Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Monday, August 22, 2005

Greener Pastures, here we come!

I kinda wish that I meant that in a more generic sense in that maybe we'd suddenly made progress on the kennel. But no, I'm afraid I mean that in a very literal sense - we installed an irrigation line to the pastures this weekend.

Our irrigation ditch is the southern boarder of our property, and runs right between our driveway and the neighbor's. So that means for either of us to access that water there has to be culverts to transport it under one driveway or the other. Our neighbor is all set. When we bought the property, we thought we'd be set too.

We actually made a bit of a fuss about it at the beginning of the property purchase process, saying that we'd like the seller to demonstrate to us how one would irrigate the horse pasture. He played dumb and said he'd never used it much. It was at this time that I really regret not following up on the suggestion that we have the previous owner - (who is our good neighbor Tom) and have HIM describe the irrigation system to us. Man - we would have learned ALOT in short order about way more than just irrigation that may have affected our negotiations with the seller.

So anyways, we did know by the time we closed that there was not irrigation to the pastures. It all was a bit moot, however, because the water rights that came with the property hadn't delivered any water for the past several years. Colorado has been having a drought since about 2000, and our shares are "new" shares, meaning we get water last. Our reservoir - Ish Reservoir - is divided into new and old shares. Old shares get the water in the bottom X Feet of the reservoir, and new get to divide anything above that level. Thus - in a dry year new shares get nada.

Three weeks before we left for the Caribbean, we heard that our ditch was going to start flowing! Dave went and got some irrigation pipe, a head gate, and designed a layout. He cut into the concrete ditch to put in the headgate - so that we could open a valve and let water run towards the driveway. But when he called Tom to see if we could borrow his backhoe to dig a ditch across not one but actually two of our driveways, we found out that it was not running at the time. When we came back from our trip David was unfortunately sick, so it wasn't until this past weekend that everything came together.

Ginger had a wedding to go to Saturnday night, so she rescheduled her Sunday classes until the evening. That gave us from 11:00 am Saturday to about 5:00 pm Sunday that we shouldn't have too many customers expected on the property. So we set to digging up the driveway. Would have gone a lot faster, too, had the backhoe not stalled in the middle of the job and refuse to start again. I got to hand it to Dave - I was beyond disgusted at this point and left to do something else while he started poking into the engine. Turns out a critical wire had lost quite a bit of insulation and was shorting out, so he wrapped it in electrical tape, and voila - the backhoe was running again within an hour.

Sunday we got the pipe laid. Which doesn't sound like much, but this is 8" diameter pvc, that is 20 feet long - and HEAVY. The two of us had quite a time wrestling it.

Before filling in the trench we wanted to see if the pipe joints leaked. While none of us neighbors are actually "running water" from the ditch right now, there is enough leakage at the main ditch headgate that we've had a constant inch or so flowing through the ditch since it initally became available. This water is just being dumped into the pond, so we had no compunction about tapping into it. We made a make-shift dam so that the water would pool high enough to flow into our headgate, and opened her up. Water started gushing out the other end! Yahoo!

OH - and then flowed right back into the trench and flooded it. Heh - not really part of the plan. We shut it down and filled the trench back in.

As I was putting the finishing touches on the filling part - I decided to turn it on again. No harm in using that waste water, after all, and it was so very satisfying to see that water rushing out into the parched pasture. Realistically we still need to set up some distribution pipes to distribute the water across the entire pasture - but for now where it all comes out is a high corner so it does an ok job of fanning out from there. We agreed to let it run over night and see what happened.

What happened, is that we got an inch of rain over night, and had two very soggy pastures this morning. When it rains....



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