Shades of Ireland

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Running water

I am so grateful that this farm has a small creek running diagonally across it. In the world of ranching, everyone is learns to "chop ice" at an early age. Everything living MUST have water. That is a fact that we often don't think about because of the ease in which water is available to us. Turn a faucet and there it is..... a pure miracle that we all take for granted.  
During winter when the temps drop below freezing, water becomes an issue for farmers and ranchers. We have become plumbing experts since moving to Kansas. It is imperative to keep the water pipes and hoses from freezing. So we bury the pipes about 4 feet and wind up the hoses and take them inside somewhere heated every day. As soon as my ship comes in, I am planning on buying one of those really nice metal hose carts. I hate winding them up on my arm and draggiung them in. We always need 2 or 3 hoses to reach from the spigot to the tanks so it is quite a load.  
Luckily, in the last 10 years or so, they have developed stock tank de-icers. Plug in a gizmo and drop it in the tank and it will keep the temperature just above freezing. Wonderful invention that is worth every penny of the $30 or so that it costs. Of course, I have the same problem as with the hose -- it takes a mile of extension cords but I am willing to risk electrocution rather than chop ice in the tank every day.

That brings me back to the creek... the wonderful flowing creek that even at 14 degrees--- still has a few open spots so the brood cows can drink. Seth and I had to chop ice only two days this winter when it dropped down close to zero. Even then, there were places that were just slushy and not frozen solid.

The cattle are eating massive quantities of hay to keep warm when it is this cold. Most of them are bred but five have young calves. They must have water to digest the hay and to make milk. They could probably eat enough snow to stay alive but it would be very hard on them.

When I talk to my neighbors, chores and ice chopping are all the main topic.

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