The Water Gap (noun)
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.