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Wintertime Okie-Engineering

January 5, 2010

It was great to get away to DFW and the Cotton Bowl for a couple of days. Thanks to our wonderful, smart, trustworthy farm-sitter, Cyrena, for holding down the fort and wrestling with the frozen pasture water lines! As we drove north on Sunday, it kept getting colder… and colder. By the late afternoon when we pulled in, everything was pretty much refrozen from any thawed state it might have had earlier in the day.  

Looking at the weather forecast this week, it looks like we are in for some unusually brutal winter weather–for central Oklahoma.  

See all that arctic air up north? It'll be here by Thursday.

 Of course, this would be considered balmy to farmers in Wisconsin, where my dairy sheep used to live. I picked them up a couple of days before Christmas in 2003, and spent a few days there before heading back. The farm was 2 miles from the southwest corner of Lake Superior–talk about WINTER. They had a big old ‘bank’ barn bedded about 2 feet deep with waste hay. The sheep could go in and out as they pleased, and it was almost cozy. The farmers stored their hoses in an old freezer with a light so that they stayed thawed, and they used heated stock tanks throughout their pens. They have a *system* for dealing with wintertime–if they don’t, disaster is just around the corner.  

Here in Oklahoma, our tough season really is summer. Keeping the stock cool and shaded, dealing with parasites, having enough high ground to pasture when the spring rains seem like they’ll never stop are problems that the Wisconsin farmers rarely face, but that we deal with every year. After spending 15 years in Colorado, I’m spoiled by the winters here. I love that we get a thaw every few days (normally), and that there are days here and there when I can put on my shorts and a t-shirt and work outside in the afternoon in November or February.  

Which brings us to the *cold* hard reality of this week: there is no way the pasture water lines are going to thaw before next week. So, we have two choices–(a) bring the stock to water or (b) figure out an alternate way to bring water to the stock. I opted for (b) and stopped at our local hardware store this afternoon. (Here’s a shameless plug for Chandler Hardware–if you live in Lincoln County–SHOP THERE). I walked in and told the guy I wanted to put a faucet in a 55 gallon metal drum. He’s used to me asking for something off the wall, so we walked around the store collecting parts, and $15 later, I walked out with the solution.  

After drilling a hole in the barrel, I inserted a short length of threaded pipe. On the inside is a rubber gasket and a nut to hold the gasket in place. On the outside is another nut and a brass faucet with a lever handle (less likely to freeze up than a screw-type handle). While I was at the hardware store, I also bought a ten-foot length of garden hose. I use the hose to fill the barrel from our frost-free hydrant, and then I take it with me to the pasture and connect it to an MPT/MHT (pipe to hose) adapter and then screw it into the faucet.  Here’s the whole rig:  

Okie-Engineered emergency pasture watering system

Having a 4-wheeler to haul 300-400 pounds of moving water is very helpful. I can get the 4-wheeler right next to the pen so that the short hose will reach the troughs. A sledgehammer to bust the now 4″ crust of ice is also required. It takes a lot more time than using the pasture water lines which run on top of the ground, but it sure beats hauling the water in buckets. Once we’ve completed the internal paddocks, moving the stock to water a couple of times a day is more feasible than not, but for the next week, I’m happy with this solution.  

Over at Living Kitchen, Lisa just blogged today about the necessity of ‘Okie-Rigging,’ and I laughed out loud when I read her post this morning. I prefer to think of it as ‘engineering’ if it works 🙂 At least it sounds better than it looks!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2010 4:12 pm

    That’s a mighty fine example of Okie engineering, Nanc! We’ve got to check out Chandler Hardware. I think I know the perfect off-the-wall project for your hardware guy!

  2. Sue permalink
    January 11, 2010 12:35 pm

    My poor 4-wheeler will never be the same!

  3. Deb permalink
    January 16, 2010 7:33 pm

    This is far more sophisticated than my Okie water-hauler: my big cooler with the spout on the wagon with the drop-down sides. I call it Okie Ingenuity! Thanks for the fun post!!!

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