This weekend was a cavalcade of problems on the farm. Our long dry winter has finally decided to normalize. The storms are welcome; we really need the water. Naturally though, the change brings its own set of issues.
Indirectly the weather change brought on a well emergency. The farm straddles a major road, with the old section on the west side and the newer part on the east. Our side, the old part, is mostly devoted to chickens (and tenants), and some sheep. The other side, about 60 acres, is all about sheep. It’s also where Elmer keeps the emus. (Yes, emus. A long story, for another day.) So, Saturday in a sunny break between squalls, we walked over to visit Mr. and Mrs. Emu. They’ve become quite attached to us, in their ‘big-bird-feed-us’ kind of way. Yesterday when they spotted us coming up the hill, they headed our way at a full trot. It’s quite a sight to see, 120 pound birds running at you; it warms our hearts, even if it is just about apples. So, while there, we noticed that the big water tank at the wellhead, was sitting kind of catawampus at its moorings. While we were walking back down the hill, Elmer flew past us at a full gallop on one of the mules (mechanical, not hoofed ) with his cell phone pressed to his ear. Once home I heard an odd, water-running kind of noise under the house — all the water in our pipes was being sucked back into the system as the pressure failed. Apparently a temperamental switch failed and the tank didn’t fill. That would not usually be a big deal, but with all the recent rain, the hydrostatic pressure in the soil was pretty high and that tank, sans water, was too light to hold its semi-buried place. In an unfortunate “Rube Goldberg” scenario, the tank literally popped up out of the soil like a wet bar of soap from a firm grip, snapping the attached pipes as it went. It must have happened just minutes before we got there. Well, Poor Elmer was in a state–it wiped out our whole water system. There he was as night fell, storm rolling in, jerry-rigging a connection to his daughter’s neighboring well. We’re limping along on a severe conservation alert so I quickly rinsed the dishes, but left them sitting in the sink.
Last night, while the storm was blowing, Bob brought in a mouse. It’s one of the little known secret about cats–not only will they hunt mice in your house, if they perceive a shortage they’ll bring some in for entertainment (and to show us that they’re on the job, rain or shine.) Bob wouldn’t give it up. I was chasing him but he’s quick. He growled every time I came near. Finally I just chased him outside and closed the cat door. Kilo stood by complaining that he didn’t have a mouse. I hated to leave Bob out in the pouring rain, but rules are rules. It was really raining, too. In a really hard downpour the internet cuts out. It’s satellite service. I don’t understand it, but in the paper-scissors-rock game of the powers of the universe, rain-beats-satellite-signal. Finally I gave up and went to bed, but it was raining hard enough to wake me repeatedly from a deep sleep. Finally, in the middle of the night, in a guilty funk, I got up and reopened the cat door.
This morning I woke up to the sound of a cat retching. Yup, Bob was back and apparently the mouse didn’t agree with him. Bob’s a farm cat with a sensitive stomach. Not one to be sick alone, Bob was in from the rain and throwing up on the kitchen floor. Oh yeah, and there were ants. Thousands of them. Ants are not unusual here, they make a run at it a couple of times a year and are held at bay by good housekeeping and Grant’s Ant Stakes. (They’re the only relatively benign thing that works. “That’s right folks, ask for them by name.”) The rains have flooded the ants out and they’re looking to take up residence in the house. Of course, the ants have found the sink full of dirty dishes. The house is cold; the fire is out. It’s Monday. I have work to do, but in the heavy rains the internet keeps cutting out. I really need coffee. Did I mention that there’s no water?
These, too, are the joys of rural living.