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

Washout video

After many interruptions and a bit of experimenting, I used my new software to make this video from this morning.

I didn’t add any sound to it, because I didn’t want to drown out the sounds from the video portions. In the first clip, the strange, almost squeaky noises are being made by the water trying to form a whirlpool at the culvert, under a layer of ice. At the end of the video, you can hear the deer crashing through the surface ice as they bound through the field! Considering how far away they were, that’s pretty impressive.

You can also see the tire tracks where someone had driven up to the wash out, then backed up and turned around.

This isn’t actually too bad of a washout. For now. While making this, one of the interruptions was a robo-call from our municipality. Part of it was just repeating the rainfall warning that all the weather apps have right now. It then went on to say that our council is keeping on top of things, and is aware of flooding issues, like what I was looking at this morning. They also specified that they have an emergency plan in place, and that pumps, generators and sandbags are available for those who need them (we shouldn’t need anything like that). It went on to suggest people make sure their sump pumps are working (ours is), and that items in basements are raised up off the floor (which is how we keep things in the old basement all the time), and to have things put together and ready, in case an evacuation becomes necessary. In other words, have a bug out bag!

Where we are, we won’t have much to be concerned about. If there is any flooding, there are other areas on our quarter section that water will drain to, rather than towards the house, which in turn drains into the municipal drainage ditch in the video above.

As I write this, it’s just reaching 6pm, and we are at 11C/52F, which is several degrees Celsius higher than the most recent forecast. Which means things have been not only melting outside, but in many places, the water has actually receded, with the ground warming up enough to absorb some of it. Granted, if we do get the rains that are predicted to start tonight and continue through tomorrow and the day after, with cooler temperatures, all that is going to fill up again, but there is noticeably less snow to melt away and add to the total amount of water.

Meanwhile, we continue to make trips into the old basement, check the sump pump and sweep the puddles into the flor drain or sump pump reservoir. Both the sump pump and the septic pump are going off fairly frequently, and doing their jobs. The main areas where we would expect water to be a problem in the inner and outer yard is around the garage – but not the garage itself – parts of the driveway, and other areas that are far enough away from the house that it won’t affect us. At least not directly.

We should be okay where we are. There are others in the area we are more concerned about!

The Re-Farmer