Dig This

Five years ago I wrote about digging 1500 feet of trench for buried water lines.  It turns out that on the same exact day this year I was at it again, only this time we placed 1800 feet of pipe, five hydrants, and roughed in the plumbing for one water trough.  I’d gladly take credit for getting better in my old age, but the truth is that the kids are becoming more useful so they contributed to the efficiency of the work.

This project is long overdue, but getting weather and time and money to align has been challenging.  We now have a frost free water line running the entire length of the farm.  This will simplify our grazing rotation.  We’ve been making due with hundreds of feet of garden hose, but above ground hose is prone to breaking, kinking, and freezing, so we’re thrilled to have water available in or near all our pastures.

Allie screened crushed stone to make some drainage material for the frost free hydrants and for the tank drain valves.  The hydrants have small drain holes to allow the water to run out of the end of the standpipe after closing to prevent freeze damage.  Placing a load of stone around the base of each pipe creates an adequate drainage field.

AJ and Harry helped with backfilling the hydrants.  I needed one person to steady the hydrant and another person to steady the wooden bollards while I began the backfilling.  After the first foot or so was buried we were able to shovel together.  The bollards are essential because cattle love to scratch their necks on things, and a 1200 lb beast with an itch to scratch can work four feet of buried pipe out of the ground, breaking the connection and causing a gusher.  That’s a situation we’d prefer to avoid.

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