-Posted by Isaac
There are always surprises.
In every job, in every season. The unexpected. This week I spent many (unplanned for) hours on a backhoe. Luckily I have friends in high places and my brother Justin, the grain farmer, lent me this big shovel free of charge. I don't know how much we'd be shelling out if I had to rent... but I do know it would've been in the thousands.
Let me back up. The week started as any typical winter week in Ohio- miserable.
Upon returning home from Joshua Tree, we caught the last of the snow and cold that you guys had been enduring. Then it heated and soon we found ourselves in a lovely drizzle. Last Sunday I took the opportunity to check a few hives. The girls are looking fine. Enjoying the sudden warmth.
As it turned out, that was the highlight of the week.
We were scheduled for an ODA inspection on Tuesday. Once a year the honey house is inspected by the state. They need to make sure everything is code and up to par. Our "commercial kitchen" status hangs in the balance. Nothing to get excited about, really. We've passed every year with flying colors.
But as luck would have it, Monday threw a wrench in the works. Jayne was cleaning the soap pans and had to dump a large amount of water down the sink. A few seconds later that water was moving across the honey house floor like a small tidal wave. Something was clogged! We had no drainage, it was all backing up, and it stank!
Not ok. ODA inspection tomorrow.
So I stopped doing whatever I was doing. I can't remember what is was now. The to-do list suddenly had a #1 priority. After about an hour of digging and poking around, I figured out it must've been a frozen outlet or a crushed tile. Maybe a little of both?
I'm a beekeeper. What do I know about these things?
As I said, my brother thankfully had a backhoe. Thankfully not in use at the moment. And thankfully it started on a thirty degree morning. Barely. We didn't have much time. The water had to flow by high noon on Tuesday.
So I pretty quickly re-learned backhoe language. If you've ever run one of these things, you know the controls are a language of their own. I knew it once, many years ago, and as it turned out it's a little like riding a bike. Anyway, I managed to avoid knocking down the honey house.
Here's my homemade septic tank:
It's just gray water, and we have another septic on out, but I figured that as long as I was digging around, I might as well improve things. But in doing, unfortunately I managed to hit the propane line. Yet another small problem. As fast as I could I jumped off the tractor, jumped the fence into the goat pen and shut off the big tank valve as the air filled with gas.
Called Buckeye Propane. Now their to-do list suddenly had a #1 priority... Don't do anything, they said, we'll be right out.
I was shaking. Time for a cigarette.
An hour and a half, $135 later, we were back in business.
Long story short, I got everything patched up and looking decent. The water was flowing just fine. On Tuesday ODA came and went, none the wiser.
But we still had a backhoe sitting there... and man that thing is fun.
I thought maybe Justin wouldn't mind if I knock off a few more jobs. Starting with burying that old well in the barnyard.
My awesome luck continued. About the second big scoop, I hit a water line.
Which normally would be no big deal. Just shut the water off, run to town, buy parts and fix it. But as it turned out, I happened to align my little mishap with the County Health Dept. doing their annual water test. Perfecting timing!
We try to check off our annual inspections and testing in the same general time frame. Preferably not during the height of bee season.
Great time to lose water pressure. And no time to run to town. I really didn't want the poor lady to have to make another trip. What to do, what to do? As it turns out, ratchet straps have infinite uses.
A ratchet strap and a hose clamp- the idea actually worked! At least long enough for the Health Dept. to run the water a few minutes. I often have to pat my own back and call myself a genius. True or not, it helps to keep up the morale. Do you do this too? It works, doesn't it? Nobody's going to do it for you, if you know what I mean.
So Wednesday went by, water test done, old well buried, and the weather continued turning nicer. By Thursday we were actually looking at clear skies and sunshine. On top of it all, we still had the backhoe.
And man, is that thing fun!
I bounced from job to job. By Friday evening I had two new water lines, two new hydrants, a parking lot extension, and seven large trees transplanted. It's fun to play farm. For the past three days Joe Diffie has been rolling through my head. As it turned out, this surprise week was kinda ok.
And it all started with cleaning the soap pans. I don't know what next week will bring, but tomorrow I'm finding a shade tree and an RC Cola.