Well, it's raining. Which is wonderful, because we've had a row of droughty years. Winter rain is all the water we get here, the only water that fills the reservoirs, replenishes the aquifers, fills the streams so salmon can swim up to spawn, grows the grass. When we don't get it, everything suffers, except the know-nothings who wander around in February in their shirtsleeves and say, gosh it's great weather, ain't it? That gets a pretty thin smile of agreement from me.
Winter storm systems come in from the Pacific, and they usually last for days, even a week or more. The real whomper storms tend to hit us in January and February, and this year was no exception.
Rain makes me happy, and big storms make me happier. Last Saturday we got a six incher, with 150 mph winds on the crests of the mountains. On my valley's one-mile stretch of private road alone, two trees and many large branches came down, and there were powerlines down everywhere. There are places in the deep mountains which still don't have power four days later and won't for days more. We were only out for thirty hours, which I considered quite reasonable. Since we are moderately independent of public utilities anyway, it really only meant we went to bed earlier, because we got tired of reading with headlamps after awhile.
During the day, we stoked the woodstove and periodically went out to clear the flooding culverts. The goat barn filled with half a foot of water when the drain plugged, and my husband and I were out shoveling in our rain suits for awhile. Luckily the goats were so deep bedded they didn't even notice.
In a lull in the storm my daughter and I took the dogs and walked down to look at the river. It was scary big. While we were admiring it, the dogs saw something and took off after it like they were possessed. Usually they chase whatever it is for a minute and come right back, but they didn't, so we started calling, trying to be heard over the roar of the river, wandering through the forest sloshing up to the tops of our boots. Soon Bonnie, then Ty appeared at a gallop. But where was Luke, the stubby corgi, who hardly ever even tried to keep up with my long-legged Aussies? Nowhere. We walked and called, called and walked. It began raining harder. We came to a bank where pawprints ended right at the brink — below, the river roared and boomed. Not a survivable swim, perhaps even for a human. We had each had a vision of Luke's lifeless body sweeping out to the sea five miles away, but said nothing.
At last we gave up and thrashed out to the road, where we promptly met my husband and a neighbor in his pickup, loaded with chainsaws and shovels. "Oh, Luke's at home," my husband told me. Luke had probably headed for home almost immediately after we lost track of them. He doesn't like rain.
The down side to stormy weather is, I can't work the dogs much. I keep the goats safe and dry at home, and nobody has sheep practice days or does lessons. It makes me antsy. Today another front moved in, but slowly, so I had some time to do some outside chores. The Big Storm had blown rain sideways into the chicken house and everything was sopping, so I shoveled all the wet shavings out of the chicken house and put nice dry bedding down. I dug up the chickenyard a little for my bored and restless hens to scratch around in, and then, for fun, had Ty put all the hens into the house again. He's been banged on for pouncing and knows it's wrong, so instead he creeps around glaring like a Border Collie. I know those lowslung Border Collie shoulders are supposed to let them slither along the ground but Ty was doing a a pretty good imitation with his Aussie shoulders. About then the drizzle advanced to a downpour again so we packed it up.
At least the power's on.