Rookie Mistake

The butcher, soup Nazi that he is, is unwilling to butcher the last few pigs. It’s  scheduling thing and there’s nothing I can do. (I should add that the guy is really good. He’s good enough that I’m unwilling to go elsewhere. He’s a butchering rock star.)

I’m losing money on the extra feed. The good news is that there are worse problems than having pigs that are “too big”. I just have to be patient; as I’ve said before, the butcher is an important man!

In the meantime old man winter arrived and he was pissed. Sometimes winter arrives with a gentle drifting beautiful snow. Other times the season kicks in the door with a baseball bat and an attitude. This year it’s the latter. It rained, hard and steady, for a few days. Everything turned to a sea of mud. Then the temperature dropped precipitously, the wind turned into a two day long relentless gale, and it snowed (well mostly it just “iced”).

Everything froze up; including me. I was fighting some minor medical issues and spent the four day transition in zombie mode. Something nagged in the back of my head. I was forgetting a task of some import. What was it?

The pig pen turned into a sea of mud. The pigs dug craters in the soup. The craters filled with rain. The puddles turned to ice. Snow drifted over the ice. My usually pastoral scene looked like a war zone. I was forgetting something. The pigs shrugged it off. The duck glared at the ice and blamed me personally.

Two days later I stumbled over the frozen hoses. I water the pigs with hoses that go to a “fountain” that’s a lot like a giant hamster water bottle nozzle. I was forgetting something but not the hoses. I was aware they’d freeze. (They’re “scavenged” hose. If one splits I’ll consider it acceptable losses.)

The pigs had plenty of water. The hoses were toast but I wasn’t worried about that. I was too sick to scoop up the iced hoses but I’d have to do that before the snowplow chewed them up. Was that it?

At sunset my brain caught up with my forgotten task. Have you guessed it?

Hoses get water from somewhere. I’d left the “frost free hydrant” on all summer and now it was winter. Shit!

I hustled for the chicken coop and… DAMMIT! It was froze solid.

Ugh! For those of you who don’t know, a frost free hydrant works even in very cold conditions. When you open the valve there’s a pause while water comes up from way deep; below the frost line. Then, when you turn off the valve, the water drops down with an audible gurgle. This leaves the aboveground part of the pipe evacuated of freezable water.

It’s an ideal system. Unless some dickhead leaves the valve open in freezing weather.

I’d made a rookie mistake. Damn!


About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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10 Responses to Rookie Mistake

  1. Weisshaupt says:

    Yep. I did that once. Makes you more careful after. The real question is what happened at the bottom of the pipe? I you are lucky it didn’t freeze down there and your deals and drain and everything are what they are supposed to be. If not, you get the pull the entire head and hope the seals and everything come up with it so you can replace them. Otherwise you are digging 5 foot holes, and no one will enjoy that.. I also had a newly installed hydrant just “go bad” after a hard rain like that.. Enough silt worked its way into the gravel in the pit that it plugged the drain/screen- so even if you remembered to turn it off, you still had water in the pipe. Luckily I had paid good money to get that installed and the company that did it came out and replaced it without charge. PITA though..

    • I bought property with four hydrants and three of them were broke. Two are hopelessly rusted in place and haven’t worked in years. One I managed to fill with air (to avoid freezing) but it’s now just a plastic pipe full of air with a tight cap. (The previous owners had an electric waterer and someone took it with them as the family raided the property before the sale.) I have been unable to hire a plumber guy to come fix/replace any of them. I mention “frost free hydrant” and they run for the hills.

      • Weisshaupt says:

        You need a “well” guy. Plumbers deal with nice urban settings. Well guys deal with the places the pipes don’t run. Failing that, find, rent or borrow a small backhoe and get to digging. They aren’t really complicated beasties to replace or install ( but they aren’t cheap either..) The Heads on them should allow you to screw them off and pull up the valve -seals and and everything, and that cuts down on the costs a lot if you can replace that or salvage bits from it. If it won’t move fix it with wd-40 , if it won’t stay use duck tape.

  2. Robert says:

    Oops. You have a medical excuse: illness-induced dumbness. What’s the fix? Heat tape, propane torch, another propane torch, hugging the frozen section tightly while weeping, er, hoping? Waiting for a warm spell (Ha!)? For me, the anticipation upon hearing that column of water rising to the valve always made a summertime drink that much sweeter. Too bad yours is frozen (snigger). Seriously, though, I presume you have a plan which you shall soon reveal to us.
    BTW, you aren’t the only one with seasonally-affective-forgetfullness: I, availing myself of an attached garage, forgot my coat. Twice. Duh.

  3. Judy says:

    The wife’s or teen-age daughter’s blow dryer – My blow dryer has thawed more frozen pipes than dried hair.

  4. Rob says:

    Heat tape, insulation & keep checking it until it’s free. That would have worked in “early” winter in Minnesota… I don’t know where you are.
    Good luck!

  5. Mark Matis says:

    Hmmmmm. We don’t seem to have any such problem where I live. What is this “froze” of which you write?

  6. davefreer says:

    Ok… I thought I had problems with a lack of water falling from the sky (which is is our drinking water – and we’re down to about 5000 gallons). Perspective is everything. Look, if you move to the island pipes do not freeze, and I will kill, butcher and bacon your pigs. I do mine, and it’s easier before they get too big. (yes, there are a lot of downsides, but freezing isn’t one.)

    How do you fix this?

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