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Just Add Water…

September 10, 2012

So, I could have spent some more time dove hunting this weekend.  Instead, though, I decided to put in a little more time on infrastructure… namely, getting water out to the pasture.

The pasture fence is about 150 feet from the barn, which is where my water supply lines end.  I didn’t want to run a hose and depend on that, especially in the winter.  Instead I wanted to run pipe underground out to the fence, then stub up a pipe and an automatic water system.  I also needed to run the line to the far side of the barn where I’m going to put an outdoor sink for my game processing and a shower for post-work clean-up on really dirty days.  Finally, I have a plan to put gutters on the barn and pipe the runoff down to the pond.  I needed to get that pipeline underground as well, since it would run right across the middle of the barn pasture.  In short, there was lots of digging to be done.

After doing serious damage to my lower back in early August, while trying to dig this line with shovel and pickaxe, I knew that I’d never get the water lines dug by hand.  I could hire a couple of laborers for a few days, but that would add up pretty quickly at the going hourly rate.  I opted not to put the backhoe attachment on my tractor (at $8K), and haven’t made friends yet with anyone who owns a backhoe.  I considered renting a backhoe, but that’s sort of pricey too.

And then, driving through Uvalde the other evening, I spotted the answer…

Outside in the rental yard sat a pair of mini-excavators.  Small enough to trailer on my little flatbed, they looked like they offered enough oomph to do most of the digging.  Best of all, rental for a day would be about the same as one day laborer, and I knew that with this equipment, I could accomplish what it would take a man two or three days to do.

Saturday morning, I rode in and picked up my excavator, and then came back and got to work.  It took a little getting used to, but once I got the feel for the controls, I made really good time… even digging across the rocky, dense caliche.  In a couple of hours, I had the line dug to the trough.  A couple of hours more on Sunday, and I had the lines run for the sink and shower.

Unfortunately, there’s a solid outcrop of rock that rims the pond and extends out to about 30 or 40 feet.  The excavator is pretty bad ass, but not that tough.  They make a rock saw, which is exactly what it sounds like… a giant saw blade that runs on the back of a tractor.  The rental rate for this is a good bit higher, and I’d have to rent a heavier trailer as well.  The rainwater collection plan will have to wait a while.

I should have the lines plumbed in the next day or two, and there will then be water in my pasture.  While it’s primarily for the horses, I’m curious about what other activity it will attract.  When my pond has water in it, there are all sorts of tracks in the mud, from deer to foxes, coons, and rabbits.

The story continues.  Let’s see what develops.

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