Thursday, January 8, 2009

Flood Part One

Remember when we had the 14 inches of snow over Christmas and New Years. It was a whole lot more in the mountains. Normally, this is not a problem however, it rained quite heavily and this causes problems.

Rapid snow melting and the inability of the rivers to absorb all of that water leads to floods. Each winter we get floods and that’s life. My lower pasture floods and the sheep hang out in the barn. I lose half of my pasture for a couple of days and that’s it. We have had some big floods in the last couple of years, where the water goes to the edge of the critter pad and up partway on the back lawn. A few times, it gets higher and our driveways floods. It usually is this way for a couple of days and then it recedes.

However this time was far different. They are calling it the biggest flood since they recorded flood since 1932. The valley is totally disabled now. Carnation is cut off as well as Duvall. They don’t know how long we will be flooded.

Last night, it was raining and the waters began to rise. At 10:0 p.m. when Getty came home, it was over one foot high on 60th, which is the main road to my place. At the bottom of the hill to my driveway it was about 3 feet high. He was driving in my truck which is a Dodge Ram 2500 and sits very high.

Then the water really began to rise. We went outside to evaluate how it was. I was creeping up at a fast pace. The pasture were getting flooded at a fast rate and it was serious now.

The seven Katahdin sheep in the upper pasture were bunched up on an island and the water soon would cover the island. The upper pasture was under 3-5 feet of water and what was left of it was getting covered in water. I called the sheep and they didn’t move. I open the gate which was under 3 feet of water and sent Tess. She leapt into the water and began to swim to the sheep and horse. I could see her flashing tag in the darkness so could see where she was at.

I told her to “Bring them” which means bring me the sheep anyway you can. She got behind the sheep and tried to push them off the island but they scattered all around her and refused to leave. I told her to “take hold and bring them” and then I saw sheep leap up in the air and some began to swim. She worked hard to get the remaining few and then there was one left and she had to grip it to make it go. Soon, the sheep were swimming, their white heads bobbing in the water. The heads were all I could see of the sheep. If the sheep went the wrong way they would head out to the highway and my main pasture which was in water. Namely, it was hundreds of acres of water and if the sheep decided to go that way, it would be death.

I called to the sheep and Tess. They weaved back and forth, unsure of which way to go and I could see Tess’s flashing light bobbing in the back as she was weaving behind, swimming and flanking as need to bring the sheep to me. The water was 3-5 feet deep, cold and the current was pulling the sheep away from me. In other words, the sheep had to swim through the current.

Then her light went out, no doubt soaked by the water. My flashlight was dying and it was pitch dark. I could see the white heads approach me and suddenly the sheep burst out of the water and through the gate and to the barn. Tess charge out of the water like a hungry crocodile and stopped the sheep before they ran to the barn. I was amazed how fast an old dog like her could move so fast but she did. Getty had the lower pasture gate open and Tess put the Katahdins with the Clun Forest sheep.

I was amazed by the work ethics of Tess. Not only she had to swim out to an island, she had to get the sheep off the island and then bring them to me. They had many directions to go but she held true and did the job needed. She has the heart of a Lion and will do anything I ask of her. She knew the seriousness of the situation and went to work.

Emma, the Arabian was still n the pasture and was in the top corner where it would be dry. We tried to get her but she refused to move. She was in a safe area but was worried that her sheep were gone. She kept calling to her sheep. She would be fine over night.

The water was about 2 ft deep in the chicken coop and the hens were perched on the sticks, only a few inches above the water. I sent Tess to go in and get them. She had to swim in and then nudge the chickens off their roost. Some of them refused to budged and she bumped them quite hard to move them, while they were swimming. She got them off and most of them came out of the coop, however a few just swam around in the coop. Tess managed to push and herd them out except for the rooster. He went to a corner and was sinking so Getty went in and got him.

Then she had to get the chickens into a stall in the barn. Our neighbor moved his weaned calves to my open stall and that was the only stall open. So Tess worked very hard in the dark to move soaked and scared chickens into the stall. All but four made it in. One of them was my favorite hen a Egyptian Fayoumis and I have not seen her since. She flew out of the coop and disappeared into the night. I am afraid she flew into the flood waters. The other strays ere on top of the hay bales or near the house.

Did you know that chickens and weaned calves are not too keen about sharing stalls together. The hens were wet and not happy and the calves were curious and kept nudging the hens. The hens would squawk in protest. I told them they had to figure it out.

We went back and looked at the travel trailer. We just bought a travel trailer and parked it and unhitched the truck. The water was creeping up so we decided to move it. Pitch dark, the flash light is dying, gale force winds and raining like a banshee does not make it easy to hitch up the trailer. It took us a bit to get it hitched up and we were soaked to the skin. Getty pulled it forward about 20 feet and left it on the truck in case we had to move it again.

Then we looked at the lower pasture where the *Swimming sheep” and the Clun Forest sheep were hanging out. In the time we had move the one set of sheep, moved the chickens and the trailer, the water had crept up about two feet. We were going to have to move them in case the water reached the barn as they didn’t have a way to get higher.

Tess went to the back lawn pasture and moved the lambs into the first stall which has my elderly ewes and some other lambs. I grabbed Kodi, the Livestock Guardian dog and put him in there too. I just got a Maremma pup, “Frank” and he was suddenly introduced to a bunch of more sheep and Kodi. They got some alfalfa and were happy.

I then has Tess move the sheep from the lower pasture to the back lawn pasture. The back lawn pasture is below the house and parts of it is quite high. They sheep would have lots of area away from the water. It’s pitch dark and I reply on Tess to make sure she has brought the entire flock. They are a bit freaked out by the flood and wind and are running like deer. She got them all in and calmed them down and they soon settled and began to eat the alfalfa that I had put out. I watched the Katahdins to see how they were and they had calmed down also.

Then we went and got the ducks out of the duck coop. It had over two feet of water but I wasn’t too worried about them drowning in the rising water like the chickens. They swam out and Tess swam in and got the last stragglers. She put them in the pond pasture which has a small pond in the middle. Each day she puts the ducks in the pond pasture and then takes them out at night so this chore was easy as everyone knew what to do.

By then we were drenched and cold and shivering. I did a quick check on the livestock in the barn. If the barn did get flooded, it would be only a few inches but it wasn’t going to happen soon. The water was about 15 feet from the barn but the actual level had to go about two feet before it went into the barn.

I took Belle and Break out from their kennels and put them into the laundry room into dog crates. If the barn did get flooded, their area would be the first to get flooded.

OK, sheep, chickens, ducks, calves, cats and dogs were all taken care off. We also put the valuable items in the barn up so they would be safe. We marked where the water was when we first went out and then when we were done. It had risen It had risen over six inches in that time.

Tess was tired when we went into the house and she got extra treats a pets and cuddled in my arms when I wrote the blog last night. She has a tremendous heart and ethics and knew what needed to be done without a lot of commands.
Getty set the alarm for 5:00 a.m. and we went to bed at 1:30 a.m. listening to the roar of the river and the winds whipping the tree branches about. When Getty got up at 5 to check on the water it had risen about two more feet.

It has been the highest I have ever seen. The water went past the lower pasture gate and was about ten feet from the barn. I had made the right call the night before to move the sheep as the lower pastime only had a 10 ft x 10 ft section left. The barn did not get flooded. The upper pasture had about 10 ft x 20 ft that was not flooded. The back lawn was about halfway flooded. The water was about 25 feet from our house. Our house is on a steep hill so we are safe on that. It’s the barn that I worry about.

The sheep were all fine on the back lawn. The sheep and the LGD were fine in the barn and the calves and chickens had made peace in the stall. It was drizzling and the flood water held in the morning.

By noon, the water had dropped about six inches and have been at that level all day. The Tolt River crested and now it is a matter of waiting. It will be a few days since there is so much water. Our house is surrounded by water and we can’t get out . I have a horse (Emmy) and a ram in my far field and I can’t get to them. The neighbor is feeding them for me. All the roads out of the valley are closed. The entire town of Carnation is surrounded by water. The water even got as far as the First Station. The water broke through the levee and flooded the town.

A helicopter had to pick up a family in Fall City which is the next town over. People in boats are going all over to rescue people. Farm are being flooded as well as houses. George, the dairy farmer moved his cows to his house as his barns are under water. That us why I have his calves.

Part of Highway 203 has collapsed so I think that Highway will be blocked for a while. My fences are damaged. Large logs are floating in and smashing on my fence and then hanging up on my fences. It’s really crazy to see all of this happen.

Today, I moved Break and Finn to the outside kennels. The sheep are fine and Emma is finally calm about her sheep being gone. I took the chickens out of the stall and let them free range and put them in my hay shed. They are a lot happier now they don’t get bugged by the calves.

We can’t do much until the water goes down and then we have mess to clean up. It won’t be pretty and I wonder if my flood insurance will pay for the fences.
I was supposed to go to the Cardiologist today for my check up and an EKG. Obviously, that didn’t happen and we reschedule for Friday bit the road won’t be open or the water receded by then so I will have to reschedule for next week.
There was a Border Collie trial on Saturday in Sedro Woolley. It got canceled as the highway to Acme was washed out. The sheep owner is stranded. He can’t get feed to one of his flocks.

We have lots of food for us and the animals so now it is a waiting game. I’ll post a bunch of pixs in the next blog and give you a daily update.

I am glad no lives were lost in this flood considering how widespread it is and the entire valley is under water. Now, I have Tess cuddled next to me and Nan at my feet. Rainey is in Getty’s lap as he is watching the OKC vs. FLA game.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

I keep reading your blog and it is so hard to believe.

Tess sure is a wonderful girl.