The universe is always sending us lessons to heed, and this month has been no different.
Nature is both beautiful and yet so unpredictable.
February is historically our highest rainfall month, and left us feeling disappointed with our grazing charts showing the rolling rainfall in decline rather than building to our annual average.
While more fortunate to date than many, with our green lawn and intermittent showers keeping the grass in the paddocks alive and healthy, our sub soil moisture was certainly low.
As mentioned in earlier posts, I am a compulsive weather watcher and had been scanning numerous weather forecasting sights and watched hopefully as they began to align for a significant wet influence for March.
Not ones to scare it away (firm believers in leaving the washing on the line!), we continued to go ahead with mustering, dipping and a scheduled preg test.
Mobile technology had us able to keep an eye on the radar, as a low sat off the coast.
We were not overly disappointed when the cattle had to be turned away from the yards as 272mm fell over the course of a week. Creeks were again running and subsoil moisture was full.
A grazier’s delight!
Three days later, we found ourselves under Cyclone Watch. Living quite close to the coast, we are familiar with what to do. Pig shelters were secured, generator fuelled, windmills disengaged, tanks filled and loose items put away or tied down.
The evening sky heralded Tropical Cyclone Debbie’s impending arrival.
A district cross country and speech contest went ahead. The day will be well remembered as the time when ‘we made the kids run in a cyclone!!’ – well not really but in hindsight it is a good story!
I don’t think the kids minded one bit. A heavier than usual, mud affected track was novel. Runners came back with mud splattered up the back of their legs but still with smiles on their dials!
Families and teachers were all able to return to the safety of their homes, excited about the prospect of season changing rain.
While TC Debbie crossed the coast some 300 km to our North, we found ourselves whipped up in her tail. It was breezy to say the least and a few stray branches and the odd tree came to grief. The rain, however, was torrential.
Our thoughts and prayers were with those battered to our North, while we enjoyed the pikelet weather. Kids were able to play outside, puddle jumping to their heart’s content.
The rain got heavier, the warnings more frequent, but still we were feeling grateful for the drenching. Our biggest concern being the frequent need to release water from the swimming pool.
Their was no real need to watch the radar as we could hear the rain team down on our tin roof.
Ripplebrook, our property right underneath the range, had measured some 300mm for the 6 hours to 4pm, so we went for a quick drive down to the creek. The 5 Mile was roaring, and rising rapidly, although still within the confines of her bank. Being close to the coast means our water gets away quickly so we weren’t worried. Rob did comment that he would be flood fencing next week – there are 72 of them between Mystery Park, Ripplebrook and Beaconsfield.
As I settled back in the office to take care of the bookwork, I glanced up to look out the window. It was only an hour since we had inspected the creek.
I could hardly believe my eyes – we had never had water views from our verandah.
And the rain continued to fall, well into the night. Ripplebrook measuring another 178 mm. A total now accumulating over 800mm.
The next morning we woke to broken cloud and a gentler breeze.
The mountains behind us reflecting the torrents of the night before. Landslides visible from miles away. Little did we know of the horror some of our near neighbours had experienced. While our power and mobile connections were disrupted, the good old generator provided electricity that allowed me to access our NBN satellite connection. Facebook alerted me to the devastation on top of the range and on its Western fall. Terrifying stories.
Like most landholders, our ability to assess the aftermath has been limited. The country is boggy, creeks are still running strongly and roads in many instances are impassable or non existent. Yesterday afternoon we were able to venture along the main road.
Rob has lived at Mystery Park his whole 46 years and has never seen the water go where the water went. Creek systems have become one and roared through, carving new courses. The landscape has changed.
Andrew, who had had an early leave pass from boarding school, saw some good. He commented on the $100,000 worth of lantana clearing that had occurred!
Day two of flood fencing has dawned and the enormity of infrastructure damage is starting to hit home. Piplelines gauged from the ground, fences gone and water troughs disappeared. All things that time and a few dollars can replace. We are extremely grateful that livestock are all safe, our family is together and our home is sound. There are many who are not as lucky.
Now our school holiday agenda is set, I best order a few litres of Aeroguard to keep the troops happy.
Just goes to show we really are at the mercy of the weather gods …..