For the past 7 days however, we could have filled our tank at least 20 times! I'm not complaining; except maybe for a lack of tanks, LOL. But it's just amazing how the seasons have changed.
This time last year, I would've walked along the verhandah searching the blue skies for signs of rain. Would there be a cloud in the distance with a tinge of grey? Much to our disappointment, any cloud that was on the horizon, looking like that, tended to go around us. Rain, just never seemed to arrive.
But when it did though, oh boy!
I went searching our old photos for this one - our first summer storm season. It was the first time I was left alone at the house (Dave was at work) and the heavens opened up on our property. It was relentless. I was terrified. Not only was the deluge on the colourbond roof, deafening, but the pooling water couldn't escape fast enough.
At one point, it threatened to lap at the edge of the verandah and all I could do was grab the camera and tremble, as I took these photos. Please note: this is where the front retaining wall currently stands, December 2010!
The kind of rain we're experiencing three years later, is completely different. It's not heavy rain but it's set in for at least 2-3 weeks now. The sunshine rarely comes out and the rain stops every now and then. In fact, there were signs of hope yesterday. I nearly did a happy dance when the sun pierced through the clouds as it set in the west. Don't go, I thought. I wondered if the sun would be there to greet me in the morning.
It was bleak skies and more rain though, LOL. This is entirely a new experience in my adult life. I remember rain in my youth, which would spoil a picnic or a day at the beach, but I cannot remember weeks upon weeks of rain.
Today though, all the plans we had for digging better drainage trenches, has turned to mush now, literally! We got a good start on it, and then the rain set in. There were a few days in between (where it didn't rain) but the sun couldn't possibly manage to dry the mud before the rain arrived again. I wouldn't say it's entirely frustrating, as we've accepted this is the way it must be for now. But it has made us realise how much life depends on sunshine as well as rain.
Since we've been here, 90% of our spare time has been spent outside: working the soil, making compost, feeding the chickens, planting seeds and trees, reapplying mulch, moving rocks, building chicken coops - we LOVE being outside. Instinctively we know it's summertime but where's the sun to embrace us outside?
On the plus side though, when it rains...and rains...
It's the best year for establishing trees. Especially fruit trees! All the previous summers, we've had to cart water by hand - which was okay when we only had 6 citrus trees to begin with. Once the pears went in and the extra citrus though, plus the natives we wanted to grow in exposed clay soils, it became a monotenous chore just getting water to them. This is the first year we've not had to water establishing plants. Good old rain, the ultimate natural water source!
It's also an opportunity to test the drainage trenches we've put in place. This kind of consistent but mostly gentle rain, ensures all the trenches are filled to maximum capacity without the force of deluge water, cutting new tracks or breaking banks. As you can see in the picture below:
This is the pond we're attempting to turn into a water source for bees, birds (woodland ducks nest in the area) and for frogs to breed. This kind of rain is excellent for frogs! You should hear them out here. They sing you to sleep at night. Our daughter thoroughly enjoys visiting the pond to catch a tadpole too, and see what stage of development they're at. No legs yet, but hopefully soon! The slightly narrower pond (in the background) is actually a drainage trench we tried widening before the rain put a stop to it.
The drainage trenches are meant for when the pond overflows, or to carry any water that comes down from the slope above. One day, fingers crossed, we'll get this project finished. A week of sunshine would just about make it possible to start digging again.
Another bonus to all this rain is seeing what kind of microscopic life lives in the soil too. In conditions such as these, fungi and mushroom spores start growing, leaving their bright orange or pale caps dotted across the landscape. Look at this amazing example below:
We noticed how the fungi only developed on the southern side of the log, that receives very little sunshine in these overcast days. As has happened with these gorgeous orange caps below. They sprung up in the soil, only on the southern side of a large lantana bush.
Is it any wonder people imagined fairies lived at the bottom of gardens, when in a matter of days, these little magic tops would spring up from nowhere? I'm always amazed at the things which spring up after a good dose of rain here.
It's nice to know however, the galahs and cockatoos are still getting a good feed - even if it is our lovely sunflowers!
We counted five large cockatoos perching on (or near) the sunflower patch this morning, and one even perched on Middle-Ridge chicken coop. The chickens were none too happy! I don't mind the cockatoos eating our sunflowers, but we didn't appreciate their hawk-like impersonations perched on the roof. We shooed them away to spare the poor chooks.
One of the last advantages I can think of, for all this rain - apart from breaking the drought - is how vastly superior photos can be taken when everything is wet. I've decided the best time for photos is after a healthy dose of rain, with light overcast conditions. Here are a few I've taken this morning, of our front retaining wall. Not doing too badly considering what 2007 looked like!
Notice the slight erosion (picture above) that has stopped the drainage trench, draining the water away properly. It's caused the water to pool in front of the wall. This needs to drain away completely so it doesn't keep the wall footings wet. We have moved the excess dirt now, but the problem which needs addressing permanently (the erosion) is found much further up. Fine weather only project though, I'm afraid.
This last picture however, shows the very end of our retaining wall - where all the water at the front of the house ends up, on it's way down the slopes, to the back of our house. It's funny to see the rocks we've collected for our dry river creek bed, swimming in the water. Like many things around here, it's just another project waiting to be finished.
When it rains and rains however, everything must come to a stop.