It rained all night Saturday night. We could hear the back creek roaring while we were in bed. There was a small discussion on whether Tex would show up after it rained all night, but he had my number and had not called so we figured he was going to come regardless. He did show up but I had already decided that we were not going to work out in the mud. I considered working on the inside of the barn and putting up the wooden runners on the barn walls for our new round hay bales but I need the 2×6 boards to finish the outside fencing. In the end I figured he could wash the walls one last time in the spare room and we would hang the new closet kit in the spare room and put all the furniture back in the room. I set him up with water and rags and went outside to feed the animals. I can use my coveralls and stay clean while feeding.
I did notice that the back creek was very high. After feeding the sheep I was driving the tractor toward the cows when I noticed the orchard flooding.
I called Annmarie and asked her to send Tex outside. I wanted him to bring the pickup down into the orchard. I thought the issue was the culvert that is too high. My plan was to rip out the culvert and let the water run down the ditch. The problem with this plan was once I drove off the side of the ditch I was going to get the tractor stuck. So I dove off the edge, and Tex would hook onto the tractor box blade with the pickup and pull me out. Tex did not pay attention to how much mud he was getting on himself in his zeal to be helpful. I secretly think he thought if he was dirty enough I would not let him back in the house to wash walls.
Once we got the culvert out the water level started to drop. I then noticed a few high spots in the ditch. So we started digging them out. I would dive off the edge, get a scoop of mud and he would pull me out with the pickup. We had done this about 12 times when I noticed that the water level kept rising!
It finally dawned on me that the reason the water level was rising was that more water was in the front channel. I told Tex to gas up the tractor and I would go grab some hand tools. I snagged a metal dirt rake, two shovels, and two double bladed axes. As I came out of the woodshed I could see the front spring getting higher. I told Tex to leave the tractor as we would probably just get it stuck in the mud. We needed to hoof it quickly up the creek and find the blockage. As we started up the creek there was water in the lower field, way more than there was supposed to be. It just got worse the farther up we got.
The upper two planted grass fields looked like lakes not fields! It took me two weeks to plant those fields and I was afraid Mother Nature was going to ruin them in a matter of hours. I figured the problem was up in the seven acre field. There are Sumac bushes growing alongside the creek the entire length of the field. I have been ignoring them since we moved back 12 years ago. Two years before that my Father-in-law had to hire someone to come dig the blockages out of the creek during a storm and that person got their backhoe stuck then got their CAT stuck and spent 3 days fighting mud to get their vehicles unstuck.
The water was pouring over the dike wall into the field causing many problems. The main problem was we could not just go to the problem area. This section of creek has a concrete weir poured into the banks and its the narrowest spot. I was sure the water was damned up behind it. I was right. We climbed it onto the flotsam and started to pull branches and thistles out of it and toss them onto the bank. The water is definitely runoff from the snowmelt as it was very cold. We cleared the first jam and moved up the creek.
It looked pretty good when we finished.
The trouble we found as we moved up the creek was that there were more live trees in the actual creek bed and the fence had gotten involved in the act. I forgot to grab a se told fence pliers. It never even occurred to me that the fence would be an issue for us. This is the actual creek below, it started to get this massive pile of small debris that was forming this incredibly dense fibrous mat. At one point I cut the fence with an axe. Tex lost one of the axes into the creek. If someone finds an axe between here and Pendleton its mine!
Tex just hung in there and we kept at it until we had most of the water contained back in the stream bed. We went 6 hours with no food, no water and working nonstop. Tex just kept working without any complaints. He managed to not fall into the creek and I accidentally stepped off the edge, it was hidden under running water and dropped four feet into the ice cold water, luckily Tex was right there and was able to pull me out. I am not sure I could have crawled back out on my own.
We found a dead deer with its leg stuck in the fence and a cow elk dead alongside the road. You really don’t want to dig around in the deep weeds, you never know what will turn up. The entire fence alongside that stream for 1/4 mile will need to be moved and redone.
On the way back to the house the fields were already starting to look better. I need to dig some deeper ditches. We had to dig out the ditch in the upper prime field.
I was utterly exhausted and soaking wet. It’s hard to be cold when you are doing that much manual labor. Just as we got into the barn lot you could see that one fence was pushed over. I tried to clear branches from the culvert at the creek crossing and ended up falling on my back in the silt mud. I got the branches but I was ready to get home. Tex’s extra railroad tie next to the bridge had floated away. He will have to pt it back. Most of the creek crossings are filled with debris and will need to be cleaned out but at this time food and sleep are the most important things on my mind. I stripped on the back porch and got money to pay Tex. I told him there was a hazard pay bonus and sent him on his way. I washed my hands, ate a sandwich, took a shower, took medications and I was in bed by 1600. Annmarie woke me up at 1815, made me eat more dinner, drink more water and then I went back to bed with a large glass of water to drink through the night. I have not been that tired in a long time.