Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Realities of Percipitation

So, one of the things that I mentioned early on about the place we are living was that we did some research, and on average our area gets 4-8" more precipitation per month than the river valley we work in. I'm not sure how much of our experiences this year are an anomaly, but the reality of this has been insane. There is a running not quite joke that any prediction of snow we just add 12 inches to to get a reasonable guess on how much we will really be getting. It's taking quite a bit of getting used to, especially with the tractor we purchased with the house broken from delivery, and our inability to get a beater plow truck.

What Does It Mean In The Winter?
It means staggering amounts of snow. The driveway is well graded, and in good shape, but without a plow truck it is a lot of work shoveling the 200 yard long driveway. Given the average 20 degree lower temperature up here it also means the snow sticks around much longer than in the valley. Most of this is fairly no duh. No duh or not, it is seriously difficult to adjust from snow amounts you can drive over to snow amounts you have trouble walking through.

Good things about the amount of snow we are getting include being able to see a great number of tracks that are normally hard to follow. In the wake of this last 16" (2" for our valley friends) snow fall, the lady of the house has been out tracking. We've learned a bit about our predators. There are 2 or 3 fisher cat dens, a coyote or wild dog, a fox, a small weasel, and what looks to be a bobcat. In terms of non predators there are dozens of birds, a snowshoe hare, and well away from the deep woods some lonely squirrel tracks.

What Does It Mean In Spring?
Massive amounts of rain, which means lots and lots of mud. While our stone steps are all well and good in the winter, keeping traction despite ice they are vital in spring. Mud can get fairly deep due to the rain, and the swamps and streams on our hillside become a running river and a pond. It means that if we are ending up growing any less moisture friendly plants we will have to select ground very carefully, and any animals we raise that roam will have to have their feet checked regularly. Finally the driveway will require major care.

On the up side, we can grow just about any non desert plant with proper planting. We won't have trouble with our wind break trees being improperly nourished or the low ground cover being sparse. We will also be able to easily set up rain water systems to water our animals, and to use for non potable indoor tasks without difficulty.

What Does It Mean In Summer?
Major Thunderstorms. When there is rain flash floods are a possibility which means we have to be careful of planting near our water courses. High humidity, as in spring, makes things rot. If we don't get a good dry period there is a possibility of any garden we don't kill by being inept rotting. In addition there is the obvious danger of erosion if we have hooved animals.

The up side of the higher precipitation we are less likely to have summer droughts, our well won't run low, and any water system we set up for animals will rarely have to be supplemented.

What Does It Mean In Fall?
We will have to do a lot of maintenance on our ditches to keep them clear of leaves and obstructions, and we will have to do it regularly. If we don't we will see major erosion damage unlike other seasons as fallen leaves and sticks form dams diverting water. Rotting and ruining harvests again is an issue, especially as it gets cooler. It makes shelter for animals need to be tighter and have more substantial overhangs to allow them to stay dry preventing things like fungus, and fly strike. Finally it makes drying fire wood a challenge.

On the up side if we for some reason do grow annuals it will reduce soil loss. Also with the higher rain content allergens are kept down. Honestly I'm having trouble coming up with a lot of good things for this season.

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