Lessons 451 & 452 in farming

Brian Harry

OK, I made up the numbers.  I debated what to call this post.  Adventures with a horse?  Water: a famer’s nemesis?  It’s been a fun couple of days.

Sunday night the whole family was out doing chores and my wife and kids were exercising the horses.  I finished up the chores and left them to wrap up with the horses – feed them, clean up etc.

Yesterday mid-day my wife called me and told me that someone had left the gate to the hay area open and the horses had gone in and eaten the better part of a bag of sheep feed.  For those of you who don’t have a lot of horse experience – that’s really bad.  My response to her was “Well, pretty soon we’ll have a dead horse”.  When a horse gorges on feed, it causes serious intestinal problems and also very bad inflammation in their feet.  Their hooves can fall off and they can die.  She spent all afternoon walking the horse to help him pass the feed and giving an anti-inflammatory drug to save the horse’s feet.

Lesson #451: DON’T leave any door or gate open to an area where there is feed – especially if horses have any chance of getting to it.  Cows, much less of an issue.

Towards the end of the day, she had to go do some chores.  She left the horses but left the halter on because she thought she might have to walk him more later.  I’ve always heard the rule – never leave a halter on a horse.  In fact, they make tear away halters if you really need to do that.  If they get the halter caught on something, it will come apart and off.  We don’t have one of those.

She came back up to the barn a couple of hours later and saw that there was a pond in the middle of the barn.  Oh and a geyser from where the water spigot should have been and no spigot in sight.  She ran to the well house, turned off the water and came back.  She found the spigot laying out in the field.  We obviously don’t know for sure but we’re pretty certain he got his halter caught on it and ripped it out of the ground.  It had to have taken a tremendous amount of force (he’s a very big horse).  At the bottom of the spigot is a brass fitting that screws on to an iron nipple (short pipe).  He managed to pull the fitting apart by completely stripping out the brass threads.

Not having water is one of the worst things that can happen to a farmer (after having water gushing freely out of a hole in the ground).  That pipe provided water to the barn, the horses and our ducks.  It’s not something that could sit for days.  I had to take off work this morning to fix it – that where I was from 7:30am to 11:15am today Smile

Here’s what it looked like when I got out there this morning…



And here’s the hole I had to dig to repair it…



Now, no plumbing project is done without at least 4 trips to the hardware store.  At this point I was feeling pretty good because it was only about 9:45 and I had everything back together with only a little dripping leak to fret over.  However calamity was about to strike.  At this point I noticed that the pipe on the spigot had actually gotten bent.  As I was trying to secure it to a block on the wall, the fitting right where my red arrow above is snapped and water started gushing out.  By the time I got to the well house to turn off the water, the hole was half ful l.

At that point I knew the project had doubled in length.  I had bail out all the water, remove about 7 different fittings, go to Lowes and buy 2 replacements (I couldn’t get the broken fitting out of the T-joint so I had to replace it too).  Oh, and I bought a new spigot too so I didn’t have to deal with the bent one.  Miracle of miracles, I managed it with only one shopping trip – a first.  I have quite a bit of plumbing experience at this point.  So by about 11:00am I had all the fittings reassembled, the new spigot in, the water back on and – no leaks, woohoo!  I filled the hole back up, ran back to the house and took a shower – I was completely covered in mud (I had to lay in it quite a lot to get my hands far enough down in the hole).  By 11:30, I was in my car and on my first conference call of the day.

Now that’s a morning.  And please keep those two farming lessons in mind.  You don’t want to learn the hard way.

Oh, and it looks like the horse is going to live though this morning, I was ready to kill him Smile

Have a great day!



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