February 8, 2020

Our Eventful Rain Event

This week's rain event was one like we'd never experienced before.

At morning chores, the bucks were high and dry.
Three hours later the buck shelter was flooded.

We had to wade out to rescue them.
The deepest spot reached the top of my boots.

Piles of ants floated by.

Dry ground was gone.

The boys were standing in six inches of water
with their bedding straw floating on top.

Fortunately, we have the buck barn. It's out of the flooding, although it sits
in a dip and usually has wet floors when it rains. But it was a better option.

Goats hate getting wet, so we had to push and drag them
through the flooded area to get them to higher ground.

Dan put down pallets and plywood to get them off
the damp ground and we gave them plenty of dry hay.

There aren't many options for draining the pasture. 

Some of it we could channel behind the buck shelter. 

Our neighbor's field floods with every extensive rain,
so ours will drain off with his. At least some of it.

Our rain total was 5.5 inches. By the next morning there were only a couple of small puddles left in the pasture. The wind was blowing strong and cold, and the temperature had dropped 30 degrees.

We've had areas around the homestead collect a lot of water, but we've never had the pasture flood like that before! The wet straw will be spread out on bare spots in the pasture. Then we'll let the shelter dry out before putting down fresh bedding and letting the bucks back in.


Two days later.

Our Eventful Rain Event © February 2020


  1. Omigosh, Leigh. What a deluge you had. Thankfully all the goats were put to dry quarters. 30 degree drop? Thank goodness all that water didn't freeze. THAT would've been a real challenge. Glad water is receding. Take care. Kris

  2. Poor babies! Glad you rescued them.

  3. Kris, never a dull moment! I agree it's fortunate it drained quickly and didn't have time to freeze. This morning we're down in the 20s, but I'm glad that kind of cold waited a day to strike.

    Sandi, I feel badly that we didn't check on them sooner. I usually go out after lunch to check water buckets and top off hay feeders. We've never had that pasture flood like that before! Fortunately, Dan did a check earlier because of all the rain. Getting out of standing water and getting hay into their bellies made everybody happy.

  4. Wow! That is some kind of emergency!!! I wondered how you had fared, because that was one of the strongest fronts that we have had in a while. The wind howled for two days here, which is very unsettling. 5 1/2 inches of rain is unmanageable, no matter how well the drainage is set up. We are lucky to be up on the top of the ridge, but when we get a gully washer, it still takes a while for the water to drain down. Never a dull moment, but we are thankful that you all are alright.

  5. Wow! That's a lot of rain. We are to get snow and rain this weekend.

  6. What a good idea of Dan's to put down pallets covered with plywood to get the bucks up off the wet ground in the new, temporary shelter. Having to deal with that much rain is never fun, but weren't you fortunate that Dan is home full-time now! It could have happened when he was off on one of his several-days-gone trucking runs and it would have been so much more difficult for you to handle alone! Amazing the water drained off so quickly . . . and that it didn't stay to be frozen when the temp dropped so drastically. Whew. As you say, it's always something and never boring!

  7. I'm glad you all survived the flood. Amazing how fast it ran off, and you're all fairly dry again. I guess there's not much you can do about drainage when entire fields are inundated.

    Always something, huh?

  8. Wyomingheart, living closer to the land always brings things like weather into sharper focus! Living on high ground is important. You chose your spot well!

    Kristina, we have snow in the forecast for this afternoon! :o Stay warm and dry!

    Mama Pea, truly, very fortunate. I don't know how I would have moved the bucks by myself! In the book I'm reading, there is some good information about drainage and soil structure. We're trying to improve our soil, so hopefully, we can do that and not have this happen again!

    Boud, always something! We realized awhile back that we can't simply plan for averages, we have to be prepared for extremes. Trouble is, we still get new extremes and they're always a surprise!

  9. Maybe it's time to start buying some fill dirt as you can.

  10. OH.MY.GOSH!!

    What an event. Glad you got the goats out - poor babies. Well in the future, you will know that flooding is possible and get them out in advance! After all - this was the first time for this field.

  11. Our Bellingham home region is flooding right now. Fortunately our condo is in town on higher ground (not to mention we are on the third floor). You have so much work ahead even after the water drains. Life at your place always has major chores. - Margy

  12. How wonderful for the goats that the two of you were there to get them in the dry quickly. We often quote my dad, "There's lots of work to do on a farm." One little unplanned event, such as your flood, can mean lots of long, hard hours of work.

  13. Gorges, that's exactly the kind of thing we've been discussing. Filling in the shelter would be optimum, except the ceilings are already low so that we sometimes hit our head if we aren't careful. Another option is to relocate the bucks altogether.

    RT, they say to plan for the worst, but one has to know what the worst is!!!

    Margy, what a relief to know your condo is out of any flooding danger! Fortunately for us, the water drained quickly, but now it's snowing!

    Mary, seems like our major chore is checking on our animals. Not that either of us minds, but sometimes surprises like this present themselves!

  14. We weren't home for all the rain but friends tell us that it rained most of the month of January. We got home yesterday afternoon and this morning we've gotten 7 inches of snow! Looks live its over though. Hang in there. Hope the farm dries out.

  15. As much as it rained, I was afraid we were going to slid to the creek. But today is SNOW. weatherman predicted 2" at most. I was just out there checking on the critters...4" and still falling. With all that water you must be iced in.

  16. Sad reminder of what is probably heading our way with the spring thaw. Glad yours moved through quickly and you don't have weeks of the water to deal with.

  17. FFG, it has rained a lot this winter, which is probably part of the problem, i.e. the ground is saturated. Now it's snowing, about three inches so far. With more rain in the forecast!

    Jo, fortunately, the ground is warm so icing was minimal. It's been snowing most of the day, but a lot of it is melting already. It's going to freeze tonight, though, so it will be icy tomorrow!

    tpals, yes, I'm very thankful it's drained quickly. Drying out will likely be slower since we're supposed to get more rain next week. Hopefully, we won't have a repeat performance!

  18. Leigh,

    Glad to hear you were able to get the goats to a dryer place.
    They are lucky to have you and Dan!

    City Creek Country Road

  19. Not that we ever get that kind of accumulation, but there are definite advantages to living on a hill as we do! Sometimes "a river runs through it," though....

  20. Glad you were able to get them out and onto higher ground - or pallets!

  21. City Creek Country Road, thanks! We were just glad to have a drier place to take them to!

    Michelle, it's funny, but we're actually on the highest part of our property and not in any flood zone. For some odd reason the water got trapped there. Fortunately, it didn't last for long.

    Quinn, me too!

  22. Ouch doesn’t begin to cover it. I know exactly what you are experiencing and prayers are floating up for you and the boys.

    Watch out for foot rot and quick pneumonia caused by extreme differences between high and low temps.

    You all will clear this huddle you are too tough not to💕

  23. Wow, that's incredible Leigh! From flooding to snow. I know you'll learn a lot from this experience. Hopefully the sudden cold snap, will dent any pest loads, which may have gotten an advantage with all that water.

    In Australia we get paralysis ticks, which I think killed the neighbours goats, after the 2011 floods. They dropped suddenly, like all our free range chickens (bar one) that went down into the gully. Paralysis ticks, are abundant in the warm and wet.

    As you come into the warmer season, be sure to watch the pest loads on the goats. It will weaken their immune system. But hopefully, that sudden cold snap, put any pest population explosions to rest.

  24. Goatldi, thank you! Good point about foot rot and pneumonia. We worry about feet especially. The boys were in a particularly playful mood after moving to their new digs. They chose not to come out much in the snow! It's supposed to be nice today, then another week of rain. We'll have to keep an eye on that pasture before we let them back in.

    Chris, I've never heard of paralysis ticks! Sounds horrible, and I hope that isn't something we have here. You are right though, about pests thriving when the weather is warm and wet. Weather is always a challenge, isn't it?

  25. Oh boy, Winter weather can be a little crazy! Glad you had another option for housing the boys. Those piles of floating ants though. I wouldn't want them floating in over the top of my boots!

  26. I keep hearing of this insane weather to our west! That front came plowing through in the middle of the night on its way to the ocean. Our flooding was so fast -- overnight -- that I didn't see it. Drained off before I went out to do chickens the next morning! WE also did not get snow, thankfully!

  27. Just wondering, has the water drained away yet?

  28. Debby, I know! We've had other areas flood, but never this badly and we've never had to move goats before. The floating ants were kinda creepy. They're fire ants, so I didn't want to get anywhere near them.

    M.K. I'm glad you're flooding didn't last long. The snow was a real surprise, but it wasn't enough to cause problems, fortunately!

    Mike, the water was pretty much gone by the next morning, which was quick. They're calling for another couple of inches over the next several days, so we're going to keep the bucks where they are and just keep an eye on that pasture to see what happens.

  29. We've been dealing with floods here too. Good luck and so glad you had another place for the boys.

  30. Although its to dry here now we get that kind of rain occasionally in summer an I keep a raised area, pallets an plywood, in my guys shelter just in case. What I hate is seeing all that nutrient getting washed away. My property slopes a bit an at the bottom I've got bananas that produce like crazy. Planted a mulberry there a couple years ago an it's like 14' now an got a few gal of berries last hear. Going to try a situate some elderberrys there soon an see how that grows... I am curious... How is the rotational grazing going? If you get a chance I'd love to hear your comments on that...

  31. Oh my goodness Leigh! You really did get the rain. What a job you had! I know how goats hate getting wet. I though our 3 1/2" was bad but that was nothing compared to what you all went through. We didn't get snow either, but did get the high winds. I got quite a scare. I had a wheelbarrow load of hay sitting at the chicken lot door and was putting fresh dry hay in all the hens nests. Left the wheelbarrow there and came inside. Went to wash my hands and looked out the kitchen window and a huge oak limb had fallen beside the wheelbarrow, exactly where stood. The limb was the size of a small tree and heavy. So thankful! Take care.

  32. I am fascinated by the picture of the pile of ants floating on the water. That is the stuff of nightmares!

  33. Lady Locust, me too! We discussed tearing down the little log buck barn, but decided not to "just in case." We definitely were presented with the case!

    Annie, oh yes, the nutrients! I didn't think of that at the time, we just knew we had to get as much water off the pasture as possible. The "drain" was limited in that once the water level was below the little ridge at the fence, we knew the rest of the water would have to dissipate on it's own. Actually, we were surprised at how quickly it was gone. Now we know to be prepared.

    I love hearing about your plantings. I have two mulberry trees, but they've been very slow to grow.

    Of rotational grazing, I'd say we're doing bare minimums and that there is much room for improvement. It would be easier if the goats stayed out 24/7 and didn't need to go back to the barn or shelter at night or when it rains. But I figure something is better than nothing, so we have some rotation while we continue to work toward pasture diversity and keeping the soil covered. It's a slow process anyway, but we seem to have a lot of challenges to overcome before we can have pastures I am truly proud of.

    Henny, I'm glad to hear it wasn't so bad for you. We had those high winds as well, which I think helped dry things out somewhat. The snow is gone now, but they're forecasting another 3 inches over the next several days! :o

    Ed, creepy, aren't they? Especially since they're fire ants, which have a painful bite.

  34. Thanks Leigh! I have a lot of edibles planted. An amend it with goat shelter cleanings, some kelp an sea90. Also bio and bone char, milk pail an jar rinse water, leaf mold/compost, ash from the woodstove, etc... Nothing fancy here.... But I get quite a bit of homegrown goodies. Much of it i planted 20 years ago so its well established. I've got some paddocks set for rotational graze just since mid summer but like you say it's a long, slow process.It'd sure help if we'd get a bit more rain... Drier than normal lately, you are right, abnormal is the new normal...

  35. Whoa Nellie!!! How did I miss this post! Could you install drainage tiles? I'm sure that is not an isolated instance. With the weather and storms getting more severe maybe you could move the barn? Or is too big? I know farmers in Iowa put in drainage tiles in their fields so they don't flood in the Spring. Probably expensive to do. What a mess and all of you so wet and cold I'm sure! Glad you had the other barn and pallets and dry straw! Never a dull moment but glad all are safe and dry. You and Dan too!

  36. Annie, I love hearing about your place! You and I are of the same mindset, so it's interesting to hear what you're doing and how. It's wonderful to be far enough along to have well-established plants.

    I'm finding the rotational grazing to be especially challenging in winter. Even though we have winter forage species growing, growth is still slow, so I either have to let the goats back on before it's well recovered or I have to keep them either in the barn or in the woods. It's always something.

    Sam, we're definitely talking about solutions! One answer is improving the soil. Better soil structure will facilitate the soil's ability to absorb all that rain faster. We'd also like to capture as much of the moisture on our property as possible (as opposed to letting it drain down the hill.) So we're discussing a seasonal "pond" in the lowest spot in the pasture. Sort of like a large round swale. Those are the ideas on the front burner at present.

  37. Wow. Was this a predicted rain or did it just magically "appear"?

    We had a downpour this week as well - fortunately we are on a bit of a slope so it all just runs away.

  38. TB, it was predicted, but not this much! We got well over twice what was called for. A good reminder to keep checking on things!


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