Green Pasture

You have all seen photos of my green pasture.

This does not happen naturally here in California’s Central Valley . We have what is known as a Mediterranean climate. I thought I’d give you a definition but what I found when I did a google search is more interesting:

There are not many places in the world that have our hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. So how do we grow all that clover and grass in a hot, dry summer? Irrigation, of course. But irrigation water has to come from somewhere if it’s not coming out of the sky this time of year.

Our irrigation water is provided (sold) by Solano Irrigation District and comes from Lake Berryessa which fills from winter rainfall. Here is how our irrigation water is delivered.

Do you see that low spot in the mountains on the right side of the photo? Lake Berryessa is behind there. The water is carried down Putah Creek. Eventually it works it’s way into a system of canals. When I call for water the SID person opens a gate at the end of this ditch that is normally dry. The water flows to another gate at the northwest corner of my property (that cement box on the other side of the fence). When that gate is open the water flows under the fence into the standpipe in the foreground.

That black circle is the pipe carrying the water into the standpipe. It flows out the hole on the south side of the standpipe (at the top of the photo).

This is a close-up of that rushing cool water. It’s not a rushing mountain stream but it sure looked appealing this afternoon when I was outside working.

Here is where the water flows out of the standpipe into the pasture.

There is a ditch at the north end of each pasture. The water is just starting to fill the ditch.

I have to dig cut-outs in the ditch to get the water to flow where I want it. It’s not a perfect system because our ditches are worn out and trampled by sheep and the pastures aren’t level, but I can usually make it work. I have the water on for 24 to 36 hours to irrigate everything.

This is the last pasture the sheep were on yesterday and I finished mowing it (a story for another day)  just before irrigating.

This is what we’d have in the summer if we didn’t irrigate. (This is a small pen behind the barn.)

Here is what irrigation gives us.

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4 thoughts on “Green Pasture

  1. Thank you for great pictures and explanation. I have lived in California many years, some in the country, but never where
    we needed to to irrigate like this. A great lesson for many of
    us.

  2. I’m so envious. But I’ve just planted grass in some of my dry lots and they are doing well. I wish I could be more efficient in watering but the sheep seem to love it.

  3. Great info and education. We live in the Santa Cruz Mountains (and don’t raise sheep), but our water comes through a well. The best explanation we have had for the well water at our altitude (2600 ft.) is that it comes from the Sierras through an underground aquifer that has an impervious layer of rock above as a result of ancient earth movements. The Sierra water is pushed down under this layer, across the Valley, under the SF Bay and back up to our lower altitude here in the mountains. It has been a steady, clear and reliable source until the very end of a 7-year drought when we first moved up here in the ’70s. We are all lucky to have water and need to take it seriously.

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