I think we’ve finally caught up and close to being on time with our ranch work since the last Atmospheric River at the end of March. We got across the creek towards the end of April when flow was down to 90 cfs to see our cows while trying to get our fences up to hold them when we gathered and weaned. Since the ARs, Dry Creek is spider-webbed with streams of sand in new high-water channels requiring some leveling with the skid steer to replace fencing and to approach the creek. Meanwhile on this side of the road and creek, we’ve had a crew building fence to better accommodate the acreage changes since Robbin and I have scaled down our activities.
But on time, our first bunch of calves will be weaned and ready for Visalia Livestock Market’s “Off the Grass Sale” on Wednesday, May 17th. They are 7-weight Vintage-sired steers. The market has been strong, though slightly weaker lately. With our cow numbers down due to acreage changes and past years of drought, we will need whatever extra money the market will offer us.
After seven days a week for nearly two months, it’s a relief to feel caught up.
The grass has turned while we’ve been busy repairing our fences in order to sort and ship our calves to town. Because the brush catchers upstream failed to hold all the debris, our pipe fence across the high water channels when the creek was flowing 8,000 cfs (cubic feet/second) collected what leaked by until it was overwhelmed.
It’s been a slow process, but neighbors and friends brought their hydraulic muscle to stand it upright Sunday morning in a couple of hours. We had to cut it in sections and finished welding them together yesterday.
Road closures everywhere, San Joaquin Valley flooded, haven’t left Dry Creek Rd. for a week. Glad we’re on higher ground. 3.5″ more forecast Sunday thru Friday next week.
I am reminded of Christmas Eve, 1955. Much to my father’s chagrin and contrary to his good judgement, we celebrated with my mother’s parents, Dorothy and Floyd Cutler in Green Acres, Visalia. Mill Creek ran beside the home and we all took turns watching it rise on the concrete steps leading up from their garage. When it was time to leave, my Dad carried us three kids and Christmas presents through 3 feet of water to the car, then got the ’53 Buick stuck. My grandfather hooked on to it with his Studebaker pickup and we drove back to Exeter through the swamps (Lovers Lane to Anderson Road) on the two-lane highway in two plus feet of water (Kaweah River before the Terminus Dam), wincing every time we met another vehicle’s wake in the headlights.
With a break in the weather, we, with the help of our neighbors and their equipment, began addressing the plugged culverts that were spilling flood water across Dry Creek Rd. Though we had cleaned the debris from this culvert after the first Atmospheric River, it became impacted with sand with subsequent rains. Essentially, the culvert is too small for these kinds of events and with so many flooding issues in Tulare County, we are low on their priority list.
All in all, we cleaned out three culverts yesterday, two of which have needed attention for years. The weathermen have downgraded the amount of rain to expect in coming days, but on top of the 1,000 cfs already flowing down Dry Creek canyon, its impact rides with the intensity of those rains.
We’re ready as we can be and doing what we can without getting off the asphalt and getting stuck.