Repurposing, ranch style


We’re big on repurposing around here. This photo I took today I think is a great example. These cattle are drinking out of what we call a “uke” tire. Uke is short for Euclid, a company that manufactures the huge dump trucks used in mining operations. The tires make great water tanks because they are pretty much indestructible. Well, for our purposes it is anyhow. The tires are either too worn out our damaged to carry the 300+ ton loads. But they hold water just fine. These used tires cost about $800 per half, which is a pretty good deal considering they cost over $40,000 for a new one. A 12-foot diameter tank will hold about 1150 gallons of water.

You may also notice the wood post next to the tank. It is a used rail road tie. It spent its former life supporting rail road tracks. We have installed hundreds of these around the ranch for corner braces on our fences. In this case, it is used to support a wood box that protects the float and valve that regulate the flow of water.

And you’re probably wondering what all that snow is doing there. Well, that is repurposed too. I’m using it to insulate the wood box I mentioned earlier that houses the float and valve. The box is heated with a simple geothermal system. A 12 inch diameter pipe is buried vertically about 10 feet in the ground. The ground heat rises naturally up the pipe and into the box, keeping the float and valve from freezing. Although the box is insulated with foam, I added the snow as an extra precaution. Tonight the lows are forecasted to be down to -17°F so it needs all the help it can get.

What caused the drought of 2012?

No one can say for certain what caused the drought of 2012, but grass management guru Allan Savory has an opinion.    The following is an excerpt from an article he wrote in July.


“That so many farmers and ranchers over vast areas of the United States are suffering in 

the current widespread drought should be of no surprise. U.S. agricultural policies and 

practices ensure such tragedies not only in the U.S. itself but also in many other nations. 

I can guarantee such tragedies will increase unless policy and practices change. I am not 

indulging in hindsight or guesswork as many know because I have been warning, 

teaching and preaching about this ever since putting foot on U.S. soil in the late 1970s.”

-Allan Savory, July 2012


To learn more about Allan Savory, visit his website at

Pheasant habitat in South Dakota

Pheasant hunting is not only a good time, but also a big part of South Dakota’s economy. As farming practices change, the pheasant population and the state economy can be affected as well. Lyle was recently interviewed about this issue by the Mitchell Daily Republic. Read the article here.