My farm in south Missouri has been recently split into two offerings to hopefully generate interest by people with different interests.
This link is to Whitetail Properties who is representing and showing the property. This piece is 30+/- acres fenced pastures with two ponds, nice shade/timber, beautiful updated earth contact home, detached garage and one bedroom apartment. Huge barn out back, horse arena, and round pen. Horse property with home near Springfield, MO.
The other piece is 173 +/- acres just across a lightly used paved road and also includes an RV barn with electrical hookup, fenced, live water, several ponds, stunning views, mountain and mature timber with world class hunting opportunities. Currently leased for cattle pasture. Pasture/Timber
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.
My new rubber boots arrived today and none too soon. Nearly every time i wore them this past year, my feet got wet. (which was a lot because it has rain incessantly except for Sept and October so we had absolutely NO fall regrowth for winter stockpile pastures). We are getting some Scottish weather albeit a bit colder.
The old ones are probably at least 12 years old and basically leak because they have cracked and dry rotted at the ankles where they bend. LaCrosse brand has been my go-to for 30 plus years. Hopefully, these new ones will last as long, but they do seem to be slightly less quality and a bit differently shaped in the foot. Made in China – too bad. But they fit nicely, so I am encouraged that they will live up to their historical quality.
Note how much taller the new ones are – that’s only because the heel on the old ones are just worn down! They also appear wider in the leg, but that’s just because my old ones are trained to stay open to receive my foot. Cheers! tauna
We have been truly blessed to have splendid weather so far into the autumn season. This has allowed a considerable amount of extra outdoor work to be accomplished – making up for the lack of such earlier in the year due to constant rain.
However, signs of winter are moving across the country, so it’s time to get serious about it. We’ve been feeding some hay since it was nice and dry, but that seems to be past for a while, so back to grazing. Too bad for deer hunters at all the rain this firearm season.
At all places, we’ll have set up two polywires across an ungrazed paddock ready for winter stockpile grazing. With the warm weather, we’ve been able to keep the stock on paddocks with only a little regrowth, but that will soon change once the nighttime temperatures drop below freezing. It’s important, too, to not graze too short this time of year unless you are purposefully doing so to ‘set back’ the existing grass and root system.
At my south Missouri farm, Dallas, Christian, and I worked nearly all daylight hours to set out hay bales for bale grazing, clearing brush, and building hi-tensile perimeter fence.
Friday morning, however, we finished up and took some leisure time. We don’t often do that. Ziplining in the southwest Missouri Ozarks. Branson Zipline is an awesome place to go with great guides. Fun time. And, yes, even I stepped off the platform into a 100 foot freefall!
With cold weather coming, it’s time to address the livestock water tanks. Allen sat down this morning to make a list of his tanks, which he’ll either shut off and drain or some he’ll turn on the leak valve and allow the water to run through the overflow pipe. The moving water won’t freeze up. He has 74 tanks to attend to while i only have 10!
Just two days before my sons and I left for Scotland on 12 September, our area received over 10 inches of rain in about 12 hours! What a nightmare! ALL of our watergaps were washed out and in some low lying areas, fences were laying almost flat to the ground. My husband and Christian got to stay home and do all the cleanup.
With that in mind, it is time I try to keep some of the big dead logs and rotted stuff from being washed down into a massive water gap that is on the eastern edge of my farm. This ditch catches all the water from my place plus a good deal of the runoff from the row crop farmers to the north as well as runoff from Cotton Road. My southern neighbour’s property also has a good deal of runoff in this ditch, so it doesn’t take much of a rain to really get things rolling, but 10 inches in 12 hours is a mess!
Dallas and I have been working at clearing this week and since there are very few days in north Missouri that the wind lays enough to start brush fires, we coveyed up and set three today. Although it was a bit nippy and no sun, working in the shelter of the timber with no wind the temperature was about perfect.
Cold temperatures have descended on north Missouri today and forecasted to hang around for at least the next 10 days! With the ground already frozen, these continued below freezing temps made
it tough to set up the sheep electric netting fence. Thankfully, I put up netting around several large bales of hay and running water for the sheep to stay put until the weather breaks, though I may have to chop ice if we don’t get any snow. Sheep really don’t need water if there is snow available.
No longer am I trying to graze the road banks with the sheep. Moving them down the bank is like pushing water now and with the ground frozen, it’s far too difficult to install the Kencove sheep netting fence. At this point, grazing the banks in the spring after green grass starts coming on will be the next time they are pushed out. Sheep grazing the banks eliminates the need for me to mow the banks with the brush hog, but it is extra work.
Cattle are a different story in the water department. If there is plenty of heavy, wet snow, they won’t drink much, but if that’s what we have, it destroys the stockpiled winter forage for them to graze much faster than just being frozen or a light snow. However, with a light snow, they will need fresh flowing water available. Therefore, in anticipation of freezing weather, I filled the water tank and opened the leak valve so that the water will fill the tank and then continue running over the top of the overflow pipe. Flowing water will not freeze easily – especially if the cattle are drinking from it. The drawback to overflow is that the water is draining the pond from which it originates, though in Missouri, this is usually refilled easily when spring rains come.
Winter grazing with the lack of grass regrowth allows us to strip graze whatever size breaks we want to give the cattle or sheep. If I know I’ll be back up to the farm the next day, I’ll give the cows a very small break of forage so that they won’t walk all over it and ruin it before grazing. However, if it will be several days or if it’s going to be extra cold, I’ll set up a bit larger break. The breaks are fenced with one strand of Powerflex Fence electrified polybraidfence and step-in posts for easy set up and tear down. I use two lines and leap frog them across the paddocks – allowing enough quality forage to maintain a healthy condition on the animals. Strip grazing versus free access will vastly increase utilisation resulting in, on average, about 60% more grazing days! Additionally, manure is more evenly distributed across the paddock. (my paddocks average about 20 acres each). My cows and calves require about 6500 lbs of dry matter per day, so accurately estimating the amount of forage per acre is crucial, then I open up enough acres for the cows to graze however many number of days I want.