Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The System

Last week I put out a request for help. I asked for advice on living without running water. Although they know how to do it better than the rest of us, I wasn't asking people in the third world. I wanted advice from people that have gone without running water either by choice or similar circumstance. Not surprisingly, most of the responses were from fellow Northland College grads. 

The best words of wisdom that came back our way (besides to just drink beer) were from our dear friend Anna. She's an expert at living without indoor plumbing. Her advice: Figure out a system, and put it into action.

This is our system:

1) Fill buckets from the hand-drawn well. We have lots of buckets around the farm, but we bought new (clean) ones for this occasion. What a splurge!

2) Carry buckets into house. Try not to dump water all over the laundry room, kitchen and bathroom floor. 

3) Fill back of toilet. Then we can pretend we have indoor plumbing! As a side note, Farmer John has dreams of building/digging an outhouse at the farm. This may be the excuse he needs. 

4) Fill a big metal pot and put it on the wood stove. Leave it throughout the night for warm water in the evening and hot water in the morning.We dip small bowls out of this pot for washing hands and face, and pour water out of it to use for washing dishes.

5) Refill clean buckets. Place in bathtub for general water use - cooking, dog water, flushing toilet, etc. 

6) We also bought a few other items that aren't normally on the shopping list - jugs of water, baby wipes, dry shampoo and some meals that don't involve a lot of dishes. 

7) For any tasks that involve lots of water we just go somewhere else. Showers and laundry have been provided by Farmer John's family. Plenty of other folks have offered up cabins, apartments and showers for our use over the next couple weeks.

We are grateful to our friends and family for their help and support as we deal with this new farm adventure. Although, it really hasn't been too difficult to handle. We wouldn't want to live like this all the time but are managing for now. The well driller called and said he should be able to start by the end of the week, so running water might not be that far away. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Watering the cattle - Part 2

Here's a treat - a post by Farmer John!  As you'll read, his project has meant a lot less hauling water and in turn, a much happier wife.

As you've read in previous posts we currently have no running water. While this isn't an ideal situation for us, the larger problem has been our livestock. An average bovine might consume 10-15 gallons of water per day. Hauling all that water to the trough in buckets got real old real fast. We decided there must be a better way.

Next to one of our pastures is an ephemeral stream. While there is little water that flows  in summer, during this extremely wet winter it is full of water. The idea was to fence in a small section of this stream and dig out a deeper pool for our cattle to drink.  Pictured below are a few photos of the stream.

Digging the pool was the most labor intensive part of the project. The  hole is about three feet by ten feet and two and a half feet deep. I spent most of an afternoon excavating with a shovel. Next, a fence had to be erected around the new watering hole. A few T-posts, some barbed wire, fence staples, a break for lunch and the whole job was completed.

I was pretty excited to show the finished project to the customers, so I called a couple of the shaggy coos down for cool drink of water.

The cattle were happy for the drink, but a bit disappointed that I didn't have any sweet feed to treat them.

Eventually the watering hole will fill back in with silt and and rock from the stream. However, it will easily last until our brand new well is drilled. We are hoping to start this project early next week. Stay tuned for updates on the well drilling adventure!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gauging the temperature

Although sometimes it feels like we live back in pioneer days, we do have an outdoor thermometer. It's on the back porch and perfectly easy to check. However, it's much more fun to judge the temperature by the animals. 

How much frost is on the backs of cattle?

A lot of frost? It's cold. 

How many legs are the chickens standing on? 

Just one? It's pretty cold. 

Don't worry chickens, temperatures look like they are headed up for the next few days. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Watering the cattle - Part 1

Remember when I said the well was fixed? No such luck. Farmer John and the guys from the pump store spent most of Friday working on it, but did not solve the problem. We are again without running water. We will stay without running water until a new water well can be drilled and hooked up, hopefully next week sometime.  

In the meantime, all the animals need water and it's our job to find a way to get it to them. The cattle drink a lot of water, even in the winter, and the little streams aren't running as much as they do in the spring and fall. So, we are hauling water bucket by bucket. 

This little structure is by the back porch. It's covering the hand-drawn well. 

Inside the little building is this pulley system. It's exactly what you'd imagine with a hand-drawn well. A bucket is attached to a rope, the bucket gets dropped down into the water, then pulled back up and the water is dumped into another bucket. 

I think this old pulley is so beautiful. On Sunday morning it was covered with a thick layer of frost. 

This is a picture inside of the hand-dug well. Notice that it's fairly shallow, three feet across and lined with stones. I can't imagine the work it must have been to dig and line it. 

After two of the bigger buckets are full, Farmer John carries them up to the cattle trough to start to fill it up. I stay at the well and keep filling buckets. It takes about 3 of the well buckets to fill one of those big buckets. Eight or ten of the big buckets will fill the water trough. This is not our favorite way to water the cattle. 

Farmer John is working on a better method to get water to the herd while we are without running water. If it works as planned (and let's face it, nothing much has been going as planned recently) we'll have some photos later in the week. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Farm Boots

Boots are essential footwear around the farm. This Christmas Farmer John and I did something really very romantic and gave each other new boots. Awww....

I gave Farmer John a pair of Rocky work boots. I know they don't look new in the photo, that's because he's been wearing them non-stop since Christmas. And, due to Bonnie and Clyde he's been in some mud puddles. He says he really likes them and would even wear them as dress shoes if they weren't covered in a two-inch thick layer of mud. 

Farmer John gave me a new pair of Servus rubber boots. My old ones finally bit the dust after keeping my feet dry for the last 6 years. I ripped a hole in them while trying to free myself from knee-deep muck. The new boots are getting me though all the mud around the farm, and they're blue!

We are both really tired of the mud all over the farm. We're just grateful our feet will be warm and dry this winter. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Well well well

Good news! Our well isn't going dry and the pump still works! The water is back. Guys from the pump store worked at the farm most of the day yesterday and installed a new bladder tank. This seems to have solved the problem. Thanks to Farmer John's Mom and Dad for staying at the house during the repairs and giving us some much needed moral support.

Farmer John is going to load cattle today and take them to the processor. I will not be there to help or take photos, but will be fretting sending good thoughts his way. Please do the same.

If you want to see what he's using to load the cattle click here, here, here, or here.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Well pump

This is where I found myself on Sunday morning. It's the crawl space under the kitchen and bathroom. 

I've been under here before when the pipes froze. Going under the house ranks in the Top 5 Worst Farm Jobs. It is Farmer John's absolute least favorite farm job. That's why I do it. 

The crawl space is very tight. I have to do an army crawl in order to get back under the bathroom. It's also damp, dirty and stinky. Notice the insulation hanging down around the pipes. That's from where some critters have been ripping it all apart.. Fortunately, I did not run into any of these critters on my most recent trip under the house. Also, look at that photo and consider how much I must love Farmer John that I volunteer for the job. 

Why was I under the house on Sunday morning? Because we don't have water at the farm right now. The well pump isn't working. We don't really know why. I went under the house to check that none of the pipes were leaking. They weren't. The pump could be dying. The well could be done. We might just need a new fuse relay. 

Farmer John is working on getting someone from the pump repair place to come take a look. Hopefully we will know more in the next couple days. Farmer John and I can make due without water for a little while. We'll go to town to do laundry, take showers and cook meals. But, not having water for the livestock is just not an option. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

It's a great day to be a Mountaineer...

...wherever you may be!

Our WVU Mountaineers defeated the Clemson Tigers 70 (thats right 70!) to 33 last night in the Orange Bowl.   The Eer's were big underdogs, so the upset had us in high spirits all day.  The big win already has us looking forward to the next game.......only 239 days till kickoff.

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