Friday, August 12, 2011

Sometimes It's the Little Things

Occasionally, I have the odd flash of brilliance that surprises even me.

Perhaps the biggest concern of summertime is keeping the animals supplied with fresh, clean drinking water. Water is always an issue, but combined with the heat of summer, the lack of it can prove deadly.

We use black plastic stock tanks for the sheep. These are fairly small in order to keep them manageable. Sheep will drink far less than cows, so huge stock tanks out in the field are both unwieldy and impractical.

During the hot days of summer, the tanks get gross, really gross. Between the sheep’s propensity for “back-washing” as they drink and the high temperatures, cleaning the tanks becomes a daily job. The algae and other stuff not only make the water undesirable for drinking, it can also affect the animals’ overall health.

Back in our “cow” days, we had one BIG tank, close to the barn. Hence, we kept a scrubber on a nail by the barn door, and used it as necessary. The big tank only needed cleaning on a weekly (at most) basis.

With the arrival of the sheep, all that changed. In mid-summer, we have at least three groups of sheep spread around the farm. There is a water tank with each group. I kept forgetting to carry the scrubber out back, or out front, or whatever. That would demand a trip back to the barn. While it’s not a long way, when it’s really hot I don’t enjoy trudging back and forth to clean the tanks.

One day as I was getting the scrubber off the nail, I noticed all the little carabineer hooks hanging on another nail. We use these for all sorts of things. They make great gate hooks, bucket holders, and used with wire panels they allow us to create pens in minutes. Their bright colors make them easy to spot, and they are relatively inexpensive. They are one of the things I couldn’t get along without around here.

Then it hit me! A whole new concept in water tank management!

If I bought a bunch of scrubbers, put each on a carabineer, and hung it on the fence in each sheep pen….I’d never have to make another trudging trip to the barn!

Ah, success! …and clean stock tanks! Happy lambs…

As for that “flash of brilliance”…uh, not so much...

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