Monday, May 28, 2012

Tiling & Pulling the Well Head

We bought our farm in December 2007. About two months later in February, the well pit collapsed and we lost water to the house in the middle of winter. We were still living in Ames, so we decided to sort of let the plumber cobble something together until April, when we hooked up the rural water lines. 
But, you see, we never did anything about that collapsed well pit. We pulled the tank and sump pump out, but there's about 12 inches of sand in the bottom of the thing and really the world had other concerns. Fast forward to today, and we had two VERY wet years in 2008 and 2009 (remember massive flooding in Iowa?) which resulted in water problems in our yard starting in 2010 (see this post). We had the county engineering office out at the end of last year to figure out how to fill our well so we could get the water table to behave itself again, and they told us we needed to tile all over the yard because without a sump pump working in that pit full time, our water table was always going to be high and would interfere with the septic system. So this weekend, we borrowed a mini excavator from Vermeer (still my favorite job perk!!) and put in over 300 feet of tiling.
Ryan spent the most time in the cab of the machine. You can't see Ryan's co-worker Doug, but he came out too and he plans tiling projects as part of his job. He spent his time in the pit mostly, got filthy, and was worth his weight in gold. Thanks Doug!
My stepdad also came down, here he is finding our power lines from the pole to the house (no, Iowa One Call won't find those for you because they're private after the pole) with a spade. Michael, how did you get the cruddy job???
Of course, the chickens were convinced all this dirt work was so they could find more bugs. They were pretty thrilled by the prospect.
Here is our "yard" after excavation. If you can see the little red flags behind the well pit, they are the power lines.
Here's most of the dig. 
Hazel loved watching Daddy and her "Bapa" all day from our porch balcony. She had a perfect view and was totally safe, so it worked great. Yes, I know she has something on her lip in this picture and no, I have no idea what it is. Food of some sort, perhaps?
My job while the men were doing this was mostly to cook. I turned a flank steak into fajitas and stuffed flank steak for lunch and dinner on Saturday, and we had skirt steak as kebabs for dinner on Sunday. I made waffles Sunday and Monday, and a pasta salad for a Sunday lunch cookout. Michael was a huge help with dishes!
So after Michael filled in most of the trenches with the Mini Ex while Ryan chored, today we had to pull the well head out. When the county told us to "pull out the well head," somehow I pictured something different than what happened. 
But first things first, we had to relocate the bull frog who had made his home for the past 3 years in our well pit. We know it was 3 years, because that's when we first saw him in there. He started out as a little frogling about 4 inches long.
Can you find him in this picture?
Ryan took him down to our mini-pond at the bottom of the draw in our property.
Then we had to pull the cap off the well. That was not easy at all. Ryan had to grind the heads of the bolts off, and even then it was some crowbar and hammer work. I will add here that a Google search of "how to remove a well head" was super unhelpful. No pictures, no nothing. Silly internet.
Ryan also collapsed the pit some, without obstructing the well itself that is in the bottom right of this picture.
So then we wrapped the power cord that descended into the dark oblivion around the backhoe bucket, and pulled up. I'm afraid I have no pictures of this, because I was too busy trying to tie knots in electrical wire to make sure it stayed attached to the backhoe.
The part that surprised me was that I thought "remove the well head" meant we would have to pull something out about 10 feet long and we would leave lots of stuff in the ground that the county would fill. No. Remove the well head means you pull and pull and pull and however deep your well is you end up with that much PVC pipe. Slimy PVC pipe.
Those of you who have been to our farm realize how far from the pit this is, and we had the line doubled up about a third of the way down. 
So finally, you get a thing at the end of the pipe. I assume this is the pump, but I somehow didn't think it was at the bottom of the well. Stupid me, I really should have! The number one rule of all pumps of any kind: Pumps Don't Suck. They push.
So apparently this is what a well pump looks like. Ryan was able to pull it out the last bit of the way, but he said it was very heavy. 
And voila! An empty well casing. Ready for the county engineer's approval. Hopefully he says, "Yep, looks good!" and fills it up with drilling mud and all the water issues in our yard go away.

I can dream.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Solo and De-fenced

Between foxes attacking layers, opossums eating eggs, and raccoons preying on broilers, we decided it was time for a dog. So we adopted an 8-month-old rat/fox terrier mix from our local Animal Rescue League and picked him up on Tuesday. He came from another farm that had too many animals, and has lived outside all his life, so he is perfect for what we need.
We decided to name him Solo. Originally we meant it because he's going to be kind of on his own, but it could be short for Han Solo or there is an obscure Marvel Superhero named Solo who fights terrorism. I love that: our predators are so very like terrorists!!
He spent the last couple of nights near the broiler pen, and the predation on our young broilers has gone down. Now we just have to teach him not to chase layer chickens...

When we bought our house a few years ago, lining the secondary driveway was a very rustic, picturesque farm fence. It really was for decoration and to help find the driveway because it's very steep and not well defined. The only decent picture of it I could find is in the background of Ryan trimming a maple tree in the yard.
Notice it leans, and we had always intended to replace it someday. Well, last night Ryan came home after dark and backed the two-wheel drive pickup down the driveway. We knew it was inevitable someday, but he did a truly excellent job of nailing that fence.
I love that there is one lonely post still standing as if to say "Hey guys! Look! I'm still holding down the fort!"

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Birthday, New skirt, & Mother's Day

My little lady turned 2 on the 2nd, and she is definitely a toddler. Ryan stayed home and decided that she needed a birthday cake, so he made her one. So cute!
He is not the baker in our family, but I love that he decided she needed a birthday cake and so with the help of the internet he figured it out. He even made it from scratch!

We recently had a visit by a colony of bees on the move, who auditioned our silver maple for a spot for a hive (or maybe they were just resting on their way elsewhere).
They didn't stick around, much to my chagrin. I would have liked to watch them through the year. It was amazing how much noise they made! I found myself wondering if they had abandoned a colony somewhere and were not actually wild bees at all. 

So sticking with tradition, I hosted a Mother's Day gathering at our house. Beforehand, I made myself a Mother's Day present: a maternity skirt!
I'm pretty sure everyone knows by now, but I am due with our 2nd child in mid-November! I never did have a maternity skirt with Hazel, and there are enough semi-formal occasions that I just wanted one. Especially since I'm wearing maternity wear much earlier with this one! I found this fabric on sale (it's just 2 yards of a light cotton) and love it. Then the top is some ribbed jersey knit that stretches. I should be able to wear it through most of pregnancy, although I'll say the knit is really hard to work with! I'm used to cotton, which behaves much better.

So we also celebrated Hazel's birthday at Mother's Day, as we have every year since she was born. I'm guessing this next child will get similar treatment with Thanksgiving!
This time I made the cake: chocolate with pink frosting. I asked Hazel if she wanted pink frosting, and she enthusiastically agreed that was a great idea!