Holiday = water leak

Well it’s that time of year again, I have come to realize that the farm has a sense of humor. It is without a fail a guarantee that on the hottest or coldest days of the year or any recognized holiday we will have a water leak. This must occur annually also to meet the criteria of truly annoying. It doesn’t matter how much I don’t want it to occur, the only good thing is now it seems to be a new location on a more regular basis now. Donna pointed out on Friday that there was water leaking out of the ground behind her house. Annmarie and I went down with the hope that it would be a leak from her front sprinkler, it was not, there was water bubbling out of the ground. We had a big long discussion on how the water got into the house and Annmarie and I were certain that there was another cross line. So the plan was for me to dig up the leak, then just cap off the line because we thought it was extra. My new Kubota tractor made short work of digging the hole and luckily there was an old PVC pipe from heat pump circulation line, now defunct that I hit so I quite digging with tractor. The water line I wanted was only a few inches deeper sitting directly on the hardpan. I of course did not have a cap that size so I had to go to town for it. Following my rule for buying plumbing parts I bought two of everything and a size smaller and bigger at the same time. I have a drawer full of parts and am considering going to a bin for plumbing parts in the machine shed. I add to it whenever I buy parts. This prevents unnecessary trips to town for things I should have on hand. I had the cap on in no time and then left the water off so the glue could dry. Amazingly we dug up an old repaired spot.

I figured I could use the time to go do some digging with the new tractor. I had not really used it much for digging so I went up to field #1 to work on the ditch and bank. I had already started digging a new ditch and reinforcing the bank so it was just a matter of continuing that work. I was able to really go to town with the tractor, the dry dirt did not really slow me down much. The Mistress could not dig in this dry heat with hard ground, but the Companion had no problems at all and made quick work of the problem. I am almost 2/3 done now and will need to get down and finish the rest after we get seeds in the ground. I figured it was time to call it done and went over into field 2, this cause me to get distracted and work on clearing weeds and moving some dirt to the outer edges of the soft area. The entire ground is dry now so I am working on making dirt embankments around the wet areas to keep anyone from accidentally driving or going into the spring muddy areas. After I played around with that I put the cows in for the night and then went down to fire up the water pump. I was looking forward to having water again. I started the well pump at the controller but kept getting a -1P code. I have no idea what that is but it is not a pressure readout like normal. I went upstairs and Donna found the operating manual for the pump. It turns out that the broken line really is necessary, it supplies all of the water to the second house! I had to call Annmarie, who was still in town, to get her to buy a stick of PVC pipe and some connectors. I went back out and cut the plug off the pipe and had to bail water for almost thirty minutes as the pump had turned on and pressurized the line. We had bad Chinese for dinner, they forgot our sweet and sour sauce, then went to my mother’s house so I could take a shower. I was in bed by 2100, I was tired.

Saturday I went down to repair the pipe and turn the pump back on. The real problem is the old 1.25” line is in the middle of a piece of 2” line. If the break is up in the 2” line I have no idea how we are going to repair it. There is a heat pump on an old concrete slab that is broken in several places, a new concrete room addition onto that end of the house and all of it is over the buried pipe. This being a holiday weekend a plumber would only be about three times as expensive as normal. We figured we could just get the water up and going again even if it did leak and get it fixed professionally on Tuesday. Yeah, the leak is up inside the 2” pipe! I went home and did the dishes and filled up more containers with water just in case. This will let us use water all weekend. I dug a little trench from the hole to let the water run out in one spot. Monday night I will turn off the pump, break the line apart and bale out all of the water. The water is not getting absorbed into the ground as that is clay and rock hardpan that the pipe is sitting on.

Saturday after I turned the water back on I went and changed out the box blade on the Kubota for the pull behind mower. Now mind you this is a new tractor and I have not yet figured out all of the oddities. The adjustable three point bar is not centered, there is more toward the tractor even though it is all threaded. I was going to pull it apart and redo it when I discovered this. As I was trying to get into the field I had parked a little too close and could not close the gate so I just went over to the tractor and pushed on the gas with my hand to move it out of the way. Now this is an unapproved usage issue and Kubota knew it, the tractor died. I had to get on it to start it and drive it forward one foot. I had another issue as I was going around in circles. I was using the cruise control and the tractor started to overheat. The intakes get covered with weed fuzz and need to be cleaned off. This was the third time I had to stop and clean out the vent intakes. I need to look at a portable air compressor and using a pallet to mount some tools and a box that can be carried by the tractor forks so I can keep working and have the necessary tools to continue on after a quick stop in the fields. I shut the tractor off, cleaned it up and then tried to start it. It would not start. I figured I had waited a little too long and the temperature sensor said the engine was too hot. So I crawled under the tractor, set an alarm for 30 minutes and took a nap. When I tried to start it after my nap it still would not turnover, this caused me to investigate further and I realized that the cruise control lever was fully engaged. I pulled it back and the tractor started right up, another safety feature I didn’t know about.

I used the tractor to put the cows into the barn lot. They pretty much know the routine now and were waiting down by the gate. The water has dried up in fields 2, 3 & 4. We still have water coming up out of the ground at the spring head in our barn lot. It is running well as we can now see it since Mr I Need a Belt Bad cleaned out the ditch in our yard. I had been telling Annmarie that her horse, “Hogs”, Mahogany, is so tame that I think I should be able to go get cows on her in a few weeks without a saddle. She keeps telling me that Hogs is not listening well to the bridle and needs more work. Mind you I have zero experience riding a horse but Hogs is so calm and used to me that we get along well and I can pretty much do anything to her and she lets me. When I opened the gate to let the cows in she took off and started running for the upper field. I had to follow with the tractor. Nope, I will not be riding that horse without a saddle and not until Annmarie says she is easily controlled. I saw her run all out as fast as she could and I am positive I would not be able to stay on!

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.

Montana snow kit arrived

It is here! Our Montana snow kit has arrived and it is almost the end of Winter. We have had nonstop snow for the last two days and have over 18” of snow on the ground now. Our friend from Montana, Doom, promised to over deliver and under promise when it came to his custom Montana snow kits and he managed to out do himself this year. We are shoveling snow twice a day for the walkway and today I had to break out the tractor and spend two hours clearing the driveway. The snow is getting too deep for Annmarie’s all wheel drive Subaru so I needed to clear a path so we could at least get to the road. They finally plowed our county road today. It is supposed to snow for another 3-5 days then rain for another 3-5 days. It’s going to be a mess and we will probably get flooded again, ugh. Luckily, I expect the new fences I put in to break away instead of bend over like they did last year. I was unable to get the backhoe up to the upper field and redo the ditches that are up there and got washed out last year. This is going to have to happen this year after everything dries out.

When I was out with the tractor I managed to accidentally ran off of the road, tractor slid sideways down a five foot hill. I managed to not roll the tractor and got it to slide down the hill sideways the rest of the way. While I was trying to not roll the tractor I spotted another water leak! I knew there was one as our water pressure had dropped slightly. I am honestly unsure how to solve some of the water leak problems. The last plumbing repair put in a rubber joint to hopefully absorb some of the stress of the pump cycling on and off at the pump outlet. So when the weather warms up I will need to dig the ditch out again and call the plumber. It’s not worth paying the plumber to dig the ditch.

The alpaca just do not care about the weather, Snoop dog has been hanging with the cows and looked miserable with his entire face covered in ice. Annmarie called him over to the gate and I let him through. He rambled up to the machine shed and hid under the overhang to get out of the weather. Within 15 minutes she decided to let the brown alpaca through the gate also so he could get to some food. Before she could get the brown one out of the orchard, Snoop dog ran into the orchard! So he was right back to where he started just back through another gate. The others just wanted to make sure they were near food, the snow and ice just does not bother them.

I got the overhead railing for the bathroom closet door installed and our grate cover for the oven vent outlet hole came. I got them both installed. The snow shoveling has been taking a lot out of me and I have been taking naps, which slows down the process on finishing the bathroom. I did manage to get the final lights brought in from the old house and killed the power to the room so I can get it all wired tomorrow hopefully.

Luckily, we had finished feeding all the cows yesterday before the snow got super deep. My hope is the snow will melt off before I need to feed again.

Thinning the herd

 

3282DB75-6D04-4D23-98BF-1E3DC6872D3CFriday morning we lost water.  Now this happens at least annually and he had just had some power blips so I figured the pump had just kicked off.  The controller resides in the basement of my mother-in-law’s house.  I called a few times and realized she was out of the house.  Around noon I called and she was home, she attempted to reset the pump without success.  I went down to try and see if I could get it started.  The pump controller is pretty complicated so I try not and mess with it too much.  Annmarie has to reprogram it when I do just randomly push buttons and that takes some effort on her part.  We could not find the instruction manual after I tried to turn it off and on (would not do it) then pulled the fuses and got the error code to change from “OC3” to “Er2”.  I then attempted to search the internet for the control manual without success.  I even called a pump distributor with no success.  The longer I stared at the case the more the weird melted plastic section stood out.  I could not ever remember that being there.  I touched the plastic case and discovered that not only was the case melted but that section was hotter than anywhere else on the case.  I called Pendleton Electric, as they do well pump controllers knowledge gained courtesy of Google.  I was able to say I thought the pump controller had burned up and to read the tag on the size with the power ratings.  They wanted the Hp of the well motor but we don’t know it.

We went out to the barn to start sorting sheep and got a call that the repair guys were here.  It was less than two hours from the time I called!  Annmarie went down to answer questions and oversee.  This left the Child and I to sort all of the sheep.  This sounds like a great combination unfortunately sorting out animals is rough on a good day.  If you want to know how well you can work with someone then just try and sort animals with them.  You will realize that everyone else are a bunch of idiots and if they would just do what you ask of them this entire process would go smoothly.  Now when everyone thinks the same thing it tends to cause some problems.  Now that we have more 6 foot panels I was able to create a sweep gate in the back of the barn.  So as we push more sheep down the chute we can keep moving the sweep gate and shrinking their waiting area.  This was Annmarie’s idea but we never had enough panels or lightweight panels to move making this possible.   It worked great and will now be something that happens every time.

They were able to put in a new controller and yes the old one had burned up after 15 years.  The new one has a pressure display in pounds and nothing else.  It’s just a grey box.  You turn off the pump now by pulling the fuses.  Finally, a sensible design.  Unfortunately, they could not get the pressure up to 60#.  They maxed out at 57# which means we most likely have a leak.  Annmarie walked the entire length of the pipe and could not find any water bubbling up. This does not mean we don’t have a leak as Annmarie reminded me there was an area down by Donna’s that was wetter than we thought it should be last year but it never bubbled but it was near the front spring.  So we are going to look at that area hard this spring after all the rain stops or when we lose water totally.

The Child and I had to make some executive decisions as some of the lambs were marked for cull and keep.  Their temperament in the chute decided their fate.  The child doesn’t like sheep with “crazy eyes” and wanted to cull all bad behavior out of the herd.  We saved around 6-8 female lambs to replace the old ewes.  We had to save all the old ewes as they have babies.  We have 6 no tag Barbados sheep.  We had a brand of tag that the sheep could pull out by reaching through the woven wire fences and lost a lot of tags.  We are probably going to have to retag them so we can track their babies.  They all look alike and we would like to track their productivity.  We are going to sort off the ten cull ewes before we put the ram back in with the main herd.  They will spend most of the summer in the orchard so we know they are not pregnant when we sell them.

We ran them through the chute system and had 22 to sell written down and 23 in the pen. We tried to recount several times and discover who I had not written down.  We finally gave up and ran them back through the chute backwards.  All the keep animals were on the inside of the barn so the far end was empty and isolated from the main herd.  Before we got halfway through them we found the one I had missed.   I had set it up so those sell animals would stay in the milking area of the barn and the corral area.  This way when our buyer shows up we can load them and be done in under 15 minutes.

 

E92E12EB-52BA-4CCA-A4FD-1BEA203864BFI had to feed the bull and his two charges and the ram next.  The bull had gotten tired of the four panels surrounding the large bale of alfalfa and had hooked and thrown it off with his horns.  This is one of his talents that he knows and performs on a regular basis.  I pulled a large bale of alfalfa out of the machine shed and pushed it down to Alcatraz.  I had to open the gate to push the bale inside but this let the bull, 2 steer and the ram out.  I thought, foolishly, that they would follow the bale of alfalfa back into their pen.  Nope!  The bull ran over to the far gate and started hollering for female cows.  I got the bale situated and the panels around the new bales.  Both horses were in Alcatraz happily munching on alfalfa when I went out with the tractor to chase the animals back.  No one wanted to back to isolation.  It took me about 30 minutes of tractor wrangling to get everyone back into the pen.  I considered going and getting the dogs but last time I lost my voice convincing them that I was boss.  The tractor worked eventually.   The dogs do best in wide open spaces.  I was unable to get either horse away from the all you can eat alfalfa buffet so I just locked them in with the cows and ram.  Annmarie got them by just walking over to the pen later that evening.  They just walked over to see her, I am not their favorite or their leader.

Removing 23 teenagers, age 6 months or older really opened up the space in the barn.  I was surprised.  It was enough of a difference that we might end up with a teenage herd running around in the barn lot next winter.  We can open up the old lamb shed for shelter and just feed them out of the back of the barn.  I will need to think up a feeder type for the outside of the building.  The real problem are the horses.  What do we do with them?  They need some shelter, they will share with the sheep but an all you can eat buffet is not healthy for them despite what they think of the idea.

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