Home > Trip > Dispatches > Local Dispatches > Local Dispatch #126

April 13, 2012: Mush and Slush

We’re now on the verge of the second phase of breakup, the one I call mush and slush. At its peak, semi-solid ice—mush and slush will flow in seemingly endless directions. It’s the time of year when I become a pseudo hydrologist. I happily spend hours on end digging trenches and moving water with a shovel blade.

My area of focus is the horse pen. I used to use the shovel and scoop the puddling water into five-gallon buckets. But I quickly figured out that this was a waste of time. I determined that it was far better to assist the water in moving itself. Each year is, of course, different; the snow piles up and melts in accordance with nature, who is arbitrary and capricious.

We are preparing for the third phase of breakup, which is flooding.

Yesterday I noted that there was puddling going on in Signy’s pen and in the second shelter area. So I dug two trenches, one of which ran into the other. In minutes, a miniature river was rolling along, the end point being just outside the horse gate.

Water flows out the of the pen

Water flows through this pipe to the driveway

Pete had previously dug out the pipe. We have a system in place for excess pen water accumulation. The larger enclosure is on a slope-the effluent runs downhill (sometimes as fast as it can go) into a pit or spillway. From there it enters a plastic pipe, where it spills out the driveway, and eventually out onto the road.

On a good year, I remove water from the spillway, using buckets. This is then set aside, and later added to compost. This is not a good year. Right now there’s a five foot berm on top of the spillway. Water is apparently running underneath.

Key to all this is being obsessive about pen cleaning. I kept up with this aspect of horse and property ownership this winter. So right now, the footing in the two pens and larger enclosure is slightly slushy. However, the horses are not up to their ankles in manure and other soft stuff.

I know that the accumulation of excess manure will be slightly, and also gum up the works. Yes, this is a lot of work, and probably more so because horse space is so limited. The alternative is to part with the horses. The thought of this is what motivates me to get out there and do what needs to be done.

Next: 127. 4/14/12: Over the Hump