January 7, 2008

Rain In Sunny California ?

Ok, we can't have sunshine all the time.

I know all of you living in Oregon and Washington
are thinking I'm a ... whiner right now.
Really, I'm not.

Well, maybe a little bit, but there is good reason.

You see ... we live at the bottom of a steep hill and all the water heads directly to the bottom ... right to our back door.

We've put in all kinds of drains to direct the torrents of water away from the house and barn, but so far we're still wading.

Poor Royal needs fins and a snorkel mask,
because it is a swimming pool around the barn.

It's really just a royal mess!

Also, I want to be sure you know ...
I am not sitting by the fireside eating chocolates
and watching soaps.

Nope, I'm out there clearing drains, digging new trenches
and scooping the water out of the barn
and getting soaked to the skin and my hair is a mess
and I'm getting cold and the shovel is really heavy
and I'm not liking this.

But as I said ... I'm not a whiner.

I'd show you more photos, but it is just too awful!

But Alberta is having a grand time.
She has tried out every water hole ... hasn't missed a one.

We did escape for awhile to the park nearby.
Really very pretty over there.

But now ... back to the farm.
Any mud & rain experts out there?
Sure would like suggestions.


  1. Oh yes, I know that mud so well! I battled it for 15 years in North County San Diego. You are lucky to be able to find Cedar Rest - a shavings made with cedar- in California. We don't have it in Connecticut and I would love to find a source on the East Coast for it. Also, there's a marvelous wood pellet called ABM that I loved. We mixed decomposed granite and sand to help absorb the mud, then where the horses slept, we used the ABM and the Cedar Rest. We're slogging in ice and mud, so don't be so quick to want to move back to New England - I'm just hoping for an early Spring!

  2. Thanks Victoria for your suggestions. Since you've lived here, you sure know what it is like.

    Hope they have Cedar Rest for you,soon.

    I've not tried ABM. Glad to know about it. I'll try your 50-50 mix for the mud areas. Thanks for your help.

    But I've still got my eye on a moving van. :-)

  3. Well, the only one that can truly enjoy any of this is Alberta.

    It's just not fun is it? I always brace myself whenever my weatherbuy Hubby (who watches weather forecasts obsessively) tells me we're in for anything over a half inch of rain.

    I know you're pain. I was out in it too--shovel in hand.

    The only suggestions I can give you are to have some serious storm drains installed at a low point on your property so that it takes the water in to the main storm drain systems of the county or city where you live. It's our only saving grace really.

    The thing that works best for me is to remove dirt in the problems areas and replace it with beds of pea gravel, recycled concrete chips, and/or river rock--sometimes up to 2 feet down. During the dry months they look like landscape features--gravel garden paths and dry river beds. But during the torrential rain that we get at least once a year, they serve as drainage canals. I go out during the worst rain with a shovel and push the pea gravel around in the center of the paths to divert the water into little streams toward the back storm drain on the property.

    In really troublesome spots I drop a french a drain (essentially a tube with holes in the side) into the bed of gravel and then put gravel over the top so it just looks like a gravel path.

    I also dug a huge sistern-like hole with a drainage trench (like above) filled it with recycled concrete, then filled in with sand, and lastly put in a flagstone patio on the top. It looks like a sitting area when it's really a disguised round aquifer. I had some sand erosion in a couple of spots during this last storm that I'll need to replace but it worked VERY well.

    The whole key is to go out in the midst of the worst rain and observe the water as I've diverted it. I've learned through studying the property where the water wants to go and then figured out how to help it along its way. Its taken 7 rainy seasons to really do it effectively.

    So my advice--dig and replace!

  4. Thanks, Cindy for your suggestions!
    Lots of work ahead and we thought we had it pretty well "fixed".

    Until then, looks like I'll still be out in the rain directing the water.

    Perhaps it would be easier to move to the house at the top of the hill. But then ... it'll probably slide down to the bottom, so I'll just brace myself for a big job this summer.

  5. I have TOTAL sympathy. Our property borders the creek I use as part of my header. Our barn is a quarter of a mile from there and the water was a quarter of an inch from going into the barn today.

    BUT, outside the barn is still outside the barn! My poor husband worked all day yesterday to keep water out of that barn.

    I am soooooooo impressed by the sight of you out there working and digging trenches. I KNOW my husband would be more impressed...he told me to stay in and I jumped on his offer. But, he would have been thrilled if I had gone out with a shovel and helped. But, it looked so wet and yucky...I do believe you when you say it was messy and bad out.

    You absolutely deserve immense credit for your hard work!!!! You're a GREAT farm girl!!

  6. I have total sympathy. The creek pictured in my header borders our property. It is about a quarter mile from the barn.

    But, today the water was only 1/4 inch FROM the barn. We piled the stalls high in straw. (Skipper was in heaven and for the first time I actually SAW him lie down in his stall...I see the after effects, just never have caught him doing it). And my husband moved some of his machine stuff up onto things. He worked all day yesterday diverting water with his tractor.

    So far, so good. 1/4" outside is still OUTSIDE.

    You are a GEM to be outside working in that rain. I am so impressed.

  7. Wow...that's a fair amount of water you've got there! Whine away, hon.

  8. Well, you already have wonderful suggestions so I will just say, stay well, stay safe...

    We got a huge storm night before last and it turned chilly again. It was 70p the day before, In January in Ohio. 70!


  9. Your photos are great. If only people could enjoy events like Alberta is.

    That's a serious drain. You can whine. It's all right.

    But look how beautiful your garden is, all wet and almost glowing.

    I hope things will dry out and you'll be sitting in it soon. I see Mousetrap looks like he's already catching up on the sunshine.

  10. I feel your pain with that aweful sticky clay mud!!! You have my sympathies.



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