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After the Rain

June 1st, 2008

It was a bright and wet morning after heavy rain yesterday.  The dew was everwhere over the grass and shrubs, and the morning sun glowed off a spider web among the shadows of the flowers.  I don’t know much about spiders, but their handiwork is beautiful.

Spider web glowing with dew in the morning

The rain of the night before was some of the strongest we have had in spring.  It washed out the driveway where the gravel was not thick enough, and even washed log debris across the rural road as the creeks rose too fast to handle the water.   Some time on the tractor helped to repair the damage and the driveway is as good as, well, as a gravel driveway should be I guess.

Gravel driveway washed out by rain

But this morning the pond was quiet and you might never know how much rain we received the night before.  I really appreciate being outdoors as the sun rises, and watching the light slowly change among the landscape.  It’s so peaceful before the noise of the world around us begins to stir.  How do you explain it?  All I know is that it’s nearly like meditation, or a sense of time stopping for a while.  I find myself standing there sometimes, staring out among the trees.  Then I sort of remember where I am and feel silly, but smile and take a deep breath of appreciation for the sounds and smells of the morning, and embrace the coming day.

Early morning over the pond

Too Much Rain

April 1st, 2008

An incredible day of rain yesterday. We’ve never seen the pond as high as it was, or the amount of runoff coming from the upper pastures.  There’s little anyone can do when you receive 2-3 inches of rain in as many hours.   The pond is now totally brown colored due to the runoff.  It filled up at least 2 feet higher, over the banks.

On a whim, I took the young boy out for a walk in the downpour to show him all the water.  Of course my amazement was not the same as his… he was amazed at the miniature rivers of water everwhere, and the large puddles to splash in.  He smiled and shouted with delight at the water, and said he had never been so wet before.  Fortunately it was 65 degrees, and warm enough to enjoy.   He stood by the spillway, with water flowing through pipes, and gently over the top of the grass.

The Pond is full!

The spillway let the water flow down through the woods.  All the creeks were filled and roaring with water. 

Water flowing down the spillway

The news tonight stated that this is the most rainfall we have had during March and the first three months of the year since 1897.   Will the summer still be too dry and near drought like the past two years?  The contrasts are amazing.  I’m ready for a little warmer (and less wet!) weather.  It’s time to get ready for planting, and a little more work outdoors.   But the weather patterns go all across the nation- the Cardinals, Yankees and Toronto BlueJays openers have been rained out.  It’s time for a change.

… Smile when you’re spinning round and round
Sigh as you think about tomorrow
Make a vow that your gonna be happy again

It’s all right in your life, no more rain…

                                                      Paul McCartney, Too Much Rain

At the end of the day the sun glowed brightly under the clouds, still with storms all around.  The landscape was cast in a beautiful yellow glow.

Sunset after rainstorm

Water, Water Everywhere

March 19th, 2008

We’ve had so much rain the past few days that many areas have flooded already.  I started wondering where Noah was building the ark yesterday…  Some of the smaller towns have evacuated people temporarily, and the larger rivers may not crest yet for a few days. Let’s hope the water doesn’t rise too fast. We received over 3-4 inches of rain this week at Fox Haven, so everything is very soggy and muddy. At least the water table will be strong going into the summer this year.

We do sit up fairly high, although a large watershed drains into the pond.  We’ve never seen water crest the dam, and I hope I never do.  But it was within a foot or two yesterday, and the water rushed out the spillway to the side of the dam and down through the woods.  Today it’s all colored brown and muddy.

Here’s a picture of our “rain gauge stump” under the water for half the day yesterday.  Today it’s finally back a few inches above again as the water drains.

Pond stump under water after heavy rain

Compare the picture above to this one of the same stump!  This is our “Old Man in the Stump” and in August last year he was quite dry. Hopefully we’ll have a little more rain through the summer this year.

Old Man in the Stump in August

But not everyone minds the rain and high water.  These wood ducks enjoyed playing all around the shoreline, but kept a wary eye out too!

Wood Ducks on Fox Haven Pond

Heavy Rain and a Full Pond

February 6th, 2008

     The storms yesterday were very strong, and deadly in some regions.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the affected families in neighboring states.  We had severe storms and wind, but no tornadoes.  We also received far more rain than we could handle, which turned the slopes and draws into conduits for the immense force of the water as it went downhill.   Just a month ago the pond was 4-5 feet low, and then after storms a couple weeks ago only 2 feet low.  And now it’s overflowing down the spillway from yesterday’s rain.

Almost in a matter of hours the pond rose over 2 feet during the storms completely filling up.  Obviously we prefer a full pond, but it’s hard to watch the heavy storms and rain affect the landscape.  Now we have multiple new channels cut in the slopes where the grass washed out down to the rocks underneath.  The driveway is washed out again in several places too, so I’ll have some work to do on the tractor this week.  Somehow this yearI need to get a lot more gravel, and a lot more grass seed to grow in places.  But it’s a balance, and in all I’m sure everything is just fine.  This will all be here long after I’m gone, probably not looking too much different!

The water washed down the draw from the acreage up the hill.  It’s like this for a couple hours during really heavy rain, and then slowly returns to a steady trickle, but only during wet months.  In the summer it’s very dry.

Heavy rain washing into pond

 

I had just picked up our son at the bus stop and as we pulled into the garage it started hailing.  There were so many hail pebbles that it clogged up the gutters!

Hail filled up the gutters

He had never seen or felt hail before so he was very curious.

Hailstones in a boy™s hand

In a small victory, the rocky drainage I asked the state highway department to put in really helped along the roadside.  Instead of a huge muddy flow of water heading down the hill, it was transformed to a slower flow of water.  It’s so much better, and doesn’t induce “hydraulic” washout effects at the bottom of the hill now.   A good lesson for me… I need to get a couple truckloads of gravel and dump that strategically around the property.

Roadside drainage during storm

Raindrops are Falling…

December 6th, 2007

    Been working in a vacuum… getting some academics finished up.  Still looking for daylight… but every now and then I come up and look around, and find something I need to do.   We’ve had some days of rain, and others of warming sun.  Is it really December?!  We’re even late getting ready for the holidays, but we’ll get there soon.  Is it just me, or does it come faster every year?

I was out collecting wood debris after some windy days so I could cut and rake leaves, but then I looked to the west and saw these huge, dark clouds almost upon me.  “Hmmm… think I’m going to get wet if I don’t hurry!”  Sure enough, within a few minutes the heavens opened up and buckets of rain were coming down.  Kind of neat to watch, but I had to take shelter under an eave to get a few pictures.  The wind was just ripping up the pond…  Can you imagine if this was snow?!  Maybe it will come yet.

Sheets of rain and wind across the pond

 

Water… Again

August 20th, 2007

    Oh joyful rain!  At least here at Fox Haven.  I know some regions have had too much, and our hearts go out to them.  It’s almost inconceivable to understand how weather is so different, and dangerous from one place to another.   For us it has been too long without rain… and between last night and today we have received more rain than the previous two months combined.  Even the trees were showing stress from lack of water, and the ground was parched.  It rained heavily last night, turning to the steady drizzle that soaks the earth for hours.  Just what the plants love most.  Perhaps I won’t have to cart the barrel of water around this week on the golf cart.  Today was mostly overcast as well, presenting an opportunity for cleaning up and even washing cars.  As the low clouds blew quickly across the sky I sensed a change of the seasons.  The first day of school is Wednesday for the young one, and in many ways “summer” is really coming to an end.  My classes begin this week as well, and I’ll be immersed in books for the rest of the year.  My goals include keeping up with Fox Haven and the myriad of things that need done… as well as here on the journal!

The rain falls steadily on the pond.  The water level is probably near its lowest point for the year and will begin filling up through winter.

Rain falls steadily on the pond

The Gift of Rain

June 29th, 2007

Recently, I have been overjoyed by the rain we received this week… but like so much in life, what you think of something depends on how it affects you.  If you live in Texas or Oklahoma, the rain this week has come in floods and has made life very difficult to say the least.  Where we live the rain has fallen sporadically… sometimes heavy, but mostly just drizzle.  I’m not complaining however, because the ground was so dry that many plants had wilted.  I just didn’t find the time to water them all- and not even sure I could.  But we’ve had two days of rain, and after today we’ll be back to a hot, humid and dry period. Hopefully the summer thunderstorms will come during the weeks ahead. Yesterday I stood outside in the falling drizzle and felt so thankful for the water and cooler air.  We take so many things for granted, and in the absence of something like rain- which we normally just endure, it is a joy to embrace the gifts of nature when it comes again.

This morning the rain fell gently on the pond as wisps of fog floated across the water.

Rain falls gently on the pond

 

The garden is growing!  This picture was taken before the rain, and the plants have grown even more.  The sunflowers are getting taller along the back fence.  We have little green tomatoes that will be ready soon!

The garden is growing

Rain, rain, rain!

May 3rd, 2007

We’ve had three days of rain!  Fortunately it has been the steady drizzle type of rain, and not so much thunderstorms, at least yet.  The ground is saturated, the pond is full, the weeds and grass are growing like crazy.  The birds are zooming everywhere nesting, raising fledgling birds, chasing insects and each other!  I had to fix a gutter that was leaking on the house, and a Phoebe had a nest there.  I wasn’t sure how old the young birds were as I crept up the ladder… then Whoosh!  Four little Phoebes came flying out of the nest!  They scattered in the garden and among some smaller trees.  So I guess they were ready to fly… :)   But with the rain I’ve been able to catch up inside on some much needed organization.  Making a small dent in the mess is more like it, but progress is progress right? 

One of the adult Eastern Phoebes sitting on the garden fence.  It has an insect of some type in its bill.  They are early arrivals in Spring here at Fox Haven, hence the young birds had grown so fast already.  Many other birds are still making nests and laying eggs.

Eastern Phoebe sitting on a garden fence 

 

After the rain

March 23rd, 2007

Another rainy day, but the sun finally broke through at sunset.  The ground is so saturated you can hear the water bubbling through the grass.  Squish… squish… everywhere you go.  Wanted to do some work outside, but I would just put big ruts in the ground with the tractor and mower.  So it has been inside time, and general clean-up.  The birds are really getting ready for nesting, and some trees and shrubs have begun to flower.  Spring sure moves quickly when it comes… one minute it seems cold and quiet, and then with the rain the world comes alive again.  Even the weeds have asserted themselves already!  I should be traveling next week, so I’m not sure how much posting I can do.  But here’s the sunset tonight, or at least the reflection among the clouds.  Each day has so much to offer.

Spring sunset in Missouri after a rainy day

Rainfall and Turbidity!

March 22nd, 2007

With Spring comes the rain… this year it came quickly!  Today we had a major thunderstorm, with 1-2 inches of rainfall in a few hours.  We needed the rain… just not all at once, as the saying goes.  It’s a mixed blessing, because with the helpful water comes the force of water and the erosion of hills and gullies.  Sometimes you work for months to plant and grow, and the rain simply washes it all away.  I noted several of the draws leading to the pond have washed out completely, exposing bare rock and muddy ditches.  Some of the lily plants and grasses I hoped would grow have been undercut by the force of the water.  And where does it go?  To the pond!  The watershed is about 30 acres, which is perfect for keeping the pond at a sustainable level.  But with too much water the pond becomes the repository of the “organic detritus” and soil particulates.  Over time and years, this organic and inorganic matter can accumulate and actually fill up the pond in many shallower spots.  So my journey for the next few years will be try and mitigate this process, perhaps to grade areas that need it, and re-plant grass if it can take hold.  Time will tell, but I will not give up!  So here are a few pictures of the rainfall, and how the pond looks during and after.

During periods of heavy rain, the water from the higher pastures washes down to the house area and then down the hill to the pond.  I am doing battle with the moles… they create enormous tunnel systems and pathways for the water to travel and erode the soil.

Rain washing down the hillsides and grass towards the pond

This almost looks like a pretty creek washing down the hill. But really it only has visible water during heavy rainfall… and then it cascades down the draw, washing mud and leaves into the pond.  The water is nice… the mud is not!

The œcreek washes into the pond during heavy rain

The pond is filling up!  You can see the leaves in the corner after being washed into the pond, and the brownish coloration from the muddy water.   In the parlance of a limnologist, or a scientist who studies the the life and properties of fresh water ecological systems, the water’s turbidity has increased.  Turbidity is a measure of water clarity, and because of the silt and soil particulates, the water clarity will be much reduced for a time.  Normally, turbidity is influenced more by the presence of phytoplankton.  But not today!  The silt and brown coloration will settle to the bottom with time.

The pond is slowly colored with the brown of mud from the heavy rain

After the rainfall, the pond will begin to clear… but it may take a few days.  The “creek” is no longer washing into the pond.  It’s not all bad… the nutrients from the sediment and vegetation will help fertilize the pond and allow phytoplankton and other microscopic life to grow.  Especially with the warming weather and increased sunlight, the food chain in the pond will benefit from the rich diversity of life that will grow.  But too much mud and sediment can be detrimental over time, so I will try to work with the land to control any erosion problems.

Pond after the rainfall the soil sediments have colored the water brown for a few days

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