For at least 11 months out of most years, our wet weather creek bed, which meanders for about a mile through the farm, is filled with nothing more than ten million rocks and my wishes that our peaceful and useful (no hauling water for the sheep!) little babbling brook would run all the time—especially during the heat of summer.
After we've had a lot of rain or snow, the creek will start to run, first upstream next to Donkeyland, then down past The Shack, and finally alongside the entire length of the hayfield before it leaves the property. The water comes off the hillsides and from underground wet weather seep springs. Sometimes it takes several days for the creek to make it down to The Shack, and sometimes it dries back up before it reaches us.
More photos and story below. . .
After we've had a whole lot of rain—like the six or seven inches that have fallen in the past couple of days—our pleasant little creek begins to overflow. And then things start to flood. That's where we are today—and it's still pouring.
The problem is that the creek runs between The Shack and the sheep barn, where there are currently 20 ewes (three of whom are pregnant), one extremely old pet wether, and 30 bouncing baby lambs residing. Our two rams are in a large pen adjacent to the barn. Everybody needs to be fed three times a day.
Our splinter flock of 17 non-pregnant, non-nursing sheep has been out free ranging on fresh spring grass for the past week, and they managed to get themselves stuck on this side of the creek, which is fine. There's plenty to eat, and Marta Beast has been staying with them.
We already can't make it out to Donkeyland, and by yesterday the creek was too high to walk across to the barn. By this morning it was too high to drive across. Joe can still make it over in the four wheel drive tractor (driving backwards so as not to flood the exhaust system), and he spent much of today working over there in the pouring rain, trying to drain the flooded barnyard and ram pen. Thankfully he got enough done just in time to keep the barn from flooding.
I took these photos this morning during a few minutes when it wasn't raining, and the creek is already a whole lot wider, deeper, and faster now. As of a few hours ago, Daisy, Marta, and even Bear were still crossing it, though I really wish they wouldn't. Beagle Bert is on lockdown in The Shack, even though Joe says he watched him turn back this morning after trying to cross in four different spots because he knew he couldn't make it. I just don't want to risk him bounding after Daisy or Bear and washing away.
We need rain this time of year to help the grass (which feeds the sheep) grow, but now the fields are starting to flood. Even if it stopped raining right now, which it's not going to, the water would keep rising for about another 12 hours.
I've seen the creek much higher than this—and even much higher than this—but hopefully it won't get that bad this time. Monday is usually when we go out to pick up the mail (the post office won't deliver way out here) and our standing weekly milk order from the Jersey cow down the road, as well as pick up supplies, but Joe said if we made it out this morning, by the time we got home (last week we made 15 stops) we might not be able to drive back across, and he was right.
Swiftly moving water can be extremely dangerous, and we're taking precautions to keep everybody safe. Since it's doubtful Joe will be able to make it across the creek on the tractor in the morning, we're trying to arrange for somebody to come down and take care of the sheep. In fact, the donkey peddling cowboy, whose father grew up on this farm, called just now to see if we needed him to come over and do the evening barn chores—after he asked if we were building an ark yet. He also said he heard we're supposed to get another 8 inches of rain. I sure hope not.
So close, and yet so far.
I never complain about the rain because we always need it (and I actually love stormy weather), but the grass can't grow if it's under two feet of water—and after checking on the ewes and lambs every few hours around the clock for the past month, it's sort of driving me crazy that I haven't seen any of them since yesterday.
Deep breath. Deep breath.
The Daily Donkey 79: Dan Considers the Creek
More donkeys by (and in) the creek:
4/23/09: Creek's Up!
5/20/10: Flying Sheep (and a Flying Donkey)
The Daily Donkey 7: Dan on the Wrong Side of the Creek
The Daily Donkey 56: Daphne and Dolores in the Winter Creek
© FarmgirlFare.com, where words like boring and uneventful are not in the farm life vocabulary—and it's raining in my office. I can't wait to move out of The Shack!