Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

The Farm Abhors a Vacuum (But the Ducks Love a Mud Puddle).

Posted on | January 16, 2011 | 2 Comments

Ah, don’t you love a day off.  I didn’t have anything planned for today except for 2 cups of coffee and a morning news show.  Yes, I had to make some cheese.  And finish emptying the boys’ bedroom in preparation for work on the house addition.  At some point, the broken microwave had to be returned.  Plus, the hinge fixed on the door to the snack cabinet (clearly an overuse injury).  All in all, a slow day.  But, joy of joys, a thaw in winter temperatures meant the barn chores would be a snap.  Water pipes should be thawed and automatic waterers restored to their blessed job of quenching the thirst of the critters and sparing me the tedious and shoulder wrenching job of carrying buckets.  Never mind, sparing me the whining from Big who had the job of filling said buckets in the kitchen sink and delivering them to the deck door. What a sweet, sweet Sunday.

Until I turned on the water to the barn and all of the hose connections turned into sprinklers.  Apparently this year’s ferociously cold winter was just too much for them.  Determined to share their angst, they burst wide open, scattering the ponies, curdling the milk of the goat herd, and trying to wash out my contact lens by spraying at full force into my face.  Imagine the anger that seeks to blind the farmer!!  But perhaps it isn’t the fault of the hoses alone.  You see, the farm abhors a vacuum.  It seeks to destroy free time like Luke Skywalker seeking out the reactor core that could detonate the Death Star (I introduced the kids to the Stars Wars trilogy during their last 4 snow days from school, can you tell?). It expands from a quick game of Memory to the deluxe edition of Monopoly (another snow day favorite) in the blink of eye.  Basically, it sucks in a relaxing Sunday morning like a black hole.  Although, I must say, the ducks did love the gigantic mud puddle created during my 50 yard dash back to the house to turn off the water connection.

You might think this was enough to spoil my morning.  But all I could do was laugh.  After all, the sun was shining down with a warmth we haven’t felt in weeks.  Bruno looked adorable trying to chase the flailing end of the hose to the buck pen.  The ducks were in dabbling heaven.   Best of all, I thought to myself, it was a weekend.  Which meant the men working on the house addition wouldn’t be arriving like they do most mornings.  Imagine, I thought, how embarrassing it would be to be caught struggling with the water trough in my pajamas!  Besides, what would I do with free time anyway?  Except troll the farm listings on Craiglist.  That’s a path that can only lead to trouble.

So I headed to the shed where I keep various Home Depot bags filled with hose connectors, O-rings, and spray nozzles.  I dug through the tool box for the adjustable wrench and searched the silverware drawer for that handy little plastic non-slip gripper perfect for opening jars (and disconnecting wet hose connections).  Satisfied I had everything I needed I went back to the barn and started the task of unhooking the hoses from the waterers.  Then I made a trip back to the house for the vice grips since the hoses were loose enough to shoot out a 3′ by 8′ stream of water but tight enough to require the strength of Hercules to disconnect.  Then I made another trip to get the needle nose pliers since the old O-rings were practically melted into the hose threads and I needed a fingernail to get underneath them to pry out.  Since I am a farmer I don’t have fingernails.  They get torn off by catching in twine on hay bales, ripped off when snagged on fencing, or fall off after turning black when mashed under pony hooves.  Finally I went back to get the W-D 40 since there was one spray nozzle that refused to yield to my usual tricks and needed to be assaulted with chemicals.  That time I carried my coffee out, too, since I realized it was the only way in hell I was going to manage to have time for 2 cups of coffee.

But when I was finished, the sound of water rushing through the hoses was as sweet as the bird song filling the tree tops.  I went from barn to barn, pasture to pasture, using a wash cloth to wipe away a couple weeks’ worth of grime and muddy slush from the waterers and watching as they filled with clean, fresh water.  They filled and filled.  And filled.  Then started to overflow.  In a small stream, then a waterfall.  As lagoons began to form around their bases, I rushed to each one, checking the floats.  But no matter how I adjusted them they never reached a point where the water shut off.  Probably because after 4 years of service they just couldn’t take it anymore.  Or because the floats are made of plastic and we all know all enduring plastic is on a farm.  Or  maybe they got little cracks in them after that last frigid ice storm.  Or maybe even because of global warming.  Who knows?

So I did what any reasonable farmer would do when a problem was only half finished.  I made a mental note to add “Fix water floats” to my to do list and started gathering my tools to go back into the house.  I announced to the animals that their water was now clean and full, gave everyone a pat, and shut off the water at the house again.  Just as I was standing in the driveway, wiping my grimy hands on my night shirt, my contractor pulled up to check on the progress of the house framing.  Which just goes to show that I am probably psychic.  Because it actually is embarrassing to get caught doing your farm chores in your pajamas by the people working on your house.  Go figure.


2 Responses to “The Farm Abhors a Vacuum (But the Ducks Love a Mud Puddle).”

  1. Lisa D.
    January 17th, 2011 @ 7:33 am

    Oh yes — those contractors see (and hear) many things. My payback was walking into the woods to find ours to tell him something and finding him peeing on a tree!

  2. Annabelle
    January 17th, 2011 @ 9:09 am

    all I have to say is… EXACTLY! you are so right on, I just love that you take the time to write down these thoughts for us all to read.

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