Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"Well," Here's The Answer!

When I was a kid, nobody even dreamed of a tractor that would be guided by a satellite. Satellites were something more akin to George Jetson than small town Kansas.

Our telephone was on a party line, and we answered it according to our specific ring. When we installed CB radios in our farm equipment, we were at the height of technology. (My CB handle was Song Bird.) No more trying to figure out what Dad wanted via hand signals. He could call us and tell us on the radio. A pair of pliers was in a holster on your jeans pocket, but there certainly wasn't a cell phone holder beside it.

When you think about all the changes in the past 50 years, it's amazing that one piece of technology has remained much the same. The windmill is a tool Kansas farmers/ranchers continue to rely upon. We are no exception.
The Aermotor Co. has been producing windmills since 1888.
This summer, Randy and his cousin, Don, had to do some work on a windmill in the Rattlesnake Pasture. With the second year of drought drying up the stream flow in the Big Pasture (as we call it), having a working windmill was even more important.

The guys replaced a driven water well point, which had been plugged with gravel and corrosion. They pulled that mechanism and dug a cased well. Underground water flows into the well. The pump sits below the water line. When the windmill turns in the Kansas wind, that energy runs the pump and brings the water to the surface, where the cattle can drink their fill.
Upper left: The new cased well was installed earlier this summer. Upper righthand photo: You can see how dry the grass looks in the background. Without rain, water doesn't collect in natural mudholes (or the creek), so a working windmill is vitally important. 

In the Rattlesnake Pasture, the windmill is on the south end of the 560 acres. An artesian well supplies water at the northern end. The cattle seem to be congregating more at the north end right now. Randy says his Grandpa Fritzemeier had the artesian well dug many years ago.
The artesian well is fenced off so cattle don't dislodge the pipe.
An artesian well is a pumpless water source that uses pipes to allow underground water that is under pressure to rise to the surface. This type of well seems to defy gravity because the pressure that builds up between layers of rock gets relieved when the water finds a path to the open air. The water is collected in a pond.
Since the cattle have been congregating around the artesian well, the grass is eaten down more in that area.
They also like hanging out in the shade of the trees near that pond. Who doesn't like shade on 100-degree-plus days?
While we still have water available at the Rattlesnake Pasture, the guys are hauling water to cows and calves in another pasture. 

Some rain would help green up the pastures, so we'll keep praying for rain. If we don't get rain this month, we'll likely have to move cattle home two months early. The verdict is still out about whether we'll keep our feeder calves this winter.


  1. Love this post, Kim! I'm a KSU grad and I think first met your husband thru Shari Hildebrand.

    1. Thank you, Patty! Yes, Randy and Shari grew up together. Even though I grew up a county away, I knew Shari at K-State and brought her home from Manhattan on occasion. That was even before Randy & I started dating. It's a small world! Glad you have you visit the blog and to become your FB friend!