“There’s no water.”
Temperatures outside were subzero, but cupboards were left open so pipes wouldn’t freeze as north winds blew.
Yet, we’d had several cups of instant coffee already, and bathroom facilities were operating earlier in the morning.
But, now water would not run out of any faucets on the ranch. Thirty head of livestock in the barnyard had to have water.
“Oh no. We foolishly forgot to put hay around the pump house.”
It was colder earlier in the winter, without problem, and now quitting suddenly doesn’t make sense.
“Maybe, the breaker switch tripped? Or, points on the starter burned again?”
Nope, none of those simple, but yet complex solutions for a cowboy trying to figure out a plumber’s job. They have worked sometimes in four-plus decades, but not this time.
“Call somebody to fix the water.” It’s Sunday, and undoubtedly many people have frozen lines, too.
No answer on the initial try, but the guy who’s done several water projects for us returned the call. He was in South Dakota, and wouldn’t be back for a while. What can we do?
Another man with abilities to repair waterlines was suggested, and believe it or not, he answered the first ring. Thawing waterlines business must not be as good as we assumed. Seeming anxious for patronage, the repairman soon arrived to try to figure out our problem.
From the well hole, assurance came that the pump wasn’t caput, but sure enough pipes were frozen. Butane torch used for thawing frozen lines soon ran out of fuel.
Only suggestion from the professional was to get a heat lamp to warm up all of the pipes. Likely, we could have figured that one out, but we were still obligated to pay him.
After finally getting the heat lamp rigmarole set up, and well house covered, with nine bales of hayed piled on top, water did start running again, eventually.
No problems since, but light’s still burning and hay’s providing insulation. Likely won’t change that until we take our long johns off.
Reminds us of Job 37:10: “By the breath of God ice is given, and the water is frozen.” Thus, Isaiah 41:17: “The needy are seeking water when there is none.” But, then thankfully Proverbs 5:15: “There is fresh running water out of your own well.”
Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.