Saturday, July 25, 2015

Irrigation ditch progress


Pump pond started.

Yesterday was backhoe day. I had the whole day planned out.  I was going to dig out the irrigation pond.  Dig out the irrigation ditch in the orchard and knock down the ditch berm so I would have access to the ditch with my tractor. Then I was going to go down below the pond and fill in the old flood irrigation channels and level out the berm.  Over the years the berms have been built up to the point they are super steep and I cannot get into the ditch with my tractor.  My goal is to flatten all the berms so I can get into the ditch and clean them out with the little tractor. 
Pond complete.  If you look at concrete you can see the water line when it is backed up.

lower ditch below irrigation pump.
I had a plan of attack and stuck with it.  I rented the backhoe locally for only $250/day.  I had the irrigation pond done in one hour!  I spent three weeks on it this spring and paid someone to help.  Never again!  Now that I have a culvert in place I can drive the little tractor to the other side and make it flat.  In the spring I will drag it down another foot and then plant grass.  My mud pile was four feet deep but so unsafe I just left it.  In a couple of weeks I will try and move it with my little tractor to fill up an old flood irrigation ditch.  The ditches are unusable now and just make the terrain rough.  I will be filling them in all over the farm whenever I can.  I drove the backhoe into the orchard to tackle the berm and ditch.  The backhoe was making short work of the berm.  I don't have as much practice with it so using the bucket to smooth out the dirt next to the ditch was not going well.  I will come back and do it with the little tractor.  I can smooth out a nice path with the little tractor and box blade, practice makes perfect.  I had just moved to the other side of the tree when I started losing moving power on the backhoe side.  I was able to move it around a couple of times before I finally just shut it down.  I stepped out and an old hydraulic hose had busted.  I managed to get three hours done before the rupture.  I went back into town to deliver the news.  The important part was done, the irrigation pond!  I also want to flatten out a spot by our propane tank for a potential lean to for the alpaca.  I won't be building it this year but probably next year. 
I fired up the little tractor and went below the pond to clean out the ditch.  I made it all the way down the ditch to the school house divider fence.  Then I drove the tractor down to the school house.  My ditch had filled up/cows had eroded the walls because I just used the box blade to make it.  Causing the ditch to be shallow and wide, which allowed the cows to erode the walls.  There is one huge swamp down there now.  I dug old dry irrigation ditch out and then went over into the swamp until I thought I would get stuck then I four wheeled the tractor through the swamp using my tractor tires as a ditch.  This actually worked!  Now I just need to hit it with a hand shovel for 30 minutes and give it a couple of weeks to dry up.  Once it is dry then I can go in and dig it down with the little tractor.  I need to get the two culverts into these fields so I can actually get equipment across the ditch.  Digging the ditch down is going to make it impossible to just drive thru the ditch so the culverts are necessary.