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*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘Ritchie waterer

Complicated Water

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We have water in the paddocks again, but it took far more than simply opening a valve. Friday morning brought constant drizzle with few, if any, breaks. Only periods where it leaned toward actual rain that succeeded in changing the state of our clothes from merely damp to becoming downright wet.

Our guy, Mike, from the excavation company that originally installed our paddock water fixture showed up prepared to do battle, but the circumstances of the cracked valve and seized fittings forced a suspension of work to visit the hardware store in River Falls for an altered solution.

Multiple times, the buried column beneath the waterer needed to be bailed out to allow Mike to see what he was doing. The complication of our setup involves the freeze/thaw cycles that our having turned off the water for two winters fouled up.

Unlike the spigot inside the barn, where the water shutoff is down below the frost level, the line to the waterer is a different situation. There is insulation wrapped around the line and a length of heat tape along the top section of hardware to because there is water in the line all the time.

When temperatures drop, I turn on the electricity and the fixture doesn’t freeze. When we shut the valve two years ago, I flipped the circuit breaker off and forgot about it. We’ve now learned that in the ensuing winters, the water in the line froze and cracked the shutoff valve.

Turns out, the easiest solution is to just leave it on. We’ve got it running now and ready for the return of horses. If we don’t keep horses over winter (still an unknown at this point) we’ll need to make a decision about what we’ll do with the waterer next fall.

I had no idea it could be so complicated to have an automatic water source in the paddocks. Obviously, the fact we experience severe cold temperatures adds one level of complexity, but the fact our location is so wet seems to be a compounding factor.

Yesterday, Cyndie and I finished cleaning up the barn to a degree I didn’t think possible. It looks fabulous and reminds me of the impression we got when we first walked in to see it nine years ago. The four stalls still look almost new.

The final exercise I want to finish today involves pounding down a few more fence posts and tightening up all the wires before turning on the electricity to see where there might be arcing. With that complete, we will feel entirely prepared to host a visit tomorrow from a representative of This Old Horse who will confirm our facility as suitable.

More important for us, this will allow them to know where they are headed and how to position a trailer for offloading horses and smoothly introducing our new guests to their summer accommodations.

I look forward to the horses discovering where they will be able to get a cool drink of water.



Written by johnwhays

April 11, 2021 at 10:05 am

Sky Colors

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We enter our third day of the current weather trend where rain is expected all day but comes in bands that are separated by reasonably agreeable conditions that don’t last long and end without warning. One minute it is actually a rather nice day and then, nope, it’s raining like crazy for a second but now it’s just a spattering drizzle.

During the week when I am occupied with the day-job, I rely heavily on the always interesting images that Cyndie captures while she is out walking Delilah or tending to the chickens. News is that our Rocky the Roo has become pretty frequent with his challenges to see if Momma is still at the top of the pecking order.

Cyndie has needed to conjure up her “bigger-rooster-than-you” posture and gestures to convince Rocky that he doesn’t want to mess with the humans in charge. I sure hope our lessons will translate to include all other humans who come to visit, as well.

I wonder if Rocky let out a hearty morning crow for this sunrise Cyndie captured.

The rain has quickly transformed the color palette of our landscape toward a much greener hue. In addition to the burgeoning buds on branches, the areas of mowed grass are looking almost summer-like.

The real feature of this last shot, though, isn’t the green grass. It’s the fabulous light from above Cyndie captured highlighting that billowing cloud.

I really, really hope we get a few breaks in the rain this morning like the ones in these pictures because my Ritchie® automatic waterer installer told me last night that he would stop by in the morning and that’s the closest I’ve come yet to getting him to commit to an actual day and approximate block of time since I first requested his assistance two or three weeks ago.

When the source of skills and knowledge desired is also a really like-able guy, it is easier to endure the anguish of waiting for him to eventually get around to it, but it sure tests a patient man’s patience. I will be exceedingly happy when (and admittedly, if) he shows up.

Maybe I’ll have time to take pictures of an interesting sky while I’m down there eagerly waiting in a couple of hours.



Written by johnwhays

April 9, 2021 at 6:00 am

Looking Around

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Our neighbors appeared to be having a pretty big barbecue last night. It was curious because we couldn’t see or hear any human activity around the vicinity of that rather large bonfire. Thankfully, the gale force springtime breezes of the previous few days had calmed significantly.

Between sessions of pounding down fence posts yesterday, I tinkered around with the Ritchie® waterer in the paddocks to see if the last few days of dry weather had dropped the groundwater level below the valve lever. I haven’t been able to turn the water back on and I suspect the valve is seized in the closed position by corrosion.

The problem with solving this conundrum is that the valve is below and behind so many obstructions that it involves a blind reach that would be best facilitated by having one or two additional joints between my wrist and my elbow. When I finally achieve a grip on the lever, the fact that it doesn’t easily turn leaves me frustratedly defeated.

Yesterday, I took a fresh look with a bright flashlight to see if I could figure out a different way to approach the challenge. What the flashlight revealed was that my previous attempts had sheered the line off just above the valve. At this point, I’m really glad I wasn’t able to open the valve the last time I tried.

Time to have the original installer visit with his tools and we will lift the upper portion off the base and repair the valve and water line when it will be easy to reach.

As Cyndie approached the house last night after closing the coop and barn doors, the dark silhouette of the house was nicely complimented by the fading color in the evening sky.


I was already inside, watching a bit of NCAA Men’s Final Four basketball. How ’bout that Minnesota kid, Jalen Suggs’ overtime buzzer beater 3-point desperation shot for the win last night! Spectacular.



Written by johnwhays

April 4, 2021 at 9:38 am