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Watering the Sheep

Happy summer!

It’s such a blessing to be greeted by the sun every day and also to have her visible in the sky all day long… not hidden by clouds!

Where we are situated in the south east of Ireland, we are on the side of a hill – beautiful scenery and lush landscape surrounds us. We are immersed in rich agricultural land. It is very beautiful.

These warmer months are our most important growing season: our lambs are clambering ever closer to their target weights and their mums are being given a well needed break so that they can regain condition in time for tupping (breeding) season in October.

Careful planning means that all of the sheep, both old and young alike, have good grass to eat – we rotate them from paddock to paddock – but just like for us, water is vitally important for them. As with all mammals, they need a fresh, clean supply of water available to them at all times.

Some of the paddocks where we run the sheep have a plumbed water supply: we hook up a drinker and they are good to go. Others though, have no access to water. So, what to do? Well, with the aid of my trusty tractor I can bring water to them!

Firstly, we use recycled Intermediary Bulk Containers (IBC for short). These large square shaped plastic drums are encased in a metal cage and hold about a thousand litres (that’s roughly two hundred and sixty gallons) of water. There is a hole at the top for filling and a tap at the bottom where we drain the water from.

We have these containers stationed at all the fields that have no access to running water. These act as our reservoirs for each of the fields. From these, we run very simple plumbing: a pipe goes from the bottom tap opening to the drinker which the sheep use. The drinkers have a ball cock much like a toilet cistern, so that they stay filled but do no overflow.

The advantage of this set up is that the reservoir tanks do not move – they work well but are not terribly robust when being carted around and heavy, filled to capacity with a tonne of water! We can easily place the drinkers wherever we need and move them around at will. Because of the water coming from the bottom of the tank, it means that the system is gravity fed which, believe me, makes all the difference! I spent years trying to suck up the water through a pipe to make it run so that it would feed the drinker!

Sometimes I'm lucky enough to have a helper!

I am lucky to have a wonderful and very handy husband – he is considerate of my needs when we are setting up systems on the farm. He has made a rig for one of the tanks so that they can be lifted and carried on the front loader of the tractor. I am thankful for this because most of our fields that need water are up a steep hill!

The sheep require water year round obviously, but their demand for it is lessened in cooler weather. Now, with the days longer and with our warmer months ahead, I’ll be bringing water to them with increased frequency. And to make it even better, the water is drawn from our own well, so it is cool, clear and utterly refreshing!



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