Spring, is that you lurking just around the corner?

No.  It is March after all, which means winter is coming.  The best storms and the most snow I have had in the almost 16 years I have been enduring  enjoying wannabe-farm life in the Sierra Nevada foothills have happened in March.

The other night I was up into the wee hours stormsitting.   Stormsitting is patrolling the farm outside, in the howling wind and pounding rain, with my 2 million mega-mega watt laser-powered flashlight searing holes in the dark for me to walk through, fashionably dressed for the occasion in my authentic Australian oiler coat and hat and tall rubber muck boots.  Storms are both fun and scary out here on the farm.

A fun part is bedding down the horses in the barn late at night and then sitting there listening to them eat contentedly while the rain pounds on the metal roof and the wind whips up a symphony in the pines and oaks on the hill behind.  Somehow getting the horses inside and quietly munching calms my nerves.  A lot can go wrong on the farm if the wind gets too strong.  But because horses are prey animals, they know when there is really something to be afraid of, and they let you know in no uncertain terms.  So as long as they feel safe enough to eat, I can feel safe.   And I can sit there with them and read my Kindle, since it has this cool thingamajig that lights the reading panel without needing external power.  Which by now has more than likely already gone out anyway.

Another fun part is being inside the house with a fire blazing in the woodstove, dogs and cats setting up their various homesteads on couches, the floor, window seat, inside the clothes dryer, and inside the kitchen cupboard where the baking pans live.  It is good to have something purring or snoring nearby when there is a storm.   Of course if you happen to go into the kitchen, the cat that is dozing on the cookie sheets inside the cupboard will make noises and you will think the skunk has returned.  Or the bats.  Or the ghost.     And then that becomes a scary part.

Scary is when the power goes out.  Not because I am afraid of the dark, I am not.  But because when there is no power, there is no water.  So when a storm threatens, I fill up every possible item that can hold water — pots, pans, bathtubs, washing machine, outside garbage cans.  With horses, there has to be a decent amount of water available at all times.    With me, there has to be a decent amount of coffee available at all times.  With dogs and cats, there has to be a toilet.  As long as I am on Restroom Plan B, they are fine.

Scary is when there is too much rain and the clay soil gets saturated and the barn floods.   I hate that.  But to make myself feel better I remind myself that there will be a lot of good exercise re-digging out the trenches around the barn, and that will be Good For Me.   It does make me feel better.  It also pisses me off.

Or when tree limbs from the couple of acres that are nothing but trees start flying around in the wind and who knows where or on what they are going to land.    Like on Stupidest Horse Rainy who won’t stay inside the barn during the storm.  Probably because of her name.  But then again her mother mare’s name is Stormy, and Stormy knows to stay inside the barn during a storm.   So, theory debunked.

The absolute scariest?  When the weather is angry enough to take out my Internet satellite dish.  Since then I would have to face housework or some other productive use of my storm time. Please, not that.


For general good hydration and efficient fat flushing, I simply need to drink more water.

Except out here in The Country, is it not that simple.  Sometimes there is no water here to drink.  (Yes, I can buy bottled water.  I don’t.  My well water is great.  When I can get to it.)

A water outage has occurred on my ranch when I turn on a faucet and no water comes out.     The two primary causes of water outages at my ranch are:

1.  I live on a well that has very low production, and/or

2.  I am stupid.

When outages happen, I first look for telltale evidence of stupidity.  This would typically be in the form of a faucet turned in the full on position, and a pond appearing nearby somewhere where there wasn’t a pond yesterday. If I find this, I turn the faucet to the off position and wait a few days.  Then, like magic,  I have water again. That magic has to do with the well filling a water storage tank instead of the new pond.

If I can’t find such evidence , I launch the Water Emergency Response Plan, as follows:

[1]  Take a full hit of Xanax.   It is needed for Step 2.

[2] I call Dennis, the Water Pump Dude.  He will first ask me over the phone if the green light on the pump controller is on or off.  I ask him which thingie is the pump controller again?  He says try shutting off the power at the panel and turning it back on again.  I ask him where the panel is.  And what the panel is.  He says never mind, he will come over right away.

Dennis arrives sometime in the next day or so.  He looks and sounds like Nick Nolte, weatherbeaten in a ruggedly handsome way, a bit twitchy and hyper. When he tells me that my well production is down to ¼ gal per minute, which is your basic trickle, I thank God for Xanax. Then when he tells me he can sell me a bigger water storage tank, I thank God again and then ask Him to send down some big tank money when He gets the chance.

Then Dennis says he will witch the property to find water in case I need to sink another well.  He picks up what looks likes a set of skinny handlebars made of copper, holds them out in front of him, and starts lurching around the property in full twitch, appearing as though he is trying to strongarm his way through a minefield on a nervous and jerky invisible motorcycle with a mind of its own.

“I don’t get nothin’ at your well site,” Dennis announces after several minutes of witchin’.  I  say “Really.”

After several more minutes, Dennis says he  “likes” an area for water in another spot, which, coincidentally, is the corner of my property nearest to where my neighbor’s well is located.   “This really works?” I ask.  He says, “I have been witchin’ water for well drilling companies for years, only called it wrong about 5 times.”  Since calling it wrong can mean hundreds of feet of $30-50 per vertical foot of wasted drilling, I’d prefer to hear he has never called it wrong, at all, ever.

Sometime during the witchin’, the well pump magically turns itself on and starts running again.  So naturally, Dennis can’t find anything wrong with the well or the pump or whatever thingie, so he replaces a switch or some other thingie and charges me $80.   No charge for the witchin’.

[3] With the well pump pumping water again, it will take approximately 167 hours (at 1/4 gal per minute) to fill the 2500 gal storage tank, so I call the El Dorado Water and Shower Company and ask them if they can deliver drinking water and they say yes, for a fee. When they tell me how much it costs, I type up a letter to my tenant roommate telling them the rent is going up.

[4] Each time I use water, I start counting. When I get to 60 (seconds), I have used 10 gallons of stored water if I have the water on full blast. So when I am filling the horses’ water troughs, which take about 5 minutes each when they are ½ full, I have used, what, 100 gallons?  Who knows.   No worries, since I am not very good at math when I am under the influence of Carol’s Little Helper, another hit of which I took about 30 minutes before I headed out to fill water troughs..

[5] I counsel the horses and dogs on conserving water.  I tell them “Do not play in the water anymore. Water is only for drinking. Any animals caught playing in water will go to bed without their cookie.”   I watch while one dog nods in agreement, then runs directly over to his water tub, jumps in, and then does the head-to-toe-dog-shimmy thing, and then invites another dog into the tub to play with him.   (The dogs were both German Shepherds.  You know, the breed known for keen intelligence.  Not known as water dogs.)

[6] I teach my animals to understand English.

[7] I flush only when absolutely necessary. Whatever that means.  Note:  Having acreage means you can pee just about anywhere you want.  I learned that from my nephew Matt when he visited the ranch at 4 years old and went around peeing everywhere, in apparent delight at the discovery that he had his own equipment conveniently at hand just for that purpose.

[8] I stop mopping floors inside the house. Oh wait, that won’t save water unless I am in the habit of mopping my floors. Never mind.

[9a] I do my laundry at the Laundromat. It is very fun and challenging. I practice my Spanish with other laundromatites while I am waiting for them to free up some washers. I also read the National Enquirer another laundomatite left behind and am not embarrassed at all, since I  didn’t buy it …

[9b] … and I get all of my laundry done at once, not the load-here-load-there thing I do at home that causes laundry to exist in several different states and places:  Clean and dumped on the bed, ½ clean hanging on the bedpost (I can wear it again, depending), ½ clean in the hamper (still clean enough for barn chores), and totally dirty. Laundry in the totally dirty state is located either [1] in the hamper or [2] on the floor immediately after the clean-and-dumped-on-the-bed state, after a dog jumped on the bed and knocked the laundry pile to the floor. Once laundry touches the floor anywhere in the house, its state immediately goes straight to totally dirty, period.  I can’t make it go to the ½ clean state first,  I would just be fooling myself. Unless I just mopped the floor about 5 seconds ago. Which, per #8, was when Hell froze over.