Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Doing the farm thing: cleaning a trough

Until now I've avoided the "today I did..." sort of post, basically because I often get to the end of a day here and wonder what the hell I actually did do. A bit of this, a bit of that, it never seems to add up to anything, and consequently seems unimportant. But. I've decided to give more attention to what I'm doing, and you, dear reader, will have to bear the brunt of this Attack of the Ordinaries or else flee now and again.

One of today's tasks was to clean a cattle trough (pronounced "troff", if you're not familiar with them). This paddock has been free of cows for maybe a month or so, and, without new water being added as they drink out the old, the trough was getting pretty gruesome:

That's algae you can see on the surface, I think, and I also think its growth is enhanced by the way the sun heats the water every day. Cattle will drink water that looks as urkky as the pic above, and will even choose it over clean water sometimes (one paddock here has two troughs, one of which has only a disgusting mess in the bottom of it, and cows still drink from it) but I'm pretty sure it can't be healthy.

There's a new herd in this paddock now, and a few cows wandered over to see what was happening:

They're mostly quite docile animals, though you shouldn't take this for granted. Cows with young calves can be aggressive if you go near their offspring; one chased the dogs this afternoon, though she stopped when I yelled at her.

Most troughs have an outlet drain, but this one doesn't (God only knows why not) so it was a case of bailing all the water out with a bucket. Yes, that's my hand again - I couldn't stop it jumping into the shot.

The Project Manager claimed to be keeping eye on proceedings (though I'm not convinced it was necessary):

No need to worry about grass at the moment, as you can see.
Water is a different story, though. The trough started to refill about 1pm:

but the water stopped a short time later. It has to be brought up by pump from underground (an aquifer) and by the sounds of the pump, there might not be much water left down there. Supply was fitful at best all afternoon, and Dad the Farmer finally decided to switch the line across to a bore on the other side of the property. By 7pm the trough was about half full, and - fingers crossed - by morning it will be overflowing (joking... I hope)


The next morning:

That round black float is supposed to cut off the supply when the water reaches the required height. The problem is that over the years the trough has settled into a crooked position - one side is lower than the other - and the post to which the float is attached wanders about from side to side, pushed by malicious cows who are desperate to antagonise me and waste water...

Wandering along the edge of the trough was this beetle, who at first just dipped its head into the water every few steps:

...but then either jumped or fell in. If it screamed I missed it, but it wasn’t a great swimmer so I did the hero thing and scooped it out:

We call these Christmas beetles, which is the time of year you normally see them (we’re complicated people, yes). They normally appear at night and congregate near lights, so I suspect this one had been disoriented by the moon or sunlight reflected in the water.