Someone around these parts is spray painting local road signage with the dark and foreboding words: “I see you”. What does that even mean? And who are they seeing? What do they even want anyway? Seriously, there are so many questions left unanswered. Life is sometimes like that.
On Wednesday I was working at a clients, and made the unsolicited observation that if it had been Thursday, I would have cancelled the visit. If the cool kids can do dark and foreboding, I can give it a go too by making inexplicable observations! Of course, the difference in this instance was that I then had to explain myself. The weather forecast for the following day looked set to provide some epic rainfall. Folks in the city I spoke with seemed oblivious to the risk, but whatever! The weather sure did not disappoint.
Regular readers will know by now that it has been a rather wet year here. And the two years beforehand were also quite damp. And earlier in the week when looking at the rainfall forecast for Thursday, the conclusion rapidly arose in my mind that it was suddenly going to get a whole bunch more wet. After all, the farm is located in the blue blob on the above forecast rainfall map. That’s a strong possibility of 50mm to 100mm (or 2 to 4 inches) of rain for the day on already saturated soil. Youch!
I can empathise with the people living in the city and their reactions to my weather related concerns, after all I used to share that perspective. It all changed for me on one very wet day way back in the early 2000’s. We were renovating the kitchen for the house we’d been fixing up in the big smoke. All of the cabinets for the kitchen were in the backyard so as to make the sanding and painting job easier.
Any normal day, storing the kitchen cabinets outside wouldn’t have been a problem. Except it wasn’t a normal day. The first crack of thunder woke me. Never wise to disturb my slumber, but the thunder sure didn’t worry about that. Crack. Rip. Boom. I thought to myself that was weirdly close to the house. Was that another one? And another one? What’s going on?
Then the rain hit. The super-cell storm dumped 100mm (4 inches) of rain in an hour. The rain fell faster than my efforts to keep the kitchen cabinets from soaking up the moisture. Who knew that melamine was such a great material for absorbing water? After that, the kitchen was a write-off and the backyard was underwater. For days. A work mate loaned me a water pump and we pumped the water out of the backyard and into the nearest drain.
The super-cell storm was a wake up call. Note to self: Look at the weather forecast in future. And also there was the other note to self: When working in muddy water in the backyard, instead of advising Sandra to avoid falling into the construction holes, try avoid falling into the construction holes myself. Who knew that gumboots could hold so much water?
Just for a bit of additional excitement, here’s the rainfall forecast map for the coming week. Make of it, what you will. This time, the blue blob looks biggerer and more extensiver (just made those words up) to me.
Once the rain had eased off a bit, Ollie and I ventured outside with the camera, purely for research purposes for the blog of course.
Water tends to collect and run on hard and compacted surfaces during heavy rainfall. The road here was quite well made. I met the bloke who made it and he did similarly good work on our property. But all that water has to go somewhere. And it ran under the road through a large concrete pipe into a neighbouring property.
All the water from the drain in the photo above and elsewhere collected into the creek at the bottom of the property here.
Then all that water joined up with other creeks running out of the mountain range. The water from this part of the mountain range drains into the Macedon River which is bizarrely also better known as Riddells Creek. And the water just got biggerer (that made up word again).
All of the creeks originating in this mountain range drain into the Maribyrnong River. This river runs all the way into the big smoke of Melbourne. And as you’d imagine, that river got much super-biggerer (biggerer probably wasn’t a big enough word) than usual and flooded a whole bunch of peoples houses in the city. There are floods all over the state of Victoria now, and at this stage with the water moving slowly here there and everywhere, some towns are yet to be flooded.
After the last flood, the State Government raised the height of the bridge deck which spans the local river. Unfortunately, they’d neglected to raise the height of the road on my side of the bridge. So, the bridge deck was dry, but the road itself flooded and became impassable.
The local volunteer emergency folks closed the bridge to traffic as the water was actually quite deep. What I hadn’t noticed at the time was the guy hanging out of the window of the Landcruiser. He didn’t look like a local because his car was too clean. But what was he doing? Oh my!
Many of the systems for coping with heavy rainfall were put to the test. The path up above the house serves a dual purpose. It’s obviously a path, however due to the angle of the path, it redirects water back up hill and then disperses it. And it works. It has to work, a few years ago we had a minor landslide due to heavy rain concentrating in that area. Water can be very destructive.
There was so much water from the rain. It’s a really weird to experience to see standing water in the paddocks when you’re on sloping land on the side of a mountain saddle. Just sayin’.
The broken dead tree in the above photo almost killed Sandra and I. The day it broke and fell we had only a few moments notice following on from the crack sound. And we ran. There’s no shame in running away, if you live to fight another day! Too much water killed the tree.
Ollie was loyal during the investigative walks around the property. Dame Plum followed me for a while, but soon had had enough. She of course did not carry a large umbrella, and ended up getting very wet.
Last week we installed a rock lined drain so as to break up the flow of water from a surface drain. Tick. That system worked perfectly for days.
Also, last week we installed two longer overflow pipes for the water tanks attached to the large shed. A couple of cement pavers were placed under the outflows, and they also worked perfectly by dispersing the energy of the water flowing out of the already full water tanks.
The only system which failed during the storm was the water which ran down the low gradient ramp. This water cut a deep gouge into the low gradient ramp and pushed a huge volume of clay and the crushed rock with lime into the orchard.
Something had to be done. We decided to install a surface drain at the top of the low gradient ramp thus re-directing any water earlier. A rock dispersement drain will be installed below the surface drain outfall to break up the energy of the water.
It took a few hours to install the drain and clean up part of the damage. The drain looks like it was always there.
It’s been so wet this year that we’ve had the opportunity to relocate many trees. This week we relocated two small seedling American pawpaws, as well as two much larger Irish Strawberry trees.
The relocated plants were cut back hard. The cuttings were run through the scary old wood chipper, and then used as mulch around the relocated trees.
Despite this year being wet and cold, there might be a growing season at some point, and hopefully soon! We set all of the seeds for the growing season in pots and placed them onto special racking in the greenhouse. They won’t take too long to germinate in this sort of weather.
Very large and old trees are present on the farm and the heavy rains can sometimes impact upon them. But then so can drought, logging, fires, etc. It’s tough being an old tree. However, for there to be large trees here, conditions must be sort of OK for them. One of the benefits that large and old trees have over younger trees is that they have hollows. Hollows are where many critters live, it being occasionally very wet here and stuff. In the past few weeks I’ve noticed a mating pair of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos. They’re not a threatened species, but in this state due to the decline in the number of large old trees where they can eat, live and breed, the birds are under pressure.
And one variety of plant is enjoying the conditions more than any other: The ferns.
Onto the flowers:
The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 3’C (37’F). So far this year there has been 1,141.6mm (44.9 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 902.8mm (35.5 inches)