Friday, August 17, 2012

Chasing Water

We’ve been "chasing water" all summer.  It began late in May when we first started irrigation water on our hayfields – as described in my post

It continued so dry that we no sooner finished getting from one end to the other across our hayfields then we started again.  Then it was time to cut the hay – and quickly throw the water back on them for the third time of the summer.

We also had to chase water in another venue: the house water first got murky, then diminished to a trickle.

The water for the house is the best in the world.  It is gravity flow from a spring some 1000 yards up the coulee.  There has always been enough clear, cool, free water to take care of all the household needs, and to irrigate the lawn to boot.  But we began to have trouble this summer.

With the first cutting of hay in the stack, the time came to address the house water situation.  First stop was the spring box – a concrete vault built into the hillside, with perforated pipe laid back into the spring behind it.  Years of use had left a build-up of silt in the bottom of the tank, which was now spilling over into the outlet.

We first stirred the silt into a slurry, then pumped it out of the tank.

Then we began draining the line down to the house.

But we still had no pressure.  In fact, after 2 days of steady work we had just a trickle of water at the house – only one toilet was working and there was no water for a shower.

On the third day we plumbed a fitting in the basement so that we could apply a blast of air back up the water line.  We opened the yard hydrant and emptied the compressor tank to blow silt back up the line.  We next moved the compressor to that yard hydrant and blew air back up and out the next hydrant up the line, and on up to the hydrant at the horsebarn – blowing air clear back up through the inlet at the spring box.  Then we worked our way back down the line to the house.

Some of the faucets at the house emptied brown water, but with good pressure.  Others were plugged tight.  We took apart each of the faucets and each of the toilet floats to clean plugs of debris, and got some feeble water.  After four days of work and several more blasts of air back up the line we finally got clean water at good pressure!

Only a person who has been without can fully appreciate the pleasure of having adequate flows of good water at the tap.  And now we can again brag that we have the world’s best water – with no chlorine, no interruptions, and no monthly water bill.

But we’re still chasing water in the hayfields.  We’ve been across each of them three times over the summer, and now we’re irrigating some grazing land.  In this field we use plastic dams to tip the water out of the ditch, moving the dams some 30 feet twice a day.  Last year we only irrigated once!

Next up is to cut hay for a second time on the irrigated fields.

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