I was slow to winterize things around the barn this year where we raise sheep and feeder pigs for my daughter, Kayla’s, meat sales business. Perhaps it was because there weren’t cold stretches early in November and December. It was on my ‘Things to Do’ list, but maybe the priority wasn’t high enough.
At any rate, it did drop below 20 degrees F for at night a few weeks ago, and I hadn’t removed the hose from the outside water hydrant. No big deal, I figured. Since it was warming up above freezing in the day time, the hose would thaw out by evening when I needed it. And in fact, it did thaw out.
The only problem was that when I pulled up the handle on the hydrant, water squirted every which direction, and not from the hose connection. Instead, the hydrant head had cracked. Some water was actually going through the hose, however, so I put up with it for a few days.
I was aggravated because even with the hose attached and not drained, it made no sense that the lower part of the hydrant head cracked. In theory, when the handle is shut off, the water is supposed to drain back down the pipe. The pipe isn’t supposed to remain full of water.
Of course, my son, Daniel, points out that the literature with the hydrant says they’re frost-proof, not freeze proof. All the same, we’ve had trouble with that hydrant before. It gets dug up annually. It’s located where winds whip in between two barns, but the biggest problem is likely that the soil is tight, hard clay where it’s located. By now it’s been dug up and repacked more times than I care to count.
I figured we could fix this problem by buying a new hydrant head. After all, there are threads on the pipe, and it appears the head should screw off. Well, even the most universal farm supply house online carries only hydrants, not hydrant heads. So I decided we would buy a new hydrant at a local farm store, take it off, remove the cracked one, and put the new one on.
Well, some days if it wasn’t for bad luck, I would have none at all. First, once we got it home, we couldn’t get the new head off. So I decided we would make sure we could get the old head off. If we could, we would go to a local shop and get the new head removed.
First off, the water valve to shut water off to the hydrant wouldn’t budge. I told Daniel to loosen it anyway. If we could get it loose, I would shut off supply to the entire barn. Well, he put on the best pipe wrench, and the whole pipe turned.
Throwing in the towel, I decide I would have to put up with a spraying faucet. Then luck turned my way. Before I left the barn, I checked the vertical, heated hydrant in the pig pen to make sure they still had water at the nipple. The solution almost hit me in the nose! I forget that the heated pipe with nipples also had an outlet for a hose. So I grabbed a hose and had full sheep tanks within minutes.
Is there a moral to this story? I’m not sure. Take your pick. Be prepared before winter. Don’t put water hydrants in drafty places. Or maybe open your eyes and see the light, or literally all but bump into your solution, as the case might be!