The Great Flood of 2009

September 22, 2009

When we moved to the farm in the spring of 2008, our two large stock ponds were full to the brim. Eighteen months passed and both were dry. How sad to see the frogs and turtles slowly disappear, although truth be told the frogs were noisy and the turtles were not always very nice either. (See for details.)

Also pulling a disappearing act was the great white heron and family, who fled for friendlier fishing elsewhere. Miss Freckles, the livestock guardian dog, actually welcomed this development, since the big bird drove her to distraction.

The garden was so parched that not even daily soakings with the hose could keep the veggies from drooping under the hot Texas sun. Cruel TV meteorologists mocked us by starting their nightly broadcasts with the tantalizing, “Summer storms in the area? We’ll have more when we return.” But each time they returned, they brought news only of rain hundreds of miles away.

And then one day the rains came. It rained — and rained — and rained. For four days, the rains fell steadily upon the farm, quickly filling the two ponds and spilling over the banks of the dry streambeds. The waters found a way of their own outside their historic paths. The chickens, usually dry and comfy in their part of the run-in shed, were suddenly surrounded by water and we had to create little bridges with wooden planks so they could escape from their tiny island of straw and mud out into the pasture.

This seasonal transition brought to a head another lingering issue. The two ram lambs were growing up and we now had three intact males, all beginning to jostle for position as mating season loomed. We would need to build a new facility to separate the boys from the girls. And in the rams’ quarters, we would need further separation to keep them from butting the living daylights out of each other. And further, once spring came ’round, we would need to repair the pens for each late-stage pregnant ewe.

The scale of it all was, frankly, more than this pair of 50-somethings cared to undertake. For a few weeks, we grappled with the issue over dinner, throughout the weekends, and by phone each day. The sheep needed more than we could provide, but there were others who by experience and disposition could offer a happy home to Firefly and his tribe. And so we sought a farmer with expertise in breeding sheep and building fences. One recent Saturday, he arrived with an empty trailer and left with a small flock, destined for their new home in Joshua, Texas.

Can we pile any more transitions on top of the autumnal equinox this week? The sheep are happy in their new digs. The pumpkins are ripening nicely out front and vegetable seedlings are pushing up from the ground. The chicken commandos immediately spread out in the shed once the sheep left. And Miss Freckles is back on Orange Alert status, protecting the chickens from the return of the herons, who are flying just a bit too closely overhead for her taste.


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