Ready for Winter Flooding

FloodPenI was pleased with myself for being prepared for winter flood season well before it came on. We had taken down our little “flood pen” during the summer so we could mow that area. I re-built it slightly bigger for this year, to accommodate more sheep. It’s far from roomy, and nobody has a good time if it floods and the sheep have to stay crammed in there for a few weeks. But, it’s only a few weeks, so we’d get through it. And now that I have portable hotwire, I’d have some options of moving the sheep around while waiting out a flood.

Continue reading “Ready for Winter Flooding”

A Very Big Fir Tree Log


Kirk has been enjoying the use of our new road up from the pasture, using the tractor to haul up debris from down there that was a bit too scary to drive on the street. Much of what he’s retrieved are standard-sized logs, metal chunks etc that have probably arrived here from past floods.

But this mammoth looks like it may have been something from the original farmstead, back in the 1800’s. I know that the homesteader family logged the hill and had an on-site sawmill from which they cut boards to build the barns. It took Kirk some finessing to get this onto the tractor bucket (you can only see the tractor’s roll bar and Kirk’s head behind the log, it’s so big). But he did, and got it up the hill and into the to-be-processed scrap pile. Our little 30-hp tractor does pretty well carting big loads like this around.

We’re thinking of what we could do with this one, to keep it around for posterity. Maybe we’ll make it into a bench or something. Any creative ideas?

Fence Posts: Wet or Dry Cure Concrete?

DrivewayFenceI’m gearing up to start another round of fencing. I do  add concrete my fence post holes, because in the floodplain, the flotation forces of full-submersion flooding can cause whole fence lines to float- or so I’m told by a neighbor who learned this the hard way! So the question I’m pondering this year is, pour the concrete in the hole dry and let it cure on its own, or pre-mix the concrete first? Continue reading “Fence Posts: Wet or Dry Cure Concrete?”

Kayaking in the Pasture

kayakinginpastureHere is Kirk, kayaking in our pasture! It’s not too often you can say you are boating in your yard!

His report of the sights out there: pumpkins everywhere, from our neighbor’s pumpkin patch farm. And the nursery tree farm, their irrigation tubes are also everywhere, in a huge tangled mess. Our ex-neighbor Nick’s port-a-potty is stuck on our fence- ugh! I’m hoping it wasn’t full of “stuff”, chemical or otherwise.

Below is another panoramic, this is taken from the hillside near our silo, looking across the valley. It’s really hard to capture the magnitude of the flooding in photographs, it’s really something you have to see in person to grasp just how MUCH water comes through. But, this does a pretty good job of showing how there is water as far as the eye can see. It literally does spread across the entire valley.


Ms. Dolly Llama – Doin’ Fine

dollyllamaI stopped by my parents’ house Saturday to bring more feed for the llama and check out how she was doing. She is looking just fine. I could find no swellings, cuts or other damage to her, she’s not lame, not coughing, or anything. Amazing! My mom took this photo of me in the stall. You can see that once I am able to get a hold of her halter, she is calm. But she avoids it as best she can. I even managed to pick up one of her feet this time to look at her toenails, which I haven’t been able to do before. Her toenails look good, I don’t think they need any trimming.

While I was in the stall, I pointed out a dead rat to my mom, it was right next to the feed. My mom said, “hmm, that’s odd, I don’t remember seeing that this morning.” When she went to scoop it up with a shovel, it was still warm! So, I’m guessing Dolly stomped it? (They are not using poison at their house, so unless it died from somebody else’s poison, I’m guessing it was killed.) My parents were glad at the possibility of her paying some rent by killing rodents during her stay!

Pumping Out the Valley

fencepostsemergingThey must have turned on the pump station last night, because this morning there is a good 1-2 feet less water in our pasture. I can see fence posts, gates, nursery trees and the sheep shelters emerging. And the road is reappearing, now it looks like maybe only a 100-foot stretch is still under water. We saw a man out there wading in it with hip waders on, to see how deep it goes. It seemed to still be crotch-deep to him in the middle. People are starting to drive large tractors through it to access their homes. The road is much higher than the pasture though, so I think the pasture still has about three feet of water.

Our fence, from what I can see so far, looks good. Maybe a few T-posts bent, but the gate posts all held with their concrete feet. Though things could be worse in a dike breach, I’m glad to see that in a normal over-topping, the design seemed to have held up.

More Photos of the Llama Drama

I got these from our neighbors Marla and Tiffany; Marla managed to capture more of the llama rescue on her cell phone camera. Thanks Marla!

In the first photo, Dan had managed to guide the llama to a place where she could stand up, even though she was still in the water. But, at this point, she was not budging, and Dan was trying to manage the canoe, too. So three guys, including Kirk, rushed down to help in knee-deep cold water.


Once they discovered the llama was not going to walk on her own, and was acting pretty submissive, they decided to flip her into the canoe and see if they could tow her towards the road. She acquiesced pretty well, you can see here she’s mostly lying on her back in the canoe with her legs sticking in the air. By this photo, they had her close to the road and to the edge of the water. One guy, I think it’s Lee, is kneeling over, his back was killing him from all the lifting, and I imagine he was very cold!


Next they flipped her back out of the boat by rolling it over on its side. She was shivering, and pretty mentally checked-out by this point, so could not be convinced to stand up and walk on her own. You can see seven people helping in this photo, and there were several dozen more people on the road, many offering assistance and equipment. Ah, all our neighbors are obviously farmers and animal lovers-nobody could stand to see an animal in need!


Lastly, here is a photo of one woman pulling on her leadrope while four guys lifted and carried her to the road. I helped lift her from behind part of the way too, until I went to get the van. Uff Dah, she was much heavier than I thought she would be! Once at the road, we were able to lift her into the side door of my cargo van so that she could sit kushed comfortably in the back and warm up. d1

Friday night update: Dolly Llama is doing fine so far. My mom reports she’s gotten her “attitude” back, and is quick to flatten her ears in annoyance when anybody comes into her stall! She’s eating hay and grain and seems to be alright. I imagine she’s bruised and sore, but she seems to be walking fine, so amazingly, nothing is broken!

More Flood Pictures: Our Farm in Snohomish County

Here are some photos Kirk took of how the flood looks. This is looking up at our house, which fortunately, is safe on the hill above the flood plane. In the foreground is our pasture, which is completely submerged. I feel grateful in that other than the llama incident, flooding is not too big of a deal for us. Just a small inconvenience taking longer routes to drive somewhere while our road is closed, and haying the sheep up top for a week or so. I moved the water trough and a few other items up out of the pasture this morning. I forgot a few wood fence posts that were stacked down there, but oh well, it was maybe $40 worth, they’ve probably floated away.

Others have it much worse, if their houses and other buildings have been damaged, if they lost animals, if they have to live somewhere else for a few weeks, and if they have to haul their livestock far to get it out of the floodway. I’m also grateful that we have a pump station in our dike district, so once the river recedes, we can get rid of our water much more quickly than areas that have to wait for it to evaporate or break up part of their dikes to re-drain their valleys. We really have it easy compared to many people in this state right now.


Next is a view looking across our pasture. In it, there is a single shipping container (the kind they put on the back of semi trucks). But, oh, there used to be two of those out there -where did the other one go? It floated away, and is now lodged way back in the weeds on the neighboring lot, across a drainage ditch, in a place where likely nobody will ever be able to retrieve it without cutting it into pieces.

I have to utter a little I-told-you-so to myself, because our ex-neighbor Nick had bought these things as a cheap way to have “instant buildings” on his property. I tried to tell him they weren’t a good idea in the flood plain, that the water would move them who-knows-where. But I could tell he thought I was a silly girl who didn’t know what she was talking about, and he insisted they’d be fine. I’m just glad the thing traveled the other way, and didn’t take out our brand new fence! And, it’s out of our valley view now, so at least we only have one tacky thing to look at. There was a ton of debris and freebie farm junk over there too, and most of that is now lodged in our fence. But now we can dispose of it, something I’ve been itching to do, but not feeling legal to before now!


Third is a view of the road disappearing into the flood waters. From here, the water goes for miles through pastureland. I can never really wrap my mind around how much water this is, to fill up an entire valley. This is the fourth flood I’ve seen here, and it is still amazing to me and everyone else here. Neighbors still all stand in awe when the water comes, everyone just gathers, stands and stares (or helps rescue a llama, when necessary!). And after the water goes, and I look out, I cannot re-envision the water or believe how high it once was. It just seems impossible.


 Fourth is a closer view of how the water roils on the opposite side of the road. The county has re-designed this stretch of road more than once, in an effort to enable it to withstand this incredibly erosive water action. In previous floods, the waterfall action of the water would erode under the pavement and blow out the road, and it would take months to repair. Now, there is a concrete curve on that side, and wire baskets of rock underneath that. The cement curve helps guide the water over into a more graceful waterfall motion, so that it can’t start digging under the asphalt. And the wire baskets allow water to travel under the road, so that pressure can equalize on either side more quickly, to reduce the force on the road bed. This design seems to be working, it lasted through the 2006 flood, and seems to be holding up now. This is the rough waterall through which the llama took a tumble. The road sign in the photo has been knocked over from the current.