Sunday, January 10, 2010

Winter watering

How silly of me to believe that two falls ago when we installed the Ritchie waterer in the heifer lot that my days of pail carrying, hose draining and ice chipping were over. Alas, they were not. My watering woes returned again this winter with the freezing temps.

We only intended to use our overflow heifer housing during warm weather, but seeing as how there's nowhere else to go with the group of heifers in overflow, they're spending the winter there. Without an automatic waterer. That means they need to be watered twice a day the old fashioned way.

The hose we used to water them this fall worked just fine, as long as it was properly drained, until one of the guys sliced it in two with the skidloader bucket while pushing snow. So, until a hose splice could be found (you'd think we'd keep a supply on hand), I started carrying pails. The overflow pen isn't that far from the milkhouse and there's only six heifers in the group, so carrying water to them really isn't that bad – or so I told myself. It actually takes less time than watering them with the hose did, so I decided to abandon the hose. It might be quicker, but there's definitely a difference in the physical effort required.

Last week, my elbows were so sore, I had to give them a pep talk before each loaded trip out to the tank. My chiropractor would probably choke if she knew I was lugging five gallon pails of water around. (Hey, Doc, at least it's balanced weight.) On the up side, you should see the biceps I'm growing! I keep telling myself that eventually my elbows won't be sore anymore – probably by the time spring comes and we can move the heifers.

I don't think this is what the wise guy had in mind when he said, "Work smart, not hard." Unfortunately, sometimes working smart requires capital investment and capital is something we happen to be short on. Instead, we substitute time and labor for capital. Maybe one day all of our heifer housing will have automatic waterers. By that time I'll either be ripped or need my elbows replaced.

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