The night before the flood gates broke, I had a feeling we were in trouble. Water was starting to finger past an irrigation dike and into our ample back yard.
The scene from my kitchen window when I woke up Saturday. That’s our chicken coop, already under a good foot of water.
We started scrambling, first getting everything off the floor of the basement, then working outside, anchoring anything that might float away and getting pumps and hoses ready to dewater our house.
Meanwhile, my Lab, Willow, was at war with the dozens of mice and voles that were scrambling to dry land, including our porch and vehicles, as the floodwater advanced.
The horses were getting nervous. Exiled to a narrow stringer of dry land, we decided to feed them on their peninsula.
The only way to get hay to them was in this ice-fishing sled.
The water kept rising, inching up at a rate of about an inch an hour.
But even dire tragedy can’t keep little girls from posing.
Or kids from shooting…
In this case, their targets were the rodents, swimming for their lives. When the kid ran out of live targets, they turned their BB guns to floating pieces of wood.
Would we be able to save the house, or would the rising water inundate the foundation?
Our neighbors were fighting their own battle against the water.
They took a boat to their swamped home.
It was clear that I’d have to go for more sandbags. I waded across a flooded road to reach some bags that I had stored in a vehicle parked along the paved highway.
A neighbor graciously invited us to fill bags from their pile of sand, yarded up for communal use. My boys prepare to fill a 6-cylinder bagger.
The device makes short work of the tedious job of filling sandbags. First, bags are pushed up the tubes…
Which are turned over and readied to accept sand…
The boys shovel sand into the cylinders, which load the bags…
And then they pull the jig off the top of the bags, which are ready to tie up and load in a vehicle.
We return to the house to find the water has risen another inch or two. Another three inches and it will start to work against the foundation of the house.
Luckily, we have some great friends, who show up to help tote sandbags and give us a second wind.
They even take turns poling around in our ice-fishing sled, turned into an impromptu boat. Will the house get swamped?

Water from the flooded Milk River has been creeping ever closer to my river-bottom home, but for a couple of weeks it had kept a respectful distance. Until this weekend.