Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Monday, December 13, 2004

Ice, Ice Baby

It began, predictably, with the water tank in the pasture freezing over night. With the weather continuing to worsen, we ended up bringing the horses into the barn for a few nights. We figured we could always bust up the water in the tank in the morning, but overnight it would be good for them to have free access to their auto waterers in the barn.

Until we looked, and the auto waterers in the barn were freezing! So we manually thawed those every night, and broke up the stock tank every morning. This went on for another 3 days or so until we got around to getting a stock tank heater. Oh, what a luxury that was.

This all came to a head the weekend before Thanksgiving. As my parents were coming to visit, or more specifically my Dad, Dave planned to have Dad help him over the holiday addressing the auto waterers. Dave discovered that not only are they designed to have thermostatically controlled heaters to prevent freezing, but in fact all of the waterers had a heater - they just weren't hooked up. Seemed like a simple matter, and after about a few hours of poking around (including having to fish out various tools from the bottom of the 4 foot pits below each of the waterers) they managed to make a number of diagnoses before it was Turkey time. Generally, they felt the electrical work was pretty questionable in nature and would have done bunch of it differently if they had the time. Alas, if only it were that simple. Friday we made a trip to Home Depot for a large collection of new fittings and gadgets, and Saturday they went back to it. They finished up the 4 waterers in the East end of the barn and called that good enough.

The storm actually hit Saturday afternoon, so my parents made plans to head back south early Sunday. Fortunately there wasn't too much snow in the morning, and their trip was uneventful. However, that evening when we brought the horses in again we noticed that 2 of the four waterers were frozen. Moreover, Monday morning Ginger and I went to feed the horses and discovered that the stock tank was frozen as well! By this time none of the lights would turn on in the barn, and the electric fence charger wasn't doing its clicking thing. I was heading to work so I called Dave and brought him up to date and left.

It was the next day when he filled Ginger and I in on the details: Seems that one of the two power lines that were run from the house to the barn is, in fact, dead by the time it reaches the barn's circuit panel. And, in order to make it appear that all 8 circuits were in working order, someone has jumpered from one of the working circuits to the other 4 dead circuits, so that all of the electric components on those circuits were getting some unpredictable and variable voltage. This made them work - but just barely, and if the right circuit tripped then most of them also went out. (At this time Ginger and I kinda gave him the blank stare and he translated - "this is bad.")

It was clearly time to back off and start contacting those individuals involved in certifying the electrical system in the barn - something that was completed just prior to us getting possession.
So here it is, two weeks after that discovery was made and not many answers have been found. Dave has contacted the electrician and the county inspector, and of course neither are willing to admit that the barn was in this condition at the time they inspected it. We certainly didn't do it, but the sellers were in the house probably for a week after the inspections were done, so who knows what happened.

Dave has since resumed working on the waterers because we really can't allow them to freeze, and he has located yet another place where there is an underground break in the line, so last night he was busy putting up conduit (huum - novel concept there - conduit!) over the barn aisle so as to get power from the working quadrant to the dead quadrant.

Oh, and then there was Saturday morning when we were giving another set of friends the tour, and we found that the small barn was half flooded because the fittings left behind when the seller took those waterers with him had frozen and busted. Oh yea.



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