspective these days! This is a reflection from a pool of water in the woods.
The rain does not stop Daisy deer and Mr. Gambini the squirrel from having a snack of corn in the afternoon!
The rain does not stop Daisy deer and Mr. Gambini the squirrel from having a snack of corn in the afternoon!
Just about all Buddy and Francesca know about their outdoor world is rain! It has rained almost every day since we put them in their outdoor cage. Of course now they have ventured out to the trees and last night spent their first night sleeping in a tree!
Just about all Buddy and Francesca know about their outdoor world is rain! It has rained almost every day since we put them in their outdoor cage. Of course now they have ventured out to the trees and last night spent their first night sleeping in a tree!

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.

The pecan orchard is flooded into our property.
The pecan orchard is flooded into our property.
The river just a half-mile from our home is now out of its banks.
The river just a half-mile from our home is now out of its banks.
The pecan orchard from the road looking back towards our property.
The pecan orchard from the road looking back towards our property.
Our young neighbor and a couple of friends prepare to kayak in the quiet waters of the pecan orchard.
Our young neighbor and a couple of friends prepare to kayak in the quiet waters of the pecan orchard.

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.

The dike of a large farm pond gave way during the August 2004 rains, obliterating roads further down.
The dike of a large farm pond gave way during the August 2007 rains, obliterating roads further down.
The road that the farm pond dam washed out became this huge expanse of spillway, and the new road became the dam. Now the pond is much larger and wider with a safer release of future flood water.
The road that the farm pond dam washed out became this huge expanse of spillway, and the new road became the dam. Now the pond is much larger and wider with a safer release of future flood water.
The Washita River flood of 2007.
The Washita River flood of 2007.
Typical road damage in our county in 2007.
Typical road damage in our county in 2007.
Yes, FD drove our truck across what was left of this road. I took a few shots with the camera and walked across very carefully!!
Yes, FD drove our truck across what was left of this road. I took a few shots with the camera and walked across very carefully!!

 

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!

As we pulled up on this closed road, we noticed three boys attempting to fish in the flooded river water.
As we pulled up on this closed road, we noticed three boys attempting to fish in the flooded river water.
Shortly after I shot this photo, the boys left this area and opted to fish from a bridge higher up. I have to say I was relieved. I did not want this photograph to be the last memory their parents might have of their sons.
Shortly after I shot this photo, the boys left this area and opted to fish from a bridge higher up. I have to say I was relieved. I did not want this photograph to be the last memory their parents might have of their sons.
The river finally broke loose from the banks yesterday evening. It looks calm and peaceful, but I can guarantee you the rush of water was anything but calm.
The river finally broke loose from the banks yesterday evening. It looks calm and peaceful, but I can guarantee you the rush of water was anything but calm.
Just three hours prior this was river bottom farm land.
Just three hours prior this was river bottom farm land.
Barn swallows dart about, as access to their bridge home narrows.
Barn swallows dart about, as access to their bridge home narrows.

Road Closed_1205

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.

Gust Front_1170

© 2015 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


43 thoughts on “Let It Rain

  1. Lori, ya’ll have had more than your share of rain. You live pretty close to the river but I reckon that you don’t need to worry about it reaching you. The photos are all very good. I’m glad those boys moved to higher ground. People can’t be too careful when near raging food waters.

    We’ve also had more than enough rain with flooding in low places. The rain is now an every day or night affair. It is thundering as I write this and it is now past 12:30am.

    Do take care. I hope Daisy has her fawn/s on high ground and where it is safe.

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    1. Yvonne… I hope you are managing the same – staying out of harms way with these storms! It’s that time of year and I do find it all exciting and fascinating, but there have been a couple of times where the tornado sirens went off and I prayed hard because we still do not have a storm shelter here. Daisy is spending a lot of time either here on our place or at the neighbors back yard. Our neighbor has let his yard go wild and he seldom mows, so of course Daisy loves it over there! And she has always had her babies over there, then after a few days brings them over here to hide them in her old deer pen or at FD’s mother’s place. My mom-in-law has a “wild” yard with various iris and daffodil, and many shrubs that have taken over the yard – and lots of weeds and poison ivy in the flower beds. Daisy has hidden her babies there every year as well. It will cost some money, but in time we hope to establish many native plants on this place that will make it more of a wildlife sanctuary. So far, we’ve worked on oak tree and fruit tree planting. We do a little at a time!

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  2. I love the last photo — a familiar sight from summers at Mema’s in West Texas as a little girl. I always felt excited when those big storms rolled in. Stay safe and dry!

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    1. Thanks Monica! It looks like the rest of the week we’ll be seeing more storms and rain. Many parts of Texas have seen devastation. I can’t believe the photos and footage we see on the news of Houston. Unbelievable!!

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  3. Great picture of the storm clouds, the river before and after, and Daisy at the feeder. After a long dry spell, I imagine the plants and trees laughing and shimmying in the rain 🙂

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    1. Hello Henrietta! Everything is green and lush! And even standing on the river bridges watching trees on the banks or even now IN the water, it almost seemed that they were dancing or bathing in the delight of the rain. It’s also funny to watch the wildlife shaking off the excess water from their coats. I saw a squirrel the other morning, walking along the waters edge of the pecan orchard when suddenly it stopped and shook off water. It stood up a bit, cleaned is paws and face and then proceeded again on its search for food. I bet it feels wonderful to be bathed in rain! Even Daisy deer takes time to “hoof it up” in a big puddle of water. The child in each of us loves to walk or stomp in the water!

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  4. We only get the main news stories from the US, just enough to worry us! So today when your post came through into my inbox, I was so relieved that your farm had not been swept away in flood waters as we have seen happen to others. What you are experiencing is Australian type weather, dry for years and then more water than the land can handle. I’m so glad you are safe, and thank you for the amazing photos showing us what it really looks like! xxx

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    1. Thank you, Ardys. That is interesting about “Australian type weather” because we also share the dry weather wildfire danger too. I remember was it in 2013 when you had such terrible wildfires and heat? I hope since we’ve had such a wet spring that we will at least not have to worry about so many wildfires this fall.

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  5. Thank you for sharing with us your world via your beautiful writing and photographs…I truly enjoyed the rainy days experience…I will admit though…my favorite part of the blog was your pretty Daisy…OF COURSE…stay safe and on high ground.

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    1. Thank you, Josie. It is very exciting to think about all of the fawns that will be arriving soon! I do some walking with Daisy every day, and I am glad she is here and not off near the river at this time!

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    1. Yes Sandy, all parts of the state have been hit with one weather issue or another. A couple of tornadoes came close here but thankfully, skirted around us to rural areas and nothing was hit. I will feel better the day we can afford to put in a storm shelter!

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  6. You have had plenty of water, too. It looks much nicer/natural there than in city streets. (I have been worrying about farmers with their hay and corn crops in the panhandle. From one extreme to the other?)
    Didn’t realize you had as much red dirt as E.TX. I used to hate the fact that I couldn’t have the fashionable summer white shorts and tennis shoes.
    Always love seeing Daisy.
    (That first picture is so much like a mosaic or stained glass. Beautiful)

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    1. Oh thank you!! I’m always happy when I get a few decent photos out of the hundreds I take!! Ha ha! I am SO glad to know someone else laments not having summer white clothing for very long. No matter what I do, whites just never come completely white after a few washings. We are on well water to boot, with a filtering system, but somehow that red still finds a way. Oh well, we are country folks. Who cares, right?

      I must get to writing about Daisy today… 😀

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  7. I find it interesting that the weather always seems to be at one extreme or the other these days. Or maybe it’s just that we don’t take note as much when it’s in the pleasant middle.
    Anyway, I’m glad you’re getting so much time with Daisy lately…bring on those babies! So exciting.

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    1. Kim, I think you are right about not noticing the “pleasant middle”. And I suppose we all perceive things differently. What is happening now is certainly not the worst in my eyes. I can’t imagine being in Houston, TX right now.

      I have to blog about Daisy today… 😀

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  8. “Our young neighbor and a couple of friends prepare to kayak in the quiet waters of the pecan orchard.” That about says it all doesn’t it?! I wonder if Daisy was waiting for your birthday Lori? Kudos on looking for the silver lining with all of this flooding. I am on the same wavelength about not having to water. Happy Birthday by the way, have a most excellent day 🙂

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    1. The rain is indeed a wonderful thing for the lakes, ponds and rivers. It’s been really tough the last 4 years, and I admit I was sick of dragging 200 feet of hose around every day. Hey, my birthday isn’t until the end of June… but I might just celebrate early this year just because you said so!! Ha ha!! 🙂

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  9. Wow, Lori, the rains are incredible! For some reason I just don’t associate your part of the world with flooding and it was the last thing I expected to see on your blog post. It sounds like you really needed the rains but it’s a shame about the fruit crops and other damage. I often think about the wildlife in these conditions. We had some extreme rain events again this year. The weather seems to be getting a bit wilder. The pics of the road damage in 2007 are amazing. Loved the pic of Daisy and the squirrels and the reflection is beautiful. I guess it means the landscape will be very lush for a long time after the waters recede, but I know that some people will be suffering financially. You are a tough bunch! Droughts and floods. Sounds like Australia! Thanks again for another exciting read. 🙂

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    1. Let’s not forget tornado threats as well. Oklahoma is known for their devastating tornadoes (the city of Moore has been hit several times with catastrophic results). I know you Australians know similar conditions. Wasn’t it just a couple of years ago you had terrible wildfires?? We have those too of course. You are right – people who live in regions like this must be tough and resilient. I also find the beauty in nature during these events. With the rain comes life and growth. We needed this truly… the lakes that provide drinking water for many towns and cities are no longer a worry. I think today is the last day of threatening weather for a while. Sunny, breezy and warm days this coming week will help to dry things out a bit! Then the mowing will begin!! 🙂

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  10. Hi Lori
    The damage caused by the flooding of 2007 was impressive. You wouldn’t want that to happen too often.
    How do the pecan trees cope with the all that extra water?

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    1. Hello Margaret! You know I’m not sure how too much water affects nut trees. While the peach and apricot trees did not fare so well, the apple and pear trees are doing great as are the blackberry shrubs. Our neighbor with the pecan orchard said it is a very old orchard that wasn’t well cared for over the years, and by the time he bought it, it wasn’t of interest to harvesting companies who might lease it for pecan harvest. Apparently they have not been pruned correctly, and bores of some type are prevalent in the area, so many of the pecans are not salvageable. However, two years ago the trees did produce a nice crop and I found several trees that yielded good pecans. My neighbor allowed me to pick what I wanted which was nice. Of course I was competing with squirrels and wild hogs. The wild hogs would feed under the trees and left their nasty scat everywhere. But, I did find a few clean areas where I could pick pecans that were nice for eating. I love gathering from nature. Here I love hunting morel mushrooms in the spring, and when I lived in Nebraska it was always fun to hunt wild asparagus this time of year.

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  11. “Rain Rain Go Away, Come Again Another Day” was what we sang in school when it rained relentlessly for days on end during the (in)famous Indian Monsoons. Staying in Bahrain now, the rain, when it comes, is a celebration of sorts. 42C outside as I write this, so the story, and the pictures, have had a cooling effect! Brilliant, as usual!

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    1. I’m glad the post had a refreshing effect for you! Your days are VERY hot!! Normally we do not see temperatures that high, but occasionally it will get close and generally in the months of July and August. Right now it is more like 26C (80F) so it is pleasant. It’s just those darned mosquitoes that are making the conditions very unpleasant!

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  12. As devastating as flooding can be, I am fascinated by the power of water.
    Incredible!
    Lori, I love the photo of the two squirrels looking over the wall. Too cute!

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    1. I like that photo too! Those two love to perch up there and look out into the canyon. They almost look like they’re planning some kind of shenanigan, don’t they? 🙂

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