2006 Irrigation Project
Part of our soil is loose and the ditch-witch sliced
right through it. But on the South hill we hit major
rock, and we had to bring in the "big guns." Even the
mini-excavator had trouble with some
basketball-sized boulders. And 18"-24" below it all
was the dreaded "caliche"--hard pan.
|The hillside in the distance hadn't seen any significant
water for the four years we were here: the gravity flow
gated pipes just couldn't get the irrigation that far. The
line at the far right hadn't been hooked into the grid yet.
That section was re-seeded in 2007, and stayed green
all summer--a first!
In the late 1800's, the early ranchers
realized the need for irrigation in the arid
"shrub-steppe" environment, and had the
foresight to construct hundreds of miles
of irrigation ditches, fed by the Yakima
River as it flows out of the Cascade
(and one great-gramma)
We started out with 13 acres,
a [very!] little house, and
1000 feet of old, rusty, loose
barbed wire fencing. First
priority: safe fencing! Electric
would have to do to start.
[north pasture, looking west
towards the house]
An inheritance from Allan's grandfather was
enough to have a contractor erect the poles and
roof of the first section of the barn before our first
winter. We added the lower back wall, added
tarps above that, and parked the trailer at one
end and stacked hay at the other end to create a
three-sided shelter for our four-horse herd.
Looking north towards the Kittitas valley from the south
end of the property; Mt. Stuart range in the far distance.
We are blessed with wonderful ranching
neighbors. Since I am in the education
field, I am able to drive this baler for Henry
during haying season. In exchange, he fills
my barn with high quality timothy hay!
Late winter in the next-door cattle pasture:
Henry brings his cow-calf pairs here once the
calves are strong enough, after being calved at
the shelters in his feed lot. It always seems like
an early spring daffodil to see this new life!
Although neighbor Henry would help us with farm equipment when needed, we
finally were able to splurge on this New Holland workhorse, complete with
mower, loader, back blade, blanket harrow and, eventually, a manure spreader
(for Christmas!). We can mow in the summer, plow in the winter, drag the fields
and the "almost-an-arena, and have created some wonderful compost for the
pastures. Next: our own post-hole-digger!
[The mis-spelling of Allan's name is a
long-standing joke with his sister-in-law!]