Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ditched

From The Back Twenty

After some discussion with helpful locals, we've decided we're probably going to try to grow wheat next year. The original plan was alfalfa, but that's somewhat more of an investment, and longer term, and seemed a bit daunting. In any case, the first thing we need whatever we grow is water, and although we have irrigation shares, until yesterday we didn't have a decent ditch for the water to go through. But thanks to a neighbor with an excavator, that's been remedied. He spent four hours or so clearing out the existing ditch and digging out places that needed it.


There are a few things left to finish, not including the sidewalk bridge in the image above, which probably won't collapse as quickly as it looks like it wants to. First, there's the culvert under our parking pad:


From The Back Twenty


From The Back Twenty


The first image is the inlet side, and the second is the outlet. On the intake, because the culvert isn't particularly large, we need to build essentially a concrete funnel around the opening, which will encourage a siphon effect and allow the culvert to carry the most water possible. I also want to shore up the ditch around both the inlet and outlet to prevent too much erosion. Finally, we had to remove a fair bit of concrete to expose the outlet, meaning that side of the parking pad isn't well supported, so I need to fill the holes and support it again.


From The Back Twenty

Then, there's some hand digging left to do, where the ditch goes over a power line. In the enlarged version of the image above, it's just possible to see an orange line about 1/3 of the way down from the top of the picture. The excavator removed a little of the soil here, but the only safe way to go (and the way that follows the rules) is to have the Blue Stakes people locate and mark the line, and then dig by hand anywhere within twelve inches of their markings. Fortunately all indicators say our line is buried deep enough -- though we'll still dig very carefully -- that the ditch can be plenty deep here.


From The Back Twenty

Finally, we need to put in headgates to control the water. At the place our ditch branches off the main, shown above, there are concrete pieces already to anchor the gates, but no actual gates. Our ditch is on the left, flowing toward the top of the image; the headgate for the main ditch is barely visible in the weeds to the center-right. We'll need several more dams of some sort throughout the length of the ditch, but I don't yet know if they're full, stationary headgates like these, or something more mobile. Lots to learn...

2 comments:

  1. I talked with the water master (yes, that's what they call them) today about how to handle the temporary dam situation. One option is build lots of headgates... but the primitive (read: "cool") way is to make a triangular framework of lumber that sits in the ditch, and put a sheet of thick canvas against it. Water pressure seals the canvas against the wood, and dams the flow, so the water has to go out the little serrations the excavator put every few feet in the bank. Now where to find canvas...?

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  2. Have you thought about using dam rocks?

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