On Monday I got a call from a neighbor saying that I should come home -- it looked like the water was about to come into the house... that we didn't have a koi pond anymore because the entire back yard was flooded. It was. There was about 6-8" of standing water in the back yard at it's highest point. It was within 1 - 2" of getting into the back door. It was over the top of the koi pond, and if a fish went to the top to eat or breathe - they would be swept away. One of the neighbors 2 doors down found one of our fish on his sidewalk.
This is an image taken once the water had receded.... we baled lots of water from the back yard and pond. Here there was still 3 - 4" of standing water. (The line of buckets is forming a wall at the lowest point around the pond -- the feeding rock -- where the water was apt to rush out. Again, our situation was minor compared to that in which others had to endure. We're thankful that the rain that was predicted that night (8 more inches) missed our part of town. We're grateful that we didn't suffer any "real" damage!
It rained HARD again yesterday (Saturday). We took a trip to Nature's Harmony Farm - which is 2 1/2 hours away. It rained all the way there. It slowed to a light drizzle when we got there and eventually stopped during our tour of the farm. When we drove home, the rain picked back up and by the time we got back to the Atlanta area, it was pouring again.
We couldn't have timed it any better had we tried. It was muddy on the farm, but we were prepared for wet ground and the occasional pile of "stuff" that they warned us about. We wore our waterproof hiking boots. Perfect! Mercer rode in the sling much of the way because there was a lot of walking / there were live fences / it was really messy. He got restless, so we let him walk some along a dirt road and Todd or I carried him a bit. The only animals he got close to was some of the free-range hens. They would approach him and he'd back up / grab my leg. Admittedly, they were 1/2 as tall as he was, so they looked much bigger coming at him than they would to us.
The owners, Tim & Liz, lived in a suburban community not far from where we currently live. He was a business man. She was a teacher. They decided to make a HUGE change of life - without any experience - become farmers! They've read a ton / they've figured other stuff out along the way, but their overall philosophy is about self sustenance and doing things the right way for them and the farm - not altering their ways to increase the overall profitability of the farm. "We can't find non-GMO (genetically-modified organism) feed that's produced locally. We're going to start making our own because that's what we feel is the right thing to do." For keeping the animals, they have a system of portable fences - stakes in the ground, live wires, and a battery pack to keep it charged. Every day - they move the fence and let the animals graze on a piece of adjacent land. This keeps it "fresh" for the animals (as you can see in this picture, the cows and goats (which are kept together) RAN to the next swath of land because the weeds, grasses, and flowers were delectable in the neighboring patch). They said it kept bacteria down because they kept rotating the areas in which the animals poo. They also have roving cages for the chickens, some of the hens, and ducks. Likewise, they mill about for bugs and things in the grass, but also eat feed as well. Other hens are free range - and they walk around the property. There's heirloom turkeys in one area. They had a hatchery in another part of the farm. (Here's a picture of their "Poulet Rouge Naked Neck" Chickens [look close / you'll see why] and a free-range hen.) When they had a disease that took some of their chickens one year, they didn't kill them & start over like the local extension service told them to. They let the disease take those that were weak, and the others built resistance. The next year they didn't have as much of a problem. (I'm not doing it justice, but they way he explained it, it made sense. Their "farm values" are on this page: http://www.naturesharmonyfarm.com/our-farm-values/) They have people from other parts of the country who want their products, but they don't want to expend the UPS or FedEX fuel to ship it there. They want to keep it in the local economy. They're hatching their own chickens year after year. They breed the best of their pigs and cows to keep that going as well. They compost everything on their site... as they want to have a closed loop system.
Mercer liked the animals -- and would point at them or wave bye-bye when we would leave a certain area. Once he said "wow" really loud and all of the other visitors laughed. We think it was a good experience for him. (This trip was educational for us.)
Here, he's gazing at the turkeys which are kept behind 2 fences so they don't fly out. Yes - we did immediately wash his hands with a sani-wipe after we set him back down! In hindsight, a 19 month old at the farm -- maybe not the best idea. He should definitely see if again in coming years.