Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Mustang Adoption?

At Expo Ginger had spoken with two of the BLM / Prison training program for quite some time. They were enthusiastic about having one of their saddle trained horses go into a lesson program, and we all fell in love with that little Taz horse. They told Ginger that another horse was going to be coming available in a few weeks. She stayed in touch with them and got the heads up that this past Monday this special gelding would be posted. Once they are on the website they are fair game to whom ever calls in first to put a hold on them. All morning Ginger watched the website, and early afternoon several horses appeared. BamBam (I hate the name!) is the gelding the program director thinks would work well for us - he's a very nice looking buckskin gelding. Ginger called and put a hold on him.

Now the process is for us to make the trek down to Canon City for one of their two visiting days a month. Tomorrow is their next visiting day. Since I'm in Albuquerque on business, Dave and Ginger will head down. They are to arrive no later than 9:00 am, meaning they will have to get a very early start. Since the training facility is within the prison complex, they also have to run background checks on the people coming to visit. Guess they don't want potential adopters instigating a break out or something.

The big question is do they take the trailer with them when they go. If they like the horse, they will be allowed to bring him back immediately. But that is a heck of a long way to drive truck and trailer and come back empty handed. Plus it will make their trip that much slower. The adoption program can deliver the horse - but timing may be an issue. We are running very short on time before we need horses that can be put to use for the lessons, so we would want him, or any other new horse, at our place immediately.

We also have a lead on 3 or possibly 4 other horses to see this weekend... Not sure when our other projects are going to get done what with all this horse buying going on. The septic perc test was conducted Tuesday, and we've applied for the electrical permit to put in new electrical for both barns. Meanwhile my sister just asked for an update on the basement buildout plans - "wha-huh?". We've always intended to finish the basement to be Ginger's home, but we also said that would wait until we had the time and funds. We have absolutely none of either, so for some time to come we'll continue to be housemates.


Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Running Waterline #2

It rained all night Sunday night. It was with great trepidation that I looked out the window in the morning, and sure enough there were huge puddles down by the barn. I didn't even want to think about it, so I averted my eyes as I left to go to work. Monday turned out to be a lot of running around for David - little things like getting more diesel for the myriad of machines we had going.

Fortunately the rain didn't have too much effect on the other trenches. The section down in front of the barn was far too muddy to clean out the bottom of, but that could wait.

Tuesday I took off work and Dave and I dug the jog trench underneath the irrigation pipe. This little section of trench took a huge amount of work. Even after we'd took a much steeper angle between the two trenches than originally planned - in order to bypass that section of the trench the trencher couldn't get through - we still were right in the midst of that hard layer. Much was the packed clay and shale we've been hitting about 3 foot deep elsewhere, but part of this was actually grainite. Dave had bought a pick axe and we were just barely able to get through that stuff. But with all the other trench dug we just didn't have the opportunity to try elsewhere! By Tuesday night we had open trench all the way - but parts were still less than 42 inches deep. Ginger and I laid out the pipe sections.

Wednesday he manually cleared more trench and was just beginning to cement pipe together. OH, and it was also snow/raining. With Ginger holding flashlights, me holding pipe ends and Dave weilding the primer and cement, we got all of the straight sections assembled.

Thursday morning Dave and I got up early to put in an hour before I had to leave for work. This was fruitless. I was so frustrated with the whole thing that it didn't take him very long to thank me for my help and wish me a good day at work. And yes, that is the watered down version. That night, thank goodness, the pipe was connected, pressurized, and at least superficially inspected for leaks. The storm was still upon us so, again working under flashlight we backfilled all of the pipe with pea gravel and prayed the trench depth would keep it from freezing. It did.
Friday, being Good Friday, was a holiday for Ginger so she and David worked on filling in trench. Saturday and Sunday we continued this work - though we certainly didn't put in full days either day. We've found that we can't get all of the dirt that came out of our trenches back in the trenches. HUUM. So we have a sizeable mound of dirt that still needs to be moved somewhere else. We also really need to run the scraper to make things somewhat smooth again.

The part that we totally didn't anticipate is that now we've pulled all this dirt up and scattered it EVERYWHERE - what gravel we used to have down is... useless? We don't know - that whole area desperately needs to be regraded anyways, but we were hoping to put that off a year or so. But, the next big rain will tell whether we can survive without immediate resurfacing or not.


In the good news department - because we have been sorely lacking in this area: Our driveway-entry work was completed this week and is FANTASTIC. We had the first 50 yards of our driveway re-graded and surfaced. All three of us got horses out for riding this weekend - we really need to get them back into the habit of behaving like good little lesson horses. Went well. I actually got three rides in on Jordan in the three days. I really enjoyed riding before work on Monday - kinda reminds me why I wanted to live at home with us. Unfoturnatly much of the next two weeks I'll be in ABQ to deliver on our project there, so little chance for before-work rides for a while yet. We also looked at 2 more horses for sale. Didn't go so well. These super sweet horses that they can throw their toddler on? UM, I was actually frightened just trying to hold on to one of them. Ginger got smacked by the other - and was thankful she already had her helmet on. Goes to show you shouldn't try to sell horses who haven't been handled for 6 months without some pre-work! We passed.


Monday, March 28, 2005

Don't Volunteer

Please - somebody remind me next time that you really DON'T want to volunteer to re-run water line!

It was, what, three weekends ago that we spent the whole weekend digging, trying to locate leaks and pipes. Unable to ever guess where the line was run, we decided it would be easier to re-trench and run the line again. Based on the fact that we eventually did witness many PVC pipe junctions that had little to no cement in them holding them together, this probably was the best long term solution. But, my goodness, it was a chore!

Two weekends ago was Expo, so we had a weekend off. The weekend a week ago we borrowed Tom's bobcat (in addition to the backhoe) and rented a 4 foot trencher and set to work. For most of the weekend it was Dave, me, Ginger and Roger trenching, digging with the backhoe, and generally moving dirt from one place to another. And sometimes back again. Oh, and Murphy? Yeah, he was along for the ride too.

We started out knowing the location of the valve at the top of the hill, the exact location of one of the water supply lines to the barn, and an approximate location on the other supply to the barn. We'd found the T which went to the second supply line, but it was about 30 feet out from the barn and headed in at about a 45 degree angle. We figured we'd trench along the front of the barn and cross it. This one was actually going to be fun - run the trencher until we hit and broke the pipe and we'd be there.

Never the less, we started with the two known points and started trenching out from the barn up to the valve. That lasted about 20 feet, when he had to start backing up hill trenching. Um - trenchers don't work real great backing up hill. Also, as one would expect, we didn't exactly know the best way for using the trencher, so we were dismayed that the trench was only clearing down to about 38-45, sometimes 48 inches. Our goal was to run the lines 48 inches down.What the heck do you do to clear out a trench that is 6 inches wide and 3.5 feet deep? Huum.

So we gave up there and started again at the top of the hill. It's relevant to mention that all this waterline is very close to both an abandoned set of electrical lines, as well as our neighbor Tom's operational irrigation pipe. We knew we'd have to cross the water under the irrigation pipe somewhere on the hill, and finally decided to just trench down one side, skip over and trench on down on the other side, and jog the pipe between the two.

Trenching from the top went like a dream! Much softer ground, and we had by then figured out how to run the trencher so that it cleared to 48 inches. Just as the sun went down, so did our hopes. We were still working away - the trencher, after all, can only move about an inch or so a minute and has headlights to boot - so why quit? Well, we encountered where the leak must have been. All that was coming up was mud (and shattered pieces of pvc), and the trencher just wasn't able to deal with it. It kept bogging down and there was no more nice clean trenches. We turned in.

In the morning we had a plan. Several, actually. Dave would attack the leak area with the backhoe while I moved down to start trenching across the front of the barn. Ginger would begin to clear the trench dirt away from the side of the first trench so that we would be able to drive the trencher through that section again and deepen it. Dave's part of the plan worked.

The arsenal increases

Days end

As for trenching across the front of the barn - it too was all mud 4 feet deep. That is directly underneath the long edge of the roof, so we figured a lot of run off had saturated the ground. So Dave cleared beyond the leak area and we moved the trencher back up on the hill while he went about trying to find the second water supply to the barn. By now he was getting really good with the backhoe. We knew that while hitting the existing pipe with the trencher would be ok because it would just cut through it - the backhoe was a different story. Every time he hooks pipe with that thing it pulls out 6-10 feet. We really did not want to be pulling pipe out from under the barn! So he spent all afternoon being very careful to clear only to 40 inches or so, and then hand dig. And hand dig. And hand dig. Guessing (do I have to keep telling myself that guessing isn't a reliable way to go?) where the pipe COULD have been run, it made total sense that it would enter the barn in the second or third stall bay from the end as there are no waterers or spiggots inside the barn closer to the end of the barn than the second bay in. So Dave excavated all the way to half way into the first stall bay... and dug down to over 4 feet, with no luck. He decided to hook the hose up to the T section we had found, so that it might show us a wet spot - in case we'd broken it but were unable to see the ends. No luck. Then I suggested he go in and see if the barn had water. It did. What - now that we wanted to find and bust the pipe we were unable to do so! He ended up having to dig all the way to the very end of the barn before finding that pipe. An NO - he did not damage the side we didn't want damaged. This was as the sun was going down on Sunday.

Barn Trench

Bad Trench (backhoe) & Good Trench (Trencher)

Meanwhile Roger, Ginger and I continued trenching. We finished one side, moved over and lined up with the first section of trench - and promptly hit a layer of rock that we just could not get through. We had to pull the trencher way up to make any progress. Then came the fun of trying to back over existing trench to run through it a second time. I'm guessing that trenchers really aren't designed to do this. We were fighting alignment all of the way, but also working to keep the edges of the trench from collapsing. Without a solid wall of earth directly behind the trencher blade, it was not able to pull up all of the debris either. But we figured if we could push it as far along the trench as we could towards the large excavated hole where the junction was going in we could get that stuff out by hand. True. But not easy. During this day we had had to cut the live electric lines (after they were shut off) to the barn, so the sun was going down and we just could not see a thing. We called it a second night - with all trenches dug except for the 8 foot jog underneath the irrigation pipe, and all three end points located.

The pair of trenches

Trenching a second time

We fell exhausted into bed, and were gently lulled to sleep by the soft patter of rain on the windows.


Monday, March 14, 2005

Almost a Taz

We had another busy weekend, but it was a very pleasant change to be down at the Colorado Horse Expo rather than working on the property. Expo is the second major agricultural exposition held in Colorado, the first of course being the National Western Stockshow. Expo, however, is focused specifically on horses and brings together trainers, professionals, service providers, vendors, and all sorts of other folks interested in horses. It is a lot of fun.

The Expo ran Friday through Sunday. After work Friday I ran down to start putting up our boarding and lesson fliers on the bulletin boards. I got a number up, wandered through the barn and checked out a few of the horses for sale. Saturday we all went down - for the entire day. We scoured the barn for sale prospects, attended a lecture on liabilty law, and saw several demos. Before lunch. Most of the afternoon we were in the expo hall talking to everyone about everything from pasture shelters, tractor implments, helmets, instructor insurance, indoor arenas, custom SPR coasters and tropheys, and more.

We ended up purchasing 3 pasture shelters - got a great deal on them based on Dave's previous research. We bought 2 for ourselves and 1 for our neighbor since he said he'd want to go in with us. Well, then we had to scurry to try and contact Tom, because steel prices are taking a sharp rise and our price was only good for a day or two. But we did manage to confirm he was ok with the order. In a few weeks we hope to have shelters so that the horses can stay out of the snow, hail, rain and wind! We also purchased a harrow, and finagled a deal to buy a dozen riding helmets at wholesale cost so that we have some that we can resell to students.

We also fell in love with a beautiful little wild horse that the BLM had brought up to auction off. They'd brought 3 horses to auction, all saddle broke, but all of us liked little "Taz" the best. We call him little, but he was probably 14.3 hands. A bit scrawney but had room to grow since he was only 4. He was just as cute as could be, still with that identifible mustang look. And, he accepted all the crazyness that the barns are at Expo amazingly well.

CHR used to regularly take horses to Expo to advertise our adoptables. 4 years ago Jordan was among the 4 selected to go. I was his exercise rider, so I went along and rode him in two or three show-off rounds. Jordan was a total dork. Didn't like the crowds. Totally freaked in the crowded warmup paddock where we had to mount and wait for our turn. Didn't like his stall, etc. It was definitely a very good learning opportunity for me to see how he behaved removed from his element. (He, however, attracted a great deal of attention, thus cementing my decision to adopt him. The greatest comment I got was when we were standing waiting to go into the paddock a woman came up, looked him up and down and commented: "Now that's one tall drink of water!")

Taz on the other hand, seemed totally unphased. Never heard him whinny and he was pulled in and out of the arenas with no care in the world.

The BLM has a cooperative arrangement with the prison in Canyon City where by inmates learn horse care, training and farrier skills. They gentle and saddle train wild horses for an increased adoption fee. We'd all heard good things about the program, but didn't know many of the specifics. We talked with them quite a bit, and saw some video of them working Taz and the others at their facility just days prior. To all appearances they seem to really have their act in gear. The woman running the adoptions was enthusiastic to have a mustang go into a lesson program, being that it would be a great advertisement for both the prison program and mustang adoptions.

We debated quite a bit on Saturday whether we should bid on him, and ended up turning in our application just as we left. Dave and Ginger went back down on Sunday and started bidding. Fortunately for the BLM, they had a lot of interested bidders and his price went up several hundred dollars beyond our agreed maximum bid. Ginger was bidding right along - promising Dave that if I disagreed she'd pay the extra cost! Anyways, we didn't get him, but we sure are seriously more interested in the Inmate Training program's offerings: (if you look quick you'll see Taz's entry under the Adoptable Saddle Trained Mustangs.)


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

It's a Go!

A comment on the public hearing process of Weld County. I don't get it, but they really don't seem very interested in preparing applicants for how the process is to proceed. What I know now compared to when we submitted our application is a lot, and a lot of it would have been useful up front. Can't they just have a FAQ somewhere?

I mention this because the first case of the day suffered an aparently unheard of, but yet potentially damaging effects today becuase of process. In their case, the applicants did nothing wrong. They showed up at their planning commission hearing, found their case on the "Consent Agenda", and happily sat quiet while it was approved defacto. Because cases listed on the consent agenda are assumed to be without contest and thus don't even need to be heard by the Planning Commission. Then they showed up today for their County Commissioner hearing, to be told that there was a problem with the first hearing in that the neighbors were not notified for the first hearing - so no wonder there was no public comment! The Commissioners discussed a bit about the ramifications of this glitch, but decided since there was proper notice for today's hearing, to continue.

They then informed the applicant that one of the five commissioners was not present and whether they wanted to proceed today or reschedule. Since at least 3 votes are needed for a decision, to proceed today meant they had to get 3 out of 4 votes, as opposed to 3 out of 5. The applicant said there was some confusion over the fact that there was public comment to be heard - which had come out of the blue to them since nothing was presented at the first hearing, and could that happen and THEN decide whether to proceed today. NO, they were directed that they were either in or out today. They chose to proceed. Well, 30 minutes go by of initial statements and questions from the commissioners, and then the first public comment guy gets up, who reiterated that none of the neighbors had known anything about this request until a week ago and they never got the chance to give their comments to the planning commission. Another 30 minutes then pass while the County Commissioners discuss this and decide that in fact the past hour had never taken place and that the case had to go back to the Planning Commission. BUMMER. Sucks even more because the applicant is in the fireworks business, and like, they have a vested interest in getting going on this application before, say, June/July. They promised to expidite their second round of hearings, and, oh by the way not charge the applicant more fees because the county has to re-post all this information. Nice of them.

The first stress of the day was the fact that there was only going to be 4 commissioners in attendance, so before the meeting began we were posed with the same question as to whether we'd like to reschedule. We certainly didn't want to, but we didn't understand the ramifications of having the hearing with fewer than all commissioners. We were told that unless we got 3 yes votes, then the commissioners not present would have to listen to the tapes and vote - but without the opportunity to ask us questions. We decided to proceed today. Then, we were told that one more commissioner was going to leave at noon, so they'd be down to 3 after lunch. Sure enough, the second case ended at 11:55 and we were third.

We were wondering what to do - hardly worth waiting around for an hour and a half if we were just going to reschedule, when the clerk came up to inform us that the 4th commissioner would come back after lunch. Whew.

One thing we did learn about process is that it is best to cut to the chase in your opening statements. We knew that noise was the major concern of the neighbors, so we've formed a noise mitigation plan. Ginger suggested yesterday that we actuallly write this up as one of the other many plans they've required us to get approved - such as waste management plan, landscaping plan, etc. So we put together a one paged plan. David had determined the distance to the 8 closest residences (using Weld County's awesome GIS website). I mapped that and attached it.

Well, nearly the first question out was how close was our nearest neighbor. This was asked of the planner when she was making her opening statements. This is the part I HATE. They sit there and debate, and talk, and pass papers around, when I could simply say that I have this information and will make it very clear - however, if you are sitting down you aren't supposed to talk. So they totally fudged it and finally moved on. When we got to make our statements I took my laptop up and asked if I could hijack the projector for a moment. WOAH. That's the first time anyone has made that request apparently. They got all nervous and then said, "I guess so". Then - wait for it - the attorney said they would need this information in hard copy too. Voila! We had come prepared with handouts.

Our neighbors to the south again made an appearance, but this time they were very much more prepared with a statement that described just about any and all possible negative impacts of our kennel request (again they stated no concerns over the horse operation). All the way to the fact that dogs might kill each other if are allowed to play together. Gosh, that seemed extreme. I was pretty much taken by surprise and it was all I could do to sit and look pleasant and concerned. Ginger, however, had the presence of mind to make notes about her points and then went up and countered a number of them expertly. They, however were the only ones to make an apperance, and two letters of concern had been submitted. In all fewer than at the planning commission.

The commissioners then reopened the 80 dog vs 60 dog argument started at the planning commission, finally asking if we'd be willing to agree to 60. We said yes. Soooo,

They said YES. Unanimously.

Happy Tails Dog Ranch is several giant steps further towards being a reality!


Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Tomorrow is our hearing with the County Commissioners.

David has done some research into the sound-proofing issue and plan to open our presentation with a summary of our thoughts. Basically the fact is that it is possible to sound proof a barn, the question is only how much can we afford to spend on it, and how little can we get away with to meet the Commercial Zone specifications we'd be subjected to (we don't plan on mentioning that second part in the hearing). We have gotten some encouraging pointers from the accoustic contractors.

Meanwhile - YESTERDAY Ginger received the last of the mineral owner's signatures approving our plans. What a headache that one has been!

Keep your fingers crossed for us. County Commissioner approval is not the last step, but it is probably the biggest hurdle. Well, that and then financing...


Monday, March 07, 2005

Fun with a Backhoe

If we've ever had a moment so far which threatened our committment to this little project, it probably came this weekend.

Lesson number one - when working on waterlines, shut off the water first.

Actually, Dave and Tom learned that one earlier in the week so we cleverly took appropriate action to start off. Friday Dave dug some test holes near where we think the water leak is. He very carefully dug parallel to the pipe, and to a side so as not to damage the pipe again. Only, this was to no avail as he wasn't even able to locate the pipe. Saturday morning we decided he should dig perpendicular to the pipe run, which was a bit nerve wracking because we knew that there was also a 10 inch irrigation pipe in the area. While he was working on that, our Vet arrived for a routine visit. The Vet advised Ginger and I that it really didn't make sense trying to locate a leak - that it was faster and cheaper to just replace the water line.

So, by the time the Vet left we went to get the status on the latest hole. Turns out Dave had hit a layer of clay shale that even the backhoe couldn't get through - about 3 feet deep. Since water lines are run at 4 feet, we were darn confused as to where this line went and what to do next. At least he did find the irrigation pipe there so we got a second locate on that.

Upon abandoning those holes we took the time to fill them back in. That's when it occured to us - isn't this what you punish prisioners with? Digging ditches and then filling them back in?

Replacing the entire line from the valve to the barn now sounded like the best course of action. Providing, of course, that you know where both ends of the line are. There is a spigot right in front of the barn, so that seemed like the logical place to start looking for where the water enteres the barn. Dave set about digging that up while Ginger and I worked on turning our manure compost piles. This was a whole experience in itself, because it was my initiation to driving the big tractor - but that's another story.

Lesson number two - PVC piping is darn fragile.

Several hours later we were finished, and checking on Dave we found out that he had indeed unearthed the spiggot. That, and had pulled about 6 feet of pipe out of the ground to boot when he'd hooked it with the backhoe. The main point, however, was that the spiggot line was a dead end - it was not the supply for the barn. Not knowing what else to do, we dug back to where the line we'd pulled out had been connected, and we found another that it had T'd into. We capped that line and turned the water back on to see if we had successfully cut off the supply to the barn. Not so lucky: we'd cut off one half of the barn, so we still had another supply line to find. This was at 1:00 on Sunday. (Oh and a call to the seller during this time resulted in no useful information at all)

Earlier, we'd abandoned yet another hole. Guessing that the west end water supply SHOULD enter the barn at the wash stall, we dug parallel to the front of the barn about 3/4 the way across the front of that stall. We avoided the last 3 feet because Dave already knew the electrical was run there. We'd abandoned it because again the backhoe was stopped dead by an extremly hard layer of clay, and we knew that nothing trenched and refilled only 2 years ago could have solidified like that.

But now we were seriously at a loss. We'd done a heck of a lot of digging, had made some discoveries, had broken several pipes, but really had no pointers as to how to proceed. Ginger had an appointment to see a horse for sale, so Dave shooed me off with her. The horse was a real cutie, but he was also a 16.2hh Quarter Horse gelding, 4 years old who'd been gelded at 2. Had we had that description to start off, we wouldn't have seen the horse. But it was a friend of Gingers and the owner was in a pickle. The woman keeping him claims to have another buyer so we hope that works out.

Returning home we could see that the backhoe hadn't moved. This seemed like a very bad thing. Dave was deep in the hole he'd dug several weeks ago that exposed the electrical where it enters the barn. We approached, and encountered a number of curious findings:

First was a set of 1 foot square holes crossing the driveway, exposing the electrical from the house. Eventually he located a hole that exposed both the irrigation line and the splice that connected the proper wiring from the house to the substandard wires that enter the barn. We've been wanting to find this for MONTHS. It's notable that at the location of the splice the electric line not only takes a sharper than 90 turn, but also dives several feet down into the ground. No wonder we're having troubles predicting water line paths!

We then went on down to talk to Dave. His thinking about what we've learned about the construction so far led him to conclude that the seller probably had doubled up the electrical and the water in a single trench. Sure enough - 2 feet directly beneath the electrical supply was a water line.

Lesson number three - it's good to have friends with equipment

Gosh, in writing this now it all seems so logical, when at no step during the process did it feel logical, nor did we even feel like there was an end to the tunnel we were heading deeper and deeper into. Dave lamented he didn't know HOW we would have been able to do this without Tom's backhoe. I said - we wouldn't have even attempted to dig this much without the backhoe, so to some extent having it was a double edged sword!

Now we need to verify that we have found all sources of water into the barn and then isolate the leak as being between the valve and the barn. THEN we'll be ready to trench for a new water line. Looks like we will also be getting a second electric meter installed, so we'll also need to trench to rewire both barns to the new electric service. And we need to trench from the barn down to the pasture so that we can hard wire the outlet down there instead of maintaining the very long extension cord the seller 'installed'.

Very interestingly, we found out that Tom has some projects of his own going on and will be borrowing a trencher from someone this week. Huuum.


Friday, March 04, 2005

Quicky Update

The bad/good news is that Wednesday Dave still hadn't buried the water pipe - because it was leaking a little bit. Thursday he re-did that repair and declared it good last night.

The good/bad news is that the new barn water valve appears to work! When he shuts it off the water meter shows a leak of ... oh a mere gallon every five minutes. So, two leaks to find (at least), but the one near the barn - the one we think we have a clue to as of its location - is first.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Water Water Everywhere, and yet Nowhere

Suffice it to say, we've been un-impressed with the quality of construction of the big barn. But one thing we've been heard to say, is that thank goodness at least the water supply was solid.

I was paying bills this weekend and noticed that our water useage has tripled in the past three months - during a period when we are not doing anything extra with water. We speculated whether we had a leak, but we were hard pressed to imagine we could be leaking 20-some thousand gallons a month and we hadn't seen any evidence of it. I called the water company yesterday and they explained how to look at the meter and see if its running when all valves are supposedly shut. Sure enough, Dave found that we're leaking water at about a gallon a minute. Do the math - this is about 40,000 gallons a month. Furthermore he determined that this is somewhere between the main barn shutoff valve (which we already know is faulty because it doesn't actually shut OFF the water) and the barn. Low and behold, half way down the driveway to the barn is a mysterious wet spot. We've never noticed it before because it really hasn't dried out here since Christmas anyways. But we've been blessed with little moisture in the past 3 weeks and that wet spot is pretty unmistakeable now that we were looking for it.

Stay tuned, this one is sure to be tons of fun.


9:00 PM Update - I hadn't expected David to get started quite so quickly, but I came home to this situation:

That is our neighbor, Tom, digging away and Dave was nowhere to be found. Ginger and I got home right on the heels of each other and wandered out to see what was going on. Tom looked surprisingly sheepish when we said hello and asked how things were going. "Well, you noticed you have no water?" No, we hadn't actually. "Because we hit the water line." Oops.

Using Tom's backhoe they had dug down to the faulty valve and proceeded to clear an area around it. Only, for some unexplainable reason instead of running a straight line from the barn to the main water, the seller had put a big zig zag in the line and thus they'd broken right through it - upstream from the faulty valve. Fortunately Dave was by now intimately familiar with where the water meter pit and main shut off was, so he knew right where to go and what wrench to take with him. Dave was off at the hardware store to get repair materials while Tom, bless his heart, stuck around to clear the pipe.

Meanwhile we came on into the house while they worked and Ginger fielded a phone call from Marcello, our other neighbor. He was concerned and wanted to warn us that we were digging right in the vicinity of our water line!

Ah, there is Dave's car pulling in now - it's about 9:15. Do we have water? Yes!

Now that the valve is fixed the search for the leak can begin.