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Erosion Control Structure (September 2013)

When we first bought the original 10 acres (PlayHaven West), we knew that there were erosion issues. There is a ditch that is several feet deep that starts directly below the sewage lagoon of the neighbor to the west. At the time, we consulted the Department of Health for Lafayette County and they determined that the sewage lagoon leaked and the neighbor was required to fix their lagoon. (They were not happy about that; but they did it.) Since then we have no longer seen questionable waste on the acreage and we have been filling the ditch with old hay and branches to reduce the rest of the run-off that makes its way into the ditch. The hubby also put a couple of berms across the ditch so he can drive the tractor to the south end of the acreage. This seems to have helped some.

When we purchased the house and 10-acres adjucent (PlayHaven East), we also knew that there were erosion issues on it. The former owner put two stock ponds in the southern portion of the acreage, but they do not prevent much of the run-off from the south end of PlayHaven West. The previous owner put in large chunks of concrete as 'rip-rap' where the erosion was worst.

We have always intended to put a large pond across the two properties to capture as much run-off as possible and provide water for our animals. This will reduce much of the erosion issues. To that end, last fall (2012) I contacted the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) in Missouri asking what they can do to help us with this issue.

My initial question was about putting in a pond and I was told they don't put in ponds... but they can help with Erosion Control Structures (translation: pond). The first step was to do a visual inspection of our land and see if we would qualify for assistance.

In May 2013 they were able to fit us in... Scott and Scott came out to walk the area and agreed that there is substantial erosion. Not enough to justify the NRCS helping to finance the erosion control structure, but enough for them to do a survey and provide us with detailed drawings/plans for us to use when hiring someone to build it.

As with most agencies, they are very busy and swamped with requests for assistance. So it was no surprise to us that it took several months for them to fit us in again for a survey.

Scott and his helper (lovely girl, can't recall her name, agh) came out with GPS-style survey equipment. Wow, no more stakes, lines and measuring tapes.

They started by making a base line at the gate on the fence the divides PlayHaven East north to south. The north edge of the pond will be near that fence.

Then they walked around taking elevation readings and placing bright pink flags at each location. They walked the perimeter and also the center of the anticipated location for the pond (sorry: erosion control structure).
It took all of maybe half an hour. Scott will take the information and create an elevation plan which he will provide to us for comment and changes. Between us, we will come up with a final plan and he will create drawings etc. for us to use with the contractor we choose when we can afford to put in the pond/erosion control structure.

We appreciate the assistance!

I don't understand why so many of the rural folk I have met complain about the NRCS. They seem to think the organization is there to give them grief; but I have only found them to be helpful and informative.

Thanks NRCS!!

UPDATE (April 2015): In February 2015, I met with the NRCS staff about applying for a grant to improve Conservation aspects of the farm. While I was there they showed me the paperwork that resulted from the survey. I can't share it with you because I don't get a copy of it until I find someone to do the construction of the erosion control structure. The NRCS provides it directly to the contractor so they can give me an estimate. Unfortunately, I could not understand most of what the paperwork said... so I don't know if the results of the survey are what I want to do. I guess I'll just have to find a contractor and see what the estimate comes to to find out.

Overwinter Cattle Setup (April 2015)

Since any water that is not arificially heated will freeze (in the trough and in the hose), it is necessary to make a winter water location that the cattle can get to that is also close to an electricity source.

The hubby puts the trough by the gate between the east and west pastures. He creates an 'no cow zone' on the water side of the gate using electric polywire so that we can open the gate and go into the area while keeping the cattle out of it and away from the electric stuff. It is nice to not have to worry about cows rushing you as you go through the gate... they stay on their side of the electric polywire.

The reason we put the gate between the pastures where it is in the first place has to do with the close proximity to the field hydrant and the garage (with electricity). It really does help to pre-plan when setting up your farm.


In the winter of 2013/2014 our field hydrant decided to stop working. Luckily it was closer to Spring than not and we only had to carry water from the house to the chickens for a few weeks. The stop-gap for the cattle was to use the hose from the field hydrant on the northwest corner of the west pasture (about 350 feet); which meant clearing the hose each time to avoid ice freezing inside it. (It was a pain in the tookus.)

The irritating thing about this is that the hubby had replaced the old field hydrant in the fall to keep this from happening. Once the ground thawed, he dug out the hydrant and determined that the problem was NOT in the pipe, but in the hydrant itself. He contacted the manufacturer of the new field hydrant and they were aware of the problem. They sent replacement parts and he got it fixed in a jiffy. We had NO problems with it during the winter of 2014/2015 (YIPPEE!).

The photo at left shows the 2013/2014 setup.

Last year, the heavy duty outdoor extension cord came through the north (meaning closest) window which let snow drift into the garage. This year, he took advantage of the hole under the west side at the north end created by rabbits. It worked quite well. Thank you, rabbits!

A second outdoor extension cord with a 3-plug end meets the long one that plugs in inside the garage and we used a pig-tail post to hold them up off the ground (looping the cord through and around the pig-tail). We need the 3-plug end because in addition to the water heater, the inverter for the polywire is also plugged into it. During the winter, we can't rely on batteries because of the cold. The inverter uses a transformer which is not rated for outdoor exposure, so we concocted a "house" for it using a section of large diameter pipe (only about 6 inches long) covered by a plastic "bag" that is cable tied on both sides of the pipe around the cords. This worked really well. When we needed to unplug the polywire, we simply did so where the two (2) extension cords met since we never needed it unplugged long enough for the water to get cold enough to freeze.

Last year, the water heater was rated at 1000W and was really more than we needed for the 100 gallon trough we use.

We removed the hose and auto stop feature soon afater taking this photo. It left water in the hose which froze solid.

The photo at left shows the 2014/2015 setup.

This year, our friend Eric Butler was kind enough to spray closed cell foam on the outside of one of our 100 gallon troughs (he is the guy who did the insulation on the house). Between the insulation around the trough and the 2 inch closed cell foam board that the hubby set the trough on, there was even LESS need for that big water heater. So the hubby found a 500W version that worked just fine (and saved us some money on electricity). He had planned to put an insulated cover over half of the trough (the polywire goes over the trough to keep the cattle away from the electric plug and heater, so the cattle don't surround the trough and basically take turns drinking from one end), but didn't quite get around to it. We think we can go to a 250V water heater when we put a partial cover on the trough next year... I'll let you know how that goes.

Field Hydrant Upgrade (June 2016)

Once again, water problems on the farm. I am really tired of the field hydrant breaking down (and the hubby even more so since he does the digging and replacing). First we replaced it thinking it was just old, then repaired the new one (at least twice) before putting the old one back in after repairing it. Obviously, the repair kits aren't worth the effort.

This time I contacted Ferguson in Independence (where we purchased our sump pump last time, very happy with both the product and the company) to find out if there is another type of field hydrant that can handle the amount of use we give it. The answer is basically... they are all the same design; BUT, there are varying grades of quality and duty use.

I purchased a ProFlo PFXAF7503. It stands 34 inches above ground and we needed a 3-ft bury depth. It's a pricey piece of hardware, but it has a warranty (1 year) and now that it is installed, I can definitely tell the difference. That is to say, it's much sturdier than the old ones.

The hubby is getting quite proficient at digging out the hole to work on this thing. He puts tarps down to store the dirt and gravel on while working in the hole so it's easier for him to shovel that back in after he finishes. He uses twine attached around the pipe of the hydrant and secured to two t-posts making a shallow "V" with the t-posts several feet beyond the hole. This keeps the pipe from falling over while digging.

The previous owner used a length of wood buried with the pipe to secure it, but the pipe always moved. So, the hubby used a metal t-post and used metal cinch rings to attach them to each other; no movement now!

I'll get some photos soon.


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