Friday, September 3, 2010

Water Water, Here or There (but not both, and not when we want it)

One of the first things the pigs did when we moved them to the pasture was root up a spring. And I mean, they didn't like, FIND a spring. One day there was a hill, and the next day, in the midst of the little tufts that pig rooting creates, there was a flowing spring, running down the hill. The pigs were very pleased with themselves. They line up and lay down with the cold water running under their bellies, head to tail, single file, like sausages. Which, of course, they are.

I was quite pleased with their spring discovery. Especially coming after the troublesome well problems that flared up out of the blue a couple weeks ago. Well, I figured, maybe we can just use the spring.
Except that it didn't flow all the time. Some days it was like a brook, and some days it was just a streak of mud.

Likewise, the well only worked sometimes. Perfect for days, and then all of a sudden -- no pressure. This was especially frustrating because we were trying to move the animals to a new watering system.This is the pig waterer. It is made out of an old tire filled with cement. The Big Man made it. There are apparently some more nuanced facets involved (I am being over-the-shoulder edited as we speak); perhaps the Big Man will elaborate for himself at some point. Anyway, the hope is that we can roll it around to wherever we have the pigs parked, plug 'er in, and the pigs will have fresh clean water. There is a similar contraption for the chickens, which is especially exciting because they tend to, erm, contaminate their water pretty quickly with all their...fertilizer. A couple problems so far. One is that the pigs are not really giving the chickens the appropriate and polite personal space that they need. First, they like to chase them. Second, they discovered that the dripping chicken waterers can be used to make all new wallows around the chicken coop. This results in a muddy patch full of happy pigs outside, and a bunch of riled up chickens squawking in the rafters inside.
Chickens to the left being herded by a piggo, pigs wallowing on the right.

And then the stupid boar figured out that he could go actually inside the chicken coop, tip over their hanging waterer and make a shady all-weather wallow! We hated him for a good hour, but he is just so goofy and cute, with his little man belly.

So we had to re-adjust some plans.
Movable electro-netting fence is in the mail, for an impermeable pig-chicken barrier. More on that later.

As for the waterfowl and turkeys, they just drink a LOT. The one gallon waterer they have now lasts only for a couple hours. And the ducks need a deeper water source to keep their beaks clean and clear. All problems to be solved, ideas tested in the next couple weeks. They've been faring pretty well...they can come and go from their little pen, squiggling under the chicken wire in a herd, or flapping over it (turkeys) but the pigs don't think it worth the effort to get through to bother them.

The biggest complication being that sometimes the well flows. And sometimes the spring does. Never both at once. Always one or the other.

We have yet to figure out how, exactly, that works. But it is certainly annoying.


  1. "The biggest complication being that sometimes the well flows. And sometimes the spring does. Never both at once. Always one or the other."

    Strange coincidence?

    Possibly a relief valve on the pumping system that hangs in the open position at times which feeds the "spring" and starves the barn system when it closes it feed the barn system and starves the spring??

    Post Hole Marker

  2. Makes sense, but not the case. The pressure on the system is 0 when the well is not working, and the spring is too far from the well to be connected, at least I hope so. 80' or more between them. Crazier things have happened though.

  3. Random thoughts.

    1. Could the "spring" be a previous occupants piped up feed to a water station out in the field that has become abandoned and covered over? Even so I have a hard time figuring how it could alternate running with the pump system.

    2. Assuming the pump is not a submersible. A small hole in the suction line within the confines of the well (or cistern) could cause the intermittent lose of suction and resultant loss of pressure on the discharge side. As the water level in the well/cistern rises and covers the hole the pump could re-prime and start functioning again. Again no connection to the "spring".

    Post Hole Marker

  4. 1: it's definitely not pressurized, and I'm quite positive it is not part of the pressurized water system, but I can't completely rule it out. There's a possibility it's part of an older drainage system, although I'd imagine they'd have dug it up when they put the addition on the barn.

    2: Pump is submersible. If it wasn't I'd imagine that type of pinhole problem would be a huge pain.

  5. Ok, so I know this is an old blog post and I'm HOPING you'll see my question and be able to answer it. :) I'm very curious if your pig waterer worked out well for you. We've raised pigs and used those spigots attached to a pipe and wired to a t-post. Very effective, but not real easy to move. Also, we had a hard time keeping the pigs from biting the hose where they could reach it. I'd love to hear your experience on this design. Thanks!!!

  6. Hello! We continued to use a waterer design much like this for the last 5 years with excellent results. The final design is a bit lighter but the pigs still don't mess with it, let me know if you're interested in a photo, I could e-mail you one.