Thursday, September 9, 2010


Tuesday night/Wednesday morning (Sept 7/8) our backyard/pasture flooded badly due to the remnants of Tropical Storm Hermine dumping almost 12 inches of rain in our area. The flood waters actually came within about 10 feet of our back porch, but fortunately, didn't actually make it to the house. Unfortunately, it did completely destroy 3/4 of our pasture fence and damaged our pump house (we have a well for water) and part of our barn. Due to my erratic sleep schedule, I was awake during the night. I'd been checking on things every couple of hours because we have had the far back corner of our pasture flood before. (Mainly due to a very poorly designed "bridge" that crosses the creek near the corner of our property.) I'd gone out to check on things about 11pm and the water in the creek was still several feet below the top of the bridge. About 2am, I went out to check again, and the water was up past our pump house and flooding about a third of our barn.

I ran back inside and woke Foxfire up and we ran out to try and do what we could to make sure our animals were safe. The horses were running up to the edge of the water, acting nervous and running back away. The donkeys were sensibly standing at the highest point of the pasture underneath the stand of oak trees that cover that area. The goats were hiding terrified in the part of the barn that wasn't flooded, and the chickens were obliviously roosted on their perches above the flood waters that covered the bottom of the chicken coop area of the barn. As I was checking on the goats, Shadowfax came up to me seeking reassurance. I stroked his face and calmly told him that I knew he was nervous, but that really the best thing for him to do was to go stay in the oak mot since that was currently the safest place in the pasture. He turned and calmly walked over to the oak mot and stayed there. I swear that horse can understand human speech. I'm not sure if Foxfire had a similar talk with Ziggy, or if Ziggy just followed Shadowfax's lead (which would be odd since Ziggy is dominant), but both horses stayed in the oak mot with the donkeys until after the water finally receded. I wasn't too worried about the back porch cats, but I did check on them. Xiao Mao and Freya were plainly visible and only moderately disturbed by everything. I couldn't see Shadowcat, but I figured she was probably okay. Cats are pretty capable critters and there were plenty of areas that she could get to that were safe.

However, I was very concerned about the safety of my hens because chickens don't do well in water. But the bottom of the chicken coop was already flooded, and I was worried about going into the water to move the hens to safety. I grew up in south Louisiana and I am very aware of the danger of going into flood waters. But the water was only about six inches deep, and the coop was sturdily built and had lots of things for me hold onto if the waters got turbulent. Plus, I really didn't want my chickens to drown if they woke up and jumped down into the water or if the water continued to rise to the level of their perches. So Foxfire and I quickly grabbed as many chickens as we could and moved them to our back porch. The fact that chickens just "turn off" after dark made it easier for us to move them. Though they were definitely not happy since the most efficient way to move them was to carry them by their legs with their bodies hanging upside down. That way, we could each carry four at a time as opposed to just two at a time right side up. It took a number of trips, but we got all the chickens moved.

The goats seemed to be okay at that time and even if the water came up enough to get them wet, they wouldn't automatically drown the way the chickens would, so I left Foxfire outside keeping an eye on things while I ran inside to try and call our friend DA to see if she was willing to come and get our horses and donkeys with her trailer if the water got high enough to flood our entire pasture. (Our trailer was in the area of the pasture that was already flooded.) I was unable to get in touch with her and went back outside to check on things and discuss options with Foxfire. Fortunately, about that time, we noticed that the water seemed to be receding. It was still raining, but the longer we watched, the more the water went down. I was still worried that it might come up again, but at least for a while, I decided to just wait and see what happened before trying to do anything else.

Since we were no longer freaking out about saving our animals, we took a few moments to try and see what the damage to our property was. Using our powerful Magnum flashlight to shine over the water, we could see that at least most of the fence along the back of our property was completely down. The fence along the east side of property was about half down. We cautiously left the critters in the non-flooded area of the pasture and went to check out the other areas. The bottom of our pump house was covered with water. and the fence along the west side of our property was just gone. I mean GONE. There were no posts sticking up, no remains of the fence, just nothing. It was still dark (it was about 3:30am by this point), so we really couldn't see very well, but things looked bad.

As we were looking at the west side of our property which runs beside a road since we live on a corner, we noticed a truck parked on the road, apparently trapped on our side of the bridge. He had his lights on so we could see exactly how far up the road the flood waters had come. We spoke with him for a bit, offering that he could come inside our house if he wanted to. He chose to stay with his truck and keep an eye on the road and stop anyone who might try to cross the bridge. He also offered to help us with our animals if we needed him to. We thanked him and went back to check on our critters.

The water was definitely much lower than it had been. Our pump house was almost completely clear of water. The chicken coop and run-in areas of the barn were no longer flooded, though the mud was still terrible. We kept watching and gradually more and more of our land became clear of water. Since I was going to be awake anyway, I sent Foxfire back to bed to get what sleep he could. After watching for a while longer and seeing the water continue to recede, I decided to run inside and change out of my soaking wet clothes. I was wet, cold, tired and still rather scared about the flooding. I needed a short break. I got dry and warm and for the next couple of hours, I stayed mostly inside, just running outside every fifteen minutes or so to check on things.

Around 5:30am, when I went outside to check on the critters, the water had receded enough that the horses and donkeys had come out from the oak mot and were munching on their round bale which had been partially submerged by the flood waters. I wasn't too worried about them eating the wet hay, not enough time had passed for it to mold or anything. But now that they were willing to leave the oak mot, there was the chance that since the fences were down, they would wander off or get spooked into running out of the pasture. I hadn't wanted to put them in their stalls earlier because I didn't want them to be trapped there if the water continued to rise, but now that the water was pretty much gone, they needed to be contained and the only place to put them was their stalls which were somewhat wet, but had not truly flooded. I ran inside and got their feed buckets with their morning ration of feed and called them into their stalls. I also got some of the donkeys' feed and called the donkeys and the goats that were willing to come out of the barn into the small goat pen beside the house which had been covered in a couple of inches of running water earlier, but was now just muddy. Three of the goats WOULD NOT leave the barn no matter how much I called and shook the feed bucket so I just left them there. I figured they wouldn't wander too far from the rest of the herd. I finally saw Shadowcat, the third back porch kitty, and I as suspected, she was fine. I also checked on the front porch kitty, Bastet, and she seemed oblivious to the excitement that was going on in the back yard.

I kept checking on things every half an hour until it got light. I woke Foxfire up and we went outside to see exactly how bad things were. All of the critters were safe, if not happy to be shut up in such small quarters, but the pasture (and part of my orchard) was devastated. Unlike the time previously when just a small corner of our pasture flooded, there is no way that just Foxfire and I will be able to fix things by ourselves.

That's all for now. I will post more later.

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