The next step after getting the windmill up and running was to lay some pipe and place a stock tank where wildlife would be hard to spot from the road. (Sure, it would be illegal to hunt on our property, but that doesn’t stop everyone around here.) The stock tank is about 75′ west of the windmill, slightly downhill along the spine of the hogback. Animal tracks started appearing around the tank the very night we first filled it. I placed a motion-activated game camera on a post by the tank two days ago and here are some shots of our visitors. The black and white shots are infra-red images taken after dark. The camera has an infra-red flash, which the animals can’t see, but reflects from the eyes, giving a glare in the image.
Last spring the Forest Service fenced the road that runs through our property. It’s a fairly standard four-strand barbed wire fence. In spite of our requests (and the recommendations of the Natural Resources and Conservation Service, a sister agency to the Forest Service), the fence was not constructed in a manner to facilitate safe passage by wildlife. The easiest way to achieve this is to use smooth-strand (“barbless”) wire on the top strand. The fallback is to cover the wire with PVC pipe. Since the fence was already strung, adding PVC requires slitting the pipe so that it can be slipped over the wire. I expected to see a variety of postings about this on the web, but found none. I came up with a very simple solution for slitting large amounts of pipe on the table saw. A simple box-like structure aligns the pipe to the blade. It’s a simple matter of just pushing the pipe through about as fast as you can. The blade is completely enclosed, making this a very safe solution.
About two years ago Elaine bought Sonya’s old windmill, with plans to place it over one of the old wells on the ranch so that it could pump water for a stock tank for wildlife. Ever since then we’ve been trying to get one of the local well-maintenance people to move the windmill from Sonya’s, repair the pump in the well, and erect the windmill. Finally last week one of the drillers came by and committed to completing the project. The first step is for us to install footings for the tower. These will be cast concrete, three feet deep. I started digging the holes for the Sonotube forms on Monday. The well is about 100 yards off of the side road that crosses the ranch and required some “cross-country” driving to reach the well. Although I detoured around the old fencing, there apparently was a cache of old fence wire buried in the brush that I driving over. The wire wrapped itself quite thoroughly around the right front axle and the drive shaft as well. After trying various approaches to removing the wire I finally grabbed my angle grinder and put a cutting wheel on it. I was able to separate the wire into two large chunks that I could pull out over the hub. (I had already removed the wheel.) Needless to say, future visits to the site involve a more careful search for residual wire.