Putting in water

If you want to put cows on land, you need water. Simple enough.

Except it’s not. You would not believe the amount of work we’re doing to get the ranch property ready.

To provide water on the ranch, our setup has five parts: well, pump, solar, tank, troughs. But I want to do this once and never do it again. We already have four wells dug and well heads installed.

These polyurethane tanks hold 2,600 gallons of water and weigh 4,200 pounds.


To prep the site, we leveled the earth, put in gravel then tamp it down, then 3 inches of soft sand. Brought in a crane to set it in place. By trial and error, we found out that our skid steer can only push up to 3,500 lbs, so it can’t move the tank. Then we concreted all the way around it. Except that the six concrete companies we called won’t deliver here, so we had to do that all by hand.


Basically, I’m creating my own power company four times. The solar will provide electricity to pump water into the tanks. From there, the water is gravity-fed into troughs. Then everything needs to be concreted into place, also by hand. We’ve just finished the first one, and our goal is to finish one weekly.

The good thing about this project is Robert Golden. We met him when we first moved here four years ago. He’s a smart guy and does meticulous work. When we asked the well guys to recommend someone for the next phase, they suggested Robert. He’s setting up the solar, and connecting the pump and plumbing. It’s great to work with him again.


To get in and out, we’ve needed to improve the few existing roads and make new tracks. In one area, we’ve got a small stream where I wanted to create a ford. Thankfully, our neighbor planted kiwi trees last year, and had to remove tons of river rocks to prep the fields. With his permission, we took six loads of 40-50 tons rock out of his field. He was thrilled and so were we! Now they’re placed so we can cross the stream while still allowing it to flow.

We also had an adventure getting culverts to the ranch. At the place where we bought them, they were able to stack all six on the trailer. The problem was that the load was 14’6″ high. The whole way back I was afraid of taking out all the stoplights and barely made it under the freeway overpass. When when we got to the farm, I accidentally took out a branch. Figuring luck might run out, we unloaded when I saw a low-hanging wire.

The timeline for getting the water set up is a little longer than I hoped, but we’re working hard and making progress. Soon our cows will have cool mountain air for the summer!