Ranching for Wildlife, Part 4

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Written by Gervase Hittle

Many of the things we do on the Cheyenne River Buffalo Ranch involved with wildlife other than buffalo are not readily visible to the touring visitor. Many of the things I have written about in this series have been practices that we follow, but that is not to say that other ranches do not also follow the same practices, such as floating a stick or board in a water tank for birds to land on so they can drink without drowning. In this post, I am going to focus on a particular section of the ranch that we have built on a larger and more visible scale. The accompanying photographs should aid the reader and the visitor to see both the process and the effects of what we are doing. 
On a part of the ranch we call the North Pasture is a water well that employs a solar system to pump water to a tank out in the pasture. 
Solar panel on a 100% grass fed buffalo ranch
The system does not use a storage battery. When the pump is turned on during daylight hours, the solar system pumps water into the tank. The tank was originally fitted with a shutoff valve to stop the water from overflowing once it was full. About two hundred and fifty yards away from the tank is a small stock dam that sometimes becomes nothing but a dried up mud hole and a sanctuary for cocklebur production. 
Dried up mud hole on 100% grass fed buffalo ranch
To make that stock dam more dependably productive, we removed the shutoff valve from the water tank and installed an overflow and a pipeline that can be configured for either direct access to the dam or for filling the tank and using the overflow. The line is buried about six feet deep to the stock dam, which ensures a viable water source, not only for the buffalo but also for ducks, shorebirds, and other birds and animals. It supplies nesting habitat in the reeds and food supply for many species.
 
Stock tank on 100% grass fed buffalo ranch
Thus the water is usable almost year round and neither the well, the solar panels, the pump, nor the system ordinarily require more than routine maintenance.

 

2 comments

  • Posted on by Judy Baker
    Dan took us for an awesome tour of his property and explained “harvesting” and the ecology of the plains where the bison help preserve the grasses and is also good food for the bison and prairie dogs and other critters.

    I know it’s a lot of work raising bison and taking care of a ranch but the way Dan has preserved the prairie is so good for our environment. Hats off to you all who work on Cheyenne River Buffalo Ranch!

  • Posted on by Terry and Linda
    Thanks Jill! Great article!

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