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Monday, May 3, 2010

Sulphur Creek: Whiffs of Hades: The Great Flood

Today is a blazing morning, the sun burning through the misty trees. Yesterday, another matter.

It rained. And rained. Something like 9 inches in less than 36 hours. Sulphur Creek was raging, crashing over our bridges and creating rivers running through our pastures. Land on both sides flooded, with a heavy three foot-deep current gnawing away at our compost mountains.

Our tiny side creek, usually a meandering two feet across, roared over its little bridge and made its own river about 70 feet wide, running both into the creek and down into the driveway.

We spent much of the morning drenched, as we slogged around moving things to higher ground: buckets, tools, beehives.

Fletcher called, worried about his chickens. The creek was cascading over the guard rails by the train trestle, intermittently blocking the road into the Bend. The chicks were ok, but the neighbors living in their basement were not, and the boys helped them move their furniture upstairs.

The Cumberland at Clees Ferry was up nearly to the top of the boat ramp, and later, I'm told, flooded far up the road, including the sod farm. This morning I passed semi-trailers completely under water at the Gun Club, and our side of Briley is closed, along with White Bridge Road.

We are counting our losses: substantial for us, but small compared to others in the area. Mainly, all 240 shitake logs, representing a massive amount of work by Eric the Farmer and his buddies, are on their way to the Gulf of Mexico. Think cutting trees, hauling them out of the woods, cutting them up into 240 4-foot sections, and drilling and packing with mushroom spawn, then stacking and re-stacking. That work has all just floated away.

Our raging pasture river pulled down about a hundred feet of 8-foot fencing, and, of course, the farm road is pitted and scarred and scattered with twenty-pound rocks carried here from somewhere upstream.

And, as always, we do have blessings to count: Dinner by candlelight for a bedraggled crew (our own asparagus, lettuce, greens, a few pre-flood shitakes, the neighbors goat cheese, an excellent vintage box wine, some of Casey's dark chocolate), all dogs and cattle alive and well, the (working) generator, and our neighbors. Our main blessing. Zach is already up at Jeff's with his backhoe, repairing the cavernous washouts beside his bridge.

So, we are fine, but the Cumberland has not yet crested, and much has been lost in other parts of the county. Sulphur Creek has given us a whiff of the underworld, and we are emerging again into the light, ready to do useful work. Wherever it may be.

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