Tales from the bush: Whatever the weather.

They say the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plains but in the Bay of Plenty it fair chucks it down on our hills. This side of the range attracts more rain clouds than anywhere else in the region. We knew it would be colder, but wetter? And it is by far with an average annual rainfall of 3 meters; twice as wet as Whakatane’s paltry 1 1/2 meters.

Heavy rain warnings have come to mean just another wet day, 100 mls is nothing and as a rule it comes and goes with no problems. But occasionally we are reminded forcefully about the power of nature.

In the early days, slips and washouts occurred frequently. We lost the water system to the bottom of the farm after a small slip blocked a tiny stream near the top of the ridge opposite our house. The water built up and built up until the dam gave way sending a torrent down the stream bed resulting in a major washout. We walked up to find out why the water wasn’t running and there at the bottom of the ridge was our water pipe, tied in a big knot with tons of mud, trees and rocks.

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The Man of the House found the top end of the hose at the bottom of the ridge.

On our road, banks often collapsed leaving deep soggy bogs full of rocks, trees and ferns. We’d shovel out a track just wide enough to drive through until the council got around to clearing it. A lot of the trees in the garden came from slips, rescued before they were bulldozed over a bank. I took this photo because there was no way I was going to sit in the truck when The Man of the House drove through.

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Strong winds wreaked havoc too. A tornado whipped through and felled a neighbours retirement fund woodlot and half a shelter belt across the road and left the whole district without power for 4 days. We were blissfully unaware of the power issues, nothing had changed for us. When the pines across the road had been felled, the south westerly blasted over the cleared hills and uprooted a row of 50 year old poplars, again right across the road. Surprisingly, we hardly a missed a day’s work because of the weather although we had to take the long way out on the odd occasion.

The worst disaster of all, though was waking up to find the toilet blown over, not unusual when the westerly howled down the valley. There were many new weather events waiting to surprise us. Summer hail storms that looked like snow and necessitated the wearing of ear muffs in our unlined living area to prevent deafness, strangely beautiful frost formations on bare ground and fences, January  frosts and lighting the fire at Christmas all became normal.

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Strange frost formation.

 

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What you get from a leaky hose on a frosty morning.

And with storms regularly dumping 200 mls of rain at a time, the top layer of dirt from the driveway continues to wash down and accumulate in the front yard.

 

11 comments

  1. Oh, the misery, I know exactly what you are writing about. The photo of that slip, I would have been like you, no way would I have stayed in the vehicle, but sometimes I think it is harder watching your husband drive in those situations, as you watch and hope the ground doesn’t slip more with the weight of the vehicle and disappear down the valley below.
    So pleased we retired and moved to town, in our late seventies it was becoming to much stress to live in the high bushland anymore.

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  2. Hmm, I know what you mean. We lived through 2 years of logging trucks on the road too and I think that was the most stressful time so far. I remember when we first moved up here I thought ‘How am I going to drive up and down this road every day?’ It didn’t take long to get used to it. I don’t want to be living here when the trees are ready for harvest again though.

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  3. Crikey! I never would’ve thought the weather could be quite so bad in your area…mind you…Auckland isn’t exactly delightful at times…😄

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    • Lol. It’s not always like that Graham. Being a couple of hundred meters above sea level makes a massive difference to the weather, more extremes. It has it’s bonuses too; being above fog and basking in glorious sunshine when the plains are lost in the murk and usually cool summer nights. Not this week though. :-0

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      • 😄 I couldn’t believe how hot the Wairarapa was this week, but lovely and cool overnight…makes a sharp contrast to the hot stickiness we’ve arrived back to in the big smoke, that’s for sure. I almost saw the top of Ruapehu on the way back yesterday for the first time…almost…there always seems to be cloud up there.

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