Saturday, 18 August 2007

Water, water everywhere, but. . .

Listening to: Shine It All Around (Robert Plant)
Reading: Press & Journal
Getting: wet and dirty

Funny how your priorities can change very suddenly. Just when I was tatting around, clearing the veg garden, cleaning out sheds for hens and pigs, a fundamental problem reared its ugly head.

Dave, the island's cycle repair man, popped round to replace a few lengths of piping and to plumb in the washing machine - should have taken a couple of hours, max. Two days later, he has only just returned home.

Our eight-acre croft gets it's water supply from a well in the bottom field. The water is pumped to a huge header tank in the top field, from where it comes by gravity into the house. So before Dave could get to work, we had to drain the tank and switch off the pump.

No problem, except that when we switched everything back on, nothing was coming out of the taps. It was with a sinking feeling that I climbed the ladder to peer into the tank. Everything seemed in order from the top, so surely it was just a minor blockage. . . but where?

We worked out that, as the trough in the field next to the tank wasn't filling either, the blockage must have been around there, so if we could just empty the tank and blow through the pipes all would be well.

The plug near the base of the tank would have to be removed, only that appeared to be jammed solid - a plug of wood having been thrust in there at some stage and no amount of drilling and hacking would shift it. So, there I was at the top of a ladder in a howling gale, emptying buckets of water out of the tank - it took hours.

I got in and was ankle deep in what can only be described as green goo. Yes, I know I should have got in and cleaned it out as soon as we arrived last month, but it's easy to be hygenic after the event, isn't it?

Having slopped out and scrubbed down, I still didn't have a clue as to how to get water into the house. I asked my neighbour Marcus - the cousin of the family who sold us the croft - and he said he'd come and have a look. An hour or so later he roared into the field in his red Toyota pick-up and had dug out around what I thought was the 'in' pipe before you could say "is that a good idea?" and thenproblem was quickly diagnosed.

The 'in' pipe also proved to be the 'out' pipe and it was full of the aforementioned goo. A bit of further digging revealed that the pipe into the house was in good condition, so we just undid it and found ourselves covered in gunk, but at least the water was coming through.

So we were all happy? Well, not quite. The ancient stove in the living room has sprung aleak and is dripping water onto the floor. Nice warm water, though. The new fuel burner arrives some time next week, along with the cooker and a new water tank. . . and the pigs. . . and the hens.

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