Monday, August 29, 2011

Water and electricity

When you live in the country, there are two things you think about having...and NOT having.

Power and Water.

Growing up and living my entire life on the Great Plains, I'm used to being aware of the importance of both power and water. We lost power on a frequent enough basis that we kids used to joke that the power would go out any time a cow peed near a power pole.

And there are a lot of cattle--and a fair number of power lines in SW KS!

Even today, the power will flicker, flash off and come back on fairly often. If we have a bad storm, the power can go off. Blizzards, thunderstorms, straight line winds; all can and do take out the power. I am prepared for the power to go out. I have lamps, we can keep warm, and usually, we have water available. So, a power outage is inconvenient, but not a big deal.

But when you well goes out...that's another story.

I don't have backup plans. I don't cope as well without water when I do have power. I worry more about the well and the water situation more. Maybe that's because I know that the maintenance of the well is OUR responsibility. The electricity? That's someone elses problem. They have to worry about the logistics of getting it back on. But water? That's all on us.
And since I don't know how domestic wells are set's a big worry for me.

With the drought going on and on , Kev and I have discussed our water situation. We've worried about running out of water. We worry because we don't have a clue as to how deep the well is, how much water is in it, or how old it is. No one could tell us any of this information when we bought the house. We've been running on faith with it. Faith that it's nice and deep. Faith that we have plenty of water. Faith that the well will run. Faith that we'll conserve and use our water wisely. Water is not an endless commodity out here and we try to be responsible users.

Friday afternoon, around 4, Andy called with news that no one wants to hear when it's 106 and dry..."Mom, there's no water."

I hoped that perhaps, with the demands on the electrical system, that we'd just blown a fuse. So, I told him to hang on, and we'd (meaning Kev) would look at it when we got home--around 8 p.m. because Miss Kat had a Volleyball scrimmage.

Once we got home, Kev went out and checked the breakers and flipped them off and on. Still no water. At 9, I decided to go back to bed and read for a while. As I walked by Andy's bathroom, I stepped in a wet spot.

What? I assumed that one of the dogs had been laying there licking themselves or maybe it was blood. (Emily, the lab. had scratched her neck raw earlier that day and it was still a mess.) So, I flipped on the light and discovered water. Looking in Andy's bathroom, I saw the sink full of water and water was running over onto the floor. The bathroom was flooded and, water even dripped through the floor down into the garage.

While I was glad to see we had water...I wasn't prepared for the mess. Apparently, Andy had tried the faucet in his bathroom and didn't get it turned off. We're guessing that Kev must have restarted the pump when he flipped the breakers and it just took a while for the water to fill the pressure tank and then come inside the house.

So, we cleaned up the mess, put fans out to dry out the carpet and the garage, and went to bed.

All was normal again until...Sunday at lunch time. I was fixing lunch, went to turn on the water...

And nothing.

No water again. And, of course, it was 106...again.

I'd done 2 loads of laundry and had Kat's clothes in the washer. I immediately shut off the washer, and we waited, hoping it would "fix itself" like it did Friday night.

By 4:30, Kat had given up on waiting. So we loaded up her laundry and drove to my Mom's to use her washer. While there, Dad gave me the name of a Well Guy he really likes. Dad even thought he'd come on a Sunday--when most Well guys won't. I Kev with the number.

In the meantime, Dad decided he'd call the Well guy himself. But, fortunately, Kev had just called him. (And of course the well guy told Dad, "Hell NO!" he wouldn't come see us if we were related to him. All good natured teasing...)

Kat and I finished up her laundry and headed home. By this time, it was around 7. We pulled into our house at 8.

Kev told me that the Well Guy had just left and that he'd have to come back tomorrow because he'd have to check out our pump.

Ugg. A new pump would be $1500 or more. But...we need water. So, I asked Kev if he looked at the well and if he could tell how much water was in there, or if it was dry. Kev looked at me and just walked over to the sink and turned it on.

WATER! We had water!

And then he laughed--at me--cause once again...he was a BIG FAT LIAR.

The Well Guy had fixed it. Our pressure regulator was fried. Deader than dead. It was an electrical issue--not a water issue.

And MY idiot husband led me on, let me worry about having to pay a $1500 to $3000 bill. Let me worry about not having water. Let me worry about how I was going to water my chickens. Letting me worry knowing that it was fixed.


But, once his joke was over and done...Kev said that the Well Guytold him that he's replaced over 300 regulators this summer. We're all putting demands on our wells that they aren't used to having, and aren't set up to handle. We also learned that several families have had to dig new wells, or deeper wells because theirs have gone dry. This drought is serious folks. It's very serious.

We avoided a major personal disaster this time, but I still can't help but worry about the availability of water now and in the future.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mountain views

Our favorite vacation spot is in the Routt National Forest, North of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. We've gone there at least 6 times over the past 16 years. This year, it was so wet there. Wetter than we've ever seen it! And the greeen-ness was such a contrast from our drought ridden plains. It did rain 3 days while we were there--and not one of us complained about the rain!
We took Kev's folk's camper this year. They have a 5th wheel and since the kids are getting bigger, we thought it might have more space. It did. Besides, we might want to upgrade someday. We do all our cooking over the campfire and basically use the camper for bedrooms. But, believe me, dry and warm bedrooms are very nice!

I've included a few pictures of the scenery below. This is a shot of the Elk River. The guys like to drive down the mountain to fish for Rainbow Trout in the Elk River at least one day per trip. I like to go along and sit by the water, enjoying the view and the sound of the water rushing by.

This is a shot of Miss Kat on top of "our" mountain. This is the first time we've ventured this high, as the hike is long--probably 5 miles straight up. No kidding, the trail gets very steep up above the Elkhorn Mine. We've make it to the mine annually, but this time, with the 4-wheelers, we went to the top.

Whiskey Creek is "our" creek. We love camping so close to it that we can hear it throughout the night. There's nothing better than falling asleep to the sound of running water.

This is a view we took looking North from the top of the mountain. You could see forever!

I'm not sure how many more times we'll get to go to the forest. Our kids are old enough to have their own summer plans and commitments and the big "boys" have already eliminated some of their more difficult hikes because they can't physically do it anymore (Lynn's hips just don't like that angled 7 mile walks anymore.) Even if we never make it back up there, this small part of Colorado will always have a special place in all our hearts and memories.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Boys and their toys...

We went on our "semi-annual" vacation the end of July. (And I can't believe that was almost a month ago...already...sigh...) This year, Andy didn't go because he's 20 now and he had to work. Which was disappointing, but at the same time, it was a relief because he kept the dogs at home and he could take care of the chickens and rabbits. With the summer we've had, we just couldn't go on vacation without knowing they were being taken care of.

Steve, my brother, also couldn't go--because he's going to use his vacation time to re-enact a cattle trail drive from the Oklahoma border up to Ellsworth, Kansas next month. But, Steve's boys were eager to go back to the Mountains, so we let them join us. My "Other" husband, Lynn Dale, of course went along. It's just a given...if we go to the Mountains, Lynn goes along.

This year, we did some finagling and took our 4-wheeler along with Lynn's. And while they weren't a necessity, they sure were nice to have along. I ran down from camp to Whiskey Creek to check on the fishermen one afternoon, and the kids enjoyed riding them all over the place--on the main roads. They weren't allowed to go off-road alone.

But the people who enjoyed the 4-wheelers the most were the BIG boys...Kev and Lynn.

In this shot, Lynn is "stuck" in the creek and "afraid" he'll be washed away--downstream.

Right... Yep, he's obviously in no real danger...

However, it gave the "boys" time to play with the winch that Kev had just installed on our 4-wheeler.

Here's Austin hooking it to Lynn's machine so Kevin could pull him out.

And, Kat and Kev had do "drive down" and save Lynn...with the winch.

Later this same day, Kevin, Lynn Dale, Miss Kat, and Austin decided to check out one of the 4-wheeler trails in Whiskey Park.

FOUR hours later (about 4:00), Cody asked me if we should go check on them. And, then he asked what we'd do if they didn't come back. He was getting worried (and maybe feeling a little left out.) I finally told him that if they weren't back by dark, we'd go get some help. I knew which trail they headed up, but none of us had any idea what it was like once you went out of sight.

Around 6 p.m., they made it back. Finally. In one piece, but full of stories of their adventures. Apparently, the trail degenerated the farther up you went. Very narrow, very steep, and very rough/rugged. I heard stories of them being on two wheels, and climbing boulders and about Lynn sliding off the trail and scaring Kev, thinking he was going to roll the 4-wheeler down the mountain. I heard about areas where they made the kids get off the 4-wheelers--just in case...

NOT something a sensible, and cautious Wife and Mother wants to hear. Seriously, they game me new gray hairs just listening!

And you know what?

They thought it was a fantastic trip! They thought it was great fun and a wild adventure.

Miss Kat wasn't as impressed. She told me later that she wasn't sure they'd ever find their way back--or come out alive!

That's my girl!

The entire trip just proved to me that Boys are boys--at any age, 14 or 50. The only difference is the size of their toys. And at any age...boys just look for trouble, or danger...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


THIS is what happens when your darling daughter plays with your new camera...

The boys are my nephews, Austin and Cody. Cody is in the brown shirt, Austin is in the yellow. The creature in gray is Miss Kat...

Evidently, there's a setting on the camera that does this kind of layout.

No, I don't know how to do it.

Obviously I'll have to ask Miss Kat for lessons on using my camera...


I was gently reminded that I haven't blogged for almost a month. I say "gently" reminded, but it really was a not-so-subtle comment about the lack of posts on my part from my Mother. I think my MIL has also made a slightly more subtle comment about the same thing...

You've got to appease the senior women in your we go :)

There's a new Menard's store that recently opened in Wichita. And, since Kev and I are "Home Improvement Store Junkies," we just had to check it out. And we had so much fun! We decided that Menard's is our new favorite Home Improvement store. We found so many things we liked's a dangerous place.

So dangerous that we walked out with new laminate flooring, a new front door, and we ordered new garage doors.

Kev installed them himself.

One thing that we didn't do was order garage doors with a window. That would have been an additional $300 per door and we're cheap. While we'd both love having natural light in the garage...we just couldn't make ourselves pay that much more--especially after dropping a bundle on the flooring and the new front door.

The front door had to be painted. We could have forked out more money and gotten one pre-painted, but, like I said...we're cheap. I am happy with the door, but the installation wasn't as easy or straight forward as I hoped it would be. Kev was a wee bit crabby by the time he got the door installed and level, plumb and working.

The flooring is now residing in the garage, awaiting a time when we rip out the basement carpet and lay it. Kev says that project will wait until after he moves the I'm guessing we'll wind up using the flooring somewhere else, cause I am not convinced that he will ever move the stairs...and I'm not sure I want him to move the stairs cause he has a tendency to n.e.v.e.r finish a "big" project.

So the flooring might wait a while. But, the new doors are great. The garage door's seal--making the garage toad and snake proof. (Yes, we've hosted both.) AND, the electric garage door works! It had stopped lifting the old crappy doors a couple of years ago. And it's so much quieter--something Miss Kat will appreciate this winter when we leave at 5 a.m. every morning.

Isn't it amazing how something so simple as new doors makes life just a little bit nicer...