Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Water, Wells and Winter

Last Saturday when the snow was freshly fallen, I delivered hay to the horses via sled.

Mufasa kept a safe distance from the funny green, careening, sliding, skidding, sled. Winston chased it, then tried to eat it.

Flash was bored and unimpressed. Jackson was initially curious,

then alarmed,

and finally came over to investigate.  Flash followed.

Today wasn't nearly as full of new adventures. I took the Subaru to work since icy roads and small sports cars don't go well together. The drive from our home to the freeway took 40 minutes instead of the usual 20 as I crawled across the icy snow, steering straight and slow - but not too slow - and taking a straight line across the ice. There was a steady stream of trucks coming the other direction, delivering goods to the market at the end of our valley; important goods like Doritos and Coors -- and a truck piled high with pink rolls of insulation.

Shortly after I left, the well company came to "fix" the pump. The pressure gauge was shot and, underneath the insulation, the pipes were frozen. The pipe from the well to the pump was split and shattered. The water in the holding tank was frozen. Brett was advised to get an electrical outlet installed so we could put a space heater in the pump house. We also needed to get a special kind of insulation for the pipes that has little wires embedded in it that are sensitive to the cold. When the temperature drops, they heat up and keep the water from freezing. We had no idea such things existed.

Brett started calling electricians and plumbing supply stores. The electricians were booked out for two weeks and the county was sold out of heat tape for pipes. He found a place in Sacramento and I left work early to snag enough for our well pipes. Meanwhile, he found an electrician who said he will come out tomorrow.

We are hoping for much warmer temperatures so the pipes and holding tank thaw. Until they thaw, we will STILL have no water.

After getting back home with the heat tape, I warmed some water on the stove for the goats. I poured the warm water from my stock pot into a bucket and walked out to the goat area. I unlatched the gate and stepped inside with my blue bucket of warm water. My foot slipped on the slick icy mud and I landed on my butt with a thud. The bucket sailed out of my hand and the water spilled at Thistle's feet. He looked at me, wondering what game I was playing, then came over and sniffed my face. I'm not hurt, but my shoulders are sore and I feel a bit... tweaked. And I still had to fill the goats' water bucket. Their water was frozen solid.  I turned it over and dumped a twisted ice sculpture on the ground.  I ended up setting a bucket under the down spout from the barn roof gutters and filling it with the water from the melting snow on the roof.

After chores, we went to Marv's house to use his shower. It felt wonderful.

Living in the Sierras in winter is beautiful but it's hard work too.


  1. It is beautiful, I can identify with your hard work though. Too funny we use a sled to get grain from car to barn sometimes :))

  2. Maybe Winston wants to be a cow horse since he likes to chase things? :)

    Please let us know if the heat tape works, up here in Wa, we are just thawing from a deep freeze too, luckily no burst pipes but the freeze free faucet froze solid at the the barn. Hope you get water soon!!

  3. that last scene sure is beautiful. but toting water to farm critters is definitely not easy. i hope you can get it up and running soon!

  4. Fortunately, not all winters there are as harsh as this one. I was thinking about selling our house in the fall, but am now glad that I didn't, because the renters probably would have moved out and without anyone living there, the pipes would have frozen for sure. Our washing machine and dryer for that house in the Sierras are in the garage, and I forgot to tell the renters to lay blankets over the washer. I'm sure I'll get a bill for a frozen water pump next month.

  5. Living anywhere there is cold and snow in the winter is scary and hard... I agree. And especially tiring! I'm so glad you weren't hurt, it's the thing that scares me the worst.


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