Monday, February 10, 2014

The Cumulative Effect

The problem with this kind of intense cold that does not let up for weeks on end, aside from the sheer misery of it, is that it accumulates and deepens the longer it goes on.  I was sharply reminded of this this morning when I found the water hydrant in the barn frozen.  I was foolishly hoping that, since it had made it this far, it would be OK.  Anyone who has ever had to haul water for livestock will know just how big a problem this is.

Fortunately, after working on it all day, I got the water flowing once again.  For those who ever have to deal with this, the cure for a frozen hydrant is lots of hot water poured around the base of the pipe and, in this case, using an iron bar to break through the frozen ground so that the warm water could reach the bottom of the pipe buried in the ground (where it should be deep enough to not freeze in the first place if it is installed properly.  If you were unlucky enough to hire an incompetent moron to do this job, as I did, the pipe will freeze anyway).  After getting the pipe thawed, I used several old towels and a lot of old straw to suck up as much of that warm water as possible so that it would not freeze later.

I have heaped more straw around the base of the hydrant, hoping to keep the frost from penetrating the ground again, but the forecast this week has me thinking I should keep the main line turned off whenever I am not using it, just in case the pipe bursts underground in spite of my best efforts. 

Everywhere I look, others are having a rough time this winter as well.  Drought out west, horrible storms and floods across the pond, relentless's bad everywhere.  Maybe the rain that has finally come to California will usher in better weather for all of us.  One can always hope right?

On another note, blog posting may be a bit sporadic over the next few weeks.  There is nothing exciting going on, just appointments and too much to do.  If I disappear here and there, don't be alarmed and thanks for sticking with me.


  1. Oh man am I glad we don't have to deal with frozen pumps, hydrants, ect. out here in California. Unfortunately our problem is running OUT of water. Feel free to send your cold and wet our way. We'd be more than happy to send you some sunshine.

  2. We all faithfully await your next blog entry. I pray that you will get some good news out of all your appointments.

  3. Glad you were able to get your frozen pipe thawed. Some towns around us have publicly asked people on main water systems to leave water running at a drip. Guess it's that bad. Of course us rural folks are on our own, and used to dealing with frozen water...but it's still not fun. Animals have to have water. I wonder how those less fortunate survive such brutal winters.

  4. i'd worry about the re-freeze, too. that's tough. good luck.

  5. One friend of mine took some old care tires and stacked them up around his hydrant and then filled it with a dirt and straw mix. Of course this only works if it isn't sitting right next to a structure. Also he did his before the ground ever froze so I don't know if that made a difference either. I'm sorry to hear you are still struggling with that thing. I know you fought it alot last year too.

  6. We had no ground cover one year and our hydrant did freeze. Lucky for me my ingenious husband the creative plumber added plumbing in our entryway, drilled through the wall and made an outdoor spigot and a drain for said spigot.
    It was a two person job to fill the stock tanks and drain hoses.

    I carry warm water to the elder mule who is in the shed. I'm going to put her out for fresh air later this week if it warms up.

    I hope all goes well. They say our frost line may get to 5 ft this yr.

  7. Oh, scary. I don't even want to think about what will happen if my lines freeze in the ground. I think that's beyond what I could handle on my own. Maybe the rain in California is a good sign. I'm going to hang onto that thought. I'll be thinking about you.

  8. We totally understand when life gets too busy for us to blog but will sure miss seeing pics of your animals. So very sorry you are having to deal with frozen pipes. It is more than disappointing to us to have to suffer the consequences of a workman's mistakes - - - whether they did it out of ignorance or laziness. It takes time and energy you don't have to spare but could also adversely affect your livestock. Our son-in-law has some kind of warming light bulb he uses on a pipe. Is that even an option - - even though I know the problem is underground.