Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Friday, May 05, 2006

Pastures, irrigation, and friends

This year we HAVE to do something to restore our horse pastures. The first year we'd had a lot of rain (everytime we had to move something somewhere it was raining!). And of course we didn't have that many horses. Last year we got more horses, and less rain, and it was looking pretty bad. And this year we've gotten almost no precipitation. The only snow we got was the week leading up to the kennel grand opening, of course.

Last year we didn't have a way to irrigate the pastures since the previous owner had torn up those pipes and didn't replace them. So we had to put in a new headgate to the irrigation ditch and put a pipe under the driveway. We managed to get that finished just in time to use our 3 days of water that was our share for the year. Actually, our ditch hadn't had any water to share in the previous few years, so even 3 days was a lot better than nothing.

But not enough. That and the fact that the pasture isn't contoured well for flood irrigation we had a lot of water where we didn't want it and none in many spots too.

And so I have to introduce Len, or Leonard depending on with whom you are speaking. Len's quite the guy, we've learned so much from him already. He first showed up one weekend when Ginger was again teaching a horse lesson and Dave and I were working on... who knows what. He drove up and introduced himself as a friend of our neighbor Tom's. He had some horse hay and wondered if we were in the market. As it was we weren't right at that time, but we said we'd come look at it. We ended up purchasing 1200 bales from him and stored it tarped on his property a few miles away from our place. We only went and picked up the last of our lot the weekend before last - when we moved a whopping 434 bales in 1.25 days.

Len's been farming in the area forever aparently. Dave says he drives around with him and Len will say - oh yeah, I used to own that land and farmed.... hay, garlic and a whole bunch of of other crops. He's at the point now of slowly shutting down. He'd actually sold the property where our hay was a few years ago, but then ended up leasing it back when the new owners decided they weren't interested in haying it.

Anyways, we asked Len if he had any advice for us regarding the pastures. Whoo boy, does he ever. We're doing everything wrong. Well, not really, but we've got a lot to do. We knew we'd have to get more pipe to distribute water better, get more water - meaning lease some through Tom who has connections that we do, fertilize, reseed and separate the horses off of the seeded portion. And that doesn't count putting in a valve into Tom's irrigation line that goes under our driveway at another spot so that we can get water to the hillside around the arena.

But Len said he'd help us which I'm sure will be invaluable. Not to mention he's got equipment up the ying yang. The auger we've been using to put in these darn fence posts - belongs to Len. The tractor and t-post pusher we used this past weekend - belong to Len. The spreader Dave used to spread our compost - belongs to Len. The tractor he used to pull the spreader - belongs to Tom. The flatbed pickup truck we used to move hay - belongs to Tom. The sprayer we used last fall to spray the horse pasture for weeds belongs to Len, or Tom -- I'm not quite clear on that one.

Actually, that's a bit of a funny story that I still haven't figured out. Len knew that we needed to borrow a spreader at some point. In him talking to Dave and Ginger about how to save our pasture, he suggested we should be spreading our compost right away, before we irrigated and before seeding. So he just up and says - "Tell you what. I need to do a job over at my son's place with a tractor. I'll take your small tractor over there, and will bring you my tractor and spreader. That way you can pull the spreader with Tom's tractor, load it with mine (which has a way bigger bucket than our tractor does), and I'll be done with your tractor in a few days." I'm not sure why he opted to trade tractors with us, but it sure helped us out.

Such is the way with these guys - no one can own all the equipment needed to do everything. You NEED friends so you can borrow stuff. We're hoping Tom will be over with his tree-spade tractor in the next week so we can plant our live Xmas tree in the dog yard. Oh, and I guess latest news is that Len may have a couple of spruce trees to give us so we may have 3 to plant instead of 1? Dunno, I often can't keep up.

Meanwhile, we're very much feeling the moochers. We don't have much of anything these guys need to borrow. Tom and Theresa say we make up for it just being great neighbors (as opposed to guy we purchased the property from). As for Len - well, he's got a 9 year old granddaughter whose just as horse crazy as they come. So she's going to come out for a week or two of summer camp. We gotta make the best of what we have to offer.


Hey hey - quick update before I post. My sister Phyllis and Mike came to town this week to attend the big Alpaca show in Denver, which I'm sure will generate some posts in and of itself. But more importantly -- they brought rain with them! We've been having on and off drizzle for 2 days now. A Very Welcome Change, indeed.

In addition to the Alpaca show, this week is our regional meeting for the American Boarding Kennel Association. So Dave and Ginger are splitting days to attend. Sounds like Ginger had an interesting day yesterday. As did David who got to run the whole ranch for a whole day on his own. Hee.



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