Four weeks ago, we were living in a quagmire of early spring mud. Two weeks ago, the soil around Damphewmore Acres had cracks in it an inch wide and I was starting to worry about an early dry spell.
Needless worry! The last four days have delivered around nine inches of gully-washing rain. The Cottonwood River is flooding and the scenic highway between Strong City and Cottonwood Falls is impassable. I can only travel to Emporia on a gravel road. We had to cancel this week’s Old Boar’s Breakfast Club because of rising flood water. Other than that, the weather has been fine.
My gardens are a mess, but my cropping problems don’t hold a candle to those who make their living farming in the floodplain soils along the Cottonwood River and the many small creeks in Chase County. Most of the corn most likely has been wiped out by the flood. My four-acre pond turned into a six-acre lake and came within a few inches of overtopping the dam. My decrepit chicken house leaks and I should swap my chickens for ducks.
Every time I see massive floods, I’m reminded of the 1951 flood of my youth. My family farmed near Bronson and Moran, Kan., and the Neosho River inundated Iola and the Marmaton River did the same for Ft. Scott — each the respective county seats of Allen and Bourbon counties.
I can vividly recall that the only way to drive into Iola was from the east on Hwy 54. When we drove to Iola to view the flood, the waters were lapping at the highway.
When we arrived at the city square and courthouse in Iola, the Neosho River — normally a mile away — was onto the square and I remember a small pile of drowned, bloated Hereford heifers on the courthouse lawn.
I also remember seeing a wild cottontail rabbit that had taken refuge in the only dry place it could find — in plain sight on the front porch of a gray house on the south side of the street. It was scrunched up quietly right under the porch swing which was occupied by an elderly lady who wuz swinging leisurely. That scene is as vivid today in my mind as it was then in real life.
We had kinfolks in Kansas City and when we drove to see them, we took a streetcar to downtown and looked out over the bluff into the Kansas City Stockyards, which were a lake. The Livestock Exchange Building and the Armour and Swift meat packing houses (I think) were like islands in the floodwaters.
I’ve seen a lot of flooding in my life but nothing like the 1951 flood. Living near Saffordville now is a vivid reminder of that flood. It wiped Saffordville off the map. The only thing left of the town is the old schoolhouse — which serves as a community building and as place for the Old Boar’s Breakfast Club to eat every Wednesday — and three homes, one of which is now unoccupied.
The only other flood that came close to 1951 was the 1993 flood along the Des Moines River when we lived in Iowa. That flood was epic, too.
I mentioned my chickens earlier, so I might as well entertain you with my latest fowl tale of woe. Three weeks ago I put down a setting hen on 10 eggs. I watched her closely and never once in 3-weeks did I see her off the nest although I could see that she had come off the eggs occasionally.
I was sure I’d have a nice little group of new chicks to enjoy for the next few weeks. Wrong! When the old biddy brought forth her brood, well, I’m embarrassed to say, she had only one little light-brown fluffy chick.
When I checked the nest, there were four infertile, intact, rotten eggs and the other five eggs had simply disappeared with no evidence of breakage. Now, that old hen’s clutch scores as an epic failure.
I haven’t decided whether or not to buy some new chicks this spring. It might be time to start phasing out of the poultry biz — except that I hate to eat store-bought hen fruit.
Okay, now for a cute story: Two informally dressed ladies happened to start up a conversation during an endless wait in the Los Angles airport.
The first lady was an arrogant California woman married to a wealthy man. The second was a well-mannered elderly rancher woman from Cheyenne, Wyoming.
When the conversation centered on whether they had any children, the California woman started by saying, “When my first child was born, my husband built a beautiful mansion for me.”
The lady from Wyoming commented, “Well, bless your heart.”
The first woman continued, “When my second child was born, my husband bought me a beautiful Mercedes-Benz and … “
The lady from Wyoming interrupted, “Well, bless your heart.”
The first woman continued boasting, “Then, when my third child was born, my husband bought me this exquisite diamond bracelet.”
Yet, again, the rancher lady commented, “Well, bless your heart.”
The first woman then asked the rancher, “What did your husband buy for you when you had your first child?”
“My husband sent me to charm school,” declared the rancher.
“Charm school?” the first woman cried, “Oh, my gosh! What on earth for?”
The Wyoming lady responded, “Well, for example, instead of saying, “Who gives a damn?” I learned to say, “Well, bless your heart!”
Words of wisdom for the week. “I’m young at heart, but everything else is old and falling apart.” Have a good ‘un.