Then you’ll have to improve your water delivery system. I believe that the cheapest way to grow more grass is to harvest what you already have, that is underutilized because it’s too far to water.
Well, how far is too far? I think that if your land is in various shades of “not flat”. Let’s say from pleasant trail riding country to Chaparral covered step mountains that demand you have several good cow dogs and a backup horse when you leave the barn. That way, you’ll be pretty certain that you're going to gather all the cattle you see. Then there’s always tomorrow when you can go back and gather the rest that we’re hiding out.
For me, my rule of thumb is to have a stock pond or a watering trough every quarter mile. This allows cattle to travel a shorter distance to water, so when I think about it I have cut down on the number of cow tracks left upon the land. The number can quite easily total up into the millions on a far sized ranch traveling from water to grazing land. It also keeps the whole ranch more evenly grazed, instead of only eating the areas closest to water because cattle are not noted for being the most energetic grazers in the world. Also the fewer the water points the more all of our wildlife must congregate waiting to get a drink. This makes it easier for a hungry predator to have dinner. Wait a minute I hear somebody saying “this is going to cost a lot of money.” “Well you wait a minute you old Hidebound, Moss Back!” I believe the cost benefits that will accrue to me when I think in terms of what it would cost to go out and lease extra ground from somebody else, grass that I already have, there is no question that making my own land more livestock, wildlife and Mother Nature friendly first, is cheaper and is a better deal when viewed from any direction.
Well, are we all ready to go? The bank is onboard agreeing that this is “a remotely plausible” good idea. I believe Poly Pipe in today’s world is the best and cheapest way to distribute water to all parts of a ranch. From easy going to almost vertical a good crawler tractor will do the job. My son Greg when he is not busy contracted out to Cal Fire or the U.S. Forest Service putting out fires uses his tractor to install Poly Pipe. The picture that I have posted below will answer most of your questions.
The pipe is placed in the ground 18 inches deep out of the way of fire and ice.
A watering point whether it be a trough, pond, or a spring that runs out to form a wetland creates a habitat for not only livestock, but all the other critters in the area will start using the water too. This act of bringing water to a new location brings with it a new community of living things and for me a new responsibility. I now have a long term commitment to supply water to this new and growing community. So in good conscience I can no longer let the trough go dry just because I moved my cattle to a different pasture. I believe my responsibility becomes on going to provide water to all the new life that has taken up residence. The good that a person is doing far outweighs the effort that it takes to keep a trough full of water. Now, “drought that can’t be helped and possibly having to drive five miles to pump water is another excuse.”
The first to come are “the risk takers” knowing only that water is here where once there was none. This “quintessential place'' that we have created I believe must supply good water in perpetuity, but if that’s not a person’s intention maybe the project should be reconsidered.
Okay, it’s time to start construction. First we need to buy a U.S.Geological map of our ranch. These maps can tell a person everything they will need to know about how much poly pipe will be used, changes in elevation that you will have to deal with, especially if you’re in a mountainous country. If the route you have chosen is downhill, say 500 feet, the water pressure at your new trough will be .43 lbs/ vertical ft X 500 ft = 215 pounds pressure. That definitely warrants a good float valve. Your map can also give you an idea of the degree of difficulty for the route you have chosen. Next we need to clear the (right of way) making straight lines as long as possible is better than meandering. Now we’re ready to install our Poly Pipe. Most pipe is from 1 inch on the small side and 2 inch is on the big side, your choice. The installation of the pipe goes really fast even at one mile per hour in 8 hours that’s 8 miles of pipe in the ground. Now with the installation of each new trough or pond that we talked about earlier and is now a reality. What we’ve created, in the legal world, is called “an attractive nuisance.” like a swimming pool so we have to make it safe to use. Well, it’s time to finish the job by providing a way that any and all can get a good drink then have a reasonably good chance of living to tell about it.
I like to use rocks, because I have lots of them, to make ramps for getting in and rocks inside for a bird to land on, or a pair of lizards that scamper across the rocks, drink then quickly disappear, or the honey bees that like and old log that is hooked over the edge of the trough. The damp wood at the water's edge will give good footing for a comfortable drink. If you have no rocks I’m sure that there are other options like a piece of old rusty chain. Because predators learn of new water sources very quickly and they know that their prey will be more vulnerable, cover of some sort like placing a Juniper bush next to the trough or in the pond will raise drinkers chance of survival.
If some in the new community perceives that it is too hazardous to get a drink, then you will limit the variety of members that would like to become settlers on this new frontier. For me, I want my trough or pond to say “come one come all”, for this is a wonderful place to eat, drink and stay healthy. With that said “having done all I stand”.
Amazing what a water trough can do.
See ya, Jack