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Rain - Blog Twenty-Three

Rain - Blog Twenty-Three
October 2, 2023

Funny thing about east Texas, you are either cursing the weather or cursing the weather.  I mean in the summer it is HOT and you wish for rain or it is HOT and you wish it would stop raining.  Our little ranch is technically partially in the 100 year flood plain.  All the structures are above that water level but the pastures are not.  A good rain fills the ponds nicely and leaves fields slick and muddy for a day or two.  A torrential rain can cause the Neches River, our southern boundary, to flood and that becomes an issue.  Mainly an issue because the River authority doesn’t clean out the river which backs it up into our property.  We are about two miles from Rhine Lake which is technically the head water of the Neches River.
It rained yesterday, which was good.  We planted the lower field 6 days ago and needed the rain to kick it off.   I disked much of the middle pasture preparing for planting so it is ready.   Also disking loosens the soil so the rain fills the ground rather than running off.  I’m happy.  
Slight change of subject. Our big pond, man-made, holds water supplied by the well.  In two years I’ve only needed to turn the well on once a year.  Rain and runoff have kept the pond at reasonable levels.  The lower and much smaller pond is where the animals drink.  It was getting pretty low.  So Beth and I hooked up a siphon system where we could transfer water from the upper pond to the lower pond.  It actually worked pretty well.  The upper pond dam runs much more than the width of the lower pond.  When it rains the runoff from the upper pond helps fill the lower pond, but it also causes a flood/wet area on the middle pasture.  Well, I got smart, or I like to think that.  During a dry spell I made a small berm near the east side of the lower pond and sloped it so the runoff from the upper pond dam ran into my berm and then filled the lower pond.  It worked.  The lower pond gets a bunch of runoff water and the middle field doesn’t get as soaked.  Admit it, small victories need to be celebrated.
Earlier in these blogs I told the story of building a drain system to move the water from in front of the stables to the pasture area.  It works (worked) great until yesterday’s rain.   I check the catch basin where the drain starts regularly.  I don’t want that catch basin to fill with dirt and plug the drain line.  So when I got a text yesterday that the drain wasn’t draining I got upset.  The stable folks do wash down their feed buckets which washes through the drain.  But washing feed buckets isn’t sufficient to really clean the drain.  I mean that volume of water carries the dirt and hay but doesn’t flush the line.  It just washes hay and junk into the drain. Went down and checked the catch basin and the dirt was well below the drain.  Must mean the outlet of the line was plugged.  Foolish Jeff, I had put some cement bags around the drain outlet to keep weeds from growing and plugging the outlet-good job!   But I had not put a permanent marker where drain outlet was.  So in the rain I’m hunting for the outlet, which I knew must be plugged.  Finally found it and cleared a pile of hay and whoosh the drain started flowing.  Back tracking for an explanation.  In front of the barn is a large cement area probably 50’ wide and 30’ deep.  Hay and mud are constantly being broomed and flushed down towards the drain.   With periodic rain, the water flow keeps the drain clean, but with no rain the hay filled and plugged the drain.  Now I know I need to put a permanent marker near the end of the drain so I can keep it clear,
When I had the drain basin installed I also had them use the mini excavator and dig a trench all the way to the base of the road that leads from the upper area to the lower area.  That trench escalated the issue of water flooding the middle pasture.  I wished there was a culvert across the road.   Wishes can come true.  While clearing weeds one day I found there was an 8” culvert under the road.   So I fashioned a dam so the trench water could flow under the road.   And wow, it was also above the berm I later made to help fill the lower pond.  So now the barn drain and the runoff from the big pond dam all run to the lower pond.  
Another discovery was made when I was disking the middle pasture.  There is a dirt swell, or maybe a hand made small dirt dam on the west side of the small pond.  So with a little more dirt work I can have the runoff from both sides of the big pond dam flow into the little pond.I know these are small things but they continue to add up to real improvements to the property.  And I know people notice them. I’ve had several of Winter’s riders comment on how much better the place looks.  I wish I had taken more pictures of the ‘before’ place.  Next blog will be about clearing the back and side pastures.

We brought in nine horses today. Good place here everything was set up for us. And, we could easily move our large trailers around.

Heather Ridge Farms