This week any signs of spring have been washed away by torrential rain.

Mopsy, our milking goat, was slowly inched into one corner of her paddock by a rising tide, ending up marooned in her goat house where the waves lapped at the doorstep and her meals had to be delivered by hubby wearing his tallest gumboots.

When even the goat-house threatened to float she was rescued and has negotiated an uneasy truce with George the ram, sharing the shelter shed in the "dry" paddock.

By dry I mean it's negotiable without a dinghy.


Just as well, as the dinghy is needed to get across Lake Lawn should you feel an urgent need to use the trampoline.

So far only the grandkids have felt that urge and I suspect the drawcard was actually the lake, which I'm hoping will recede before the council accuses me of putting in a pool without consent.

The grandboys refused to believe the new lake wasn't thermal. It was all of five minutes before they retreated for a warm bath and to recreate Lake Lawn on the bathroom floor.

The horses are draped in horse covers but still unimpressed with their newly aquatic environment, the chooks are sodden and sulky and the sheep – because they are sheep and not clever – don't seem to have noticed.

Every available cat has mistaken my house for the Ark, with Stanley the hayshed cat choosing to monitor the rodent activity in the shed from the dining room window, under the heat pump. Big fluffy Simonne is sitting around like a grey tabby thundercloud since she ventured out on urgent feline business and got caught in a heavy downpour.

By the time she'd sprinted for the cat door she looked like the business end of a dirty old floor mop.

The subsequent towel-drying did nothing for her temper and she still hasn't forgiven the elements, myself, or the towel.

When it comes to wet weather, in a rural environment it seems there's either too much or not enough.


If it's dry our grass doesn't grow, our water tanks don't fill, our tractors catch fire and our pigs get sunburned.

If it's wet our grass is underwater where our sheep can't get at it, our roads wash away, our tractors get stuck and our gumboots get sucked off in the mud and we get our socks wet.

In town, excess rain tends to be politely channelled away by gutters which usher it into stormwater systems and if they overflow the council gets all apologetic.

At our place, we are at the mercy of an entity known as The Drain.

The Drain cuts through several properties. In the summer it's a dusty dip in the ground. In the winter it's a slow-moving swamp that is easily spanned using a bridge that was once the old chook-house door.

Once or twice a winter The Drain turns into a voracious torrent, sweeping away unwary feed buckets and the planks jammed in the fence to stop next door's ram from coming over. It cuts the paddock in two, isolating unwary sheep, the odd chook and the shorter sorts of ponies.

It even sweeps away the old chook-house door, which has to be located by a search party some days later, usually next door tangled in some electric fence wire and festooned with watercress.

Not long ago The Drain used to be a bone of neighbourly contention. Each deluge would slowly fill it, first taking out one neighbour's culvert, the next's bridge, then half a paddock belonging to another neighbour would disappear like Atlantis and it would finally start to fill another neighbour's driveway and lap at the threshold of his garage.

As soon as the first wave broke over the garage entrance its owner would don his wet weather gear, shoulder his shovel and, enraged, march downstream.

Confronting the next neighbour he would inform them the drain was blocked and needed to be cleared. That neighbour would deny the blockage was on his patch, don his rainwear, pick up a shovel and join the march downstream.

The next neighbour would be roused by angry shouting from the other side of the torrent. Two sodden, shovel-brandishing folk would inform him the drain was backing up and since it wasn't at their place it must be at his …

The third neighbour would vehemently deny responsibility, pull on gumboots, oilskin and leggings and picking up a spade he'd join the march downstream …

Like a lynch mob in the old movies, but wet, the angry mob would proceed until they found a clump of detritus blocking the flow, took their ire out on it and went home to dry out.

Eventually common sense reigned and a digger was applied to the offending drain and the problem solved, but community spirit has not been the same since.

The Drain is still swift and deep on weeks like this though. Has anybody seen my old chookhouse door float past?

* Rachel Wise is Hawke's Bay Today's associate editor