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March 2014

Flood risk: And now, we bring you the return of the Poudre River to its natural floodplain

The Coloradoan reported on March 30, 2014 that the Poudre River and Big Thompson rivers are at twice their normal levels: Full story

"It’s not just the mountains and foothills that could be impacted. The NWS says that 'the flood risk is somewhat elevated in southwest Weld County, and also along the lower Cache La Poudre River in eastern Larimer and western Weld Counties due to flooding last September.'”
- KUNC, story on report from the National Weather Service

The Poudre River never did dry up to its usual winter trickle this year, and now the National Weather Service predicts higher flood risk due to the heavy snow pack. The City of Fort Collins is in the middle of restoring the river to its natural floodplain, along the Poudre River bike trail, which makes up our north border. I hope they get it done before all that raw dirt is swept away.

Poudre River bank lowering - Shields Street - McMurray Natural Areas - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521
Work progresses on lowering the north bank of the Poudre River - Sunday, March 16, 2014

The lowered north river bank, while excellent for us, will be an interesting flood test for the guy in the farmhouse, background, to the left.

The Father of Fort Collins would get a chuckle out of all this river work. Thanks to him, Fort Collins moved to its current location, out of the floodway near Laporte.

See our stories and Poudre River video footage from the September 2013 flood.

Also, 'They came slowly out of the forest ...' - Bambi meets bulldozer

'They came slowly out of the forest ...' - Bambi meets bulldozer

Deer watch the West Vine Outfall Project - North Shields Street - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521

A deer jumps over the fence as the herd prepares to move - West Vine Outfall Project - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521
A deer jumps over the fence as the herd prepares to move along the edge of the West Vine Outfall Project, North Shields Street, Fort Collins, Colorado
Herd of deer crosses North Shields Street, which is slated for major changes in 2015 - - access point - West Vine Outfall Project - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521
Herd of deer crosses North Shields Street, which is slated for more major changes in 2015.
Cars slow down as remainder of the deer herd crosses North Shields Street - access point - West Vine Outfall Project - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521
Cars slow down as the remainder of the deer herd crosses North Shields Street.

The deer are coping with construction on the West Vine Outfall Project, across the street, just southwest of our property. Starting tomorrow, North Shields Street is closed for about a week, and if you want to reach us, you need to come from the north.

Our entire neighborhood, including several historic properties, is planned for development as part of the North Shields Corridor Improvement Project starting in January 2015.

Update: Celebrity moves into neighborhood

Possible alternatives for the widening of Shields Street - North Shields Street Corridor Project - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521

Along our border to the north, which fronts the Poudre River, big equipment has been digging for weeks to lower the river's north bank as part of the Shields Ponds and McMurry Natural Areas Project. In November, the city plans to build a sewer line to the other side of the river and stub it off.

Overview of the McMurry Natural Areas project - lowering of the north bank of the Poudre River east of N. Shields Steet - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521

The lowering of the river bank at the McMurry Natural Areas also marks the west gateway of the Poudre River Downtown Project, a plan to develop the river corridor for recreation, and bring big money to downtown Fort Collins.

The Poudre River Downtown Project is projected to bring new revenue to the downtown area of Fort Collins, Colorado.

Meanwhile, more than 40 homes in the Pateros Creek Development are slated for construction on our east border.

Concept plan - Pateros Creek housing development - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521

'Slip sliding away' stopped by hay

Hay thrown down in ice-mud season to provide traction - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521

Every year we get some hay that has been damaged, usually by water. We save those bad bales for ice-mud season. You can spread the hay out when the ice starts to get "greasy" looking. The hay stalks bite into the ice and will provide traction as the ice freezes again in the cooler evening temperatures. We prefer this solution to throwing down salt or ice melt, which are hard on the hooves and can percolate into the ground or plowing snow, which while needed for heavy snowfall, creates an erosion problem for our dirt lanes, is hard on the tractor, and time-consuming. The hay on the ground looks messy now, but eventually it will compost down to dirt-like footing.

What the manure pile cooked up

Manure pile steaming - Poudre River Stables - Fort Collins - Colorado - 80521The process of a manure pile "cooking" is hard to describe, but the video clip above captures the process nicely, complete with rising steam. We use the windrow composting method, which basically involves keeping the pile moist, and in our case, pushing the pile periodically with the tractor bucket to keep introducing air. You can also insert perforated PVC sewer pipes vertically throughout the pile to introduce air.

Garden plants like flowers and vegetables love this composted mixture of soiled wood shavings and manure! You can see our "end product" in the distance, a much smaller, darker section. To ensure all seeds are killed, be sure to store your "product" under a black tarp for a few months after it reaches the end composting stage to really cook the seeds under the sun. Remember, never compost your manure near water. We also use our compost as valuable fertilizer on hay fields, as fill under horse sheds, to fill low spots in the lane, and to build above-ground planting areas in old stock tanks or as stand-alone dirt berms.

If you read Gene Logsdon's book on manure and its value, which not only educated me, but made me laugh out loud several times, you will understand the book's title, "Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind". Gene Logsdon also writes a great rural living blog, The Contrary Farmer.