Monday, December 28, 2009

Cave Woman and The Water Hoses

A Cave Woman is just smart enough to get through life - no extra brain power for her. Something as simple as a water hose can be dangerously problematic.

The horses' water at Spirit Creek is provided in a sixty gallon tank and three hundred fifty feet of garden hose. In the winter, Cave Woman has to drain and roll up the hoses after each use, an enormous expenditure of energy for an overweight, out of shape, old Cave Woman. It takes hours dragging the hose up hill, filling the tank, draining the hose, winding it up (think frozen rubber), then wrestling it inside.

Eventually, even during the mildest winter, the hoses became hopelessly frozen, so buckets of water are filled and hauled up the hill in the back of the truck. No matter how carefully she drives, most of the water is spilled before it arrives at the tank. So, many buckets must be filled. It is a bit less energy expensive to simply carry two five gallon buckets of water up hill twice a day, and requires about the same amount of time.

Last year, Cave Woman installed a two-railed electric tape fence from the barn down to the edge of the yard. There, one fifty foot hose (piece of cake) and an electric tank heater made water available to the horses 24 hours a day. Putting in that fence took many more days to construct than anticipated. Because vegetation against the fence grounds it, the seven foot big blue stem plants had to be knocked down. Electric tape without a shock will not keep two full grown horses from wandering. In the absence of a suitable mower, the big blue stem was knocked down by driving the truck back and forth, up and down, for most of an afternoon. Then the fence posts were installed and the tape strung. It was Cave Woman's finest hour when the horses spiritedly trotted down the slope between the straight white electric rails to drink in the relocated tank!

Sadly, Cave Woman can not conceptualize into the future. She cannot extrapolate outcomes. With the arrival of warm weather, the tank was moved back up the hill and the electric corral was closed to reduce the chances of the horses getting out. The tank heater was no longer necessary and the hoses could lay on the ground all the time. But the prairie, fertilized by copious amounts of manure over the winter, and with no horses grazing it, grew to eight feet in the corral, too tall to mow with a lawn mower. With the fence in place there was not enough room to use the truck to knock down the grass. (And no room to drive the truck up the hill to haul water, either!) So, it was back to the hoses!

Here is the drill:
Turn on the faucet.
Walk up the hill to insure the water is running and actually going into the tank.
Wait for some indeterminate length of time for the tank to fill.
Walk down the hill to turn off the water.
Walk back up the hill to drain the hoses.
Slowly walk down the hill holding the hose high above the head - the cool-down for all that exercise.

Two trips up and down the hill per tank filling - except for Saturday after the blizzard. The hoses were buried under at least one foot of snow. But they were drained so water should flow through them, no problem. Alas, there had been a huge oversight before the blizzard by not hooking the delivery-end back to a fence post or something sturdy at last filling. Cave Woman had to dig around in the snow to find that end of the hose which was now "inexplicably" five feet too short to reach the tank. She walked down the hill, pulling the hose up through the heavy snow, stopping to rest every twenty feet, and sweating. She had to do this all the way down to the faucet, looking for that extra footage.

She turned right around and went up the hill with the snowy hose over her shoulder, pulling it straight as she went - too tired to cuss. Then back down the hill to turn the water on. Back up the hill to make sure water was flowing. Once the tank was filled, down the hill again, in her heavy mukluks, trudging through twelve to eighteen inches of soft snow every step of the way to turn the faucet off and unhook the hose. Then immediately back up the hill to begin the process of draining the water out of the hose before the water started to freeze. With hair wet from sweating, and frozen hands and feet, she finally accomplished the task.

In all, poor Cave Woman made four trips up and down the hill for a total of at least 2,800 feet - over a half mile in her mukluks - in deep snow - uphill. If only God had made her smarter....


The long hose path... it goes all the way to the little angled structure on the horizon. This was taken 20 days after the horrible ordeal documented in this blog....

15 comments:

Li'l Ned said...

Laughing hysterically.....

No, seriously -- why not just add a big room onto your house for the horses in winter? Back to the Middle Ages, yes, but they would help heat the place.. :)

Jackie said...

Li'l Ned, if I had acquired MINIATURE horses, they could live in the house with me. We could watch Judge Joe Brown together.

cyberkit said...

As soon as I'm done laughing, may a lazy urban non-cave male suggest a project for next spring?
Once the ground thaws, dig a trench (rent a ditch witch) 2.5-3' deep. Lay in pvc pipe to the horse tank. Provide a release valve at the bottom to drain the pipe after each use(just in case it might freeze, although at 3' it shouldn't). Let gravity drain the pipe. Set up a short piece of hose to go from the tap to the lower end of the pipe, turn it on.

Jackie said...

Your suggestion has been considered, lo from the beginning - including running a real water line with a faucet to the barn, and electricity. The plans to build a new house between the old house and the barn would complicate putting in a new water line. And the electric company wants to place a second meter, for $20 per month, for about an hour's worth of electricity per year. If I wait and put in the electicity and the water line when the new house is built, it will be much easier and cheaper. But... that might be Cave Woman thinking!

cyberkit said...

It's more a water delivery system than a water line. Who cares if it gets torn up when the new house is built? Until then, the horses have water...

Jackie said...

It's a good idea, and I have considered it before. It is the cost of the trenching in the FLINT Hills. Only want to pay for that once.

cyberkit said...

So don't bury it. As long as there's a drain valve at the bottom, there's nothing to freeze. Use it just like a hose that cant be easily cut. (just make sure you have somewhere for the draining water to go ...)

Jackie said...

Well, that might work, if I put a hose connection on the bottom end - otherwise the pipe would have to lay across the driveway, preventing traffic and the propane truck otherwise. The best thing for now will be to mow under the electric fence as soon as I can so the tank can be moved close to water and electricity. That worked the best, and was the easiest. And the horses like to come down and keep an eye on what's going on in the house and in the yard.

Li'l Ned said...

I'm really enjoying this virtual plumbing advising. I don't know where cyberkit is located, geographically, but I'm sure the cyber advice is cheaper than by-the-hour physical commute.

cyberkit said...

For Li'l Ned: I live in Lakewood, which is a western suburb of Denver. I'm just about half way between Denver and our beloved Rocky Mountains. (Jackie and I go back almost 13 years now.)

I'm glad you've enjoyed our chat ... I wasn't sure this was the proper place for it. I usually just email her.

Li'l Ned said...

So Cyberkit, you ARE within commuting distance. I don't know why you don't head east right now and show Cave Woman your plumbing manliness. First, of course, you'll have to plow through the snowdrifts. Maybe wait until spring?

I'd go myself, of course, except I'm much, much farther away :)-

Right.

Jackie said...

No one wants to come to Kansas, especially for plumbing duty! We should all go west - go eat at Li'l Ned's house this spring when she is preparing those delicious, prizewinning, homegrown YAMS!! ha ha ha (They were like my dwarfed urban sweet corn ears!) Funny stuff!

Jackie said...

Kit, of course commenting on this blog is allowed.

cyberkit said...

Part of my brain doesn't think of a (seemingly) never-ending construction and maintenance discussion as a 'comment'...

Jackie said...

It's my blog and I'll comment if I want to, comment if I want to, you would too if it happend to you... ; )