It has been a tough cold spring. I haven’t posted lately due to computer issues (now hopefully resolved) and the shear volume of work, as we have trailed, sheared, trailed again and started lambing the sheep, and finished (almost) calving and commenced branding. All this has been complicated by rain, wind, and just real cold weather.
I can watch on TV as floodgates along the Mississippi and its tributaries are opened, or I can look out my window at Battle Creek creeping out into our meadows.
We do not have near the flooding that folks do in the Midwest, but Pat, Eamon and I spent a morning this week helping our neighbors sandbag as they try to keep their riverside businesses from being inundated. We are not at high water yet, due to unseasonably cold weather. The mountain Sno-tels (which measure water content in the remaining snow pack) are at over 200%, and it keeps raining and snowing. The slow melt has given folks time to sandbag and move things to higher ground.
We are asked if our house is in danger of flooding, but since we live on a hill, the whole valley would really be in trouble if we were underwater. Some of the roads are closed due to mudslides.
As we watch farmlands and rural communities along the Mississippi being flooded in order to save downstream cities and structures, it makes us think about what we value. While no one wants to see New Orleans flooded, again, and especially no one wants to see chemical factories and oil refineries awash, we do wonder about the crops being lost. My husband said, “If those flooded farms were their only source of food, they would look at this differently.”
This cold wet spring follows a hard winter (hence the heavy snowpack). It has been tough on livestock and the wildlife, as well as people. It was the coldest shearing I ever remember, with the corral crew bundled from head to toe. I, in particular, was “all wooled up”. I had on a wool hat, sweater, long underwear and socks, in addition to a down vest and jeans. I felt the ewes were looking at me with longing (and possibly resentment) as we sent them to have their own wool coats removed. Even the shearers, in the shed and working hard all day, wore sweatshirts with hoods.
We arrived late on the lambing grounds, since we were trying to hold out for growing grass. The moisture is good, but the cold weather makes the grass hold back. Like us, it is looking for sunshine. We had to pick up a quite a few lambs along the trail. We have only been able to use the lower lambing grounds so far, since Loco, 500 feet higher, is still snowy and the roads into that area are still drifted over.
Two years ago, we had a hard winter followed by a wet spring. We do not normally dock lambs (a June job) in the rain, but that year we only quit when we were threatened by lightening. By the time you read this, we will hopefully be docking lambs on bright sunny days with lush grass all around.
I am sympathetic to our friends in New Mexico and Texas, where drought and wildfires continue to ravage the landscape. We’d love to send some of this rainy weather and cool days your way! Our friends in Arizona and California will surely be grateful for the floodwaters headed for Lake Powell and Lake Mead.