I went with Vernon the other night to irrigate. While I normally avoid irrigating, we were on our way to pay a visit to my sister and had to irrigate on the way. Since the field had been hayed, I thought my chances were pretty good to avoid the grass pollen that makes me so miserable.
The majority of ground we farm is flood irrigated. A dam is built in the creek and water flows through a series of ditches. It’s up to the irrigator to figure out where to set his smaller dams in order to back up water into cutouts that are made along the ditch bank. These cutouts allow the water to flood the field.
To be a good irrigator, you must be willing to walk in irrigating waders.(people who don’t know what you’re doing often ask how the fishing is!) You must know how to run a shovel. (believe it or not, many people don’t) You must have the knack for setting the small plastic tarp dams. (which takes a talent I have never mastered) You must know how to read your field, how long your set will last to cross the field, how many cutouts your ditch will allow, how level your field is to let the water run across it, and/or manage it so it goes everywhere, whatever it takes.
First, set your brace. Vernon has a metal one that he shoves down in the mud of the ditch to support the dam. It is “v” shaped, and simply made out of a metal rod welded with supporting crossbars. I didn’t get a good photo of it, sorry.
Next, you lay your orange dam across the ditch. It has a pocket on top that you put a 2×4 in for support. If you hold it just right, the water flows into the dam and it sinks to the bottom of the ditch.
Using your shovel, you stab the edge of the dam down in the mud. Vernon makes it look very easy, but it is difficult to do it without it “blowing out” in a few minutes or an hour!
Make sure your cut outs are good… clean out the random weed/grass that’s floating along… watch the water flow…
Believe me, I’m not good at any of it. Sure enough, five minutes in, I’m sneezing and stuffy headed. While the hay was cut, the grass along the ditch was tall and glorious and full of pollen. Yay.
Irrigating is just not my thing!Find me here!