Today I taught a weaving class and was telling the participants that after they left I needed to go out to the pasture and set up tarps and weed-eat the ditches. I talk about irrigating but most people don’t know what that entails so I took a few photos while I was out there.
This is the standpipe at the northwest corner of the property. I call to place a water order (foot and a half for a certain time—usually 24-32 hours). When the SID (Solano Irrigation District) guy (Fernando or Chris depending on the week) gives me the water he opens a valve somewhere up the line and I need to go take some photos of that. The water flows down this ditch that is west of our property and through that gate—see the red handle that opens a gate or valve? The water goes through that gate in the square cement structure and through a pipe under the fence.
The pipe connects to this vertical pipe that comes up in our standpipe and the water flows out that hole to the left.
This is a photo of medusahead—not something you usually see in irrigated pasture. The standpipe is just to the right of this patch—this is part that hasn’t been getting any water and I was dismayed to see that the medushead patch was larger than before. I was actually out there with a feed sack pulling patches of that and stuffing it into the sack. Probably not a practical solution—but I don’t have another right now.
Here is what Wikipedia says about Medusahead: Medusahead is a winter annual…Since its roots develop early and reach deep in the soil, it out competes native plants for moisture. It flowers in early spring, and by June or July its seeds, which are covered with tiny barbs, are mature. The barbs help the seeds attach to livestock, humans or vehicles that pass by. As the grass grows it accumulates silica, making it unpalatable to livestock except for early in its life cycle. It creates a dense layer of litter, and because of the silica content, the litter decomposes more slowly than that of other plants. This litter suppresses native plant growth while encouraging the germination f its own seed, and after a few years it creates an enormous load of dry fuel that can lead to wildfires.
I did a pretty good job of getting rid of a patch in another part of the pasture but I’m seeing it in other places now. One reason I like to remove it instead of just weed-eating it is what they say about that layer full of silica.
But this post is about irrigation…
This is the view east from the standpipe. This ditch isn’t too bad and didn’t need much cleaning up.
I actually don’t want to weed-eat those birdsfoot trefoil plants. Besides being pretty they are great sheep food.
I did what I needed to in that northwest pasture and then went into the pasture that is the south half of the property. This is a view looking east. I can’t believe how thick the clover is this year—those late rains were really good for that. But this ditch is choked with plants. Just as during the winter rains people need to keep culverts and ditches clear so rain water will flow, these ditches need to be clear to expect water to flow. Not only do I need to have the water flowing easily to get it into the pasture , but I also need it to flow out when we are finished so that we can minimize mosquito development.
This is looking the other way after I have used the weed eater. You can see the same white fence on the right side of this photo.
This is the tarp that is supposed to hold the water back so that it will back up enough and get high enough to flow out the cut-outs that are along the main ditch and flow into the field. I have two tarps because it seems that one never holds well enough. The other is farther down the ditch and around the corner.
The sheep were still out in the pasture while I was finishing up. Look at how thick the clover and rye grass is on the left side of this fence. They have been on the other side for 3 days.
Here is a view of that fence facing the other direction.
As I finished the sheep headed to the barn.