Things You Learn from a Flood

Last week, as we saw from the post about flooding in Burlington, we got lots of rain. I always like to explore around my property after a flood, because there’s always something to learn. Here are some photos of wetness around my ranch in the Walker’s Creek Community north of Cameron, and what I learned.

Water flowing into front pond.

We’ve been working on managing runoff to our advantage, so I was happy to see that the small trench we dug was directing water to our front pond. What you don’t see above is that we had a low spot close to our garage that we turned into a kind of “holding pond” instead of an annoying puddle. It’s already the home to turtles and bullfrogs. That pond drains into this bigger pond, which we created when we built a dam that made our driveway.

Water flowing from the front pond to our happy stream.

The new pond hasn’t gone dry since we created it, since water flows from across the road as well as from our fields into an arroyo that feeds it. We have a large culvert, plus a spillway culvert that lets water flow once the pond is full. Every time it rains, we know we’ve had two or more inches when the pond fills up.

This was before the big rain, thanks to the springs.

An observation I made before the rain is that while the flow you see above was dry, and the stream was dry up to the big willow you see in the background, the stream was still flowing. As I walked backwards, I was able to spot a spring flowing (which I didn’t get a photo of, thanks to not bringing my phone), one I hadn’t noticed before. That’s a good sign, I think, because it had not been a very wet year up until then. (We have another springy area that keeps the stream flowing a bit further down, too).

This stream keeps going, goes underground for a few yards, then flows into Walker’s Creek.

Our road (CR 140) did briefly flood deep enough that one should not drive through it (this truck had a hard time, which encouraged my neighbor to turn around). As it usually is, the crest of the flooding was brief, and the water went down after a few hours.

Photo by Amanda Shuffield.

There’s always interesting debris left on the roads after floods. My husgand, Lee, removed some of the larger pieces of wood and other debris from the road, so cars were safer. But, I enjoyed seeing what else washed up. It was mostly balloon vine, which floats really well (and did you know their seeds look like yin and yang?).

You can see how much higher the water was from the grass on the fence. All that brown is balloon vine, which floats.

One of the scary things you see when it floods is how powerful the water is. The bridge had quite a build-up of the remains of very large logs (still leftover from the drought in 2011). I keep wondering if they will ever knock out the bridge. They do play heck with the fence, so I’m once again glad we have someone who has to repair them (we lease to some cattle dudes).

The trees you see are the creek. I’m always amazed how quickly this happens.

I dawdled a while watching the water flow, which I probably shouldn’t have done, since it started raining again. But it was cool.

Here, watch how fast the creek is flowing! And check out that log!

As quickly as all that water built up, it got back to normal. I learn a lot about how the water flows around here, so my walks after rainstorms are so educational. I’m glad we had our Master Naturalist training about the river systems in Texas, because I know exactly where all this water is going. Our arroyo is a major contributor to Walker’s Creek (which is dry at least a few months of the year), which then heads over to the Little River, right near where Big Elm Creek joins it. Or, so I think. Maps aren’t helpful.

Skunk I saw from a good distance away, behind our house. I did not mess with it.

The flooding does displace some animals, and I saw a skunk wandering around in the daytime soon afterwards. It could have been a crazed rabid skunk, or just one who was displaced from its den (we have a lot, and some are in the creek bank). I’ll never know which it was, because I didn’t go check it out up close or let the dogs near it.

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