Water, water everywhere

I have been chasing water all summer here on the farm. Trying to get ram pumps to work and filling 1000L containers with water and carting them around in the back of various vehicles (melting a clutch in the process). The usual water holes have dried up and the small streams are all but a trickle. It’s definitely been a drought for New Zealand and I have been tested to the best of my very little knowledge about water.

I have been praying for rain for a few weeks now, all the grass has turned brown and the vegetables taste like concentrated versions of themselves. Tonight that will change. According to the weather forecast it is going to rain from tonight (Tuesday) to Thursday night and it will be torrential.

The Waikawa Stream, capable of rising over a meter in half an hour.

 

As I sit here in the kitchen I can see the sun setting on the Tararua ranges. These beautiful hills are also deadly and double as the catchment for the Waikawa stream which passes through our property and separates us, by a small river ford, from the breeding Pigs. It has rained like this once before since we have been on the farm and I was unable to get over the river for 24 hours.

Unlike cows pigs need feeding daily. In their lush green paddocks they have all the grass they can eat but they are spoilt and are used to the high-grade grain feed that I give them morning and night. So what happens when I can’t get over the river. Well in my normal, overly anxious, fashion I have already produced an Emergency Flooding Plan which comes into action as follows:

  • Before rain arrives try to feed all pigs with 2 days worth of food. DO NOT try to cross the stream if flow is fast. Stream level will drop in 24 hours normally. In extended periods of raised river flow access to the paddock can be gained through Adrian’s back farm track which starts on the other side of the river.

Putting my own plan into action I have been to collect 100’s of kilograms of juicy apple pulp donated by the very kind Sarah and Jono at Organic Nature. I then left big piles, at least two days worth, of yummy apple feed in each of the paddocks. I have made sure the tractor is working and located near the house in case I need to use it to cross the Waikawa. I have filled all the troughs to the brim (although I suspect water is the least of our worries) and all we can do now is sit back and wait.

Farming is very much a learning experience for me and so is living with the Waikawa Stream. Everyday brings a new challenge. Luckily there is no one around to judge me on my mistakes, just a herd of pigs who expect me to prepare for problems and create solutions. Good luck pigs, see you soon..