Sunday, March 27, 2011

Time To Turn The Acequia On

On Saturday, March 12th, Peter, our oldest son, stopped by the farm for a visit.  That day we walked the acequia as it snakes through our farm.  We counted a total of six beaver dens dug into the side of the acequia.  The beavers are a blessing and a nuisance.  They are a blessing in demonstrating the richness and diversity of the land; they are a nuisance in that they cut down the cottonwood trees and their burrowing in the banks of the acequia can cause a breech and subsequent shut down of the whole acequia until the damage is repaired.

Beaver slide into the acequia and their chewing marks on two large Cottonwoods

The cottonwood in the background is shown from the other side.  It adds a scale to the size of the trees the beavers will gnaw on.  This tree is probably beyond saving.

Our mayordomo, Claude Hayward, contracted for some equipment to come in and clean the acequia.  The usual arrangement for cleaning an acequias is to have a clean up day.  All the parciantes bring their shovels and saws and work from one end of the ditch to the end, cleaning as they go.  This would be impractical for our acequia because it flows through a series of different acequias before returning the irrigation waters to the Pecos River. Some stretches of the acequia run a mile or more without any farms in that section. I have been informed that it is the longest acequia in the state of new Mexico.

Valorie standing in the acequia showing the cross sectional volume of the Tecolotito Acequia.  After the ditch leaves the Tecolotito area it flows several miles to the Upper Anton Chico area and from there several more miles to the Anton Chico section.  There is a court appointed watermaster who allocates the time and usage of drawing water from the acequia.  In Tecolotito, we can draw water between Noon on Sunday till Noon on Wednesday.

Another view of the acequia with the "Kneeling Patriarch" as we call this old gnarled Cottonwood.  Our farm is located on the Anton Chico land grant, which is a Mexican land grant dating from 1821.  The water rights on our acequia date back to 1836.  This is not nearly as old as some of the acequias in Northern New Mexico whose water rights date to the 1600s and 1700s, but they are senior enough to give us water rights on the Pecos River earlier than nearly any down-stream user.

The photo above shows a newly cut entrada with a pile of dirt in the background that shows the volume of dirt removed from the acequia.  Note the height of the side of the bank at the upper right hand side of the picture.

A final shot of the acequia showing the depth of the ditch, our footbridge crossing the acequia and young cottonwoods planted one year ago with protective wire cages so hopefully they don't become beaver food.  The acequia was turned on Friday, March 25th.

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