THis entry will serve two-fold; one as a page in the handbook i’m assembling about my little Tannachton Farm – not the day to day stuff, but the month to month stuff that happens each year, and secondly to address the questions received about the details about the solar pump used on my farm. It’s been 5 years now in use and i guess the gremlins are chased out because it is working great this year – i do hope i didn’t just jinx it!
All of the pipe and tanks on the solar system are laid out on top the ground; not buried 4 feet. Why? When i applied for and received an EQIP organic transition NRCS government aid that was/is the protocol.
Water tanks: 10 galvanised tanks purchased from Hastings Equity Manufacturing in Nebraska. I needed high volume tanks because of the number of animals i would be watering and i like a low profile because not only did i plan sheep at the time, but i also want my baby calves to drink – and they do. A 2-3 foot tall tank will not allow a calf to drink for many months (because it’s not always full). So, i went with a Hastings sheep water tank that is 8 foot diameter, one foot tall and is lightweight enough for me to move around by myself plus it holds 342 gallons of water! Well, realistically 300, but that’s still a good amount of storage. I have 10 of these tanks in use with no problems so far in 5 years.
The technical stuff: It’s a Dankoff Solar pump. Pumping through 4500 feet of HDPE pipe which are connected with Philmac fittings. The pump house was built by MSF Farm Mike and Jeff Fries, Linneus MO. They also assembled all the pump and installed it inside the house and attached and wired the solar panel to the top of the house to make a seamless, easy to use and move system. To install all the workings, they also dug out to my pond drain pipe and tied into the pond and set up the shut off valves for that as well. It was a big job. As an aside, they also installed the solar panel on a tall pole for my electric fence.
Initially, there was one battery installed, but that is absolutely not enough. I’m using two now and that is fine unless there is a long period of no light. With two batteries, the pump will continue for a theoretical 90 minutes before the batteries are drained. Once the batteries are drained, they will NOT recharge and allow the system to start again once the sun starts shining. They must be at least a little charged before the solar panel will charge them again. This is a protection of the system so that the pump won’t keep trying to kick on every time there is a hint of sunshine. In my opinion, there should be a way to keep the battery from completely draining, then a meter that only allow the pump to start again when the batteries are fully charged. So, what happens when the batteries are completely drained? I have to undo the connections and load them into my Gator and haul them home to a charger, charge them overnight, then take them back and hook back up. Perhaps not a big deal to most, but those batteries weigh at least 50 lbs each.
However, this year, once i got it all going, i’ve had no shut down now for over a month. Very happy.
Elevation: the solar pump, panel, pressure tank, and housing are all located below the pond at about 817 feet above sea level. There seems to be little loss of pressure to the furthest point of 3480 feet undulating between 817 and 874.
My system is all fair weather and above ground. This means that i wait until there is no freezing in the forecast before firing it up.
replace plugs in tanks
replace plug in water filter
Install batteries and connections
Wash off solar panel
Remove any wasp nests from inside enclosure
Make sure ground wire is in place
Turn on water at pond to make sure good flow, then turn off.
Connect pipe to pond outlet and flush, then connect to inlet valve
Turn on pond water, water will come out outflow valve – you will get wet
Connect outgoing pipe to outflow valve
If there are no leaks in the system, at this point just keep moving down the line as water flushes out the pipe and reconnect at each connection. It is important to flush the lines because i can guarantee there will be some mud and mice which have built homes in the line over the winter.
Finally, flushing out the end of the line before connecting to tank float assembly. Connect and allow tank to fill.
Just about guarantee that the tank will not be level, so you will have to watch it fill and make any float adjustments. If it cannot be kept from leaking over the side, shut off water valve at the tank. Either drain the tank (oh yeah, be sure to put the plug in the tank before filling) via tank plug or leaving it for the cattle to drink down. Use a 2×4 or some such to level the tank.
If the solar supply cannot be checked everyday, always let the cattle have access to a gravity fed water supply below a pond or to the ditch if there is water running there. When the weather gets hot, the cattle cannot be allowed to be without water. If this does happen, let them into a pond lot so they can all drink at once. Be vigilant and thoughtful as to water supply.
Fall shut down and drain: BEFORE freezing weather arrives
Unplug the pump, shut off solar panel access, place arm in ‘off’ position
Shut off water from pond
Remove pipe from shut off valve
Using channel lock pliers or some such, remove large nut from the bottom of the water filter
At this point, walk outside the gated enclosure, then to the north and find the connection. Remove it using two channel lock pliers. You will get wet, but once detached, quickly pull the pipe towards the ditch to the east. Water from all the pipe will come rushing out!
While that is happening, go back to the pump and remove outflow and inflow pipes from fittings. Making sure there is no freeze points. Remove plugs from tanks as indicated and make sure they drain.
Remove connections from batteries and take the batteries home to a warm place. Don’t allow a discharged battery to freeze. They can discharge in the winter without you knowing.
All the above photos are the insides and working parts – MSF Farm will put this all together for you based on your own situation.
Now that I’m done writing up this entry, my system is down. 😦 It seems calves hit the fence near a tank which allowed them to bump the float and the water was overflowing which caused the batteries to be drawn down – yup, i’ve got them in the back of the Gator, brought home, and now charging.
Boy, howdy, now there’s an exciting title and one to really pull in a reader eager to learn about such a thing. Well, not, of course, but to cattle farmers and ranchers across a great portion of the United States, it’s a reality that sucks an estimated $1 billion out of our collective pockets EACH year!
in 1943 Kentucky 31 variety of fescue was commercially introduced and sold, it seemed at first a godsend to sod forming, persistence, deep rootedness (soil conservation), and production for cattle and other livestock producers. In the late 1970’s, scientists at last identified that fescue hosts a fungus that can produce toxic compounds called ergovaline. However, it is important to note, that reports of toxic effects of grazing infected fescue have been around at least since the early 1900’s. Why didn’t the light bulb go off that there is a problem that needs addressing BEFORE scattering it all over the US!? The only answer that seems reasonable is that establishment of the grass is cheap and easy and the resultant health concerns in stock are a silent drain.
Whatever the case may be, I’m now on a mission to eradicate to a degree as much as possible toxic fescue from my pastures. In so doing, cattle health and numbers should increase, calf gains and cow milking ability should increase as well as reproduction improvements. Additionally, soil health and tilth should improve, thereby increasing its moisture capturing and holding capacity (resulting in less runoff and erosion). Lastly, but certainly not least, ridding the pastures of tall fescue will greatly improve wildlife habitat – especially ground nesting species such as quail.
The fruits of this project will likely be for the next generation and i ask myself if it is really worth the expense and effort to make a bold move in such uncertain times of low cattle prices. Time will tell, i guess.
I think I’ll put these entries in a separate category so my reports and progress can be easily accessed. I’m no Pioneer Woman like Dee, (ya gotta admire the outreach she has done with her whit and way with words), but if you have an interest in organic, no chemical, minimal tillage farming, pasture renovation, cattle rearing for producing clean healthy food while improving (regenerating is the popular term) our environment, come alongside and join the conversation. I will enjoy any questions.
Friday morning the plan was to fence off a portion of Cord Drive to let the cows in to graze the road banks. Worked perfectly, except the cows had already had their brekkies, i guess ,and were really not interested in grazing! Next time, i’ll put them on short pasture the night before, then they’ll be eager beavers.
Corriente Cattle Corrientes are raised primarily for sports cattle, while preserving such natural attributes as high fertility, early maturity, trouble-free calving, and foraging efficiency, as well as disease and parasite resistance. This unique breed differs greatly in conformation, behavior and hardiness from cattle raised only for meat. Most of the production problems experienced by today’s cattlemen are a result of increasing size and weight in order to fit the current commodity market. Corrientes remain untainted by the manipulative animal husbandry which has affected and weakened many domestic animals.
The Corriente is a small, agile, athletic animal with stamina, heavy horns, and a gentle disposition. These characteristics make the Corriente an ideal animal for team roping, bulldogging and an excellent choice for cutting and team penning.
Corriente and Longhorn cows form the basis for grazing in the green hills of north central Missouri. Raised totally on grass with no added inputs other than salt and mineral, the Red Angus cross calves are developed for finishing on grass alone. Postings to this blog will include personal experiences – both good and bad – with faith, family, and farming. The hope is to share what we learn, challenge, and encourage others in all areas of life. Bear with me as I negotiate the learning curve of setting up a blog.