The Saturday the neighbor had notified me they planned to came down to start digging the trench to hook up the new never-freeze automatic tank waterer, instead of a foot of highly frozen ground, we were terribly dry, and a balmy 68º. I've lived here for 28 years, and had ONE December warm enough to still set fence posts, but after two weeks of highs in the 40-50º range, this was just unprecedented.
Mike was off and running, once he'd given instructions to his crew -- his older brother, who was on the back hoe, Nathan, his 19 year-old son, manning the four wheeler to shut the gates so the herd did not abscond down the road during the project, and his own 14-year-old, Brett. His brother began to dig in mid-afternoon right tight against the hydrant in the corner of the yard where the water line up the hill junctions with the offshoot that allows a garden to be watered. The trusty operator was doing the ticklish job of uncovering the rural water line without digging the metal claws into the fragile black plastic pipe.
I watched for a bit from the porch, then returned to the story I was writing. Soon, Nathan and Brett knocked on the door.
Nathan and Brett got on the four wheeler and headed for the hay field to circle around to the north gate where the front and back forty join.
Nathan inquired politely, "Does your telephone work?"
Thinking he wanted to make a call, I tried to invite them in. Out came the rest of the story. "Dad thinks he clipped the phone line. It was just inches on top of the water line."
Well, I'd told Mike they laid everything in the same trench. I must not have gotten specific enough, or the message had not passed accurately enough. Of course, that was last July. A tiny detail like that could be forgotten, as well. Walking across the living room, I picked up the phone. Dead.
Another trip up the hill. That time, I thought to tell him there were two lines, and I wasn't sure where they branched off -- maybe they came up the hill together, but maybe they were separate. Sure enough, that WAS part of the trouble. There WERE two separate lines down that far.
Next trip. "Does your computer work?"
"Yes, I'm writing a story on it right now."
Asking the wrong question got Nathan the wrong answer. He wanted to know if the computer LINE worked. I was typing off line. I logged on and nope, it was dead. So was the house phone.
Dejected, they headed back down the hill.
Thirty minutes later, they were back. "Nope, nothing works."
"It has to be okay one way or the other."
Another long silence, followed by a knock. "Anything?"
Silently, I handed him the phone. Dead. I mentioned the outside buzzer.
"Does the computer line work?"
I logged on again, then decided to go ahead and post, just in case we backslid.
Needing to go in to school, I went down the hill, stopping to say they could go on in and check, but Mike's brother was standing on the level ground with a cell phone, dialing my number over and over until the outside dinger finally went.
Mike was chest deep in a pit, playing with wires. "The color code is reversed." He had a real pained look on his face. As a professional contractor in both Chicago and Kansas City, small town hyjinks were definitely frowned upon. Mike commented, "I should have remembered about that bell. We can hear it clear up at the house." (about 1/2 mile away.)
After several hours of repair, both were again working, but the lovely afternoon that would have been warm enough to frame up the concrete base and pour it was gone. I began to get depressed, and envision weeks of chopping ice, while paying for the parts at least at the same time...
We stayed warm, but not all night. I wasn't sure how long it had to be warm at one time for the cement to cure enough. Yesterday, Mike hooked up the last of the electric and rebuilt the frame around the tank so the horses can use it. Today, we got SNOW. As in several inches of it. I'm feeling pretty happy with the herd drinking behind the barn and OMYNO in the creek stud pen, all on the 10-year-old waterer, while Debut gets the brand new one. Once the fence along the drive gets repaired, someone will get the hay in the front yard. It may be Coqet if I decide to try to wean her baby. The mothers of the coming four-year-olds I never weaned off STILL are mothering them, as they have not produced other children. Suffering from the empty nest syndrome just isn't an option for horses, I guess.