April 18, 2010

Irrigation - take one

The first week we lived here the water pipe that goes to the pasture broke (see 'Essence of Sheep' for more). It was evening when it happened and we had to work the next day, so the decision was to cap the pipe and fix it another time.

Five years later. It's been Ok not having water to the front pasture. The first year we didn't have animals. The second year we rotated between three ewes and two rams. The third year we had four ewes. The fourth year we had nine for half the spring and early summer, then we butchered three. That fourth year was hard on the pasture. We talked about needing to get water back out there. So, yesterday Jeremy gave it a go.

He turned off the water around 1pm, dug a three foot deep by three foot wide hole and cut off the cap. The previous owners left a lot of crap when they moved - a full dumpster of crap. They also left odds and ends that we kept, like two boxes full of PVC pipe parts. Jeremy rummaged around and found some stuff, then headed to Wilco for the rest. Back in the hole many of the pieces were fitting together fine, except the adaptor from the main line to the lateral. Turns out the main line is a non-standard size. So, back to Wilco for Jeremy - all covered in mud (I'm sure they see a lot of that at Wilco). The second adaptor screwed on - different.

Jeremy got it all together. Mainline to adaptor to smaller line to elbow to pasture.

Now you've heard the saying "measure twice and cut once" well that applies to directions "read twice and apply once." The directions on the glue said to "wait 15 minutes before handling" but we read it as "wait 15 minutes for holding". So after 15 minutes, I went up to the house to open a few some faucets and Jeremy turned on the water. He said he could see the water shooting out of the hole. Ok, turn the water back off. The elbow didn't hold. A re-read of the directions, more thoroughly this time, revealed another important sentence, "allow two hours for curing." Jeremy reassembled all the piping, glued it together and came up stairs for dinner.

Making dinner without running water is difficult. And I hadn't thought to fill up the camping water jug earlier that day. I couldn't make any side dishes that required boiling - no steamed broccoli, no risotto, no pasta. So we settled on potato salad with the pork roasts. It turned out good, but the kitchen was a mess and dirty dishes piled up in the sink.

After the full two hours, plus 5 minutes for good measure, I opened the faucets again and Jeremy turned on the water. (I had remember to fill up the water jug first.) I walked down to see how it was going. The elbow was holding but the adaptor, which screwed on, was leaking. Crap! We're not sure why it was leaking, but it meant we had to turn off the water and disassemble the pipe, again. By now it was after 8pm and getting dark, so Jeremy decided to cap the mainline and try again later. But that also meant no water for another two hours. It was after 10pm when Jeremy finally got a shower. We live to fight another day.

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