Pipe Dreams: Part Two
Graham R. Cooper
Getting a pipe in the ground so that the billy goat and his companion can have water on tap is fifty percent pipe dream: a hundred metres buried at a spade’s depth and another hundred metres to go till we’re there.
I bought the pipe from Wrightson’s farm supply store in our local town of Fairlie: 15mm black alkathene pipe for use on farm (unless your place has very high water pressure). I’ll use a T-shaped connector to link it to another 15mm line I put in years ago to a tap at the top of the vegetable garden.
I’m going through really small paddocks. As I said last week (https://grahamrcooper.com/2021/05/31/pipe-dreams-part-one/ ), I’m confronted by so many fence, tree and driveway obstacles that I decided a tractor with a pipe-laying mole plough attachment would be a waste of money.
So I dig, spear and chop, and June excavates, lays the pipe and refills the channel. The worst section runs for some distance sandwiched between the drive and a single row poplar shelterbelt: beneath a skim of turf it’s all stone, rock, and tree roots.
Hard going too, was the wide, compacted farm track, quite a length to traverse because the groove takes a forty-five degree angle across it.
My crowbar’s about as big as it gets and I need it – every step of the way to loosen a rock or two that the spade can’t budge.
The spear end does the penetrating, the prising – size, and the operator’s brute force, matter when you get to sections that are all stone and rock. When it’s like that, the spade’s good for flicking off the turf, but not much else.
Loosened to a spade’s depth by the crowbar, and roots of a centimetre across or more severed with the axe, June can then come along and scoop out the rubble with a small spade and trowel, slashing smaller roots as she goes.
We’ve got through all that, with close to a hundred metres buried. Then there’s the same again we’ve got to bury in the goat paddocks. More soil than stone from now on, and for the most part I can go to a spade’s depth with a spade!
By spade’s depth I mean 30 cm. Permafrosts can bite deep, but we’re okay at a foot below ground round here.
I’ve got a dilemma though. What do I do about a large silver birch’s four major anchoring roots that straddle the channel? Sever them with a saw and the trees lost its nor’west gale- facing buttresses, and countless small feeder roots; slide the bare pipe under them and I’d be worried that an increase in girth might constrict the pipe.
I’ve decided the best solution would be to use four galvanised pipe collars, one below each root. I’ve got a chunky length in the shed but I’m not game to cut it with my one and only, and most importantly, blunt, hacksaw blade. This is heavy duty galvanised, not your bog standard old galv. water pipe, and hellish to cut.
Good – that’s another job I can put off – won’t be going to Timaru for blades and much else besides for at least another two weeks. Harder to find excuses for not finishing the rest of the line.
I’ve got two extra taps to connect along the way. The T-shaped connectors, pipe extensions, pipe to tap adaptors, and taps are all on hand. So in the meantime, could do that.
That’ll mean no more garden hose hassles getting water to the cows when they’re in ‘the winding road’ paddock (otherwise known as the driveway!), or ‘the feedout’ paddock (otherwise known as the top of the drive!).
Yep, must get “A into G”. June’s got another “goat job” in the pipeline, so to speak. Then that’ll be it on the goat front for a while. Much more and it would start to “get on my goat”.
Will let you know when the pipe dream’s become a reality. Could be a while yet!
That’s all on modern-day homesteading at Little Owl Gully till next Monday. Thanks for your company. Bye for now.