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Monday, June 27, 2011

Anybody else need a drink?

Of water that is.  With all the rain we're getting water is becoming a problem.  Now, I don't want to sound like I'm complaining because my minor soaking pales in comparison to what they're experiencing in western IA, SD and, soon, MO.  While I do have water streaming through my basement foundation it's running straight to a drain and heading right back out of the basement.  That could be much worse. 

Instead, my problem is with walking around the corrals in ankle deep mud.  I have a cow that got some twine caught in her hoof.  We got it all out, (I'm hoping), but she's still limping. My concern is that it's not going to heal as long as that space is compacted with wet, oozing mud and other yuk.  Unfortunately I have no place to put her to allow the foot to dry out.

I'm also hoping to attach a video that I made with my phone (still trying to figure out this blog thing).  The sound quality is very poor so you'll need to turn up the volume.  I was trying to narrate about the pump while the pump was running.  The gist of this video is that the ground is so saturated my wells are over filling.  This particular well is next to my barn and used for livestock watering.  It's about three feed across, 25 ft. deep and lined with limestone walls.  The pump sits at the top of the well attached to a pressure pump.  The equipment is in a well pit which theoretically keeps it warm enough in the winter to keep it from freezing.  That theory collapsed this past winter when it froze and my pump cracked.   They're not cheap to replace so I had a welder friend of mine try and weld it and it worked.  That cost $75 instead of $400 for the new pump.  I also now know how to remove and reinstall a pump that I've previously paid a plumber to do.

It's not real clear in the video but the water is actually covering the bottom of the pressure tank.  The water is usually 2-6 feet below the pressure tank.  The danger is that the well level could increase to the point that the unit floats up until it hits the top of the well head.  Then the water moves up and covers the pump and electrical connections and shorts out the whole unit.  That could ruin the pump, but at a minimum I have to deal with no water and get everything flowing again.  In order to avoid this problem we attach a hose and run the pump for 20-30 minutes and run the water on the ground away from the well so it doesn't just seep back into the ground and into the well again.  It's a pain but a lot better problem than when the wells run dry.

I've also explored more of my 15 acre hay field that I recently planted and referred to in a prior post.  I found some slopes where a lot of seed washed away.  You can see where it accumulated and sprouted further down the slope.  I'm going to have to do some interseeding and patchwork but I think I'll wait until the oats are harvested.

I also had another conversation with a soil consultant last Friday.  This is the third person I've talked to about recommendations for my fields.  Some overlap in ideas but also some very different ideas on what and what not to do.  This guy disagrees with some of what I've done this far.  He also has some recommendations that make sense but will be very expensive.  For now, the consensus is that I'm deficient in phosphorous and sulfur.  I've addressed the phosphorous issue in part but it's a short term fix.  I still need to deal with the sulfur, which I've learned is critical in releasing nutrients for use by the plants and also in helping to manage broad leaf weeds. 

I need to do a little more rearch but I'm leaning towards applying 100#/acre of ammonium sulfate.  I know that's a chemical and my organic friends are cringing.  But, I really need to boost my sulfur content and this is the most affordable way to address the issue.  With my 2011 budget for soil amendments almost fully expended I need to do what needs to be done and try and do better in 2012.  Hopefully I can pay for an even better soil amendment program next year with the increased yields in hay that I'm supposed to be getting.

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