The well, again

The well froze again!  There must be a sensor that we can’t find.  The pipes are wrapped, the pipe heater’s working, but if temps drop low enough, the damn thing quits again.  We dug out a hose line last year to look at running a water line to a barn, and it’s not below the frost line.  I guess that was a false start, because heating that section didn’t get the water running this time.  Every fix we’ve found, it changes when temps drop a little more.

We stockpiled bottled water, but with lactating animals, it wasn’t going to last us until the roads cleared again.  We emptied a 5 gallon jug, and when we came back with boiling water to keep it warm enough not to freeze, a third of it was gone.  The critters use hay and water to heat themselves from the inside.  Icy road conditions are predicted through the end of the weekend.  And we don’t have 4WD on anything except the tractor.  We wondered if driving to the store for water for the animals would be a legal use of our tractor on public roads!

We finally resorted to scooping up snow to melt it on the stove, trying to stretch the water reserves a bit.  And then, halleluja, the water came back on.  The fix?  A last-ditch, this-isn’t-the-answer but try-anything desperation.  We put a space heater into the well house on full blast.  How much is running water worth?  Well, it’s costing us about $5 a day at this point, but I don’t have any better ideas in the short-term.

Add “rebuild well house with industrial-grade insulation” to the to-do list.  Something important in there freezes when temps drop below 28, even with heat tape and pipe insulation and then radiant barrier insulation wrapped around the whole works.

Gosh, I like running water.  Now we can haul big buckets off to each barn twice a day again.  The barn we’re repairing – and using while under repair, because we desperately need the space – is on the same plane as the house.  We could potentially run water to it, properly buried so it runs year-round.  But it’s not near our pastures.  The goats in there now have to be walked to pasture, then walked back to the barn at night.  If we build pasture fences out to the barn, we’ll either lose the drive to the other side of the property, or have to build a ton of gates. 

Once we started moving goats in there, I realized how unworkable it is in terms of daily management.  It’s not the worst leading adult goats around, but baby goats need to learn to follow their mothers before we hike them across the property.  And, of course, it’s added time and labor when maintenance and milking already take time and building out/repairing/rehabbing takes more time than we have.  But that’s the only barn that’s workable in terms of running water and power.  Quandary.

The other barn – the one we’d been using from the start – is 10′ below the house, just a steep drop.  I’ve been worried about the hill slipping, because it’s so steep and drops off right near the house.  (I stacked railroad ties next to the slope just in case!)  I’d be afraid to dig in it for a water line until we build a retaining wall.  Well, retaining walls cost a fortune, so there’s no running water in that barn’s future, except the garden hose dragged over to it.  But it’s perfect for baby goats – there’s a couple small pasture areas adjacent to it, and we can see (and hear) it from the house.  We’ve seen coyotes try to get there, but they’ve never gotten past the house before we chase them off.  But pregnant and lactating goats need water, even in winter, and reliable power is sure a help when you get a singleton birth in freezing weather, or, you know, just to run lights or bucket defrosters. 

So I think the answer is to move.  I floated the idea of Miami, but hubby is a tough sell.  Maybe Tahiti would be more his style?

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