Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No more stock tanks?

In my last post about Gibraltar, I mentioned our new waterers. We came across this product, "Whisperer Waterers" a few years ago at the Stock Show. We were intrigued for a couple of reasons. Maintaining stock tanks, year round, are a bit of a hassle. They need to be dumped periodically to be cleaned, and in the winter you have to install heaters, otherwise they freeze solid. It was really when I started analyzing our barn electric bill, and saw the enormous spike that we get every winter, that I thought a heater-less solution would be really great.

These waterers have a very simplistic design, and yet the manufacturer swore up and down that they are effective and very low maintenance. We went and visited someone else near by who had had some installed for over a year, and she had to agree - they just work.

Their simplicity is based on the fact that water is never stored in the bowl. Therefore there is nothing to freeze during the winter. Rather they have a sensor that detects a hand - or a nose - when placed inside the bowl. It's not a touch sensor, all the horses have to do is reach in and sniff the bottom, where they smell water, and Voila - the valve opens and water magically appears! The water continues to flow as long as the nose is down there. As soon as it leaves, the bowl drains to await the next demand. Beyond not having anything to freeze, no standing water means no algae buildup. And besides, wiping out this bowl is trivial compared with dumping and scrubbing a stock tank.

The valve is cleverly attached to a coiled hose, so that once you've buried the connection 5 feet down, should you need to perform maintenance, you simply pull the valve up out of the PVC pipe and work on it.

So like I said - we kept seeing them at trade shows, and then went to talk to the actual customer, and we decided we wanted to put some in before this winter. I called up the person -- it was SEPTEMBER! I know because she was busy finishing up at the State Fair that weekend. GROAN. This annoys me because of all the delays that eventually came to pass.

So as to spare you the pain, the short story is that after trying to negotiate a discounted price and failing, the woman offered to personally deliver the units so as to save shipping. OK I said. Only - huum. Took a very long time of not being able to coordinate schedules, and then a snow storm, and failure for her to followup with me... etc. Finally I managed to leave an irritated voice mail for her - and, what do you know? She arrived that afternoon to deliver some waterers! Oh, and at a discount also. OK, my temper was assuaged.

Until we figured out she only brought 2 units with her when I wanted to purchase 3. *headdesk*

Anyways, this wasn't until early November that we received them. Have I mentioned that we've had a very cold and snowy fall so far? So finding an opportunity to trench into the ground was looking difficult. But we had a couple of days early December which seemed better than any other, so Dave and Wayne set about installing them. Unfortunately the ground was still so frozen that they ended up finishing 2 and decided to wait until spring to do any more.

So the big question is -- will the animals drink from it? Well - yeah. I suppose most of the horses figured it out quick enough. Makes sense - it smells like water, someone showed me water in there yesterday, and hey -- in the time it's taken me to think about this there is water in there again!

Though it was not entirely without resistance. Shoshoni, I hear, would not approach this scary white thing for the life of her. As Ginger said - it was a case where she couldn't even lead the horse to water! What's more, when the water does start to flow it makes a teensey little gurgling sound. OH MY GOD THE MONSTERS ARE COMING! Well, that's Shoshoni for you. I am happy to report that her thirst seems to have eventually overcome her skittishness.



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