Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sun = Work

First, there were the torrential rains. Yes, I know that April showers bring May flowers, but it also brings high winds and lots of MUD--manure, urine, dirt. Row crop farmers are complaining that they can't get their corn in the ground and fruit growers are worried about pollination. For me, spring means two things--the animals begin feeding themselves again and maintenance.
It was time to cross Fix Primary Water Tank off the white board in the kitchen. For several years, I've been capturing rainwater off the roof of my barn and using gravity to run it down into storage tanks before sending it through a series of hoses to stock tanks equipped with float valves. Living on top of the hill has it's advantages. While this may seem like a quaint idea for a sustainable farmer, let me tell has a significant financial advantage. I'm not using my well pump (hello...electricity) to provide water for the herd. At the height of summer, that can be as much as $50 a month! So you can see why it literally pays to keep the water system in top shape.
The project at hand was to replace the ball valve and coupling on the main tank and create a solid platform on which to set the tank. Unfortunately, due to the ankle-deep mud in much of the paddock, using the tractor for this task was not possible so I resorted to (fe)manual labor. Shovel, pick, digging bar and in fifteen minutes I was ready for the sand.
Prior to starting on the digging, I made a quick trip down to Martin's Produce Supplies where they have everything under the sun needed for commercial greenhouse and produce growers. That's where I'd bought the original collapsible irrigation hose in the first place and it's still in good shape, but needed some minor repairs. One of the best lessons in life that working in the oil fields & IT taught me was to always have extras of the small things--an extra 9/16th wrench, fuses, NICs, cables--the little things that are inexpensive and don't take up too much room. Figure out what you need, double it and then add two. I'm good on hose clamps and couplers for a few years now.
My grand plans don't always work out the first time. Can you spot the mistake? Probably not, since there are no animals around to give perspective. Since I prefer to work with smaller livestock--goats & calves--the tank platform turned out to be way too high.
Once rearranged, all was well. Time to fill in around the base with rocks.
Now, just have to wait on those April showers scheduled for today to fill the tank. Next all the downhill tanks a good scrubbing and checking their hoses & hardware, but I have to start from the top and work my way down.

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