A Report from the Back Forty

In an earlier column, I mentioned that I was taking on a pretty good
sized summer project in our cattle pasture. New fence, new seeding and a modern water
system are among the improvements that will better help us to raise
cattle. This week I want to give you a quick report on our progress.

Underground water pipe is a luxury that our cattle have never enjoyed until now.
In the past, I used a system of above-ground black water pipe and
garden hose that, although was good in that it provided a primitive sort of exercise, was pretty inconvenient. Darin Bertilrud from Greenbush showed up at our home a few weeks back with a huge reel of pipe attached to a plow to install it. The plow is a
very heavy duty piece of equipment which is towed behind a tractor
and buries the pipe about two feet down. The plow has a coulter that
runs in front of the plow and cuts the sod then the plow follows and
opens a trench and places the pipe. The opener that digs and places the pipe
is several hundred pounds of steel that bullies its way through the soil and leaves an
opening in the sod which I closed by driving a tractor along each side
of the trench. My guess is we placed about 7000 feet of pipe
underground and the amazing thing is that when I turned the water on,
it took a few hundred gallons of water just to initially fill the
pipe. Darin plumbed risers into the pipe approximately every three
hundred feet as a way to access water from the pipe. The risers end
with a yellow cap on top of the soil which I can quickly tap into
to satisfy the desire of cattle for cool water.

The fencing is also just about done. Larry Kruse came over and dug
the fence post holes last week. I used to say that the only
fence post hole you truly own was the one you dug by hand but I have modified that
belief. The only way to keep an end post in the ground is to dig it
at least four feet deep or deeper to avoid most frost. I got tired of digging those
bottomless pits by hand so instead I hired it done. I usually pack
the posts with rock but Larry suggested I use pea rock which really made the posts firm. This week I spooled out the new high-tensile wire. The wire I am using is green which, when viewed from the road, almost disappears against a grassy background but is easily seen by the cattle. It makes pasture look more like a park and I want our place to look nice. After the wire was strung I used it to place line posts in a straight line. Pounding in line posts should really be a job for someone who has no expectation of happiness, ever. It’s always hard work in the hot sun, but made less boring as I keep a little radio on my four wheeler. Unfortunately the only programming on the radio this week was about Michael Jackson, although in comparison it made pounding posts seem pretty sweet. Once these posts are done, then so am I. I will have couple of gates to build; then I will liberally re-apply cattle to the pasture and let them do their stuff.

I find the work behind pasture improvement to be very interesting. I hope you enjoy reading about the process as much as I am performing it. The end result of this labor is high-quality pasture, better performance from the cattle and increased efficiency. I hope to explain how all of this ties together in a future column. For right now, I will just settle for the satisfaction of a job well done, something cold to drink and little calamine for my sunburn. 

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