Having looked at the new land, I think that the best use I can put it to is as a seasonal pasture. It's got good water, lush grass and good shelter. Since it's in the floodplain it's going to be best to pull the animals off it during the flood season (November 1 to March 1), but it should work great as a rotational pasture. I don't want to put sheep on this pasture because i have no idea what the predator load is -- there's 300 acres of wildlife refuge around me -- but I think that adult cows should be ok.
So to do this right, I'll need to be able to drive a stock trailer up, and load all of the cows into it with a minimum of fuss and time. I'll only need to load and unload them once a year or so; drop them off in march, pick them up in October, so I don't need anything really elaborate, but I do need the ability to work on the animals that are there; medical care, branding, weighing, or whatever else I might need to do. Having a proper facility to do that will make it safer for both the cows and I.
So off to the Internet I go, to find the Canada Plan Service CPS 1000 series, beef cattle. after looking at various plans on the Internet, I finally settle on plan 1831, minimum working corral.
After consulting the zoning code, I find that fences can be on the property line, but that there's a requirement that any structure that might house animals must be 25 feet from the property line. So to make sure I'm in compliance I arbitrarily set the working corral 30 feet from the eastern edge. To do that I string a line on the survey points to describe the property line, and then measure off it to set two corners of the corral.
Here's the trailer with the basic supplies for starting the corral. Having looked at the drawing it calls for 33 posts, two gates and a whole bunch of planks. I'm using pressure treated posts because I don't want them to rot off in this wet environment. I'll be using galvanized fasteners for the same reason, and making sure that everything is securely anchored and fastened. This is the flood plain, after all. I expect the corral to be there after a flood event.
Baling twine is really handy when you want to make a 100' line. and its cheap. Everyone should have a roll of baling twine.That's me in the red shirt. I'm 6'2, and this lush grass is taller than I am. So we're tromping around trying to get a square corral by doing diagonals. this takes a while.
Bryan and I decided to dig the post holes by hand -- there are only 33 of them -- and not to bring the tractor. Somewhere in the middle of this as we struggle with the long grass, we're both really regretting not bringing it to mow down this grass.
We finally get the string marking the edges of the corral up, and start digging holes and planting posts. We use a dry-set technique here.
Dry-set means that you dig the post hole, insert and level the post, and then pour in the dry concrete. Tamp it down, and walk away. You can do this where the soil is moist or damp, and it results in a very strong concrete. The moisture in the ground seeps in and causes the concrete to set. Its very strong because only the minimum amount of water actually gets in -- and the less water you use to mix concrete, the stronger it is.