Plumbing the Fields

When we first brought sheep to our farm we had fenced in a part of the hay field to create a safe and limited pasture for them. As our flock grew we fenced in more of the hay field so that we could move the flock occasionally giving each field a time of rest. As happens on a farm like ours, our flock continued to grow and we also added a cow and two donkeys to the fold. Ultimately we fenced in about 75% of our hay field to create 4 individual pastures to rotate our animals through.

Beyond good grass, there is one important item every animal needs and that is fresh, clean water. We have two rain collection tanks at the barn to provide the water to our animals. When there was only one field there wasn’t much of an issue as we could use a small hose to fill their trough. It became a little more challenging when we expanded to two fields and further still by the time we had four fields. Each field has a trough that must be filled each day.

For the past couple of years we have run about 300 feet of hose with diversion valves in order to get the water to each field. This worked pretty well the first year, but the relentless Texas sun dries them out over time and we began spending quite a bit of money on replacing hoses as they failed. Anyone who has priced a hose these days will agree that the price for a good 100 foot hose has risen considerably. We decided it was time to do something different.

The past two weekends we tackled the project of replacing those hoses with buried PVC pipes. The long run from the barn to the furthest point was about 250 feet. We planned this project for November because the temperature is typically cooler and the ground softer after Fall rains. Unfortunately we have been experiencing an incredibly dry Fall this year and the ground was the consistency of dried out play-dough. That is once we broke through the hard crust on the surface.

We don’t have trenching equipment and none could be found for rent anywhere nearby so we had to break through the surface crust with a pick-axe the entire 250 feet. To their credit, our oldest son and 8 year old both took their turns breaking the top crust along the fence line. I’m pretty sure it would have been a three weekend project had it not been for their tremendous effort.

I followed that long furrow with my cultivator to dig down a shallow trench about 4-5 inches deep. Once the trench was completed we glued and laid the pipe in the ground and installed the risers and valves that would bring the water to each trough.

When the glue dried it was time to test the system and thankfully within a few seconds of turning on the tank valve water flowed from each riser!

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