Sunday, March 1, 2009

Saturday Fun: In Which Mr. Relentless Triumphs

We have an irritating water supply situation. I don't talk about it much because . . . well, because it's irritating and kind of a downer. Even though it's a lot better than it used to be. We now have the fancy filtering system in the house so we can drink the water from the tap, but the problem of getting the water to put into those fancy filters continues.

Our water is collected outside in the old barn cisterns. They will re-fill themselves to a certain extent when the ground is wet. But when they don't re-fill, we have to pump water in. We used to have water delivered to us, by a guy with a huge water tank on his truck. Not only can this get pricey, but we were at the mercy of the guy's delivery schedule, which is not so good when you're pretty much out of water and afraid to take a shower lest you run the cistern dry. So A. installed a pump down at the lake. It's a gas-powered pump that sucks water from a hose running about a hundred feet into the lake. The pump then pushes the water about 300 feet uphill to the cisterns by the house. This pump works really well, and has meant that we haven't had to rely on the water delivery guy for a couple of years now.


This winter, with all the storms and wind and ice on the lake, the hose in the lake that sucks the water out pulled loose from the cinder blocks anchoring it and floated to the surface. So we had to pull it out of the water. This would not normally be a problem, as the cisterns generally re-fill by themselves in the winter and we don't usually have to pump until about May. But for some reason, maybe because it's been so cold this winter, so the water underground is all still frozen, the cistern is not re-filling. And we were running out of water. All last week, I was rationing water, not showering, not doing laundry, waiting for the weekend when A. said he would get the hose back in the lake somehow and pump water. That's what we did yesterday. ALL DAY yesterday. It was epic, y'all. And I will now tell you about it.

First of all, please take into account the fact that the temperature yesterday never got above 20 degrees. So when we went down to the beach at about 9:30 in the morning, it was well below freezing. And we were working with water, of course. I'm sure you can imagine some of the misery that ensued. Frozen parts. Frozen tools. Frozen fingers. Not fun. A. had to wade into the lake to place the hose. Thankfully, he has insulated chest waders for fishing, but he still had to reach into the water with his hands to set everything up. It was cold, is what I'm saying. Cold and wet and miserable the entire day. Which is how long it took to get water into the cisterns. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

First problem: Getting the hose into the (FREEZING COLD) lake. We shortened the hose considerably, because it was actually deeper than it needed to be before, and just ran it out about ten feet into the lake, so it wasn't right on the shore. Then we had to prime the pump, which means getting (FREEZING COLD) water into it so it will create the pressure it needs to pump. But the bolt on the top of the pump that's supposed to come off so you can pour water in to prime it was rusted and frozen shut. So then we were trying to take off the output hose, to pour (FREEZING COLD) water in that way, and while we were yanking on that, the plastic connector on the input hose snapped. No fixing that. So then, A. jerry-rigged a connector with a piece of old radiator hose. This required a couple of trips up to the house to get tools and things.

Okay, so then we slopped (FREEZING COLD) water all over trying to pour it into the pump and input hose for priming. But when the water went into the hose, we heard a hissing sound. There was a split in the hose where ice had collected and expanded. So, more cutting of hose and finding pieces without ice in them that we could piece together so it would be long enough to run to the lake. More slopping of (FREEZING COLD) water to prime the pump, again. It is now two hours later. The pump was running, water was coming out of the lake, but it wasn't getting up to the house. A. figured that there must have been an ice block in the output hose at some place where it dipped down a little. The output hose, as I have mentioned, is about 300 feet long. Trying to find the ice block would be almost impossible.

But A. had another plan. He brought the pump up to the house to pump water out of an old ground well that had been drilled years ago and abandoned because the water was sulfurous. For some reason, it wasn't sulfurous anymore. So he dropped the input hose down the well and pumped. The well pumped dry in about two minutes. It was at this point that I suggested we could maybe just get a delivery of water. A. about exploded. He said he would sooner bring water up from the lake in buckets than call the delivery guy. I think it had become a personal challenge at this point. This was also the point at which he christened himself Mr. Relentless. I couldn't see what other options we had, but he formed a plan while we ate lunch and proceeded to carry his plan out in the afternoon.

He built a pond.

Woodchuck engineering

Yup, just like that. There's a very small stream that runs on the edge of our property. Very small, like five inches across. He built a dam with rocks and logs, then shoveled out the area in front of it, adding the cleared mud to the dam. It sounds simple and easy, but it wouldn't have been for anyone but him. He was moving massive rocks, cutting up logs with his chainsaw, and shoveling heavy mud for at least three hours. I helped a little with the rocks, but he did it almost all by himself. And the whole time, I'm thinking this is never going to work.

After six years of marriage, I should know better than to doubt A.

A. let the mud in the pond settle a little, and at about 5 p.m., eight hours after starting this whole thing, he pumped water from the pond into the cistern. The flow of water from the little stream didn't quite keep up with the pump on its lowest running speed, but the extra water in the pond allowed the pump to keep drawing for a good 45 minutes. Long enough to pump the water we'll need for the week, I think. I hope, anyway, because it's going to be cold this week and that pond will be frozen, so there will be no more pumping for awhile.

But still, there was pumping yesterday, and water today. All thanks to my amazing husband, Mr. Relentless.


Phoo-D said...

Wow. That sounds like a very long, hard and cold day. I hope the weather warms up for you soon!

Anonymous said...

This post made me smile and laugh out loud and wince all at the same time. I don't think I've ever told you that Mr. Mom and A are men cut from the same cloth. Mr. Mom acts exactly the same way on our land in Colorado. He spent last summer building a road and plans to spend next summer preparing to build a log cabin. Oh, and we have a water problem, too. We have a tiny stream, but it's down a steep mountain from where we want to build the cabin, so Mr. Mom started talking about pumps and cisterns and I just covered my ears and screamed. My god, I now know what I'm in for (minus the FREEZING part, of course, since our cabin will be a summer place). But some day I'll probably have some good story about pumping water that involves a bear. PS. Saturdays are a barrel of fun around your place!

Anonymous said...

I can only imagine how GOOD a hot shower felt after that day. Wow.

FinnyKnits said...

Holy fucking woodchuck, that's incredible.

I want to know what was going through his mind the whole time that kept him going.

Maybe it was the shower RLS talked about or maybe just being crowned the winner of the Water vs. A battle.

Either way - congrats on your victory, Mr. Relentless.

And go take a shower.

Daisy said...

Oh, my goodness. You won't complain next summer when it's hot; you'll just remember this day!