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Ian & Raven raveian@wolston.com 503-394-2021

 

10,000 Holes in Blackburn Lancashire

by Ian Caldicott

By God but it can rain here!  Now don't get me wrong I don't mind rain, not at all, in fact I like it.  It does after all make the grass and crops grow (although if I remember my training correctly sun is also required from time to time) and having spent my childhood in England it gives me a bit of a warm homey feeling.  HOWEVER it is possible to have "to much of a good thing", and believe me this winter we had just that.  Our new farm has a rather interesting reaction to lots of rain, it becomes a lake.  Raven has dubbed our occasional visitor "Lake Ivan"  because its first visitation occurred the same day I received a piece of mail addressed to Ivan Caldicott.  She found that intensely amusing although it is one of the milder misspellings/pronunciations I have seen over the years.

Now the first couple of times Lake Ivan put in an appearance It went down before becoming too dangerous so I went out and spent 3 days digging out the "channel" where this excess water is supposed to flow.  I'll tell you at the end of that little task I felt quite proud of myself.... Mother Nature snickered in the background.  Then came January 25.

The morning dawned much like many others, with the sound of rain tapping on the window saying "come on out sonny, I have something to show you".  Opening the door for the dogs to go out for their morning trip to check out what happened during the night I noticed the ominous site of Lake Ivan slowly materializing in the pasture.  Two inches of rain had fallen in the night and it didn't show any signs of taking a rest.  Putting on my rain gear, better know as the Oregon state uniform, I went out for a little look.  To the East water was pouring over the banks of the ditch between the road and our place like the bursting of the banks of the Mississippi.  Only 15 minutes on from when I let the dogs out the water was already up another 2 inches, something had to be done, but what?

To the West of Lake Ivan is the driveway, cleverly installed about a foot higher than the surrounding land,  to the North sits the garage which, it is now obvious, will soon be under water.  To the South the barn, rapidly becoming an island, and the banks of the main irrigation canal, a good two feet higher than anything else.  There is only one way to save the garage, and perhaps the house, somehow all that water has to get across the drive.  The pipe that goes under it is obviously completely inadequate for the job, time to get out the digging tools.  Now of course any "real" farmer would just get the tractor out and dig up the driveway so the water can get away, we on the other hand are about as likely to be able to afford a tractor in the near future as we are to grow webbed feet.  So we dig. 

Now at the time standing out in the pouring rain swinging a pick axe and digging a big trench was a less than amusing experience.  Time and necessity are very good at changing your perspective however and now as I picture it in my mind I have to laugh.  Two grown adults standing in the pouring rain frantically digging a trench as fast as they can with a pack of dogs charging around splashing in puddles, biting at the gravel and rocks we toss aside while a rather peeved and dejected flock of sheep standing on what remains of the high ground and just stareing at us all.  I can just imagine all the old farmers driving down the road in their trucks and seeing us out there, it's a miracle none of them crashed into the ditch after they passed out from laughing.

Fortunately we found a bit of a sink hole that led down in to the old (and much more substantial) drainage pipe so we only had to dig up about 2/3 of the way across the driveway.  It wasn't enough but another shallower trench nearer the garage, along with a nice little river that formed to carry the water around behind the barn, finally stemmed the rising waters.  Someday I'm going to write a list of all the pretty cosmetic changes the former owner put in that cause us grief!  Which adds another rule to Ian's list of things to consider when buying a farm "beware of farms owned by "hobbyists".