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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Last things last.

I'm fond of tub baths, and Beloved likes showers, but tonight I bathed in a basin, in front of the wood stove.

Not that I mind that, it's what we used to do; we were migrant workers and drove round to our jobs in the Northwest woods in a GMC pulling an old trailer that we got for 150. It had a wood stove too, come to think of it.

Anyway, a basin bath was my only option tonight, and that was our own fault.

The piping in a house this old, with no more retrofitting than it has had, is vulnerable to cold. In cold snaps, we generally get away with running the taps lightly and putting a 100 watt incandescent bulb (turned on) under the pump in the wellhouse.

That cuts it down to about 16F, but we have had three mornings in a row of about 7 or 8 degrees above zero.

Now, that's not a record for here, but if we had thought about this instead of paying attention to the weather reports, which kept predicting lows of around 20, we'd have turned off the pump and the hot water heater and opened the drain cock on the line in the pump house (which is lower than almost all of the water system).

But did we remember to do that in time? N-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o, we did not.

So the water system is DOWN.

And how damaged, we do not yet know. Liquid water, as everyone should know, expands eleven percent when it solidifies. It's how you get cracks in granite.

Whenever this scenario plays out in our household, you can bet it does so in thousands of others around us, meaning that the plumbers might get to us in a month, if we are lucky!

But we have options, and we're putting them into play.

The ducks, geese and chickens must have water, and as they don't have heated waterers, in the mornings we go to the bridge over the creek and let down the two buckets on our homemade yoke one by one, and dip them in the water and bring this up to the pens and dump it into empty drinking buckets.

The buckets will freeze before long, so we also fill some buckets and set them in the living room, for use later in the day and in the evenings. These also stand by for jobs like flushing.

For ourselves we generally have a ten gallon or so supply, which we can supplement by taking empty milk jugs to town with us when we have business there, and filling them at Last Son's place.

If all else fails there is the hand pump -- which can be primed from the creek if necessary, but we'd rather not, so the last gallon on hand would be for the pump. Not that the creek is dirty, as creeks go, but there are horses upstream ...

For that matter, the well that has the hand pump on it is a bit too close to the chicken run, and for kitchen use should be boiled. So we think of it as a backup/irrigation well. Last things last.


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