Farm Adventures

I miss city water.

When you live on a farm in the middle of nowhere, few things make your heart stop like turning on a faucet and seeing…nothing! No water. None. Thats exactly what happened when I attempted to wash my face on Sunday. My two-year-old son Charlie was with me.

“Uh oh. You broke it!”

My initial reaction was “Don’t panic. The sink is old and we just replaced the faucet. Maybe something wasn’t attached correctly”. So I opened the cabinet doors below the sink, half expecting a flash flood to come rushing out. Nothing. No water. None.

Ok…maybe it’s the plumbing. Maybe there’s a big leak under the house, water rushing everywhere. A leak would reduce the water pressure pretty significantly. But then I notice that the toilet bowl hadn’t refilled with water after the most recent flush. I walked over to the tub and flipped the faucet on full blast and guess what?! Nothing. No water. None.

That was when my worst fears were realized: Something was wrong with the well or pump.

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Our pump house …and the source of a lot of stress lately.

It was over 100 degrees outside and our old house doesn’t have air conditioning. Everyone had congregated under the vaulted ceilings and dual ceiling fans in the living room. I walked in and announced:

“There’s no water pressure!”

The guys jumped into action. Ryan and his stepdad Ray booted up and ventured out the door, into the unforgiving heat.

Our pump house is a plywood shed with a sheet metal roof. It’s located in the rear of our property and the guys found it flooded and loudly groaning. They turned the pump off and called the repairman to schedule an appointment for the following morning. We all crossed our fingers that there would be an easy, CHEAP solution to the water issue.

Despite our concerns about the pump, we let the boys stay up late Sunday night for a special event. We turned off all the lights and electronics that we could find until the house was dark and silent. The large picture window in the living room overlooks the front lawn, road and miles of crop fields beyond it. On couches and a wheelchair, we watched out that window as every few minutes the absolute pitch blackness was shattered by a flash of light. Huge lightning bolts danced across the sky, touching down in the cotton field directly in front of us. It was a beautiful and surreal sight, especially on such a clear, dry night.

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Cotton field light show, compliments of nature.

Although JD only seemed slightely amused by the darkness, Charlie was absolutely amazed by the lightening. At times like that, when I can see the wonder on my son’s face, I’m so glad we moved to the countryside. We used to get excited to watch the Independence Day fireworks at the fairgrounds from the balcony of our tiny apartment in Pleasanton each year. Despite the exuberant amount of rent we paid to have that tiny balcony as our only connection to the outdoors, watching those fireworks with Charlie seemed to justify the stress for us. Watching an electrical storm over a cotton field puts those fireworks to shame though. Nature is just amazing… and we went to bed that night having completely forgotten about the pump.

Ironically, after staying up late to watch an electrical storm, we woke up Monday morning with no electricity. Temperatures were already sweltering at 7:00 in the morning and none of our bedroom fans were running. A quick call to PG&E confirmed the area outage and revealed that they were still in the process of trying to determine the cause.

No electricity + No water + High temperatures + Two cranky kids = A really bad day!!

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“I want a Slurpee!”

The electricity came and went all day, making the job of analyzing a busted electric pump nearly impossible. The repairman came out, disassembled the entire system and trucked the pump away to his shop for testing. Our local family members and neighbors showed up with barrels, buckets and jugs of water to help us get through the day. Living in the city, we never appreciated the convenience of city water. Monday morning though, we missed it!

Without a hose, we had to lug barrels of water to refill the chicken waterers, the dogs’ water pails, the barn cats’ mini troughs and the house cats’ bowls. Every time anyone went to the bathroom, a giant pail of water had to be dragged inside and poured into the toilet tank so it could be flushed. Laundry was out of the question. Luckily we were invited to shower at a family member’s house in town and we accepted the invitation with bells on.

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A water bucket in the bathroom… And yes, I’m fully aware of how awesome our bathroom carpet is.

We returned home from our showers refreshed and excited to see a pickup parked next to the pump house out back. Ryan jumped out to investigate and returned with the best news I’d heard all day: The pump was fixed!! And the electricity was on!! The repairman had driven miles out of his way, long after business hours, just to hook it up so we’d have water that night. He also chlorinated our well for us. He was happy to be maintaining a pump that his own father had installed. In fact, his had had drilled our well himself over 20 years ago.

I was so grateful, I wanted to thank him for going the extra mile for my family…but what could we give him? Nothing in the field was ripe yet. The fruit trees were bare from hail storms earlier this year. The pantry was low on canned fruit and I had already incorporated the remaining stock into the recipes on the meal calendar. Then it struck me:

“Ryan! Offer him some fresh eggs!!!”

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The perfect gift.

Back in the city, we used to keep a stock of $5 and $10 and Starbucks gift cards for last minute, all-purpose gifts. Now we have a small flock of chickens. But let me just say: “Chickens are the gift that keeps our refrigerator stocked with gifts that keep on giving!” So give someone you love a hen…or at least some eggs.
Thee day ended with a repairman’s pickup driving down our dusty road with a carton of eighteen eggs of various shades of brown bouncing on the seat. As we waved goodbye, we heard Charlie yell from inside the house:

“Momma!! Sink is fixed!!”

Yay! That means the water is officially running! …Wait. How would Charlie know the water is running? Unless..

***I’ll let you insert the swear word of your choice here***

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The gift that keeps on giving.

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