The Water Gap (noun)
The water gap, crossing, chute, it doesn’t matter what you call it, its sole purpose in life is to allow water to flow its course and keep animals from getting across. Now coming from the desert of Southern California this very necessary part of owning a farm completely alluded me! So imagine my surprise when I moved to the Midwest where the rainfall is abundant and everyone has ponds or creeks on their land, lucky me I have 2 creeks and 4 of these ‘water gaps’. It was explained to me by the locals to keep an eye on them but really not to worry ‘I don’t think your creeks get that high’ HAHAHA now that’s funny! Now I did what any responsible animal care giver would do before turning them into the pastures where the creeks are, I inspected the water gaps. They were strung with ½ “cable with an assortment of wires allowing a visual barrier to keep the animals from crossing but allowing the water to flow freely. Great! I’m not sure many of you are aware of the amount of rain we can get at any given time, now on my land my creeks can go from being 1 foot deep to being 20 feet deep! And yep you’re right! There goes said water gap downstream! Now the fun begins, Water gap engineering has begun! With my job I do a lot of traveling and so I made it a point to inspect all water crossings I came upon, they ranged from wire and cable like mine, to cattle panels (bigger wire), tin, rubber matting, tires, and the list goes on, if you can imagine it the items are used. My first solution to my problem was I would get 55 gallon plastic drums, run the cable through the top and they would float on the water, seemed plausible, well it worked great until we got one of those gully washing rains and the water rose higher than the cable would allow the barrels to float then they filled with water and downstream the whole set up went! I’ve lost count of the amount of cable clamps, cable, and tools that have ended up downstream. One thing I should point out is you can’t fix your water gap until the water recedes, then you have to take inventory of what is left! So the next time I tried the cattle panels they worked pretty well, managed to stay in place when the water rose, which would have been fine but I hadn’t anticipated trees coming down stream getting caught in the wire and again tearing the whole thing out again. To date I have not rebuilt my water gaps, we have had unprecedented flooding and really not chance of the horses actually swimming upstream to get out! Thank God!
To this day it never ceases to amazing me the power of water, well Mother Nature in general! As you can probable imagine this saga continues yearly and every time we have a torrential rain storm, it’s just another example of the never ending responsibilities of living on a farm.
You ever have one of those days when you have a great plan to do a project?? Well I had one today! What started out as a clean up the yard for mowing and edging and general curb appeal turned into a full blown tear down the old chicken coop. Now apparently when I built the thing I was planning on housing something larger than chickens because regular wire cutters weren’t working and had to break out the bolt cutters, which worked great except when I needed tin snips to cut the wire from wood so another trip to the tool shed! Now this particular coop hadn’t been used in several years, so yes, trees have grown up through the wire! So back to the tool shop for pruners and started in on removing said trees! But wait! Some of the trees were just a tad large to cut with pruners so another trek to the tool shed for the loping shears. This worked for some time until low and behold a tree 3” was holding up progress so another trip to the tool shed for the bow saw! Now one would think that a simple task of removing old wire wouldn’t take 6 tools! You’re right it takes more! The wire was attached to the building and secured with a piece of 1x4 which, oh by the way, was screwed to the building. I couldn’t pull it off without breaking the wood so another trip to the tool shed to get the drill/screwdriver. Like I said earlier I don’t have any idea why I built this thing so secure but I did! The removing of the screws took on a task of their own, the first two came out no problem when I got to the next of course the battery died on the drill!!! Thank God the tool manufacturers provide two batteries for their cordless tools if they didn’t I’d be in trouble. New battery in hand its back to the work site, things move along fairly smooth now that I have all the tools for each issue that comes up. Towards the end of the wire run things change, I realize I should have been wearing leather gloves during this whole endeavor the last part of the wire I swear was secured with railroad spikes! I was unable to pull without cutting my hands so another trip to the tool shed for leather gloves! 3 hours later the old wire is now torn out, trees cut and put in burn pile, three trips to take all the tools back to the tool shed and I finally get to start on the project I had originally planned for today weed eating and curb appeal.
So why is it when we plan on doing something, it always seems to turn into more??
I wanted to start a blog, this may be a daily, weekly or monthly endeavour i hope you enjoy.
I don’t think I’m the only one who has to perform daily balancing acts in order to get everything accomplished! When you live on a farm it becomes even more challenging, this year not being an exception. I’ll give you a brief background, I have 11 horses, 2 trained Dressage horses, 1 green broke Dressage horse, 1 un broke Dressage horse, 1 good as gold horse/pony, 1 TB OTT Gelding 1 OTT Mare both able to be ridden (with the intent of retraining) 1 TB Colt/Horse, 1 Rescue Mare, her foal (now 5), her first born now 7 and blind. A blind & deaf cow, several cats, chickens, turkeys and pea fowl. Now the fun begins! Because the majority of the horses are mares, I needed to house the stud colt away from them, which I might add wasn’t a huge problem, I have several cross fences, it’s just that some of the fencing needed to be reinforced. It begins! One must gather all tools to run new fence. Fence of course, tightener, staples, hammer, saw, etc. problem one, chainsaw won’t start! Now I must use a hand saw to cut through 3-5” trees/branches which by the way with Hedge it is not much fun. Tearing out the old fence, which has been grown through by wild rose, weeds, saplings and anything else one can imagine can grow through fencing, this also is not much fun and takes the majority of the day. But was accomplished with minimal scrapes and cuts. this isn't a one time job but an ongoing one, i have started working electric fencing into the mix.
Which brings me back to my title..When you work full time and have a full time farm...how do you acheive the perfect balance??