June 27, 2008

Crisis Management

Now that we’re country folk with our own little “ranch,” we’re getting an education in water control. Who knew it was so complicated? After the first irrigation, we replaced all the missing gates on our gated pipe, and Steve was even able to take apart the overall off-on valve and fix it so that the system doesn’t leak too badly when it's supposed to be off. We got proximal control on the cracks and holes in the pipe. By trial and error, we figured out approximately how many gates produce a good flow. That is, if the water is full pressure. However, if someone along the line has forgotten to turn off a valve, or someone has turned one on without letting Merlan, our ditch rider, know about it, the flow is significantly diminished, as we also discovered by trial and error. I think we now have an idea what the flow should look like, and if it’s not right, we’ll call around for a water check right away.
This last irrigation, our third, produced yet another surprise. The end cap blew off of the section of pipe watering along the side of the house. The resulting geyser got our attention in a hurry. We attempted to slap the cap back on, but there was no iron stake holding it in place, so it wouldn’t stay. In a panic, we opened up valves on the east-west line to relieve the pressure, then rushed around to see how we could rig the cap on so it might be likely to stay put. We came up with a t-post, a driver, and an inch-thick plank. Steve drove the post and stuffed in the wood to hold the cap firmly in place.
That worked. The geyser shut off. Only then did we notice that Steve had driven a stake right next to the electric power box that’s out in the pasture. Whoops. Luckily, no one was electrocuted. The house power even still worked. All was well.
The pasture is well-watered. The grass has grown 3 feet tall. Too high, actually, for our 2 horses to have any chance of munching it all down. Next project: making hay. Fortunately, our neighbor offered to cut the hay for us, since we have no machinery. Unfortunately, our gates aren’t nearly wide enough. Next project, pulling and moving posts to allow a 14 foot gap for the haymaker.
We called Blue Stakes, too. Before driving any more posts, finding out where electric and gas lines run seems wise. Luck only holds out so long.
Another day on the farm, another lesson in crisis management.

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