Flood and mud season is here

While we frequently miss out on the gradual warming and awakening of nature, those of us who live on farms can be assured that we still will have the season of mud and water.

 A boy in a red sweatshirt and a boy in  a gray sweatshirt are covered with mud.
Ann Bailey's sons, Brendan and Thomas Gregoire, enjoyed many adventures in the mud and water when they were growing up on the farm.
Brian Gregoire / Contributed

In the northern Plains, the spring season is not always guaranteed. Instead, weather conditions abruptly change from below freezing to relatively balmy. In essence, from winter to summer within a week or two.

While we miss out on the gradual warming and awakening of nature, those of us who live on farms can be assured that we still will have the season of mud and water, one that we could do without, but rarely miss.

Of course, I am viewing the season through the jaded eyes of an adult. When I was a girl growing up on the farm, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I tested out the engineering of the homemade rafts my brother and his friends made to float down our water-filled ditches. I measured the depth of ponds by how far out I could walk before water started pouring over the top of my boots and soaked my socks. I often hopped to the house on one foot because I had to abandon a boot after it got stuck in the mud.

My two sons and daughter had equally good times in the mud and water when they were little. They'd battle one another in mud fights that left them covered from head to toe. The tested homemade watercraft and even capsized a canoe in early spring on a swollen river when they were seeing how far they could paddle before the water was too low.

Brian and I knew the last experiment had gone badly when we were awakened by our two sons one night saying, “We have to get new phones. We had them in plastic bags, but the canoe flipped and the phones are at the bottom of the river.”


Despite that misadventure of theirs and my own when I was growing up, no serious injuries or illnesses resulted from them. We did, however, learn some valuable lessons about the need to use better judgment. Even though none of us got hurt, being soaking wet and cold was an unpleasant enough experience to make us think twice about doing the same thing, again.

The days of muddy children have passed and we don’t yet have grandchildren, but that doesn’t mean we will escape this mud and water season without having been exposed to a good amount of both.

A dog with muddy paws lays on a dirty floor.
Clean floors are an elusive dream during spring on the farm because the dogs and kids who live on them love the mud.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

That’s because our three golden retrievers, with long, thick hair flowing from their bellies, legs and tails, are mud and water magnets. They get wet and dirty even before there are water puddles because the snow sticks to their hair and then their wet coats absorb the mud from the gravel roads.

In the summer when the dogs get wet, we hose them off in a kiddie pool, and then put them in the outdoor kennel to dry off before they come into the house. However, in spring, it’s often too cold for baths and for them to be outside when they’re wet. Instead, we allow them to be in the kitchen, which has a ceramic floor that I can spot wipe and eventually wash in its entirety.

A golden retriever stands in a blue kiddie pool with water in it.
When temperatures are warm Ann Bailey hoses off her golden retriever, Nova, after the dog's muddy escapades.
Ann Bailey / Agweek<br/>

I say "eventually" because one of the things I learned being the mother of children is that trying to keep the house pristine during the season of mud and water is futile and results in frustration and unhappiness for all concerned parties. It’s one of the small things that I learned not to sweat.

Kids grow up and dogs' lives are short, so fretting about dirty floors — and towels, walls and furniture — is a waste of precious time. I prefer to disregard the muddy messes and look for the humor in the situation. There will be plenty of fodder for that around here for the next few weeks.

Ann Bailey Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald

Ann Bailey lives on a farmstead near Larimore, N.D., that has been in her family since 1911. You can reach her at 218-779-8093 or

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: or phone at: 218-779-8093.
What To Read Next
Get Local