Sunday, May 18, 2008

A quick lesson on Pipes

This past week has been one of those "Every night is Friday, and every morning is a Monday" weeks. Yup, ask me what day it is on Tuesday morning and I will mumble "Monday." Ask me Tuesday night and I will say "Friday." You see, pipes need to be done everyday, there's no "time off"... ever. But I see a tiny light of hope on the horizon, my nephew Mikey will be here soon! Yay! I feel a bit embarrassed when I stop and think that my MIL is 68 years old and has been working alongside me all week, how the frig' that woman keeps up this pace is beyond me. Mind you she did tell me she was in bed by 8:30 the other night and hasn't cooked a supper all week, I'm afraid I don't have that luxury with two kids in the house.

I guess when I talk of "pipes" I just assume (my bad) that people know what I'm talking about. Dawn from over at Colours of Dawn commented that she didn't know what pipes were so here's a quick post on them.

Pipes are what keeps the fields green and the hay growing. Everyday starting in April and going through until September/Octoberish, rain or shine, the pipes have to be moved. When you finish with one field you grab the hay wagon, load up and start over, or more than likely move to another field.

Grandma & Dorothy on the Graveyard Field, and yes there really are dead people buried here. In this picture Grandma is the "liner upper," that's usually my job but I came walking up a tad late. Grandma will tell Dorothy to move forward or back so as to keep in line with a marker placed at the end of the field, more on that later.

The other day after finishing the Graveyard we headed to the Triangle. A calf had escaped and was standing beside the cattle guard. It was still there when we came out so we chased it back into the field and told Pops about it.

This is a hydrant and a valve. You undo it and move along the mainline, sometimes you come directly off such as in the picture, and other times we attach a swinger pipe. A swinger will go directly left or right and then have an elbow attached.

Down from the hydrant you can see the line of pipes we've just moved.

Another view of the Triangle Field. The lush field to the right in the picture is the Gully Field.

Currently these are our markers, they're not fancy but they do the trick. When standing with the pipes and heading down the line we aim for the marker to keep the line straight. You also need markers to make sure your pipes are approximately 25 steps apart (well that's "my" steps anyway). You don't want to miss a spot on the field and the markers help keep track of how far over you're going. I've seen milk jugs, Tide containers, insulation wrappers, pretty much anything that will last the season, so now when you drive by a farmer's field and see a bunch of odd things attached to their fences, you'll know what they're there for.

While we were in Black's Field Pops came in and was doing "smearing."

It's a bunch of tires attached with chains to the tractor and it breaks up the manure left behind by the cows.

Then it was off to the Horn Field. Believe me when I tell you it took me about three years to remember just what field was what and where. Someone would tell me to head over to the "Hump" or the "14" and I'd be totally lost! They'd get that "deer in the headlight duh look," but I'm better now ;)

Grandma and Dorothy, the rest of the crew that day.. Dallas didn't make it out until the next morning.

When it started to sprinkle Jevan had had enough and headed for the car. All week he has had a "ziploc" breakfast, usually anything from cereal or apple slices, to a peanut butter sandwich, depending on how fast we have to get out to the car.

The Barn Field at last... it was the last field we had to deal with that day and you can see the swinger pipe attached. Ahh there's nothing like bending down to crank open the valve and the smell of fresh manure to finish off the job...

Looking over to the Pasture, and just on the top of the hill is the Graveyard.


Anonymous said...


I don't envy your life from April to October especially with Johnny away....Do you get a break soon???.....Pat

jackie said...

I guess that pipes are the price that you have to pay for those views. No pipes in our fields. There is a lot of ground water with the river only a few yards away. The price that we pay is flooding.

Mikey said...

Ahhh, the things they don't tell you about! Ranching is always so romanticized, if people only KNEW!! lol
Great pics, it's so pretty there!!!!

dawn said...

Thanks for the wonderful tutorial in photos and words. Funny how the farm gets named, and not only the nooks and crannies, but the items used and the animals. I don't envy that job. I ties you down as much as a milk cow.

DaviMack said...

Once again, thank you for the insights into what it's like to be out there. Wonderful pictures!

Anonymous said...

A whole lot of hard work and family togetherness. :)

ByJane said...

when I linked to this, I thought you were giving instructions on how to use Yahoo's Pipes...and I kept reading and looking and reading and looking and waiting for you to get to the point. D'oh.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Kansas! You amaze me! I could never do what you do...but I LOVE reading about what it is like to live on your ranch! Thank you for sharing (even though you could have used the time to go take a nap...or something...) =)


Autumn said...

Looks like everyone is working hard!
I love the pictures.