Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sufferin' wangdoodles

It's been a heck of a few days here.

Yesterday I was standing at the top of the hill, looking down at the concrete-block pump house, when to my wondering eyes should appear Bambi the sheep, being pursued by the two goats. They were playing. And they were all on the outside of the fence. Huh.

So I got a bucket of oats and waved it enticingly, and the goats clattered right into the pasture. Good boys. Bambi was wise to this trick, though,  and hovered right outside the gate, trying to figure out how to get the grain while keeping her freedom. I'm hanging onto the fence posts, holding the gate open and holding onto the grain bucket and staying upright, and blocking the goats from the opening. They're pushing at me, and Bambi edges forward then jumps back. We do this for a while. It was like bad basketball. I finally get tired of the foolishness, take the grain and myself out, and grab Bambi and shove her bodily through the gate. Take that, sheep. Huh.

So Earl and I gather up our fencing bucket and go down to the lower pasture (across the front of the garden and down the old concrete steps) and check out the fence. It's all pretty dang straight and tight, thanks to Richard and Em and KiSong, who helped me put it up. I see a few places that could use another clip, and a section below a cattle panel (that's a heavy 16-foot-long welded bit of fencing) that a goat could maybe squeeze underneath. I practice some of my college-acquired weaving skills with blue binder twine and wire. Pretty good. But then I see tufts of wool caught where the little buttheads are escaping. There's a gap between the cattle panel above the stone wall, and the panel below. I used regular stretched-wire fencing everywhere except near the wall – we splurged for the stiff panels there. So the little blighters are weaseling between the panels, through the old lilacs, jumping six feet down the wall, and frolicking off. Great fun!

I tie the panels together tightly with that fabulous blue twine. But the fence above the upper panel is just crap. Sloppy, loose, slumping... embarrassingly bad. So I need to go in and add another post and clean that up. But not today.

As we're finishing up, Earl and I walk the fence the other direction, just in case the buttheads have another escape route. And we find water pouring out from under the pump house door. Pouring out. This is not good. So I open the door and look in on an 8-inch-deep sea of water, gently rippling. You could raise catfish in there. I gingerly reach in and unplug the little heaters that were supposed to protect the lines from freezing, and crab my way up the hill to fit some jars with water and ask C. to shut the pump power off.

I check the weather forecast – 26 degrees tonight, so we can't leave the pump off overnight.

I haul a garden hose and C. brings buckets down the hill. We set the hose to siphoning the water off the floor, and C. bails. I wade in to see if I can spot a crack in the plastic pipe on the pump. No – it looks fine, except where the high-pressure spray of the leak has blown through the insulation on the walls. Damn. If I could find the bad spot on the pipe, I could replace it now while the pump is off.
But nooooooo. We have to get the room dry enough to stand in safely, then turn the pump on to spot the leak.

We leave the hose siphoning away and go back up the hill. We check later – it's going really slowly, so we bring three more hoses down and set them to sucking. C. bails. It's getting dark. I make a run to Miller's – bless them, they have hardware, and are open until 10 on Saturday. I pick up a few PVC parts, just guessing at what we'll need.

When I get back, K., T., and the baby are here. They are immediately drafted. K. and I hike down with parts and tools. The water is down to an inch, easy to work in but still plenty to electrocute one. K. rings a cowbell (our signal to the folks in the house to turn the power on), and I climb in my rubber boots onto dry 2x4s on a cinderblock in the pump house and aim my headlamp on the pipes. T. honks the car horn to tell us to be ready, and C. turns the power on. Water shoots out of the pipe where plastic meets metal. Bingo. The power goes off (another honk reassures us), and K. and I get to work. I cut the bad section out, leaving the threaded bit of plastic busted off in the metal pipe. K. works to get that out – it's the hardest part of the whole job. He hikes up the hill three times, I think, to get the tools we need. He finally has to resort to a hammer and chisel to get the plastic threaded bit out, being careful of the metal threads. I find an old bit of PVC pipe with the correct thread and cut out the section I want and splice it onto the new bit. K.'s strong hands are able to twist all the sections tight before the glue dries, and our repair looks great. We make our way up the hill, and he gives me a hand up the steep bit.

Done. We hope. The kids depart – I didn't get to see the baby! – and we kick back for a while as the glue dries.

I turn the pump on before bed at 11, and we leave the taps dripping to keep water moving in the system. Hurray, we can flush the toilet again!

This morning Earl and I hiked down the hill and looked in. The floor was nearly dry (we left the door open to finish the job) and no spray was visible from the doorway. Looks good.

And the damn little goat was out this morning.

C. planted six pounds of Kennebec spuds.

Four eggs today, though I let the dark hairdo hen keep three. She says she wants chicks.

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