Subterranean Water Pipe Blues
Bob Dylan fans will tell me that I’m ripping off the title to ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’. A pipe dream to suggest that my water pipe woes have anything in common with Dylan’s 1965 song, except that just as the lyrics were difficult to bring into the light and unravel, so were my pipes. And what’s more, he’s right on the button when he sings “Look out kid, it’s somethin’ you did”.
What I did was drag a 100 metre length of 15 mm black alkathene water pipe into the Soggy Hollow paddock and an 80 metre length into the also appropriately named Soggy Bottom paddock below it. This was last October, after the cattle had grazed The Soggies before going in The Ribbonwooods and The Flaxes – paddocks that run alongside them. (See Walking the Land: Part One for an explanation of how I went about naming the paddocks.)
Depending on how far the hose needs to stretch, I’ll have either a 100 metre or a 180 metre length connected to the tap over the bath trough. When the cattle are getting their water from the bath in The Ribbonwoods paddock, I haul the hoses into The Soggies so that they don’t get trampled underfoot and damaged. (See Everything you always wanted to know about the Graham Trough Mobile, but were afraid to ask for an explanation of how I went about getting water to my cattle paddocks.)
We’ve had such phenomenal pasture growth through spring and summer, fuelled by regular rainfall, often heavy, and warm, humid conditions, that I slowed my rotation down and as a result it was mid-February before I was ready to put the cattle back in The Soggies. Out of sight, out of mind – the cattle hadn’t been over that side of the farm for close to four months and I hadn’t given any thought to the fate of my hoses.
If you’re going to be pedantic, then not strictly subterranean. But they might as well have been below ground. Buggered if I could find them under the dense pasture sward which by now boasted an under layer of a dank, matted mass of flattened and partly decomposed grasses as well. My gumbooted feet flattened more pasture as I crisscrossed the paddocks in vain. I genuinely thought I was bound to come across the feel of a pipe’s thin, hard, stick-like presence under the flexible rubber soles of my boots.
In hindsight, I’m pleased I didn’t waste too much time looking for them: the pipes had been left in a tangled mess when I’d dragged them into the paddocks and pipe loops and criss-crosses would have snagged and effortlessly won tug-of-war and straight lift tussles. A tad more time and energy expended in the first place to coil the pipe one coil above another and then tie the coil and I could have sidestepped the ‘more haste, less speed’ moral of the story.
There was nothing else for it, I’d have to put my two cows and the steer in to chew down the grass in The Soggies; they’d thin out the good pasture, with the decomposing grasses protecting the pipes from their hooves, I figured I’d then be able to find the pipes and pull them out. I’d just have to open up the not so temporary (it’s been there a long time!) electric fence so that they still had access to the bath trough in The Ribbonwoods paddock.
It worked! A lot of energy expended though, and I had to resort to hedge clippers at times to cut through the most tightly intertwined sections of the matted grasses.
Won’t it be great when I finally get around to burying the pipe for real? With taps sprouting up at intervals from the pipe – water on tap to several more paddocks. Now wouldn’t that be a luxury.
In the meantime, I’ll try and keep that particular 180 metres of pipe well and truly above ground. I’ll reserve subterranean water pipe blues to feeling a little disillusioned that there’s still a lot of pipe needing to go permanently subterranean.