Back in 2012, we had a horrible drought and heatwave. Ponds dried up. Crops withered in the field. Our well dried up.
Pastures were grazed down to the dirt.
We had to cut some of our corn and turn it into silage just to have enough feed to get our cattle herd through the winter.
Many ranchers around the midwest had to sell off their cattle because they had nothing to feed them. No rain = no pasture or hay. Cattle numbers in the US fell to an all time low. Crops died in the field, and for many farmers, there was no harvest.
2012 was a year we were all glad to get behind us. 2013 and 2014 weren’t bad years, but we didn’t get enough precipitation to catch us back up from the deficit of 2012.
This spring started out on the dry side, and we were beginning to worry.
Then in late April things changed.
It began to rain. A half inch there, another half inch there. Once or twice a week. It was nice, a big relief.
Then it began to rain more. An inch or inch and half. Several days a week. Hmm.. a little more than usual, but still nice.
Then in the last couple weeks, it kicked into high gear, raining nearly every day. This week alone we’ve received at least six inches, which is more than the normal rain amount for the whole month of June. Yesterday morning it poured and poured – for hours. We got three inches. The ground is now completely saturated. Rivers and streams are running high. Ponds are backing up into fields or overflowing their spillways.
After yesterday morning’s rain, the pond up the road from our house backed up across the road and into the neighbor’s field. The road to our house is now impassable.
Luckily we have another way to get to our house, but getting from the house to our farm went from a one mile short trip to a six mile trek.
Here’s a look at a neighbor’s pond where the water is overflowing on the emergency spillway:
A closer look:
Harland was able to get the corn planted back in April as usual, but he’s not done getting the soybeans planted. The fields are just too wet. And the June 15 crop insurance deadline to plant the beans is quickly approaching. Normally, we plant the beans in early May.
Soon we’ll have to start cutting and baling hay. But cutting it when it’s this wet is a nightmare because the wet grass clogs up the equipment, and even when we do get it cut, it needs warm sunny days to cure so it can be baled.
And then there’s the oddity that has appeared in our yard. Yesterday afternoon, I was standing at the front door watching it rain when I noticed a shadow in the front yard. I stepped out the door to investigate. It was not a shadow.
It was a sinkhole!
A hole about 18 inches across and about 18 inches deep magically appeared sometime yesterday. The dirt has just slipped away somewhere (???) and the turf has simply sunk down into a hole. I was going to call Harland to ask him about it, but decided to wait until he got home and see if he noticed.
As he came in the door about a half hour later, he asked, “Hey, did you notice we have a hole in the yard??”
There used to be an old well there which was filled in years ago.
Here’s an old, old pic of the house, the building there on the left, and the well in the front yard with the windmill atop it.
Here’s another pic taken many years later, sometime in the 70s I believe, of Dick, whose family Harland bought the house and land from. He’s sitting atop the well.
As you can see, it was a rather large well. It was a hand dug, about 30 feet deep, and probably dug in the early 1900s.
Harland bought the place about the year 2000 and filled the well a few years later. He used bentonite and sand, per the instruction of our county’s soil conservation district.
Harland related a story to me that took place a few years after he filled the well where one day after mowing the grass he was relaxing in the house when he heard a loud *Thwump*. Upon going outside to investigate found a hole a couple feet across and 10 feet deep. He said a friend of his has joked that we must have a river running under our yard. Oh ha ha….that’s a riot, I tell ya. But it got us to speculating that maybe groundwater regularly washes away the fill that was put into the well resulting in occasional sinkholes in our yard. Well, whatever is going on, we’re waiting to see if the hole gets bigger before filling it in. This morning, it was a little bit deeper.
If you don’t hear from me for a while, you might come and see if our house is still in the yard.
The upside to all this rain is that our lawn, as you can see above, is very lush, and the flower beds and vegetable garden are doing well, except for the cucumbers – too much water for them. Early this spring, we planted a windbreak on the south side of our yard, and with all the rain I’ve not had to water the trees even once, which is fabulous in my book as there are 75 of them out there and ME dragging a hose around to 75 trees makes my toes curl. And there’s 75 more trees we planted for a new windbreak up at the farm. Haven’t watered them either. Wonderful. Oh, and there’s plenty of grass for the cattle in the pasture.
And so here we are. I’ll never pray for it to stop raining, but we’d like a break for a while.
How about you? Any crazy weather to report in your area?
We’d gladly take some of your rain! It’s either feast or famine…or so it seems! I’m sure Harland is getting nervous about getting those beans planted! We were getting worried about the dry ground, but had about 1.5″ last week. It was a big help, but more would be welcome.
I find it interesting to read about the old well that was right where your sinkhole is. It will be interesting to see what happens…and hopefully it will be nothing! 🙂
Home you get more rain soon. It’s not a good thing to be dry this time of year at all. We’re getting a break in the rain – dry today, tomorrow, and Wednesday. Harland is all excited about getting the beans finally planted and maybe starting to mow hay.
We had sever thunderstorms and a few twisters last night. Right up against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. A house in Berthoud (just about 10 miles from here) had its roof completely ripped off and some others had some pretty severe storm damage. We didn’t get much but rain and a smattering of hail where we are, but some of my friends a few miles away were getting pingpong ball sized balls and at least one person found a baseball sized one. It has also been a very very very wet spring for us. My new little cherry tree is having leaf yellowing from all the moisture.
I heard about the bad storms in your area (my sister lives in Brighton). Glad you didn’t get any of the really bad stuff. Hope your cherry tree makes it okay.
Lots of rain here in Middle TN. However, neighbor’s hay was cut, our garden is doing well, and the rain barrel is full.
Doing hay when it’s raining is hard..hope your neighbor gets some dry weather.
Our New England states have been unseasonably cool and dry. I’m glad your drought has broken but must admit to be totally unaware of the consequences of too much rain on your fields. I find your explanations of said consequences very informative. I appreciate new perspectives.
Good luck with that sinkhole!
Thanks JMart! Keeping an eye on the sinkhole…it’s gotten a little deeper, but seems to have stopped. For now. 🙂
After our terrible drought of 2010-2011, we were in your situation. There was rain here and there, but the state as a whole remained in extreme drought. Now? Not so much. There’s NOWHERE in Texas that remains in serious drought, and most of the state is drought-free. In the eastern 2/3 of the state, all of the lakes are at or above pool, and the rivers are flowing and, in some cases, flooding.
Still, even the people being flooded out are refusing to curse the rain. There’s something about drought that affects the psyche, I swear. While ranchers here were doing the same — selling off cattle, and so on — you could see the set of their jaw. They knew it would change. It just was a matter of holding on.
I’ve not checked, but I’m sure over the past weeks the same system has affected both of us — pulling up and across the state from the Pacific, and flowing to the midwest. Now, if only we could scootch it over to the west a bit!
Yep, I think we’re getting the same storm systems as you. No one here has complained about the rain much either. Drought leaves a mark on your memory so strong that you never complain about rain ever again.
Well, Suzanne, I gather that your house hasn’t fallen into a sinkhole! Somehow, I haven’t been receiving the comments in my email, which always keeps me on the alert as to what’s going on with your recent writings! Yup! It’s still checked! I looked! I’ve certainly been concerned about you and Harland, and all the rain! I had that picture of the water across the road in my mind…
Our rivers and creeks here are getting lower and lower! The heat last weekend didn’t help. It was nearly 100 degrees for a couple of days. We’re thankful that it has cooled a bit now…into the mid 80s.
You’re in my prayers. Always!
OH NO – we drove by last weekend and much to our surprise didn’t see any sunflowers planted. What happened! Do you know where we can find a sunflower field close for pictures? We love them!
This blogger near Lawrence, KS has a sunflower field every year, and they update the progress and location of the field on their website. http://krisgrinter.blogspot.com/