Monday, November 29, 2010

Sub-zero H20

The other half of feeding livestock in the winter where I'm from is making sure they have access to water. This often involves chopping ice. There are certainly places that get much colder than eastern Wyoming, but we still do our share of this chore during the winter months.

This isn't an uncommon site this time of year. These tire tanks are popular where I'm from, and are a great form of recycling as they are made from worn out tires that can't be used on tractors and machinery anymore. The center cement ring is where the float is, and it rarely freezes in this tank. There's enough additional insulation for it to keep above freezing for most of the winter.

Sometimes the ice isn't very thick, especially on this tank because all our calves drink out of it. Having more livestock drinking out of a tank results in more water flowing into it, and it doesn't freeze as fast as a result of that. We also have overflows on a lot of our tanks, and will adjust the floats so they continually overflow just a little, which also results in more water flowing through the system, and less freezing.

But other tanks don't have as many head drinking out of them, or don't have an overflow, or both. This tank doesn't have a covered cement center ring, and you have to chop around the float most days.

After making sure the float is free, we chop a hole for the cattle to drink out of.

Then grab out shovel and scoop out the chunks of ice. We throw them away from the tank so ice doesn't build up around it and cause our cattle to slip and hurt themselves.
We check every tank we have livestock drinking out every day, and if it's frozen we go through this process to make sure all our livestock get a drink. It's just another aspect of ranching in the winter.

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