Field prep

Holidays are the best because I have four days off in a row, but they also suck because I have four days off in a row. When I rolled out of bed this morning I did not want to dig a ditch but one still needs to be dug. I am getting Mr Rainman to come out tomorrow. The plumber wants to replace the line back at the junction which means digging out another 25 feet and potentially having to build a wooden support for the heat pump so we can tunnel under the four feet of the old concrete pad. The pad is pretty broken and cracked so I would not feel safe without supporting it before tunneling under it. We just need to get to the foundations of the freezer room so we can drill a hole into the room from underneath. This will let us run new Pex pipe and should stop us from having to run a heat tape. I remembered tonight that I have a small portable sump pump so I will break that out in the morning and we won’t have to do the bucket emptying that I have done the last two times. I should have remembered it earlier.

I only have about 2 hours of mowing on the fields left but I stuck with dragging the disc around in circles today in an attempt to get the field ready. I now have all of field 2 disced and now want to run the arena groomer over it all to smooth it out then plant with my cultivator/seeder. I am going to plant grass on the East side of the field as there is still moisture in the ground and plant some leftover triticale seed I have in the 1.5 acres on the West side because it is much dryer on that side. I would love to get about 4 more days in field one to finish the ditch and embankment work. I want to create a second ditch and embankment on the inner field about 20 feet in. I am going to run a fence on top of the second berm so I can run the animals into it after it is harvested. At the rate we are flooding lately the additional berm will be needed.

I think it will take two days to get all of field 1 disced. Then one day to disc field 3 and another for field 4. So I have about 120 hours to get all of the fields ready and planted. No problem with my other full time job in the midst of a pandemic. Luckily, I have a couple of helpers and I am going to have them working quite a bit this month until we can get it all done. We are seeing a lot of quail all over the property. We have found three dead deer on the place in the last three weeks. No signs of injury, I suspect that wasting disease is present in our area. I have seen two live does and a little buck this weekend. We still have at least one bunny rabbit. It lives in the machine shed and sneaks out to eat. We know there was a second one around but we have not seen any baby bunnies.

My favorite not job, outdoor plumbing

We finally had to tackle the dreaded water leak. Two weeks ago I was informed that the pump electricity bill had jumped by $100 and it was time to tackle the water leak. It was Sunday and I had some other plans. Those plans did not include crawling around in the cold and mud and digging up plumbing. I hate plumbing. After the wife and I had a discussion, the dogs were running for cover, I went out and put on my chest waders so I could go dig up the plumbing. Mr Professional and I went out to do battle. I was able to use the tractor to tear up the first 18 inches. This area was easy to dig in as I had filled it in with straight gravel last time it had a leak. We kept digging a channel on the downhill side to let the water run out.

It turns out the slip joint had broken. This is the second time this has happened. I think it is from over tightening the joint. We dug it out then went to town and got the parts to fix it. I made Mr Professional do the actual gluing. I cut all the pipe and got it all ready. No matter what I do I usually have to glue everything twice. Once the parts were glued in we left it unpressurized to dry and cure.

I woke up at 0400, went outside in the dark, fired up the pump, made sure there were no leaks and started using the water by taking a shower. It was glorious! A couple of hours later Annmarie texts me that it is now snowing. I had Mr. Professional run out to the house and fill the hole. When it dries out in a couple of months I will get in there with the tractor and build up the area. It only cost about $250 to fix the entire water leak. I was pretty impressed with the repair and cost.

Water Woes 2020

It seems like every year I end up digging up a leak.  I keep hoping that we will be able to go one year without an issue, but so far I don’t think that has happened.  After the electrician replaced the burned up pump controller the pressure would only go to 58#.  It is supposed to go up to 60# and then stop the pump and not restart until the pressure drops to 40#.  Well it could not get to the max pressure while the pump was running continuously.  Both Annmarie and I suspected the wet/green patch we noticed last year down by the irrigation ditch but it had never surfaced.  Well on Thursday my mother-in-law and nephew found water coming out of the bank and ground by the suspicious spot. I tried to take a shower Friday morning and had to give up as the pressure was down to spitting pressure.  I went in to town to buy supplies.  Since the pipe was above the water level in the ditch we decided that some form of conduit was needed to protect the pipe.  We had flooding the previous year and it strained the pipe and caused it to have a slight bow across the water.


I decided that running a larger piece of pipe over the smaller pipe and then anchoring it at both ends with poured concrete blocks would work.  I went around town and got all the parts needed to patch the pipe, create a conduit sleeve, create concrete forms and pour concrete. I got home by 1130, put on my chest waders (best thing ever to wear when digging up leaks) and went out to do battle with the leak.  I decided to bring the tractor down and see if I could use it to at least dig up the weeds and organic matter.  Luckily for me I was able to dig down almost two feet with the tractor because I ended up digging 16 foot trench!  I needed to dig all the way to the ditch so I could slide the conduit over the pipe and build the concrete forms.  It was still only about two hours of hand digging.  I kept the pump on the entire time.  This let me wash the loose dirt down into the irrigation ditch.  Turns out the pipe just split.  It is thin walled pipe and has been plaguing us since they put it in. It should of been thick walled schedule 80 pipe.  At this rate we have resigned ourselves to redoing it eventually using rolled thick walled black ABS pipe and having a single continuous piece with no glued joints.  It usually breaks at a joint but not this time, it just split.  I cut out a 10 foot section and was able to slip a 7 foot piece of 3” black ABS plastic over the water pipe.

I built two concrete forms and then anchored them so they would not spread when I filled them with concrete.  I just kept mixing the Sakcrete 60# at a time and put 240# in each form.  They are dug into the hillside so only one side will be exposed to the running water.  It was supposed to freeze so I covered each form with old rugs to allow them to retain some heat, freezing is bad for the concrete.


I left the hole unfilled as I wanted the dirt to dry out a little bit.  I cannot get in close with the tractor as I kept sinking into the ground.  It rained today so I am not sure how well my plan is going to work.  I did throw a two inch layer of dirt over the entire pipe before leaving.  I wanted some weight on the pipe and some freeze protection.  I had the box blade on the tractor and could not get back across the ditch.  Got stuck twice and eventually had to unhook the box blade, cross the ditch and then reach back over the ditch and yank the box blade across with a chain.  I will have to put the dirt back with only the front blade.  I did go back and verify that the fix did not leak and the pump does go to 60# now.  I took the best shower I have had in 10 months this morning!


It was a beautiful day and my new glasses also noticed the sun was shining.  I spent the next 36 hours sick after doing this repair.  I caught the plague from the wife, she says I need to do Yoga more!  I had night chills both nights so I am going with the plague as the cause of my headache, yuckiness and general miserable feeling, not the physical exertion of digging out a 16 foot ditch.



Plumbing juvenile

Annmarie told me on Friday that there was a water leak down at her mother’s house around the frost free fire hydrant spigot. I despise plumbing and it doesn’t like me. I talked to Donna and gave her the news that I was busy all weekend until Sunday. I knew I was going to have to dig out the leak as almost no plumber does that these days. If they do do it, its very expensive.

There was some discussion about having Thing 1 or 2 dig or one of the nephews. Digging is one of those things that you just have to keep after and you have to be careful when you get close as to not puncture the pipe and make things worse so the amateurs were off the table. I headed out Sunday and found three shovels, a normal one, smaller head one and a short handled one. I spent 30 minutes sharpening each one with a file and running a wire brush over the spade part to smooth it out and get rid of any rust. A sharp edge and smooth blade make for a much easier digging experience especially in the mud.

I ended up digging a channel away from the standpipe as the ground sloped away and I was hoping to get the water to drain away from my work area. This also allowed me to dig a smaller hole as I could back up into the channel and bend over to work on the pipe. As much as it pains me to admit, I am getting pretty good at digging holes for plumbing repair. I know how much to expose and I make it big enough to work in. A hole that is too small is so painful to work in and its messy.

I decided to only wear a billed baseball cap instead of one of my wide brimmed hats. About an hour into the job I realized I was wearing my new leather boots and needed to crawl down into the wet muddy hole. I went back to the house to put on my rubber boots when I realized I had no rubber boots. Annmarie tried to talk me into buying a pair when I got the new leather boots but I didn’t want to spend that much money. Luckily, I had found my brand new chest high waders in the old house when we cleaned it out. I figured I would only be outside for a couple of hours. It took me 4.5 hours to dig the hole and discover that the 90 degree elbow had a small crack in the bottom, most likely from turning the faucet off and on. Wearing chest high water proof waders in 100+ degree weather is not ideal by a long shot. My entire body was soaking wet. My clothes looked like I was standing in chest deep water.

Sarah loaded all of the yard sale items into the pickup and I went over to help her unload them. I did tell her that if she got them in unassisted she could get them out alone. She knew I wanted a cabinet out in her shed and it is a two person transfer. So I was on the hook to help her unload so I could get the cabinet for the old house! I was basically blackmailed by my own child.

The plan was for me to pickup new parts on Monday after work and then come home and fix it. Now it should be noted that after multiple attempts and some reading I have not improved my plumbing skills. I have basically not improved at all. I can dig a great hole but the actual plumbing part is like catching a greased pig. The likely hood of catching it on the first try is very slim but if you keep applying yourself eventually you can do it. That pretty much sums up my philosophy when it comes to plumbing. I only do simple repairs and they never go right. I tried to get the needed parts at the first hardware store but they did not have the 90 degree elbow in 1 1/4 size. I was unsure if I needed a 1 or 3/4 inch nipple or reducer, so I bought the 1 inch because I thought I had the 3/4 at home. At the second hardware store I found the needed 90 degree angle. My first mistake was only buying one! I went home put on the weight loss waders and glued the pieces onto the pipe. The pipe had some water still running out so I had to work quick but it was hot and the glue was drying fast. I then attached the standpipe and the frost free standpipe and tied the pipe up at the top so the weight was off the new joint. I waited two hours and had the water turned back on. Nope, I had several micro leaks around the glued joints and the threaded part of the frost free standpipe. We left the water on so I could shower! I was off on Tuesday and would get it done.

So Tuesday morning the water got turned off and I went down and sawed the joint off. I opened faucets up at our house and yard in an attempt to get all the water to drain out of the system. Annmarie was going to town so I asked her to buy 2 sets of parts. The actual stand pipe size was 1 inch. I let it drain for 3 hours. This time I glued the reducer into one side of the 90 degree angle and then glued the 90 degree angle onto the pipe. There was a single drop of water present that I dried first. I left this to dry for 2 hours. Then I put teflon tape on a nipple then inserted it into the frost free hydrant. I used teflon tape on the other side and screwed it into the reducer on the 90 degree and tied it up at the top to support the weight. Again the water was turned on and I still had a leak! The hydrant side had a slow drip from the nipple. The water was turned off and I took it all apart and used four wraps of teflon this time. I usually only use two wraps as too much is not a good thing. I had the water turned back on and the leak is even slower but still present. There is a point in a job where simple perseverance is the answer. I had just enough time to get to the hardware store and buy some yellow colored thread compound. I had noticed some corrosion on the pipe threads and I suspect that is why the teflon tape was not working. I painted the stuff on and used two layers of teflon tape, installed it again and had the water turned back on. It is a miracle, there was no leak! I had won. The only problem is the standpipe has about a five degree tilt to the right. This is within acceptable tolerance when it comes to a Steve plumbing job.

I have been going up to the upper field and checking for coyotes per Professional instructions. I have seen nothing. On Monday night as I am heading home I spotted a coyote on the back hillside with a small dead animal in its mouth. It was 125 yards away and all I had was a Ruger 10/22. I took a single pot shot that caused it to drop its meal and run away.

On Tuesday the Professional came out to check his work. I caught up with him and he asked me to only go out every three days. He did tell me that they are trying to trap a cougar for one of my neighbors. The cougar is less than a mile away and has been spotted out during the day around homes. We had been wondering why the sheep have been bunching up in the evenings and trying to get inside the barn. They do not want to be away from the buildings. So we will keep a look out. Nothing has woken us up at night and we sleep with the windows open all year around.

Our internet is coming! They got the 1/4 inch steel wire hung on the power poles all the way to our house today. We should have true high speed internet by next week. One of the installers told Annmarie that the unfettered high speed, what we got, is currently running at 700MBS!! We cannot even get 1.5 MBS now and our current upload speed is only 125KBS. We have just given up on the internet. We cannot stream any TV as our show hung up every 30-60 seconds lasts night and today I could not use the computer as it cannot update itself as the speed is too slow. We are just biding our time and looking forward to any sort of improvement but it looks like we are going to be getting an amazing upgrade! I will be able to do Twitter and You Tube from our house.