Monday, August 1, 2011

Dozer Work

You may have noticed a lack of cattle related posts in recent weeks. That's because our cattle are busy eating, drinking, growing (the calves) and dealing with the summer heat. We aren't working, moving, hauling or doing a whole lot of anything else with them in the summer months. During this time of year we keep ourselves busy with other tasks, which are designed to improve our ranch for our livestock.

One of these tasks is referred to at our place as, "dozer work." This includes such tasks as putting in new water tanks, repairing old water tanks, moving dirt to prevent washouts, blading trails for new fencelines, and repairing pipelines.

We have around 15 miles of underground PVC pipe on our ranch. This pipe is used to transport water to all our water tanks (we have around 30), from water wells. We strategically place our tanks in areas where they will be add the most benefit to our cattle and grass. A general rule with livestock is you should never make a cow walk more than one mile to water. We try to follow this idea, and also put water tanks in additional areas to encourage cattle to graze there. Cattle tend to graze hardest in areas nearest a water source, and in our semi-arid part of the world, we can control our grazing by turning water tanks on and off, and consequently moving cattle from area of a pasture to the next. Wildlife also utilize these tanks.

Water is a huge deal in Eastern Wyoming, and we don't like to haul it, and run the risk of running out on a hot day, so we installed all the pipe to ensure a continual water source for our livestock, no matter how hot and dry, or cold, it gets.

Here is one such dozer project. My dad and brother put a 1,500 gallon (which is small in ranch/livestock terms) above-ground water storage tank in this location. They did this because on down this line is a tank, and the well pumps water into it at a rate of five gallons a minute. This isn't enough water to keep up with a bunch of thirsty cows or calves.

The storage tank will fix this issue.

It will work like this: when the water tank down the line is full, water will flow on by and fill the storage tank. Then, when all the livestock come and drink a large volume of water out of the tank in a short period of time, water from the storage tank will gravity-flow back down the line at a rate of 30 gallons a minute, keeping the tank full, and ensuring every thirsty creature gets a drink. When everything is done drinking, and the tank is full again, the well will pump more water up the line and re-fill the storage tank.

I stopped by to briefly help with this project, and grab some pictures. Here is my brother sawing a piece of pipe to length. He uses different angled, end, valve and other pieces to maneuver the straight pieces of pipe the direction he needs it to go.

Each piece is cleaned, then glued together. If you don't clean each piece well, the glue may not adhere to the surface, and it will leak. When you're talking about a pipeline that's five feet underground, you don't want to dig it up and redo it any more than is absolutely necessary. Pictured above is the jar of pipe cleaner he used.

He thoroughly cleans each piece he is gluing together with the solution.

See the difference cleaning it makes?

Then he cleans the cap he glued to the top of each pipe, which were plumbed into the storage tank later. He temporarily glued these caps on so they could pressure up the line and make sure nothing was leaking before they filled the hole you see in the first picture. Like I said, it's hard to fix a leak that's five feet underground.

Here's the glue he used.

First you have to get the lid off - it's a can of glue, it seals up, and you don't want to run the risk of it leaking all over, so the lid is securely replaced after each use. You apply the glue to both pieces immediately after cleaning - you don't want dust to get it dirty again.

You need to be fast and efficient at this point, so your glue doesn't set up before you shove the pieces together. You also don't want any dust or other matter to get on the glue and potentally prevent it from adhering.

He securely holds each piece in place for several seconds.

Then cleans off the excess glue.

Here it is, all ready to be pressured up and tested.

Kyle gathers up the dozer, and heads to the next job, which was a washed out side hill where another pipeline is located. Without the five feet of dirt over it, these lines would freeze in the winter months, so it was important to get it covered back up this summer.

Since I took these pictures, they pressure tested the line for a couple days, installed the tank and filled the hole back up.

Now all our livestock, and any resident wildlife, will have a sufficient water at any time at the tank located down the line from this location.

Ranchers all over the west are busy this summer, on similar projects that will benefit their livestock year-round.

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