madshutterbug (madshutterbug) wrote,

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Weekends Were Made For... Ranch Work?

Well, yeah, if you happen to own a ranch of whatever size. I mention whatever size because for some years, a real estate agency or developer ran adds for Williston Heights Ranchettes. We figured we owned four Ranchettes by their definition. However, this is neither here nor there.

Yesterday Herself hied off to a SCA event involving equestrian activities. No, neither Sage teh Horse nor Stormy teh Horse went with her; we do have a trailer, but it's actually a bit small for these two. It's a quarter horse trailer, and while Sage is a quarter horse, she's got some other horse in her too; she's a big quarter horse. Again, neither here nor there, it suffices our purposes to say that it fell to me to Feed the Ranch.

Now, it got rather chilly here Friday night (Achtung! keptwench, I'll see your 36 F and drop you 6 F), with a freeze warning from 02:00 to 09:00. What's this you say, a freeze in Baja Jorja? Well, yes. Baja Jorja is a long, skinny state in two directions, and you've got to get down as far as Orlando or Tampa/St. Pete before freezes become a rare occurance. We get a half-dozen a year, at least. And no, I'm not claiming this is as rough as any of my flist folk living significantly north of me. A bad stretch of freezing lasts a week or so (we've had several in the 15 years we've owned the Ranch); normally it's one or two nights, is all.

But, those nights do require a certain amount of preparation. Water points out in the paddocks and pens need to be shut off, disconnected, and drained. Horses, cows, and goats (particularly Mamma Goats with kids) need hay either for stoking the furnace or bedding, preferably (it seems) both. Likewise for the Border Collie Bros, though not necessarily hay for stoking the furnace (we've used it for bedding, though). Then, in the AM when the freeze is unfroze, the reverse happens. It's no huhu, just do it.

So imagine my surprise when yesterday, around about 16:30 and I'm prepping going out for the evening feed and rounds, I discover there's no water pressure. This is not good. We may disconnect and drain those distant water points, but the house needs the water running on a trickle to keep the pipes intact. Fortunately the fix proved rather simple; replace a pump starter condenser at the well-head. Unfortunately, the local Ace Hardware didn't have the specific one I need. Fortunately, the Ace up north a bit in Newberry did; thus did Mamma Munch achieve her goal of a ride in the car longer than 10 miles.

Arriving back at the Ranch just at sunset, I greatly upset the horses by driving past them for the second time in oh 30 minutes without stopping for the evening grain and hay. However, it was already getting dark, and temperature dropping accordingly, and I wanted that pump running again. Took hardly any time at all to install it (even considering the pen-light clamped in my teeth so I could see what I'm doing). Walk over to the power pole, and flip the breaker on, and...

Nothing. No Pump Whirring.

Flip the breaker off again (I am the only human on the Ranch at this point, since Herself isn't back from Equestrian SCA yet, and I respects Smoke and Wires, I do). Popped the lid off the pressure switch (everything else in the control box being in good condition) and find Burnt Points.

This. Is. Not. Good.

It's not good because now all the local Ace Hardware's are CLOSED. The nearest replacement pressure switch is in Gainesville. It also explains why no pump whirring noises happen when I flip on the main breaker. So I tried something any good rancher might try; I cleaned off the char on the burnt points. Walked back over to the power pole. Flipped the breaker on and...

With a snap and a crack the pump comes on. OK. We've got pressure again.

So I head out to go feed everyone. I figure to stop by the Mamma Goat pen first, and provide the hay; good thing, too, because there's one of the pregger does puuuushin' out a brand new kid, as usual for such things soaked with amniotic fluid. No, I did not leap into the pen with a towel to dry the kid off in the plummeting temperatures. First of all, Mamma Goat needs to smell that to correctly identify that "Yes, This came out of Me." Second of all, the kid is hollerin' and scramblin' so this is a good kidding. In fact, Mamma Goat is already starting to lick the kid off by the time I'm done distributing the hay. The other kids (did I mention the Goats are Kidding? Ayup. So far we've got 14 survivors) are also checking the new arrival out. Status Positioning in the Goat Herd starts way early.

We'll cut to the chase, as it were, and jump ahead without another Cut to "teh Horses" who are impatiently stomping the ground and nickering at me to hurry up now, it's long past time for grain. They were, in fact, so upset with me for driving past twice that they weren't interested in ear scritches. Well, not until they'd gotten some food on board and I'd taken that opportunity to go turn off and drain the water points. Then they were willing to listen to apologies, and particularly happy to get three flats of hay apiece, instead of the usual two.

Then I boogied myself on back up to the house for dinner, thrown together from left-overs and quite happily nuked to warm up. And it did drop down to the temperature of freezing of water again last night, but the New Kids on the Block are doing just fine. Today I made a trip to the local Ace once again, and purchased and replaced that pressure switch.
Tags: home, ranch

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