Beneficial Summer Rain

In the wee hours of the morning on June 26th, I woke to the sound of thunder and the wind picking up outside. Oscar had been gently pawing at the bedroom door for a couple of minutes before I decided to get up. I figured he and Lollipop were scared, so I got out of bed, put on the work clothes that I had laid out the night before, and checked the radar on my iPad. Sure enough, a huge storm system was rocketing in our direction. I scurried the dogs outside to do their bathroom business before the first drops began pelting down. Back inside the house, I decided to lie down on the couch after noticing the display on the clock in the kitchen showed 3:00 in the morning. I put Oscar at the foot of the couch, and Lollipop jumped up to rest near my head. Thunder cracked and lightning flashed outside the windows, but the three of us slept fairly well through all of it.

It was 8:00 before I opened my eyes. I could not remember the last time I had slept in so late. As I put shoes on, Oscar and Lollipop headed to the front door. I was surprised at what I saw when I opened the door. Vast puddles of water surrounded our house, and the pasture looked like a lake! Oscar and Lollipop ended up doing their business on the driveway rock because there wasn’t a dry spot of grass to be found. Gracie was the only deer around and she was taking advantage of the playtime opportunity the big puddles in front of the house offered her. I checked on Ruthie deer, who had apparently spent the night in the barn since she was dry and comfortable in her bed of straw. I finally walked to the slope behind the house to check the rain gauge, which registered 5.90 inches of rain! No wonder there was so much standing water around the property!

Deer love to play in water. Many times I have witnessed mama does out gamboling in the rain with their fawns.

By mid-morning, Forrest and I were curious about how the rain affected the pecan orchard. We decided on a hike to check out the slough and, from there, a walk across the orchard to the old river channel dike. Work had recently begun on the new bridge crossing the old river channel, and we were curious to see if the massive rain had demolished any of the dirt work accomplished so far. More rain was forecast for the afternoon, so I grabbed my DSLR camera and zoom lens, Forrest and I donned our Muck boots, and we headed out while the getting was good.

Not far along the orchard path to the slough, I realized the water was deeper than I thought it would be. Soon, the entire buggy path disappeared under a lake of water and all we could see on higher ground above the path was water in the weeds ahead of us. The slough had expanded greatly, overflowing its shallow banks and flowing on into the orchard and beyond. Forrest had taken the lead for this trek, so I kept asking him if his boots were still dry (to which he repeatedly responded, “Yes.”) as a gauge of what lay ahead for me.

Only moments after hearing Forrest’s latest “Yes.”, I stepped into what appeared to be a shallow ditch, and my boots filled with water. My first reaction was dismay and the thought that I would now be slogging along with heavy water-filled boots. I contemplated heading home. But fairly quickly, I realized the cool of the water surrounding my feet felt pretty good in the sweltering heat and, as I walked, the boots really were not as heavy as I thought they would be. My only regret was bringing the DSLR camera, which I now had to carry at shoulder height or above my head in order to keep it dry from the tall, wet weeds. The zoom lens made the whole camera rig a heavy load. On a good note though, Gracie deer had decided to tag along behind us, and I was thankful to have the camera to photograph her.

Beneath the expanse of water in the foreground is the buggy path, and beyond is the slough. This year, young cottonwood trees, willow trees, and cattails have lined the outer banks. We have already noted more variety of water fowl, and the deer seem to frequent the area for the cool shade.
The entire pecan orchard was flooded. This particular stretch of the pasture along Park Road to the old river channel was at least three feet deep.
Gracie deer lagged behind, often up to her belly in water. Here we stand near the slough not far from Park Road. Gracie watches the traffic from the busy road, which is on much higher ground.
From my perch on the old river channel dike, I watch Gracie deer slowly making her way to follow us. With the buggy paths completely submerged, we won’t be taking evening drives any time soon to check fences and wildlife activity. Despite the rain, construction of the new bridge over the old river channel has continued.
Here lichen produces vibrant blues and greens, and a toxic poison ivy plant clings to the bark.
Gracie deer meanders through a thick area of hedge parsley – a prolific weed that is found throughout the orchard and all over our property. It makes hiking an absolute nightmare as the flowers become a stick-tight seed that clings to one’s clothing.
Hedge parsley seeds stuck to Forrest’s boots on the hike. Picking the seeds off boots and clothing is a nightmare upon returning home. Deer spend a lot of time grooming the seeds from their coats.

When the waves of rain finally subsided days later, we had received more than ten inches of rain in total. Just when the grass was beginning to burn up from the heat, green returned to the landscape. I was able to weed my gardens easily. And I was thankful that, just days before, I had managed to harvest my beets, carrots, and onions. The clover plots for the deer were lush and flowering again and my flowerbeds looked fantastic. For a week, the temperatures were in the seventy and eighty degree range. It was lovely.

My onion crop was grand this year, and the beets (in the wheelbarrow just beyond the picnic table) were my finest ever. I was so glad to have harvested both just before the heavy rains arrived.
Years ago I planted plots of red clover to help support our fawns’ diets. Ample rain this year kept all of the plots in good shape. Our yard is all about supporting wildlife.
Nothing goes to waste on our little ranch. Any weeds pulled from the garden and flower beds are hauled to the chicken yard. In this photo, Dale the rooster (rear right in photo) keeps watch for hawks and settles any skirmishes between the hens!
Gracie and Scout mutual groom each other after a morning rain.
Penelope eats my petunias after a morning shower.

But then… as the temperatures rose this week, the humidity became unbearable. And soon, a huge population of giant mosquitoes hatched. I read in the local newspaper that the city had recently sprayed for mosquitoes but, with the flooded orchard and slough to the west and north, we would likely not find relief here. Any work to be done outside, had to be done quickly to avoid losing a pint of blood to the Pterodactyl-sized mosquitoes. And, whenever we came in the house, twenty or more of the vicious beasts came in with us.

To keep these annoying pests from following us into the house, we invested in various types of mosquito control to place at the front and back doors. And every night before bed, Forrest and I grabbed fly swatters and smacked the ones who had evaded our deterrents, so they wouldn’t bite us while we slept. When the ground dried out enough that we were able to mow, the mosquitoes made that a misery as well. The mower couldn’t move fast enough to out run those blood suckers.

Rain continues to fall in ample amounts. I am thankful, as it beats dragging two to three hundred feet of hose around daily to keep my plants, gardens, and flower beds watered. However, I am not too sure how long I can tolerate these Texas-sized blood suckers. I have read mosquitoes can live days or months, depending on the species. If this holds true, we could be in for a long, miserable summer.

Little Ellie has endured many rains in her first week of life. Here, she is bedded in the patch of wild yarrow near the deer pen. Fawns are well-camouflaged in nature.

© 2021 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way


31 thoughts on “Beneficial Summer Rain

  1. This was a couple weeks ago. I think I recall reading an earlier post like this. But I didn’t remember the mosquitoes. You had all that rain and we need rain so badly. I wish things would even out more weather wise. I hope all is well your end and no snake bite complications.

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    1. I think that post may have been from March. We had a beautiful spring here with lots of rain. After March things dried up but at least the slough was still fairly full, and we weren’t suffering the usual drought. I wish we could have giving you more than half of what we got. We watch the weather out your way – it’s always interesting to see how different things are from coast to coast.

      So far things are good. I’ll be updating about Ruthie deer and the twins soon.

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  2. Wow, I thought we had had a lot of rain, but you had twice as much! I love to watch the fawns splash in the big puddles, and then the does can’t seem to resist joining in. We haven’t been able to get our garden going this year, due to equipment problems and then bad weather, so I’m jealous of those great looking onions. As for the mosquitoes, I mix lemon and eucalyptus essential oils with water in a spray bottle and spray it around all of our doors, even the garage door, and I diffuse the oils in the bedroom. It seems to help. I like the smell, but I read that mosquitoes don’t.

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    1. This is the first year my garden has been outstanding. We’ll see how the tomatoes come out. I make a lot of roasted tomato sauce, and have more than eighty plants this year. They’re a tad behind schedule, but they’re flowering so it looks like I’ll have a crop. My flowers have been exceptional too. It’s amazing how rain water is so much better than well water!

      I’ll try the lemon and eucalyptus. So far the oil blends I’ve made haven’t done any good, but I haven’t tried that combination yet.

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  3. Those mozzies sound horrible. We had them when we lived up north in the tropics, but here in Alice we only get them for a week or two after rain…and we haven’t had that much rain in recent years. I think we have had about normal in the last year, which is only about 8-10 inches, and it has come in some very small amounts at times, so even that didn’t bring out the mosquitoes. Your garden produce is amazing! I got a chuckle when you said you laid your clothes out in the evening, also that you lay on the sofa after your 3am call out. They are both things that I do! I hope you get some respite from the mozzies.

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    1. Well, since I’m a person that tends to hit the ground running in the mornings, I find it’s best to have my clothes ready. Something happened two years ago when we had the new chicks. Because we had a heating lamp to keep the chicks warm and it was still cold spring weather, I was getting up at two or three in the morning to check on the temperature out in the metal barn. Once I saw everything was fine and made adjustments, I went back to the house and slept on the couch, not wanting to disturb Forrest. One morning, I had clothes laid out but somehow forgot to put socks on the stack of clothes. So when the time came I rose and grabbed my clothes, but had to come back to my dresser in the dark and fetch the socks. Somehow I got turned around in the dark and misjudged as I reached down in the drawer for the socks and slammed my chin onto the top of the dresser. I bit my tongue and tasted blood immediately. When I got back in the bathroom to look in the mirror, I had a mess! I had not only bitten my tongue but a tooth went through my bottom lip. Thankfully my teeth were fine, and I just had a sore tongue and a fat lip for a week. Since then I’ve been very careful about setting ALL of my clothes in the bathroom so I don’t have to feel around in the dark!

      Those mosquitoes can’t disappear fast enough. It’s just horrible!

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  4. Who eats mosquitos? Bats? There are truly a bug, those high whining little blood suckers. I am glad you had some temperate weather. You deserve a little break. I enjoyed your photos and your narrative too, of course.

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    1. We do have a lot of bats that show up in the evenings. I’m hopeful that the heat that we’re now getting will dry things up and we’ll get some relief.

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  5. Life is full of adventure for you! I can’t imagine that much rain or the huge mosquitoes. In West Tennessee we did get some Texas-sized blood-suckers when the Mississippi flooded.

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    1. Water generally brings on a new generation or more of mosquitoes, but this is the worst I’ve experienced. There’s no way we’d venture down into the orchard bottom right now.

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  6. Ten inches! My former neighborhood got about a foot of rain annually. Of course, there was more than a foot of rain for some years, but also less than ten inches for others.

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      1. !! There is NO drought! Gads! That is a myth that is perpetuated by those who are not Californians, and most here are not Californians. A ‘drought’ is an unusually dry weather pattern. If it happens annually as long as the weather has been documented here, it is not unusual. It is therefore the natural climate. This is a chaparral climate, which means that there is not much precipitation, and almost all of the minimal precipitation happens during the brief rainy season. Showers between March or April and September or October are rare. There is nothing unusual about that. Droughts sometimes happen, but are not normal. The worst drought that I can remember happened in the mid 1970s. There have been a few minor drought since then, but I do not remember when. If it seems like there is not enough water for everyone here, it is because there are too many people here using water. The consumption of water here is ridiculous. Since most people here are from somewhere else, they want to landscape their homes and everything else like they did where they came from,

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  7. It is wonderful! Somehow rain works so much better on plants than our well water does. But oh, the “mozzies” are terrible. In my whole life I don’t remember them this bad!

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  8. We’ve been having rain off and on, mostly on, for the past week or so and while not the amount you have received it is still making everything quite soggy. Mary Beth’s hanging baskets on shepherd’s hooks have tipped from the soil softening and I have had to stake them in addition to their own stakes. But we do need it as did you. Guess we won’t be complaining about drought for a day or two. 🙂

    Your deer charges seem to enjoy the water, especially Gracie. Watching her romp in it like a dog was fun to see.

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    1. What a lot of work to have to stake down your shepherd’s hooks! We had squishy ground for a long time but finally that has dried up where we can mow. We just mowed five days ago and it already needs it again. Rain makes work too, but I’d rather that than be in a drought.

      Deer love water! Last year Forrest and I observed a little fawn swim across the slough to its mother. Apparently they can swim at a very young age.

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  9. Sometimes nature just wants to take a long soak rather than a quick shower?
    Love the deer water dance – now that is just an example of appreciating the joy of living.
    While the “cool” weather is appreciated with the clouds, the mosquito plague here, too! I’ve been up in the middle of the night for 4 nights with dog Molly standing at the door – “There’ a break in the rain, we’d better go out now!” And you do ’cause the mornings have brought such storms.
    (As kids we always laid out the clothes at night. My dad out of habit of early rising on the farm – and mom “in case there’s a fire you can find them quickly” She said that – why I never knew.)
    Rain water is always best. Even better when there’s a garden producing and you grab stuff just before the storm smush down.
    Send the dancing deer ahead on walks to run the snakes in your path

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    1. Deer sure have taught me a lot in the past ten years. Dancing in the water is a good reminder to enjoy the simple things. I wondered if you were having your own little nightmare plague down there. You seem to get that way more often than we do here in a landlubber state.

      I’m hoping the rain “smushed down” the horrid hedge parsley in the orchard. Many times with rain and wind, the taller weeds tend to lay down. I know it won’t keep the plants from seeding out for another year, but at least it would keep those darned stick tights off of our clothes. And… maybe it would make less area for skeeters and other insects to hang out!

      Molly’s a smart one… get out while the gettin’s good! I’m not sure how they know about timing, but they do!

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  10. Let’s crown you the queen of onions and beets. It’s good you harvested before Noah’s flood.
    We have the same kind of pale green lichen in Austin—and lots of poison ivy to go with it.
    Yikes: pterodactyl-sized mosquitoes, a bunch of which come inside with you—along with those annoying hedge parsley seeds, which unfortunately also plague us in Austin.

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    1. Hedge parsley is everywhere here. I try to pull it up by hand in the yard, but it’s prolific in the woods and especially in the orchard. I presume it is the reason we cannot find anyone to take the pecan wood that is down in the orchard, to either mill or cut for firewood. Hedge parsley is everywhere and until fall rain knocks it down I don’t see anyone venturing out into that.
      I’m really thankful I had a morning to harvest all that needed to come out of the garden before the rain. And then to have “just right” moisture to pull weeds easily was a boon after the rain.

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  11. Seeing people hugging deer is a strange sight for me.

    In New Jersey, the White-Tailed Deer population is so large that they are doing major ecosystem damage and pushing native plants species to the edge. Because of New Jersey’s population density (over 1200 residents per square mile), deer-vehicle collisions and tick-borne illnesses are rampant.

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    1. We have a large population of white-tailed deer all through the Midwest too. Controlled hunts really help with the numbers. We have been one of those “deer-vehicle” collision cases a couple of times. No one wins in those situations. I’m probably one of the few who takes driving a little slower during fawn season and especially during the rut.

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        1. I have only a few times hit wildlife with the truck – mostly birds, but it leaves me with a terrible feeling. Did you take photos of the entire carcass? The fact that the bones are not strewn about like a fox or coyote would do, leads me to think that it naturally decomposed or at the very least was cleaned up by vultures and small rodents. It’s rare for me to find a complete carcass of anything here. Most of the time the head disappears first and then limbs. Coyotes and foxes are most times the culprits.

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  12. Your verdant garden and its -fortuitously harvested- produce look wonderful. But there’s always something to make us thoughtful… too little rain, too much… and mosquitos… which I thought were worst of all until I encountered midges and ticks!

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  13. Gee, you mentioned so many pesky insects that it made me wonder which I disliked the most! Right now, because of the onslaught of so many mosquitoes I’d have to say I think they are the worst. It is a bad tick year here. We find or feel them daily – and those bites seem to itch for a couple of weeks. Your midges are the same as our “no-see-ums” and I have not noticed them yet this summer. But, you’re right – there are many things we wonder about and it’s all part of the experience. There is much to be grateful for!

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