Road conditions

While doing my morning rounds, I saw a gravel truck going by several times. We’ve been seeing them regularly for quite some time, now. There must be some major road damage to the west of us, for so many loads to be going by.

When switching out the memory card in the sign cam, I noticed we had a new sign on the road, too.

The “flood waters” sign is gone, and our road is now officially closed.

The “local traffic” is basically us, and maybe someone needed to get into a field. All other homes are on the other side of where the road is washed out.

It was road conditions much closer that had me going through the fence, though.

This is the main road, just before our intersection. This area typically gets soft when there’s a lot of moisture, but with everything so saturated, the weight of the gravel trucks going through is just tearing the road apart!

Smaller vehicles can still drive around it, though. Which is important. My husband phoned in his insulin refills to be delivered today. I was a bit surprised he did that. It seems he didn’t quite get that we really are cut off. Larger trucks may be able to get through the washed out area by the bison ranch, but small cars like the one the pharmacy delivery driver has, isn’t going to make it. He does always phone us ahead of time, before entering our cell phone dead zone, so when he does, I’ll tell him I’ll meet him at the washout. I’ll have to make sure I’m wearing my rubber boots, so I can cross the washout and get the prescription. Thankfully, my husband doesn’t have to sign anything for his insulin, like he does for his bubble packs. Otherwise, he’d have to come with me!

With the big gravel trucks driving through the washout, though, I’m very curious as to it’s like there.

I wasn’t about to walk the distance to find out, nor waste the gas to drive the distance, but I did walk over to check the washout to the south of us. This time, I was able to walk across it.

The road has eroded all the way across now. Walking through, I could feel myself sinking in the gravel and clay. As you can see, some people are still driving through it, though I don’t know how old these tracks are. I wasn’t able to get to this side when I checked the area last night.

The water levels have continued to drop, and today the speed of the water flowing across has also reduced since I looked at it yesterday.

Do you see that line of debris in between the two washed out areas?

It was looking rather different than before, so I made sure to take a closer look. This is what it’s made up of.

I’m not sure what these are, but it’s amazing that something with such deep roots got washed out and deposited here. The field next to the road has been planted with grain, nothing like this, so wherever it came from, it traveled quite a distance before being dropped off here!

The other washed out area has also eroded all the way across. Until now, the shallower water that I would walk across had been on the west side of the road (on the right of the above photo), but now that it’s washed out all the way, the shallower water is now on the east side, along the edge of the ditche, where the gravel is being deposited. It’s all pretty soft, though, and even walking where the grass has managed to hold on, I could feel myself sinking.

It will likely still be a while before they can start fixing this area. I suppose it’s possible they’ve fixed the washed out area on the main road; that road gets so much traffic, it would be a high priority. With now fast the water is still flowing here, however, I suspect they still can’t do much on the main road, yet, either. I’ll find out today, when I meet the pharmacy delivery driver.

Meanwhile, the weather forecast has changed again. The rain that wasn’t supposed to start until tomorrow, is now expected to start today, albeit as scattered showers. We’re now supposed to get rain for the next three days, too, with 2-3cm (under 1 1/2 inches) expected tomorrow. Looking at the 14 day forecast, after 3 days with rain, we’ll have 4 days without, then another 3 days of rain, a couple days without, then a couple more days of rain again. Hopefully, those days without will be enough for the ground to be able to absorb the moisture. Even now, as I went around the property, I could see standing water in only the lowest areas, like the area behind the garage, and even those are much, much better than they were yesterday.

We continue to have overland flooding alerts. The south of the province continues to be the most at risk, but the alerts extend north of our area, too.

Well, we’ll see how it goes, and deal with what we get.

The Re-Farmer

Road status, and first cucumbers!

What a difference a few hours makes!

It’s been a beautifully warm day. At 19C/66F, even the relatively high winds aren’t cooling things down much. The standing water in and around the yard has reduced significantly since this morning.

I decided to take the walk over to where the road is washed out to the south of us, and see what the status was – this time without Rolando Moon following me!

The waters have gone down a LOT, but the two washed out areas are not in good shape. The flow of water going across is very fast, aided by the wind coming from the northwest.

The wider, shallower area has eroded across even more. Where you can see a darker line is a ridge of clay that hasn’t been washed out yet; everything to the left of that would be very soft. As you can see by the rut on the far left, it’s not going to support the weight of a vehicle much. Still, if we had to, I think we could drive through this part.

The other part, however…

I wasn’t wearing my rubber boots, so I wasn’t going to cross to take a closer look. That further area looks quite a bit deeper than the last time I checked it out. This is where the road was already washed out down to the foundation rocks. There is no why our van can handle driving over that.

I haven’t checked out any of the other washed out areas. If this is still flowing as fast as it is, the others wouldn’t be much different.

Which means we still aren’t going anywhere for a while. :-/

While I was out, I checked a few other areas, including the tulip patch. I swear, they great at least 2 inches since I saw them this morning.

Something new that wasn’t there this morning, though, were these…

The very first cucumbers are sprouting! Seeing these, I took the “dome” off the tray. The transplants we’ve got in the sun room are doing quite well. Even the tomato that was broken at the stem, which got buried back into the pot, looks like it’s recovering.

I think that tomorrow will be the day to move the mini-greenhouse into the sun room, along with most, if not all, the seedlings still in the living room. The Chocolate Cherry and Yellow Pear tomatoes are still tiny, but they can be divided and potted up before being moved to the sun room. The Yakteen gourd have not sprouted yet, but at this point, the sun room is warmer than the living room. Even with them being on the warming mat now, they would probably do better in the sun room. Everything will do better in than in the enclosed spaces they are in right now, I think. We’ll also be able to move the second LED shop light and set it up in the sun room, too, if necessary.

It’ll be good to not have to worry about the cats getting at the seedlings anymore!

The Re-Farmer

Still saturated, but going down

While we still have standing water and saturated soil all over, it had gotten better by morning, compared to before I went to bed last night. It was still raining a bit then, but once it stopped, things started to improve.

The outside cats are much more laid back these days, when I bring the kibble out. For the past few months, I’d have a crowd of cats outside the sunroom door, meowing plaintively. These days, when they here the kibble hitting the trays, they just saunter over. By the time I finished putting food out for them and the birds, there were 8 cats milling about, and I saw a couple of others show up some time later. Though we still see skunks in the kibble house, they, too, are not desperate for food anymore, and we’re needing to put food out just once a day now. We’re even seeing the deer far less; I’m catching them on the trail cams more often than actually seeing them myself.

Some areas are still filled with water, of course. I don’t remember ever seeing standing water like this, in this area, before. Not even when I was a kid.

The boards covering this path are 3 layers deep.

They are floating. The other path has sand and gravel on top of the boards that were laid their, and it’s quite mushy.

I was going to go and check the washed out road, but Rolando Moon started to follow me. Her coat isn’t much different from the colour of the road, so I decided to lead her back home. She even let me carry her for short distances, without trying to claw my face off. 😀

The water in the ditch to the left is an area that, as children, we generously referred to as “the three ponds.” Right now, they actually are full enough to be ponds!

While checking out different areas around the outer yard, I suddenly realized I was being watched!

Sad Face was watching me through the lilacs. 😀 The only thing that moved was his face, as he watched me walking around him. I did spot him at the kibble trays later on, while tending plants in the sun room. The Distinguished Guest wasn’t around, which is good, because he usually attacks Sad Face when they’re both around.

Today is supposed to be a nice, mainly sunny, warm day. That will help quite a bit with the water levels. Tomorrow is supposed to be a bit cooler, but also mostly sunny.

Then we’re supposed to get another 2-3cm (up to about 1 1/2 inches) of rain. *sigh* Yes, we’re still getting flooding related weather alerts.

Well, at least our water table should be mostly recovered. That should be a big help in the gardens over the summer, and for all the ponds and dugouts that provide water for cattle and wildlife.

The Re-Farmer

Looks like I won’t be doing that again, anytime soon

First up, here are cute kitties!

A couple more showed up after I got this photo; I think I saw 8 or 9 altogether, with Potato Beetle going straight for the sun room.

I haven’t actually seen Broccoli for a little while. She is looking far less round right now.

I wonder where she found to have her babies?

Speaking of babies, I still can’t tell exactly how many are in the cat’s house. They tend to be all in one big pile, and I can’t tell one from another. I couldn’t even tell where the grey and white one was, it was to thoroughly buried by the others!

The tulips are getting a lot easier to see among the leaf litter. Just look at how many there are!

Now, if we can just keep the deer away, we should have quite a show of flowers this year!

With yesterday’s successful trip to the city, I decided to grab the big water jugs and get them refilled in town. I also wanted to look for something for Mother’s Day, thinking that I would surprise her tomorrow and meet her for church. I was pretty sure my brother would make the trip out, and we could visit her together.

I’m glad I made the trip today, because I don’t think we’re going anywhere for quite a while. I would not have wanted to discover this while driving my mother’s car, tomorrow!

I had checked the washout on the road to the south of us. Whatever heavy equipment I’d heard the day before, they were not working there. The water may be down, but the erosion has worked its way further across the deeper washout. As I was still walking towards it, I saw a truck coming from the other direction. It stopped at the washout, then backed up until it reached a higher driveway into a field it could turn around in. I was just wearing regular shoes, not my rubber boots, so I wasn’t able to do more than check the washout from one side, but as I did, another truck came by from the opposite direction. This one did drive through, but when it reached the deeper washout, I could see it struggle to get through.

This morning, remembering a neighbor that told me our road was good to the north, I decided to avoid the washout by the bison ranch and go that way.

That neighbor clearly doesn’t take the road to our main gravel road to get out, likely going north to a paved road, instead. His driveway is a little over a mile from our intersection. At about 3/4 of a mile, I reached a washout that was even deeper, if narrower, than the one to the south I’ve been checking.

This time, I was the one carefully reversing until I could reach a stable driveway to turn around in.

So I took the main road out, but when I reached the washout near the bison ranch, I could see that it, too, had eroded quite a bit more. I was able to get through but, clearly, this was going to be our last trip out until the road could be fixed.

None of these washouts can be fixed right now. Not even a quick patch job. The water levels may be dropping, but it’s still flowing way too fast over the roads. Any attempt to repair them right now would just get washed away.

With that in mind, I made sure to pick up the few things I didn’t get yesterday, though when I saw the price of even no-name brand vegetable oil, I was thinking I’d have done better getting the big restaurant sized bucket at the wholesale store, instead! While I was paying for my few items, I commented on how much the price had gone up on the oil. The cashier got quite wide eyed (they’re still forced to wear masks, so that’s all I could see) and commented on how ALL the prices had gone up. Yeah – as cashier, she would be seeing all of it going by! She commented that she’s starting to expect wagons to show up in the parking lot, pulled by horses, because people can’t afford the increased gas prices. I truly wouldn’t be surprised to see that.

Knowing it might be a while before we could get out again, I made a quick stop to pick up a couple more of those storage bins we’re using for the transplants, then headed back again.

In the time it took me to do that, the washout was worse.

I stopped to take a closer look before trying to cross.

It’s hard to tell from the wide angle shot I took, but there’s a darker spot about in the middle. Just past that, there’s a deeply eroded part more than half way across. The water on either side of it, though, hides other deeper areas – and those are on the side that’s still safer to drive through! The wind from the south is actually strong enough that the water was being pushed back. I could see more of the road than earlier, and was not encouraged.

While I was checking it out, I saw a truck coming, so I went back to the van. I watched him as he drove through and my heart dropped when I saw the start bouncing around in one area in particular. His truck could make it, though. He stopped beside me and we talked for a bit. He told me he thought it was better around the other way. The roads here are on a 1 mile grid. If I went back to the highway, went a mile south to the next gravel road, took it west one mile, then cut across, past the bison farm’s driveway, to the intersection on the other side of this washout, I’d be able to continue home. He did think I’d be able to make it through here, though. It’s been a long time since I’ve taken the road past the bison ranch and it’s not one that’s maintained as well as those that get more traffic, at the best of times.

So I went for it and drove through here.

Yeah. I’m definitely not going to my mother’s, tomorrow! Our van had a hard enough time; my mother’s little car could never make it.

As I said, I’m glad I decided to go into town today and found out how much worse it was, now!

Which means we are basically stuck again. It’s possible that I might find a route I could get through to the west of us – the opposite direction of the highway we need to get to. The main road is no longer closed and I’m sure I could go quite some distance, but the side roads would be no different than any of the side roads near our place. I’ve talked to quite a few people who say they simply can’t get out to friends and family that way at all, and that’s even using the paved road to the north of us that I’d hope to use this morning.

We are going nowhere.

I really hope at least the main road can finally be fixed soon. I haven’t gotten any shipping notices yet, but we’re going to be getting our potatoes and live trees mailed to us fairly soon. The potato company typically finishes shipping their orders by mid-May. That’s just a week away. Then there are the sweet potato slips and more than 40 trees that will need to be planted as soon as possible – and we can’t even start digging the holes for them, yet, because of all the water in places. The last thing I would want is for these to be at the post office while not being able to pick them up. The potatoes might be okay, but the rest can’t stay there for too long.

It all depends on how much longer it takes for the water to go down and not be rushing across the roads like this, then how long it takes for the road crews to fix them up. The one by the bison ranch will be a priority fix, since that’s a main road. As long as that one gets done, most people stuck as we are will be able to get through.

So once again, we hunker down. Which is okay. We are well stocked up, and there is plenty of work to get done! A whole lot of seedlings in the big aquarium greenhouse need to be thinned, potted up and moved to the sun room. The different types of pumpkins are getting such huge leaves! Meanwhile, the winter squash started at the end of April – Boston Marrow, Georgia Candy Roaster and Winter sweet – are doing much better on the heat mat. Almost every pot has seedlings exploding out of the soil! It’s so awesome to see!

With all of these, if the plants seem strong and healthy, we plan to thin by dividing. The more we have to transplant, the less of a concern it is, if we lose some to transplant shock.

And if they all survive transplanting, some may get eaten by critters, bird or bugs.

And if they all survive that, we’ll just have whole lot of squash.

I’m good with that.

We’ll have plenty to keep us busy while we wait for the roads to be fixed up.

The Re-Farmer

Water levels

I must say, we are really fortunate. The flooding issues have been around us, and not a threat to our home or safety. At most, it’s been an inconvenience. Not so, for many others!

The highway nearest us has flooded over in the south, part way to the town my mother lives in. Last I heard, it was still getting worse. No one I know can remember that highway flooding over. I think I maybe, kindof, sortof, remember the highway flooding over when I was a child, but I was so young, I don’t really trust the memory. If it did happen, we’re looking at 45+ years ago.

Not only is that section of highway flooded over, but the provincial road we usually use to cross from my mother’s town to the next highway has also flooded over. Which means, if I need to get to my mother, I would have to drive east to the next highway, drive south until I reach a crossroad to the south of where my mother lives, then travel north again on the highway we usually use. It would likely be an hour’s drive, instead of 20 minutes.

The highway near us runs to the north, ending at the town we pick up our beef packs at. The junction to that town has been closed down, as the highway is collapsing. This morning, I learned barricades have been put up at the junction of our own little hamlet. People traveling north will have to turn east to detour.

With so many road closures, I was going to phone my mother to tell her about them, but she called me first. It turns out our vandal had called her and went an a while rant about how she isn’t allowing him on the property, and all the other crazy stuff. As usual, she couldn’t get a work in edgewise. Then she found a picture on her walker outside her door, that he’d left this morning. A picture of him and my late brother doing work on the house we’re living in. I am sure of the message he intended to make by doing that, but it has completely escaped my mother. I wonder about what triggered him. We do have the conference call with his court case coming up soon, to decide when the first trial date will finally happen. I also saw him and his wife walking past on the road while I was working in the old kitchen garden yesterday evening, and seeing me might have triggered him, too.

Showing up at my mother’s door like that is creepy, but at least he didn’t try to come in.

Aside from that, things are okay with my mother. She’s in town and around people, with a grocery store just a couple of blocks away, and the town itself is not being flooded out.

This morning, I checked the washout to the south of us. I won’t bother posting photos I took of that, as not a lot has changed. Enough snow has cleared and water gone down that I could check out areas beyond the outer yard. Where I can, I will include past photos, for comparison.

That photo taken in August was the most water I saw there all of last year.

Sadly, we lot another large tree by this pond.

The trunk had been damaged by ants. Most of the spruces that I’ve seen fallen have ant damaged trunks. Weird, the way it split around that core.

Of course, I had to check out the gravel pit that the renter had dug out again last year.

As with the pond, the photo from last year is the most water we saw in there, when we finally got rain at the end of summer. Last year, when I took photos, I tried to take some from the same spot. I couldn’t do that today, because that spot was under water.

Here is another view of the old gravel pit. The only area that was dug out is where you can see the pile of gravel on the left. The rest was left untouched. Not only is the low area in the foreground full of water, but the marsh beyond the gravel pit is full, too.

There is a lot of clay under there, so I hope that means this will stay full throughout the year. This is a water source for the renter’s cattle, as well as for wildlife.

I also checked on where the “creek” that forms in the spring drains into the field, as well as where the water enters our quarter by the washed out road.

That is a LOT of gravel washed out from the road. It’s remarkably deep.

This water flows through the trees, and the terrain is very rough at the best of times. I didn’t even try to follow along it this time, though I’ve done so before.

Here is where it emerges from the trees.

I had to go back 2 years to find photos of the area, and still couldn’t find any from the same angle. In the old photo, there is some water from the spring melt, which didn’t happen in April of this year! That little “island” by the barrels could still be crossed to, but not this year!

Aside from some spring melt, this area is dry except for a few lower spot – and last year, everything was completely dry because of the drought.

At this fence line, the water flows into the field and eventually joins the municipal drainage ditch, which then crosses the neighbour’s field before crossing the road, near where it is currently flooded out.

It should be interesting to see how things go for the growing season. As I write this, we are at 14C/57F, which is already a bit higher than forecast. The next week is supposed to get downright “hot” at 20-21C/68-70F. Though more rain is expected about 5 days from now, the ground should be thawed out and dried up enough to handle it. Right now, though, we have both high water level and overland flooding alerts, for our region. Still, with the warmth we’re supposed to be getting over the next while, farmers should still be able to seed their crops, and gardeners to start direct seeding cold weather crops, and be able to do their transplanting soon.

Speaking of which, I was able to reach parts of the main garden area, too. That will be in my next post.

The Re-Farmer

Road conditions and cursed laundry update

First, obligatory cat picture!

I think I spotted about 8 or 10 cats in total this morning; they move around so much, it’s hard to tell some of them apart. 😀

I did the walk to check on the washed out road to the south of us again, and things are much improved.

This deeper section is now about half as wide as it was before. The other section that was much wider but shallower is also substantially reduced.

While walking back, I saw something that made me very happy. A grader went by on the main road!

So of course, I had to check that washout, too.

Click on the images to see them in a larger size.

The patch job is holding out, and with the water receding, it shouldn’t get any bigger – hopefully! My goodness, though, that’s a lot of gravel that washed into our side of the fence line! In the middle picture, the grader is still visible, but it’s hard to see with the trees in the background.

I’d gone though our back gate to check this area out, and as I headed back through the outer yard, I saw a gravel truck going by. I know there are a lot more washouts to the west of us. The company we bought our garden soil from mostly works with gravel, as well as doing driveways, road repairs, etc. Once I got inside, I sent an email to the renter, who also happens to be on our municipal council, to thank them for doing such a great job dealing with all this. Then I sent a direct message to his wife to pass on that I’d sent the email to check at his leisure. I knew he would be incredibly busy. I was right! His wife told me he was out hauling. Their own farm came very close to major damage, but the water started to recede just in time. She also told me the gravel company has been working tirelessly, cleaning things up. So I made sure to pass on thanks to them, too! I’m sure the council has been hearing plenty of complaints, so I wanted to make sure to pass on some appreciation. There’s only so much they can do until the water recedes, and I totally understand how frustrated they must have been.

One thing about this time of year, is that I can actually see the state of the outer yard in some places.

This is in the part of the outer yard that leads to the back gate. Those tire tracks have been here longer than we have. I’ve put that stick there so that, when I’m trying to mow a lane to the back gate, I can see where it gets particularly rough. The whole section is full of ruts that there’s just no avoiding.

I wonder if this year, we’ll finally manage to do a controlled burn? The whole area is such a fire hazard in the summer, with all that thatch, a controlled burn would make is much safer – but with old buildings and sheds in the area, there’s a risk of one of them catching fire. With so much moisture this spring, it would be easier to control a burn.

When it comes to the risk, it’s 6 of one, and a half dozen of the other.

After finishing my rounds, I called the appliance repair guy that did the warranty work on our washing machine before. I was able to explain and describe what happened. He confirmed that the machine turning itself on and draining is a fail safe. With the drain still not tested properly – and I really don’t know how to test it without the washing machine, since it sends the most water through, under pressure, than anything else – what should have been a good thing is now a problem.

There is no way he can come out here for at least a week, so he described what to try first. We’ll have to pop the back panel off to do it. There is an air hose that goes from the electronics panel to under the tub; with the water sitting in the tub overnight, it may have gotten clogged. We’ll need to detach it from the top and try blowing through it. If it’s not clogged, he wants us to do a test wash. After putting the air hose back, of course, we need to run an empty load. With nothing in the tub, the water level should reach only about 5 inches deep. If it keeps on filling without stopping, we would need to shut it off, unplug it again, and call him back. Otherwise, if it starts working as it should and goes through a wash cycle, that may do a reset on the electronics (we had to do this when we first bought the machine), and that should solve any weird issues, there.

To do this, we’ll have to first pull the dryer out, so we can access the back of the washing machine.

The dryer duct needs to be replaced, as we found out the cats had damaged it, the last time we had to get back there. When my daughter put my super wet laundry into the dryer after she foot stomp washed it for me, the glass in the entire house fogged up! Going into the dining room and kitchen areas was like being in a sauna.

Which was actually really pleasant, and I’m sure the plants loves it, but not good for the house! 😀

Since the grader went by, I decided to make the trip into town.

I actually passed the grader, working the other half of the road, on the way out. 🙂

Then I reached the washout.

Please excuse my terrible picture. I just stopped, stuck my phone out the window, and shot blind.

Right in front of me is where the municipal drainage ditch runs under the road. The area I noted earlier as looking like it would flood, is indeed washed out, and it extends almost as far as where the culvert is.

Knowing the grader went through here already, I wasn’t too worried about being able to cross it in our tender van. 😉

The next area of concern was there the gravel road reached the highway. I knew it had been washed out badly, but this is a major intersection (as for as out rural municipality goes!) and I knew it would have been a priority fix. Sure enough, it was completely redone with fresh gravel, though the driveways to the nearby church, and into a private residence (thankfully, no one lives there right now) are badly damaged and under fast running water.

In fact, the whole way to town, the ditch on that side was a fast flowing little river. This ditch is a main drain straight to the lake and, from the looks of it, the two municipalities it crosses had managed to clear the snow out – again – to keep the water flowing. There’s just so much of it, even the driveways and roads that didn’t get washed out, still had all the gravel around the culverts washed away, exposing the rock foundations.

Town itself was all right, in the places I needed to get to. I know in other areas, there are major problems.

My first stop was the hardware store. This is a small store, and their major appliances are in the basement. I don’t normally go down there, so I made a point of looking around while there. I found the dryer duct I needed, and also picked up vent filters. With so much cat hair floating around, I knew this was something we needed, but hadn’t actually found any until today. One pack has 24 filters in them.

I got two.

While I was at it, I also picked up more of the drain maintenance stuff that uses bacteria and enzymes to help keep the plumping clean. I also got a product that’s a fast clog clearer – not something I got before, because it’s strong enough that the bottles are sold in their own plastic bags, to avoid any risk if there’s a spill. We’ll have to be very careful using it. It may not be designed specifically as septic safe, but with so much water flowing into our septic tank and the pump going off so often right now, I’m not too worried about that right now. Then, once that’s done, we can use the other stuff to get the bacteria and enzymes established again.

Since I was in town anyhow, I made a quick stop at the grocery store for a few small things, then remembered to stop at the store we found those storage bins that have been so handy for our seed starts. Happily, they restocked on the larger bins, so I got 4 more. I also found some plant clips and picked up some new wooden clothes pins. The ones we have now are really old and starting to fall apart. There are plastic ones, too, but they’re so old, many of them have become brittle and snap when we try to use them.

I forgot to look for clothes line at the hardware store, but that’s okay. We should probably measure how much we need, first, to replace the broken clothesline. I might pick up some more pullies, too. When my dad set up the posts for the clothes line, he made it to hold three of them. Back then, we were using a wringer washer, and had no clothes dryer. There’s just one clothes line, now. The posts are starting to lean inwards, though, so we’ll have to do something to correct that. I’d like to have the option of hanging clothes outside, if we want or need to.

We now have what we need for when we get behind the washer and dryer. I don’t know that we’ll get to that today, though. We need to set up the sun room so we can bring in more plants.

Which I’ll be talking about in my next post. The plants, I mean, not the sun room. I’m so excited!


The Re-Farmer

Morning update

First, some cute critters.

There are eight in the photo, plus Rosencrantz at the kibble tray under the shrine. Before I headed outside, I spotted Sad Face on top of the kibble house roof, and later I saw Ghost Baby skulking into the yard, making for 11 yard cats I saw this morning. Rolando Moon is taking her turn, staying warm in the sun room right now. I didn’t see Potato Beetle anywhere, yet.

Aside from the wet from the water bowls I emptied and refreshed, there was a lot less mud around the kibble house and the paths in the snow. In fact, all around the inner and outer yards, water levels have gone down. As all but one area along the driveway has nowhere to drain, this shows how much the ground has thawed and absorbed the water.

I took the walk to check on the washed out area to the south of us, and things are a lot better there, too.

You can see some of the debris lines, showing how far up the water had been in the foreground.

This was a third area that started to wash out, but never got too bad before the water started to recede.

This is the wider, shallower area that washed out. Where I’m standing to take this picture had been under water, yesterday.

I was able to wade across the deeper washout to get this photo. Yesterday, the water was deeper than my boots. Again, where I am standing to take the picture had been under water, yesterday.

I took video as I crossed back, and I might put it together with video I took yesterday, to show the difference. We’ll see if I have time to work on that.

After I’d crossed and finishing taking video, I saw a pick up truck coming, so I started heading home. I did keep checking to see how the truck managed the crossing. The driver took his time, especially where the deeper damage is, but he got through okay.

As for our laundry disaster that flooded our entry and parts of the new basement last night, I still need to deal with that.

The problem has actually gotten worse.

While running water in the kitchen sink this morning, I started hearing some weird noises. After turning off the water, I could hear gurgling in the laundry drain pipe. The water was backing up into it!

So we now have to be careful using the kitchen sink, too!

We still have some super duper gel to unclog drains left, so I ended up using it in both the kitchen sink, and the laundry drain, letting it sit for half an hour before pouring hot water, as per the instructions, after it. For the amount of sink use since then, I still don’t know if it made any difference.

I checked on how things were in the basements. The stairs into the new part basement have a strip of carpet on them, and that’s still pretty wet, but the concrete floor is mostly dry.

The pipe from the kitchen sink comes into the basement, just outside the door to the root cellar. Inside the root cellar, I can see the laundry drain pipe coming through the wall, right near the concrete corner of the old basement. There is an angle to the pipe before it joins the main pipe in a T. When trying to use the plumbing snake, I could feel it going through that bend, and then it would reach the main pipe and that was about it. It was basically like hitting a wall.

All of the laundry drain plumbing is new; when my husband and younger daughter came out here several weeks ahead of me and our older daughter, my brother installed the washer and dryer in the entry way with the help of my daughter, including putting in new plumbing for the drain, which had been there for a sink, previously. The T where the pipes join almost sits right on top of the concrete wall of the old basement. Since this is a corner of the other basement, the main pipe runs through a beam above the wall of one part of the corner and behind the other, into the old basement.

I checked it out in the old basement, too. There is a space on top of the concrete wall, which is wider than the house wall resting on it. The pipe runs all along there, until it finally bends to join the main drain where the bathtub, toilet and bathroom sink also join.

Of course, there’s nothing to tell me where the clog is, but I can at least see that there is no obvious damage to the pipes.

I admit to being very confused about the water pipes, though. In the entryway, the taps are next to the drain, closer to the entry to the dining room. That would be to the east. However, when I go into the root cellar, I see the water pipes running to the kitchen, and logically, there should be pipes running up to the laundry taps, on the east side of the drain pipe.

They’re not there.

They’re in the old basement. I’d estimate about three feet to the west of the drain pipe, putting them under my husband’s bedroom, not under the entry. The heat duct to the vent into that bedroom runs by there, too. Using that as reference, those pipes are coming up right about where the head of my husband’s hospital bed is.

That wall is part of the original log house.

Which means that somewhere, hidden in the log wall, the water pipes make a 90 degree bend to where the taps are in the entry. Why those pipes are so far from the taps, instead of just going straight through the floor in the entry, escapes me.

If we ever get to the point where we can finally renovate this place, I will be very curious to see what’s under all the paneling.


Later this afternoon, I need to get my laundry out of the washing machine, use the new syphon hose to drain out as much water as possible, set the rigged sump pump house out the storm door window, then plug in the washing machine and see what happens. Hopefully, I’ll finally be able to finish my laundry. I need my clothes!

The Re-Farmer

Road conditions – extended!

This morning, while switching out the trail cam memory cards, I found a new sign on the main road past our place.

That is not where I expected to see a road closed sign! This road has a lot of traffic, as it’s the main road to get to quite a few farms. I wasn’t surprised that there might be a problem, though. The municipal drainage ditch that washed out the road I’ve been checking crossed the main road about a half mile up from here. I just would have expected the road to be closed further to the east of this intersection.

I saw a large excavator going by our place yesterday, so I decided to walk to the washout and see what, if anything, was done there.

It turns out, nothing. I could see the tread marks continue past the washed out area.

This is the section that’s too deep for me to try and cross with my short rubber boots. The third area I saw yesterday that was starting to wash out has gotten bigger, but overall, things have not gotten much worse. During my walk up, it seemed that the water had receded in a few places in the fields, too.

I did get some video; this is raw from the camera, with no editing.

The winds from the north were quite high – enough to make me glad I wore my winter parka this morning, as I was walking back against the wind!

With the amount of snow that has melted away, and the water around the inner and outer yards somewhat receded, I went over to check on the septic field (which, as my brother pointed out when I called it that, isn’t actually a septic field, because we have an ejector. It’s the area where the grey water and, this spring, at least, runoff collects) and the sheds that I could get at. There was enough snow gone that I decided to check our back gate.

I’m glad I did!

It’s completely torn loose! The other end is held up by the chain and lock. You can see the U nails/staples in the gate post. The wire mesh of the gate was torn right off. Considering there is snow on top of the mesh, this happened quite some time ago, but we haven’t been able to get over this way to see it.

My guess: deer on the road got startled and plowed their way through the gate.

This secondary driveway accesses the main road. Since the gate was down anyway, I decided to walk up the road and see why it was closed.

I found out what the excavator was doing, yesterday!

It patched a section of road that had been washed out completely, at a culvert that drains into our quarter section. As you can see, the patch is already starting to wash out!

I didn’t try to walk any further (I’d already walked about 2 1/2 miles by then), but looking further down the road, I thought I could see another area that was washed out, maybe a quarter mile up the road. I’m thinking at, or near, the municipal drainage ditch.

Just look how far that new gravel has been washed down!

This culvert is not part of the municipal drainage ditch system. I believe it’s been here since before my parents acquired the farm. I remember playing in the culvert when I was a kid and, from what I can see of it, I think it’s still the same culvert, and hasn’t been upgraded or anything like that. No need to fix what ain’t broke!

Not far beyond the fence line is an area that I remember being just a really rough spot across the low area. There is water flowing here only during spring melt, or in excessively wet years. When the cows walked through it, their hooves would sink into the mud, squishing the soil into hills and holes. At some point while I was living in other provinces, a pair of narrow culverts were buried here, to create a sort of low driving lane. The washed out gravel is actually starting to go over this “lane”, and you can see just beyond it, where water is flowing through the small culverts. This seasonal “creek” continues on to the field the renter has been growing corn in the past two years, and eventually connects with the municipal drainage ditch. Which means that this water is contributing to the flooding that has washed out the other road.

On the way back, I freed up the gate from the remaining snow on it, and make it look like it’s fixed. 😀

It’s actually being held up by a single barb on the lower strand of barbed wire. We’ll have to come back with tools to fix it properly. For now, it’ll likely come down again with a stiff breeze! 😀 What I should probably do is find a post to wrap the wire mesh around, then affix it to the gate post in a way that’s more flexible. Maybe even add hinges. We’ll see.

On the list of things we want to do is extend the main driveway all the way to this secondary driveway with gravel. It came in handy the first time we found our gate’s lock glued shut, and we had to go out this way to get to town – and buy bolt cutters! Once we get past the collapsing log building in the inner yard, it gets very bumpy. At some point, someone had driven through when it was muddy, leaving deep ruts all over an area of it. We’ve tried to keep at least a lane mowed, so we can see where we can drive through without hitting rocks, or who knows what else that’s hidden in the grass and thatch.

When I have the chance, I want to make my way through the fence around the outer yard and check the gravel pit that the renter dug out last year. It should be very full of water, right now!

After checking out the road conditions, I also checked out newly accessible parts of the inner yard and found some things that got me very excited – but that will be for my next post! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Water levels, on the road

After seeing the sign the municipality put on our road, I decided to check out the status of where things are washed out.

While walking over, I was paying to much attention to the state of the road and the ditches, I completely missed the 4 sandhill cranes in a tree, until they suddenly took off, making their croaking sounds. Startled the heck out of me! 😀

Along with the sign at the intersection, they also marked off the flood zone with high visibility markers.

There was a new section, just starting to wash out.

This is the smaller washed out area – smaller, as in how deep the water was, and how much was washed away. It actually covers more area. You can see all that gravel washed into the ditch!

This is the same area, from the other side.

I didn’t try to cross the bigger washed out area; my rubber boots aren’t tall enough for that water!

You can see the clay that’s left behind, after the gravel got washed away. In some areas, I think that clay is the only thing keeping the damage down.

That’s a lot of gravel in the ditch!

Before improvements were made, when this area washed out, there would basically be a ravine, cutting through the road. Right now, if someone had a sturdy enough vehicle, one could still drive through this – so I was only a little surprised during my walk home, when I heard a vehicle coming up behind me!

I wouldn’t dare go through this with our van.

I’m seeing traffic using the main road, so hopefully that is still in good shape. Mind you, if it did wash out, it would be after the first mile, and people would have to take other roads to get around it, and I don’t know what those roads are like right now, either.

I’m quite thankful we don’t need to go anywhere. Our work is right here at home.

The rain continues to fall as I write this, though it’s so light right now, I can’t really see it. We’re supposed to get up to another centimeter of rain this evening – less than half an inch – with even less, overnight. We are on high enough ground that we should not have issues with overland flooding, but flat enough that the water is mostly just staying in place, as the soil slowly thaws out enough to actually absorb it in places. We just have to keep on top of monitoring the old basement for water.

I haven’t been online much, so I haven’t heard how things are in the south, which was expected to get hit with a lot more rain. The city was bracing for more flooding. South of the city is a flood plain, with a lot of small towns dotting it. Many of them have dikes around them, and houses built outside of towns are supposed to be built at a minimum height above grade, because of the regular flooding, but there comes a point where even those measures just aren’t enough. My brother built a dike around his house near the city (but not on the flood plain) and for now, things are under control there. He was even able to pick up a pair of new pumps, on sale, even!, to help drain any water inside the dike faster. The dike has a one way culvert to drain water from the inside of the dike, but sometimes it needs a little extra help, and this was one of those times. It took him years to slowly build up his flood control measures, and all that work is paying off very well right now.

The Colorado Low is still sweeping its way across parts of US and Canada. We are still expecting more rain, but not anything usually severe. There’s still the possibility of mixed rain and snow by tomorrow morning. Then things are supposed to warm right up. If things stay as predicted, farmers will soon be able to start seeding their fields, right on “schedule” (at least for our area), and it’ll be the first spring with adequate moisture in years.

The Re-Farmer

The current state of things

This morning’s rounds were extended rounds – but about a mile and a half! 😀

The first order of business was to check the old basement. The south side of the basement is still slowly getting wetter. The sump pump is doing its job quite well. The north side hasn’t really changed much, and I’ve no doubt the big blower fan is doing a lot to keep that side more under control. The larger puddles of water got swept into the drain or the sump pump reservoir, and another of the chimney blocks was brought upstairs, before I headed outside.

I hadn’t slept much, so I was outside earlier than the cats are used to, so I didn’t see many of them! 😀

The first cat I saw was The Distinguished Guest (TDG), and he was limping. Favoring the same leg that Potato Beetle still does. Now that we know why Potato Beetle was limping, I have less concern. It’s probably a bite or claw injury. Considering how aggressive TDG has been to the other cats, I can’t say I feel much sympathy for him. I didn’t see Potato Beetle this morning, and whenever that happens, I worry that TDG has injured him and he’s suffering somewhere. 😦

I don’t know where Rosencrantz has set herself up again but, wherever it is, it’s very close by. She just seemed to magically appear at the kibble house of late! The only thing I can say for sure is that she’s not coming from the junk pile.

Speaking of junk piles, while Junk Pile (we have GOT to come up with a better for her!) was eating, I blindly took a couple of shots of her kittens through the window. This was the best one. I think I count 5 in there.

While switching out the memory cards on the trail cams, I was happy to see the water on the driveway has actually receded. To get to the sign cam, I went outside the fence line and didn’t even try to go through the snow and water along the garden area. While I was at it, I “made” a bridge. 😉

This sheet of plywood I found in the garage was set up over the drainage ditch, turned the other direction, so I could drive over it with the riding mower. Which isn’t working and, according to the place I last took it to, not really worth paying someone to fix, anymore. Since we won’t be driving a riding mower through here anytime soon, I pulled up up the plywood and laid it the other way. That helped increase the flow of water, too. I don’t know who dug this drainage ditch, how long ago, or what they used to do it. All I know is that it’s very uneven and rough, even for just a push mower.

That done, I went for a walk to check out the state of the road heading south. For the first half mile, it was actually pretty good. There’s an area that has a series of small ponds on one side that has the potential to be an issue if we get the predicted rains – we’re still under a rainfall warning that extends to the north of us, with accompanying flood warnings – but this morning, it was still pretty good.

Then I got to where the municipal drainage ditch crosses the road.

The culvert is marked with that red plastic tube on the left, and is the only reason this section isn’t already washed out.

This drainage ditch crosses the quarter section we’re on, cutting through the rented out fields into our neighbour’s quarter, until it crosses the road here.

The drainage ditch then cuts across the corner of this quarter section to another road and another culvert.

I wasn’t going to go that far to check the state of the road, seeing how things are here!

The drainage ditch is completely full; the line of higher soil, created by dredging, marks one side of it. Right now, we’ve got one flooded field draining into another flooded field!

The first area that’s washed out is past the drainage ditch. You can somewhat see how much of the gravel has been washed off the road and into the ditch.

The second wash out has done a lot more damage to the road.

Half the road has been washed down right to the rock base!

I took this next wide angle shot while standing in the middle of the second wash out.

There is still SO much snow and ice.

Here, I’m standing in between the two washed out sections. The water is flowing with remarkable speed!

I took some video, too. Once I have time, I’ll test out my new movie making software and make a little video to upload.

So this road is not a viable alternate route for us. When I get a chance, I plan to walk the road to the north and see how things are, there. We may not be able to avoid the pothole riddled main road, though.

Enough snow has melted that I could check out a few other areas, once I got back home. The path to the outhouse and the back of the garage is still full of water, and the pit under the outhouse is flooded to the top.

The garlic beds are clear of snow, but the soil under the mulch is still frozen solid.

Our first high raised bed is also clear of snow – but the snow around it is still quite deep!

I noticed one of the cages protecting the raspberry bushes we got my daughter for her birthday last year was knocked aside, so I made my way through the snow to get to it. Some of it even held my weight, though when it did give out, I found myself knee deep in snow.

Once we have rows of high raised beds built here, I can see that it will greatly affect the snow in the area.

The arrow in the above photo is pointing to the raspberry bush, and shows where the cage is supposed to be. The cages got dug out of the scrap pile around the old garden shed and placed over the raspberry bushes, after we discovered the deer were nibbling on them.

I found a couple of large rocks under the trees to weigh the cage down. Hopefully, it will hold until we find a more permanent way to protect the raspberries.

Hopefully, the raspberries have survived. Shortly after we transplanted them last year, they got hit by that one unusually cold night in late May that killed off so much. Then there was the drought, the heat waves and the deer. Now we’ve got this winter that just doesn’t want to let go. These poor bushes have had a very rough start! At this point, there’s no way to see if they’ve survived the winter. Hopefully, we’ll know in a couple of weeks.

The snow has receded enough that I was able to check out a few more areas before heading back inside. Another check on the basement, then the last chimney block was brought upstairs. Getting those up the old basement stairs has been a real pain. It’s one thing to carry a block down the hallway or across the yard. It’s quite another to safely get them up those stairs. I finally got it worked out, though. Basically, once a block was lifted to the highest step I could reach while standing at the bottom, I had to go up a couple of steps, to line myself up with the next step it would go on, carefully bend at the knees (my busted up knees!), grab the block and brace it against my belly (sometimes, my extra girth comes in quite handy!), straighten my knees to lift the block while using the hand rail to keep from falling backwards, and use my belly to place it on the next step.

Then the process is repeated, step by step, to the top. Thankfully, there is room for a block in front of the door, which has to be kept closed to keep the cats out. Then it’s, open the door, chase away cats, wrestle the block clear of the door with enough space to get past it, chase away the cats again, then close the door – hopefully remembering to turn the light off, first!

After that, it gets easy. The only difficult part is getting through the old kitchen door, without letting any cats through.

It’ll be a while before we can prep the area the blocks are going into, so we can take our time getting the blocks out the rest of the way. Getting them out of that basement was the main hurdle, and I’m very glad it’s finally done!

And that’s the state of things for now. As I write this, we’re at 5C/41F and we’re supposed to reach a high of 9C/48F, so things are melting. The rains are supposed to hit us this evening and continue through tomorrow, before changing to a mix of rain and snow, the day after, with highs of 4C/40F.

Then, three days later, they are now saying we’re supposed to get a high of 18C/64F. Long range forecast after that has highs ranging from 16C/61F to 19C/66F for the next week.

Hopefully, by then, the soil will have thawed enough to be able to absorb more of that moisture!

We shall see how things turn out.

The Re-Farmer