Bob and Jean Harshbarger live outside of Newcastle, Wyo. on Jean’s family ranch.
There is no electricity on the vast prairies of their ranch, so they use solar panels to pump water for their cattle. Through the years Bob and Jean have tried other methods to pump water but none have worked as well as using solar panels. Windmills were originally used on the ranch but they are hard to service and aren’t as efficient.
When the Harshbargers started researching alternative ways to pump water for their livestock, they were interested in moving to propane generators or solar panels. The propane generators were less expensive at the time, so they installed the generators. After time, the solar panels went down in price and Bob and Jean decided they would be a better fit for their operation. So, the ranch incorporated the solar panels on 14 of their 28 stock water wells.
According to Bob and Jean, the solar panels are more efficient and last longer than anything else on the market. The oldest solar panels on the ranch are 24 years old and are still in great condition!
The solar panels will pump water as long as the sun is shining on the panels. The Harshbarger’s even have a solar panel that rotates to follow the sun, which keeps it pumping water longer. There is also a control panel on each well that alerts the rancher as to what level the well is pumping.
Bob and Jean check the wells daily to make sure they are pumping and to make repairs. There is always a little repair work needing to be done, and Bob can usually fix it.
Story told by WSGA Intern Brittany Schaneman following a visit with RealRanchers Bob and Jean Harshbarger – Newcastle, Wyo.