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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Water, Second Edition

We were blessed last week with some rainfall.  Unfortunately, we got short, hard deluges of rain, which dropped anywhere from 1/4 to 3/4 of an inch in a few short minutes instead of a long, misting shower over the course of a day.  While this meant there was TONS of water, it was not able to do much because the ground is so hard that the rain was quickly running off the ground and away from the areas that needed it most.  

Thursday afternoon was one such storm day here.  The storm clouds rolled in just as we finished a mid-afternoon swim.  I had hustled the kids in the house in anticipation and was just getting all of the towels off the deck railing as the rain began.  I was quickly soaked in just a few seconds, glad to still have on my bathing suit.  As I came in the house, I realized we had moved the buckets we were keeping under the downspouts and they needed put back, so I ran back outside to do that.  Well, we don't actually have downspouts everywhere yet.  We re-roofed a few years ago and while we partially put up the gutters, we haven't finished the project, so most of our gutters are open ended, which causes water to gush out the ends and alongside the house, which in turn, despite our french drains, causes some leaking in the basement.  You would think that since the problem could be easily solved, we'd actually do something to fix it, but we haven't yet.  We are good project starters, but not so good at the finishing details.

I knew the water coming out of the downspout would be a problem, so I rushed to gather the five gallon buckets we were using to catch the run off.  I knew there was a problem when I put the bucket under this gutter and it literally filled in less than 20 seconds.

On a side note, I want to give a huge SHOUT OUT to the Tyvek people.  Our sunroom has been wrapped in Tyvek for years and other than some fading and dirt on it, the Tyvek is still in place, protecting the interior of the house from the elements.  If Tyvek was offered in colors, I would buy it and just put it around my whole house and say "DONE."  Yes, of course, I want siding and proper mill work around my windows, but until the day comes when we can finally do it right, yellow Tyvek would really do the trick!

I filled every other bucket and container I could find 

I even put our giant cooler under a gutter and we still had water gushing out of the gutter and pooling around the house.

I quickly called Erik because every available container I had was filled with water and I needed something else. Something bigger.  Earlier in the week, Erik had picked up his huge, I-don't-know-how-many-gallon-water tank from a friend who had borrowed it.  Since it requires the skid steer to load and unload it, he just automatically took it to the barnyard and unloaded it there.  I suppose this was partly because we were not anticipating any rainfall, but also we didn't really think twice about it.  That is until we had rain on Thursday and he wasn't here to load the tank with his skid steer and move it under the above mentioned downspout.  

The final words of the call were, "You can drive it, honey.  You've done it before."   Mind you, the only times I've used the skid steer before is when we have been working on a project and Erik has been right beside me shouting explicit instructions on what I was supposed to do every single step.  The one time I did use it by myself it was just to move some dirt that was already in the bucket up to where I wanted it and even then, I just shoveled the dirt out of the bucket.  This was big.  HUGE.  So, I slipped on my Mary Jane crocs, (you know, typical footwear for the seasoned farmer) yelled to Walker, "Come on buddy, you're going to have to help me!" and headed out to the barn to get the skid steer.

We get out there and the bucket is attached to the front of the skid steer, so we have to unlock it and get it off.  The process for starting the skid steer is pretty simple, you climb in, sit down, pull the safety bar down (it has an automatic safety that if this bar is not down, you cannot drive it) and push an overdrive button, then use the handles to move the machine forward or backward.  I put Walker in the drivers seat and he did all of that and it would not move.  He shut it down, and started it back up to try again and just as he was going to back up, I noticed our Banty hen had her three tiny baby chicks under the skid steer.  Luckily one of the kids had left his or her butterfly net out in the barn, so I was able to reach under and scoop up the baby chicks one at a time and put them on top of the lawn mower and safety.  This, however, put the mama in a tailspin, and she was NOT coming out from under the skid steer until she found her babies.  I finally got her caught in the butterfly net, scooped her and her babies up and put them inside one of the feeding troughs so they would be safe.  Walker tried to back up again and it didn't work so I told him we had to switch places.  I don't know what we ended up doing, but finally we got it to go in reverse.  Walker climbed in with me and we backed out of the barn and headed toward the hoop house shed where Erik typically keeps the fork attachment for the skid steer.  We meandered through the obstacle course that is typical for this time of year to the back shed and it wasn't there.  So, thinking that after all that, we have to give up, we start back towards the barn to put the skid steer away when we see the forks on the other side of the barn.  We spent a good 10 minutes in pouring rain trying to get the forks on the skid steer.  

Just so you know, driving a skid steer is easy.  Operating the bucket/fork attachments is very difficult.  Our particular skid steer has pedals on the floor boards that operate the arm function.  The toe and heel area of each foot controls a certain operation of that arm.  The right toe and heel raises and lowers the bucket/forks and the left toe and heel lifts the arms up and down.  If you do not have  firm grasp of this, you look like I did trying to get the forks set on the arms, jerking up and down, raising the arm up above the top of the skid steer.  It is a really delicate process, and if you ever have the opportunity to see an operator in action and see how smoothly they are able to do their job, it is a thing of wonder.  Walker understood that each toe and heel movement performed a specific function of the skid steer, but due to the loudness of the machine itself, plus the pounding of the rain on the steel roof of the skid steer, it was hard to hear him giving me directions as he helped me line up the arms to put the attachment on.  Finally, he climbed back into the skid steer with me, would lean down and push the toe or heel that was to do the work.  He was like my Annie Sullivan for the skid steer world.  Once we got the forks on, he jumped back out, locked them, and we were able to easily put the tank on the forks, drive it up to the house and put it under the gutter.  

Thankfully, it was still raining by the time we got it under the downspout and while we didn't manage to catch as much water as we could have, you can see we have about five inches at the bottom of the tank.   A good start for sure and an adventure with my oldest boy that he will hopefully remember and laugh about and cherish when he is older.  

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