The rain has eased off and we can go out and check the damage. We have had 350 mm. of rain in 36 hours. the rain gauge was over-flowing one morning, so we don’t know how much we lost. That has never happened before. We have emptied 350 mm out of it, so perhaps there was another 50 mm that we missed measuring? That’s about 14″ in the old imperial measure. It was certainly a very heavy and prolonged rain storm.
We go out to survey the damage. Not too much thankfully. Just a few small trees blown over or snapped off. We sprang a few more previously undiagnosed leaks in our 123 year old tin roof, but I can fix those. I always do, I’m used to it. There is a lot of maintenance in owning a hundred+ year old house. I just don’t know where the leaks are going to be in advance. I have to wait for the big storms to be able to find them. So, we sat through the evening with buckets on the floor, dripping and ‘plonking’ away.
Out side everything is still seeping, teeming, running, gushing. Everywhere you look, the ground is so saturated and oozing water. All 4 of our dams are full and overflowing. As I walk around, I make a mental note of all the jobs that will need doing. The kiln shed is a tragic mess. The water has forced itself up and out of the floor in one corner where the shed is cut back into the hill. The new spring has flowed straight through the middle of the building, washing away all the small items that were left on the floor and making a trail of patterned tidal sand ridges and depressions like you see in the sand beds of creeks.Now a day or two later, everything is starting to turn green with a mossy/lichen sort of growth. The kiln shed has an earth floor with ceramic paving. It’ll take months of dry warm weather to evaporate all this water from the floor. That is once the earth has stopped seeping.
I walk down along the old lane it has been swept, or rinsed, clean of loose brush and other light materials. All swept away. The water from our big dam higher up overflows down along here. It looks really peaceful and beautiful here now after the event. The grass and undergrowth has all been swept over and ‘combed’ by the torrent. there is still a steady stream of water 100 mm. deep flowing down along here. It’s hard to believe that this was once the main East/West artery for the village. It’s particularly beautiful, right here, right now. I’m brought back from the moment into another reality. My feet are wet from standing in the water and it’s cold. I chose to wear sandals for this walk, as I knew that it would be too wet down here for shoes.
All the dams are brimming full and over-flowing. It’s a very nice sight and it only ever happens like this once every decade. We are so lucky to have put in all this ground work and infrastructure over the past 40+ years. If everything all goes to some sort of plan, like it has in the past, we will have water now for at least another year and possibly two.
The dams don’t stay full for long as seepage and evaporation steadily take their toll. That is why we have paid extra money to have all the top soil from the dam sites kept and then returned to the tops of the dam banks instead of the usual practice of burying it under the wall. The top soil allows the native bush to re-seed into the bank and grow up into a sort of wind break, as it is the wind passing over the water surface that causes evaporation. If you can slow down the air movement, evaporation is reduced. This seem to have worked well for us over the years. Our dams are all now enclosed in native bush and not sticking out like scars on the landscape. We are so lucky and I am grateful.