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Ridgetop - our place and how we muddle along

Discussion in 'Member's "BackYardHerds" Journals' started by Ridgetop, Jun 30, 2018.

  1. Mar 11, 2019
    greybeard

    greybeard Herd Master

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    Water shares?
    In East Texas?
    3 words.....Rule of Capture.
    Now, if you suck so much out of an aquifer that your neighbors' wells go dry, they'll come looking for you and it won't be pretty, but I don't know anyone in East Texas (except sod farms) that irrigates most years.

    Alfalfa and orchard probably would do well, but few people grow either as there are much better forages/hays that are better suited for this region.
    Coastal Bermuda, Tifton and bahia are king in East Tx.

    Hay prices are down because winter is about done, green up has begun, there is little demand for hay purchases and ryegrass is growing like weeds. Lots of RR crabgrass going in the ground as well as CC.

    (how well does alfalfa stand up to army worms and blister beetles?)
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
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  2. Mar 12, 2019
    Ridgetop

    Ridgetop True BYH Addict

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    What are army worms?
     
  3. Mar 12, 2019
    Ridgetop

    Ridgetop True BYH Addict

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    What are blister beetles? So are the other varieties of hay resistant to these pests? What exactly is Rule of Capture? Should we look for property with a well? Or stream fed ponds? I don't want to be without water. I am not talking about just drinking water for the house, but water for growing hay, crops, pasture, or for livestock. While irrigation may not be practiced as a rule of thumb, I do want to be able to raise any livestock without having to truck water in or see the land dry up and die.

    Since I am from southern California which has little water, water is one of the most important requirements. My uncle was a cattleman (when there were a lot of cattle ranches in Corona, California) and he told me long ago that land without water is worthless. He said no matter what, you need water for livestock and ranching, never to buy farm or ranch land that didn't have a guaranteed source of water. One reason I hated to give up the idea of my aunt's place in Washington is that it has a wonderful well with a water level at 30 feet. Lots of places are no longer allowing property owners to drill wells, especially as cities begin to encroach on farmland. My son has a great welI in Nipomo (California central coast) with great water and good GPM. So many homes are being built in the central coast region around him that the city has outlawed the drilling of any new wells, and has placed a limit on how much water he can pump from his own well. The city came out and put a regulator on his well so they can see how many gallons he draws from it and taxes (or penalizes) him if he pulls more than what they decide he should have. this is so the city can take as much as they want for their city water customers. In other areas planting vineyards for wineries was occurring on such a scale that the amount of irrigation they required as compared to the grazing land that they replaced was lowering the level of the aquifers till many people had to drill new wells or they simply ran out of water. So many vineyards were being planted that the price of varietals dropped so low that wineries could practically name what they wanted to pay for grapes.

    If coastal Bermuda or Tifton is better suited to east Texas, then that would be what we should look for. We plan to lease the hayfields to a grower, and the pastures to someone to graze cattle. We only plan to keep our flock of sheep and raise locker lambs either for the ethnic market, or for small scale production.
     
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  4. Mar 12, 2019
    greybeard

    greybeard Herd Master

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    Rule of capture means you can use the water below your land....iow, wells.
    State of Texas tho, gets pretty picky about rivers & streams that flow year round. You can sometimes pump from them, with a permit, but they are going to charge for the water. I know a guy that pumped from the same river I live near and he got caught without the paperwork. Big time fine and they could have charged him with theft of public resources and sent him to jail.

    Generally, in East Texas, there's plenty of water below ground, tho in 2011 and 2012, some shallow wells did begin to dry up. By shallow, I mean less than 100' deep.
    I've heard rumors about metering private water wells for years and years, but so far, no politician is willing to risk their future by acting on it around here.

    I'm not real familiar with growing alfalfa but it's my understanding that once blister beetles are found, the only recourse is to cut the field they are in and just let it lay. The beetles produce a toxin that kill a horse and can make cattle sick enough to stop eating.

    Army worms come out in the fall..the larvae of a moth.
    https://www.theeagle.com/landandliv...cle_fff9c388-bc22-11e8-a56d-8b9230a5e317.html
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2019
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  5. Mar 12, 2019
    Ridgetop

    Ridgetop True BYH Addict

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    So if I get this right - Make sure to get property with well more than 100' deep, test for GPM, and water quality. Grow coastal Bermuda, don't bother with alfalfa. On the other hand, apparently army worms love Bermuda. If there is a stream on the property, livestock can drink from it, you can fish in it, the stream can be used to fill an existing pond, but you can't pump from it or dam it off. Can you build or enlarge a pond that would fill from the stream as long as you do not dam it up? Or would that constitute theft of public resource ? What is the Texas stand on agrarian rights? Lots to learn.
     
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  6. Mar 13, 2019
    greybeard

    greybeard Herd Master

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    The geology in Texas differs greatly depending on location.
    You can get water here at 50' and plenty of it, but it isn't good water...too much dissolved iron in it. And, it doesn't take moving very far to see great variances in good well depths. My well TD is 185', with the producing zone from 185' up to 140', it's a thick sand.
    My 2 sisters, about 6 miles north of me, had to drill down over 300' to get good water.
    There is a co-op water system about 5 miles south of me that provides drinking water thru pipelines to those that want it (for a price) but their water smells like sulfur. That co-op well is around 500' deep.

    You can capture all the runoff water (rainfall) you want as long as you don't back water up onto a neighbor or public property. If I built my pond dam and levees up higher, I would flood a neighbor's property immediately to the North and the paved road as well....I cannot do that.

    My sister owns 41 acres adjacent to me to the South. I have a pond dam right on the property line. My brother in law wanted to build a pond on sister's property, directly downstream from my pond dam. I wouldn't allow it because that would mean the backside of my pond dam would stay saturated with water all the time and eventually, my dam would fail.

    Every time it rains, I get outflow from the National Forest across my property. I can and do capture that water in my big pond, but I can't build my dam up so high that it backs standing water up into the National Forest.
    The picture below is my place and immediate surrounding area. The neighbor's 17 ac property to the north, my sister's and my brother's property I lease for nothing except fencework and run cows on. As you can see, my dam does back water up on to my neighbor's property thru 3 fingers, but that's only because I used to own the 17 acres and my pond and dam were there when he bought the 17 ac from me, as were the finger channels.
    The sqiggly line marked 'A' is a little natural drain that puts a lot of forest water across my place and I could dig it out, dam it up to make a small pond but that would put water into the National Forest and I can't do that..............plus, I already have way more water than I want.
    runoff.jpg
    My pond in the middle of 2011 drought when I was building a little fishing dock.
    pond_0091dockconstruction.JPG

    You can see the same dock at normal water level on the opposite side of the water.
    pond2.jpg




    Water in East Texas except in extreme drought years just isn't an issue. Pick a town or county in East Texas and look up the annual rainfall...most will be well over 40" /year. My county's avg annual rainfall is 52"/year.

    There are properties that have small named streams running thru their property and some do dam them up but they can't completely stop the flow of water. They capture with a dam, whatever it takes to fill their pond, and anything beyond that quantity has to be able to continue on downstream as before. (That, is the same thing that all public lake dams do. I know of no public (govt built) lakes in Texas that don't fall under this rule)
    Explain what you mean by "agrarian rights".
     
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  7. Mar 13, 2019
    Ridgetop

    Ridgetop True BYH Addict

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    Sorry, I meant riparian rights, but I think you have already answered it by saying that you cannot completely dam up water flowing across your property. Some places the river or stream is considered public access - people can either boat or s=wade through the streambed across private property. It sounds like in east Texas that small streams can be fenced off as to public access as long as you do not completely dam or restrict the flow of water from property to property.
     
  8. Mar 13, 2019
    greybeard

    greybeard Herd Master

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    Not here. My Eastern most property line is (and always has been) recorded as "center of river channel". However, that doesn't mean I can legally run a North to South fence down the center of the channel. I can (but don't) run a North to South fence as close to the water's edge as I want to. Under no circumstances could I run a fence across the river even if my property was on both sides of the river (even tho it is not a navigable waterway). Nor can I run a East West fence up on the highway end all the way down to the river's edge. I have to allow the public walking access from the side of the highway into the river. Texas uses what is known as "the gradient boundary but the geology of some rivers doesn't allow for it's implementation. If there is just a gentle slope down to the water's edge, then there is no gradient boundary. If the land suddenly ends on a high bank with water straight down, then again, no gradient boundary and the judges almost always rule in favor of the landowner.
    https://tpwd.texas.gov/publications...vers/navigation/riddell/navigationright.phtml

    In 1964-65, when we originally fenced the river, we did run our N-S fence very close to the water's edge. That proved to be folly due to frequent floodwaters and bank erosion and we lost our fence several times. We moved the fence back westward about 20 yards away from the bank.

    In 2006, I backed off another 100-250 ft to the West and have basically let the area between the river and my fence revert to it's primitive state. I've only been walking on that area a couple times in the last 12-13 years.

    Wife and I used to canoe Devils River in West Texas. The waterway itself belongs to the public. The bank of the river belongs to the ranchers. There's no 'gradient' to much of it and hostilites have broken out along that remote river. (it is VERY much worth the trip, hazards and true danger tho) Note the warnings:
    http://southwestpaddler.com/docs/riogrande9.html
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Mar 13, 2019
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

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    Greybeard is giving you a good education on water in Texas. Most landowners have tanks or ponds by digging out a low spot, throwing up a dam and letting rain water fill it.
     
  10. Mar 14, 2019
    Ridgetop

    Ridgetop True BYH Addict

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    I am really grateful for all this information. Greybeard is a wealth of information and I read everything he posts with admiration for his experience. I told DH that when we move and decide to get a tractor I will pull up all STA's posts ad have him read everything Greybeard and others posted about tractors. DH is pretty good at heavy equipment but since we don't use a tractor much on this steep property, he needs to learn more about farm tractor stuff and easier ways of attaching the equipment to the tractor.

    I also learned lot from reading Bay's posting about building fences. I passed some of it on to my brother who is now fencing his 10 acres in Washington. He plan to retire there and is doing a lot in the weekends. he rented a cat and learned firsthand the joys of mechanized equipment to remove trees, rocks, trash, etc. from his future home site. He welds so he is also building a fence roll holder similar to those at Tractor Supply to hold the 5' no climb as he fences. He is also using T Posts and plans to rent a mechanical post driver. I also told him about the special tool for twisting the wires on T posts that Greybeard posted. He was thrilled to get the info. He wants to get goats and sheep. He already has a Pyr and plans to get another when he retires and brings in the livestock. Come to think of it, I should have him sign up on this site! He would learn a lot and enjoy getting first hand information from everyone. I will email him to check it out.

    Being several generations here in California, those are the regulations I know. (Although the liberal government here is taking all of our private property rights away. It doesn't matter how we vote either, the government just announces that we are ignorant and does what it wants.) Anyway, we want to be good neighbors and knowing what is right is the best way to do it.

    My neighbor (more money than sense and the mindset to go with it) bought a couple of acres near Mammoth. This is big mule packing country and her uncle owned a pack station at that time. They decided they would put up corrals and build a vacation home. While we were at Mule Days in Bishop they had us come up to see the property. I asked her about availability of water and she pointed to the neighbor's property where there was a small stream. The stream ran near, but not on, her property for about 4 feet. She announced she would put a pump in the stream and use that. When I pointed out that it was not on her property she argued that it was close so she could use it. I did not argue with her, but hen she said they had chosen this piece of property instead one on the other side of the road that already had a well and a stream, DH and I agreed that she was an idiot. Sure enough she and her husband ended up in court over demanding that the neighbor give them access to the stream! They lost. Always make sure about your water rights!
     
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