Not long ago, Mike and I had been having a conversation about clouds. He looked to the sky and said that he could see virga. I don’t know how I have lived this long and not realized that there is a name for rain that falls from the clouds but doesn’t hit the ground. I had to look it up in Wikipedia to make sure he wasn’t pulling a fast one.
In meteorology, a virga is an observable streak or shaft of precipitation falling from a cloud that evaporates or sublimates before reaching the ground. A shaft of precipitation that doesn’t evaporate before reaching the ground is a precipitation shaft.
Asking family and friends, they all stated that sure they knew about virga.
So with thunderstorms in the forecast for today, I thought it was high time that I enjoyed observing virga before the rain really starts in earnest.
And this way you can enjoy it also.
There is a brittleness in the dry lawn as it crunches underfoot. Dust seems to coat every surface. The cattle have given up on coming across green growth in the hayfields and are rummaging through the scrub brush growing in the fence lines for anything edible between hay feedings.
The weather forecasts have been teasing us with a chance of rain in the extended forecasts for the better part of the summer only to dash our hopes as the individual days get closer. Weather apps change hourly as the probability of rain changes from 4 days of rain, to 3 days of probability to 2 days of a chance of rain, to not much more than darkening clouds before the sun again overtakes the sky.
I did find 7/100 of an inch in the rain gauge Saturday morning, but it did little to do more than leave a trace in the dust. The forecast is again calling for rain to be moving into the area as of this writing. We are looking forward to the wet days with a little trepidation as all this dust is going to turn into something very messy.
The dirt road into and out of the woods is surely getting a workout and the moisture level is the woods is shrinking.
The dust is beginning to be noticeable as the rigs travel on the logging road.
Time is short to complete the operation for once we start getting rain, the road will become impassable. The thick layer of fine powder will turn into a sticky, gooey mess with anything more than an inch of rain.
With weather forecasts calling for rain for the next foreseeable future, at least seven days, it is supposed to rain.
The swamp drainage culvert under the county road is already running water to the river. We have been making sure all eaves are clean and flowing smoothly, ditched around barns susceptible to puddling and rushing water running through. It is now time to lock the main herd out of the hay field/pasture area.
The gate entry points were closed at the back of the main field. As you can see from the picture, puddles are already sitting where the animals tread back and forth out of the hay field.
The gates are located back by the spring, near the current log landing and down into the six acre field. We also drove steel posts across the expanse between the barn and the fence that goes around the field so the cows would not have access around the barn where they like to converge during poor weather. They will have plenty of space to get cover along the hillside under the large fir trees.
Barb wire was used as the bottom and New Zealand wire (white plastic tape with copper threads running through for conductivity visibility) was used for the top wire. The wires were attached to the steel posts by insulators and electrified by a solar powered pack attached to the side of the barn. This time of year, with all the darkness and cloud cover, the fence is not very hot with current although the animals do not test the fence since they are used to electric fences.
Keeping the cows out of the hay field/pasture allows for the grass to fill in where it had been dried out during the heat at the end of the summer and it keeps all those big footy prints from chewing up the tender growth. As the cows begin calving, the field will be used as the nursery field.
It was a windy, rainy day and I was walking down the driveway to go out to the mailbox when I noticed a clump of bulls in the bull pen.
All four of them were snuggled into one little corner under a large fir tree. This was on a slope and within inches of the electric fence that runs on the inside of the woven wire fence.
The biggest bull was literally cornered. He had no way to have enough room to stand up until the other three made way for him to move. The snugness didn’t seem to bother any of them and they were content to stay this way for a couple of hours until the rain let up before slowly untangling themselves from the pile of bull they had created.
Now if I would have told them to go sit in a corner, how successful do you think I would have been?
This last week has brought soaking rains to the farm, a lightening strike that flattened a condo in Coos Bay, a funnel cloud over the ocean at Tillamook and tornado warnings for Astoria. To say the least the weather has been dynamic and has gone a long way to calm the fire danger here at home and at the several large wildfires burning throughout the western states including the Columbia River Gorge.
The much needed moisture put a stop to our logging because it made the roads up the hill slick and gooey. Mike tried to move the bulldozer up the skid road, the tracks would dig down to dry earth and move a few feet, then have to dig again before moving forward. At the second bend and just before the steep stretch, the dozer could go no further and he had to back down the winding road moving slow inches at a time to stay on the path.
In the landing, the area right in front of the log deck held more than a foot of rainwater. If there were anyway to get a self-loader truck in the swamped road to get to the pile, the truck would sink below the axles with the weight of the logs.
Mike brought in three truckloads of rock to fill in this puddle, smoothed the rock and compacted it with the dozer. It will still be several days before we will be able to get the log truck in for this load.
Two days of the thermometer hovering around 100 degrees, made for some very tough work conditions out in the hay field.
Everyone had a bottle of water handy at all times. Many breaks were needed throughout the heat. The tractors needed times to cool down because the heat coming off the drive shaft made it impossible to hold one’s feet on the clutch and brakes. Even the dogs struggled to stay in the field and made many trips down to the river to catch a cooling swim, they kept the moisture on their coats instead of shaking off and would seek shade anytime a piece of equipment was turned off. Continue reading