Wednesday, June 30, 2010

30 Days of Smell -- Flood Mud

One of the joys of farm living ("Green acres ain't the place to be/Farm living ain't the life for me/ Flooded land spreading out,so far and wide/ Give me Indianapolis, you take the countryside." -- my current version of "Green Acres" theme) is getting to mow. Which I did tonight for a few hours. Unlike when I lived in town and fired up the $200 Lawnboy for a 30 minute jaunt around the yard, here it's running to town for 2 5 gallon containers of fuel and pouring said fuel into an expensive zero turning radius mower and zipping around the yard at 12 mph. The scale of things is bigger, so a 1/2 acre lot her (like in town) would look like a postage stamp. I mow about 3 acres when I mow.

And that's just "the yard."

There's also all the rows between all the trees we planted for conservation's sake. Thousands of 'em. I have to mow to keep the weeds and grasses down to give the trees a chance. That means using the tractor and bushhog.

Which I did recently. With fear and trepidation. Not that I'm afraid of John Deere ... well, maybe a little bit, ever since I rolled him down a hill one time. No, I was afeared of what I would find when I got to one of our lower fields. One that, laying aside a creek bed, is prone to flooding.

And last week was the perfect week for flooding. Storm after storm after storm. In a period of a few days. And the creek reached within two feet of record levels. Which meant that the lower field had been 2 feet underwater. The smell of flood mud was heavy in the air when I moved that direction. Heavier than the diesel exhaust of John. One reason it was so heavy is that there was so much newly exposed bank. The flood had decimated our creek bank, claiming hundreds of feet (and washing it downstream). I claim I own acreage in four counties ... because a bunch of it ain't here anymore. It's in counties farther south.

The river flood mud smell also told me that many of the trees we had carefully tended had also gone downstream. The reason we had planted them was so that they would put down roots and stabilize the field in future floods. That was 4 years ago and we've had 3 floods since. At least 1.5 acres have washed away, carved out by raging water, along with hundreds of trees.

I have come to hate the smell of flood mud.

Still, it does remind me of Jesus' story of the wise man who builds his house upon the rock and the foolish man who builds his on the sand. I wonder if the Sandman planted trees, too? And watched it all wash away?

So, I wonder, which am I? Wise for being here and planting trees in sandy soil on a bluff overlooking a creek, or foolish for no living in town in a condo without the smell of flood mud?

Ah, only time and the love of God will tell. For now, it's time to get back to mowing, carving a new path through the old wood from one set of trees to the other to replace the path that the flood washed away, and smell the mud.

Whatever happened to "God gave Noah the rainbow sign/ No more water, the fire next time!"?

-- Brent

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