And The Dams Let Loose

With gates open and fence wire let down the ewes are traveling about the whole place in search of greens.    While our daytime temperatures are climbing to 10-12 degrees above zero, at night it still drops below zero Celsius.  There is the barest hint of greenery all over the landscape; the grass is ready to take off but I think it knows better.

Spring always results in a revisit of the land, traveling about to see the land anew.  Water pouring along a ditch has everyone’s attention, so with shearing done and nothing immediately pressing, we take some time to tour.  A beaver dam located along the edge of our pasture let loose and the resulting damage indicates the volume of water that the wetlands are holding this year. 

At the beaver dam the day after it let loose
The water spilled into the neighbours crop stubble field and cut a deep trench across the quarter section, literally cutting his field.  It flows into the ditch and passes under the roadway through a culvert.  Here it enters one of our hay fields. 

I am thankful there is a thick stand of grass residue to staunch the flow, and years worth of roots to hold together the earth underneath.   The flow of water spreads out as it travels across the hay field rather than cutting a trench.  

The water travels a mile before it reaches a terminal wetland in the corner of our pasture.  This wetland has held runoff for the last three-four wet years we have had, not spilling its banks until this week.   We were here the day before and it was still holding with a foot of rise to go before it spilled.  We didn’t think it would but the next day we saw that we were mistaken.  The water rose that foot and is pouring onward, now threatening the nearby roadway.  I can not get the entire body of water in one photograph.  (This is the same land I ride to with the dogs, where we were cut off on an earlier hike).

Parcels of grassland are not accessible
It feels odd to see this volume of water because the landscape is dry and dusty.  Also, we only had an average winter snowfall and we haven’t received any Spring rains yet.  Weather wise, there is little reason to think that water will be an issue. 

Over at Bill’s (Allen’s Dad) place the same situation is even more severe.  Yep, another beaver dam let loose.

The water is not causing us any pressing issues but sure is a sight to behold in this dry-land prairie.  I watch and wonder about the difference between methods of farming.  Did we create this?  Do these small natural disasters become something larger because in our farming practices we’ve become so far removed from natural? 

We are getting around fine with the Ranger and are fortunate to be in hilly country.  The ewes have plenty of dry ground to travel on although they must be doubling the miles they would regularly cover just by way of going around all the extra full wetlands they encounter.  They will be in good shape for lambing next month.