Friday, March 23, 2007


It's hardly past 10 a.m., and we've already had quite a day on the farm. Margaret woke us up at 3 a.m. to let us know that Caboose kidded. She had triplets: two bucklings and a doeling. They're all healthy and nursing.

I wasn't able to fall back asleep because the sound of rain on the roof always worries me. Before heading off to bed, Margaret wisely advised me to either go to sleep or go outside and do something. Well, what can you do in the dark? But I understood her point. Staring at the ceiling or the insides of my eyelids isn't helpful at all. Finally after 6, I fell back asleep. It didn't seem like I was asleep for long when Mike got up, and I heard him mutter an expletive from the bathroom. "What's wrong?" I mumbled. "This is the worst I've ever seen it." I knew what he was talking about -- the rain had caused another flood. Without opening my eyes, I said, "Those hundred-year flood maps are bullshit," and I recalled the five or six other floods we'd had in five years and told myself to fall back asleep, knowing I couldn't stop the creek from rising.

It didn't seem like very long before the phone woke me up. Katherine said Mike was outside, so I got up and looked out my bedroom window to the east. The creek had risen a lot. Then I went to our bathroom and looked out the window to the south. The entire pasture behind the pond had become a lake. I ran to my daughters' bedroom and looked out the window to the west. Behind the chicken house, the lower pastures were filled with water, and the road past the walnut grove was flooded.

A few minutes later, Mike came inside to tell us that Merlot, the horse, was stranded behind the hayfield. He was in water almost up to his chest. Since the forecast is calling for rain for the next few days, we knew we had to get him out of there, or he would likely drown. Mike and Katherine volunteered. They took his halter and a lead rope. They walked as closely as possible to him without getting in the water, and Katherine called him. He started towards her, but as soon as the water hit his chest, he jumped back and started walking in circles. They had assumed that Mike would have to go after him, but they figured it was worth a shot to call him first.

Mike slowly walked into the water. He didn't think it was too bad, even when he was waist-deep in flood water. Then he was up to his neck in water, gasping and swimming. Apparently there was a drop off in the pasture. He went back to the higher ground, searching for another route that would allow him to walk through the water. On his third attempt, he finally found a path. When Mike made it to Merlot, he put the halter on him and tried to lead him through the water. As soon as the water would hit Merlot's chest, he would pull back. With some sweet talking, Mike finally persuaded the horse that he wasn't trying to lead him to his death, and Merlot came through the water. Katherine took Merlot to the barn, and Mike headed for the house.

When Mike walked in the door, soaking wet, I knew the only reason he didn't have blue lips with chattering teeth was due to the adrenaline that was pumping through his body, and that as soon as it dropped, he'd be freezing if we didn't have him in warm water and drinking warm liquids. It's one of those things you learn after your son falls through the ice on the pond and your daughters swim across a flooded creek to rescue goats. Adrenaline is amazing, but it's short acting.

Now we sit in the house watching the rain fall, watching the pastures turn into larger lakes, watching the water creep around the bottoms of more trees. At times like these, when things look so dreadful that I have an urge to let a string of expletives fly from my mouth, I think about the farmers who lived 100 years ago. They were even more helpless than we are today. At least we have a sump pump that keeps the basement from flooding. I guess that's about it, but it's something. We have no more power to control the creek than they did 100 years ago. The forecast calls for two more days of rain.


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

My husband laughs about my paranoia of "water where it's not supposed to be." At least your house is built on high ground! (Right?) I have no faith in 100-year flood maps -- or 500-year flood maps, for that matter! I am perched happily on a hill....

Deborah said...

Yes, the house is on high ground! We've been talking about building a rustic guest cottage in the woods. That's one reason we're taking lots of pictures -- we want to see what areas flood.


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