Rain, rain, rain

What a contrast in weather from last summer to this summer at Seven Oaks. After the terrible record drought of the last two summers, we swore that we would not complain about rain again. In fact, rain was such a scarcity last summer that when we did finally get some, on July 14th, 2012, we ran outdoors and sat and watched it and I actually PHOTOGRAPHED IT! If you look closely, you can see the rain drops in this pic! What you cannot see is that we were dancing a jig while we watched it fall and enjoyed the rarity of the experience.

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But we are now in a rain pattern that has persisted for months and months and it continued last night with another healthy dose and just now started up again this afternoon with a torrent of driving rain. As luck would have it, we are now able to measure the rain fall amount here with new accuracy thanks to the help of a very precise tool that was a Christmas gift from our friends, the Moores. If we had this tool last year, it would have sat idle all summer.

So the Moores did some research in this area (and if I know Joan, it was extensive!) and found this very cool, yet simple device from Productive Alternatives, Inc. , a company out of Fergus Falls, Minnesota. http://www.paiff.org/  It actually measures precipitation to a one hundredth of an inch. We do love our gauge but this is also an amazing company! Here is an intro from their on line product page.

Welcome to Productive Alternatives, Inc.!

P.A.I. is a non-profit agency dedicated to providing diverse human services programming, offering viable workforce opportunities for businesses, and manufacturing and marketing innovative products.

We are committed to providing services of the highest quality. We offer a wide variety of human service programming — please look through our site to view our program offerings.

We also offer a variety of ways to meet the workforce needs of businesses,we provide public transportation options, and we have become an important means to develop, manufacture, and market new product ideas.

We appreciate your interest in P.A.I. If you wish to know more about our agency, please contact us!

Wait a minute, did you see that they are a non-profit organization??? I had to go back several times to read it correctly! This is so cool! Besides rain gauges, they also make  ice fishing equipment, fish scaling tools, wooden survey stakes and a few other oddities like something called the ‘Rapid Rake’. These are my kind of people! And this is a picture of our rain gauge! Image 17

The rain that is pelting down at this point is particularly amusing since our daughter, Kate, is visiting us now from California and she never sees rain like this where she lives. We are also always interested in the way our property drains since the visual of it is so evident to the eye. We have a swale that runs from north to south across the front yard, and then snakes around to the rear of the back yard, bifurcating the middle of the back acreage, changing to a south to north direction as it finally finds a way to drain out to the east. When the rain is heavy like it is today, the swale is so full of water that we joke that “A River Runs Through It” and we should get out our fly fishing equipment to take advantage of the river! We have photographed it often but here is an indication of it.

IMG_0649  The photo doesn’t do it justice since the water actually appears to have a current!

IMG_0648Of course, like all other records we keep, Dave has an Excel file of the rainfall that we have measured with our gauge since receiving it last December. I made one goof so far. As I started to write this post, I went outside and got the gauge, brought it indoors to read the particulars of the company name and took a photo for the blog. Then I started writing about it at my computer, all along admiring the rainfall stats and suddenly realized that the gauge was sitting on my desk and not out in the field while the rain was pelting down! Drat! I quickly ran out to place it on the terrace! Dave just gave me the measurement for the last hour which was .71 inches (not including the portion I lost while it was on my desk!). The gauge is in temporary residence on the terrace wall until we properly find a more open location farther from the house. You want your gauge to be unshielded from any nearby structure so I believe we should have it located farther from the house.

So far in 2013 we have recorded the rainfall totals at Seven Oaks as follows:

  • March as 5.46 inches
  • April, 7.12 inches
  • May, 5.58 inches
  • June, (so far including as of this post) 6.84 inches

This is AMAZING! We have been kept from our plow-able fields due to the extra wet conditions. The weeds, unfortunately are taking advantage of our nature and are prolific!

Some plants are loving the extra rainfall and others not so much. The pepper plants are quite happy with the extra rain and are producing lovely green as well as red peppers already.

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The tomato plants are thriving in the current heat and do not seem to have any objections to the rain either. We have 30 tomato plants (4 varieties) and 22 pepper plants (5 varieties).  IMG_4433

This is not entirely bad news for the blueberry crop since we have picked over 6 pounds of this fruit in only a couple of days so far this season. The plants do not particularly like the humidity but there is not much we can do about that except to regulate the soil conditions as best as possible.  The terrace has been full of wildly blooming petunias and the allee trees are loving the water so far as well.

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