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Center Pivot Hops Over Old Farmhouse
Center pivots are a common sight in North-east Nebraska but no other system has attracted as much attention as the one owned by Ewing, Neb., farmer Gordon Shrader. It passes over a 2-story, 8-room house, climbing two man-made dirt ramps as it makes its circle around the field.
"We've had a lot of spectator traffic since the project started last spring," Shrader says. The pivot is located in a field 4 miles south and 1 112 miles west of Orchard, Neb.
When the system's towers approach the house, they climb the 20 ft. high earthen ramps which are located on both sides of the old house, enabling the pivot mainline to clear the roof. The descent is then made to the other side.
People can't believe their eyes when they first see the bizarre setup but there's a practical explanation for the unusual house-hopping pivot.
Shrader says he leased the land for a 10-year period. The landowners agreed to removal of the outbuildings on the farm-stead, but for sentimental reasons, did not want the farm home to be torn down. The house is occasionally used as a hunting lodge by the owners.
The house is not worth the expense of moving it from the pivot's path and to put in an auto reversing system for the pivot would have been cost-prohibitive.
One complicating factor is that the local power company gives Shrader a reduced rate for running the pivot only 12 hrs. a day. Reversing the pivot would require 18 hrs.
"I'd have to go on full time electric power then and that would be more expensive," he says.
Most of the farm outbuildings were torn down. The unburned rubble was used as a basis fo the dirt ramps which were formed with a bulldozer by a local contractor. The tracks up each ramp are covered with a heavy layer of rock to provide traction and to prevent erosion. The ramp sides are covered with grass. Shrader says building the ramps didn't cost much more than it would have cost to dig a hole to bury the rubble from the buildings.
The pivot climbs the grade with no problem, passing over house with sprinklers on.
Shrader, who lives across the road from the old house, farms 3,680 acres. His operation includes 19 center pivots.

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1991 - Volume #15, Issue #1