Ups and downs and ups

So, things have been interesting for the last couple of days.

Also, the folks renting the property are awesome.

So is our plumber.

Let me just back up a bit…

Yesterday was supposed to be a “family meeting” day between my siblings and my mother. This was something she asked us to do, to discuss “what to do” with her, as she felt she was going to need more care than where she is living.

But she didn’t want to be there.

Well, we insisted she needed to be part of this conversation, since she still has her mental faculties. It’s a discussion we already recognized we needed to have, so we would have time to, say, get her on a waiting list for someplace, or whatever the final decision would be.

She tried to insist we had to get together in person (phone calls or email, not allowed) and that it be at my sister’s place (instead of her own) and when things got delayed due to weather and I suggested waiting until spring – mentioning that we even told the heart clinic not to book appointments for my husband until spring – she made it sound pretty urgent.

We insisted she had to be part of the conversation, and that we should have it at her place.

It turned out she had ulterior motives about making us get together because she wants us all to get along.

That didn’t work. We did agree to get together – with her! – to have the discussion she asked us to have. The compromise was to have it at my sister’s, instead of her place, because she feels the neighbours can hear everything. So we waited until a nice Saturday, which was supposed to be yesterday, to do this. I was originally going to drop my daughter off at work in one town, using my mother’s car, drive to my mother’s town to pick her up, then drive to another town and my sister’s farm to meet with the rest of the family.

Then the weather happened.

It was supposed to be a warmer day with some snow. Not a big deal.

It started to fall heavily during the night, and was blowing pretty hard.

My brother phoned me. He said he would get our mother, and I just needed to worry about getting my daughter to work. Which meant I could take our van instead of my mom’s little car.

This turned out to be a good thing. Her car wouldn’t have made it out the driveway.

The snow was deep, but it was also really light and fluffy. We made it to town and I dropped my daughter off, filled the gas tank, just in case (I’d already made sure there was a shovel in the van!) and updated with my brother through his wife as he made his way to our mother’s. It was slow going for him, but that was about it.

I started to make my way to my sister’s, choosing a highway that is less isolated, and one I knew would be plowed regularly.

It had been plowed, but by the time I was driving on it, winds from the west were already drifting snow over one side.

The side I was on, of course.

Eventually, when I reached a town just before my sister’s town, I found a safe place to pull over. While the highways were okay, I knew there was no way my van would make the miles of gravel roads I’d need to take to get to my sisters. She’s even more in the boonies than we are. So with some creative messaging to my brother, I was able to suggest an alternative meeting location in a city near my sister’s town. He was at our mom’s by then and offered to pick me up on the side of the road where I was, but I assured him I was okay on the highways. It was just the gravel roads I wouldn’t be able to do. So we worked it out and I continued on, not wanting to stay on the side of the road for too long, knowing we could phone my sister once we were safely in a coffee shop somewhere. We were even able to work out a landmark to meet at, so we could drive the final leg together.

I was just reaching that landmark and finding a safe place to pull over, when my brother called.

My mother had started to panic and began praying, really, really loudly. So he was turning around to take her home. Meeting cancelled.

At that point, I decided to go back to the town my daughter works at and wait for things to blow over, which my weather app said should happen in about half an hour. Judging from what I was seeing, I figured it would be at least an hour. I knew my sister’s land line was down again, so I used Facebook messenger to send her a quick note that we had to cancel, and that I would tell her more when I was no longer on the side of the road.

Once in town, and safely in a restaurant (breakfast at 11! Yay!) I could hang out in for a couple of hours, I began messaging with several people at the same time, and discovered there were all sorts of communication errors.

My sister had already called my mom – on her cell phone (apparently, she has cell phone coverage in her area!) to tell her their road was blown over and suggested cancelling. My mom agreed. But when my brother arrived, he basically said that I was on the way already, so let’s go. And she did. I don’t know that she ever told my brother about my sister’s call.

My sister, I found out, had emailed my brother and I to tell us not to bother coming over.

We were, however, already on the way to her place by then and never saw her emails until long after.

Eventually, she and I got to the point of exchanging our “new” cell phone numbers, and I made sure she knew that she could have called our home numbers. Our spouses would have let us know, somehow, that things were cancelled!

As for finally getting together, there has since been talk about doing it on the next “nice” Saturday, like next weekend (ha!) but I’m pushing to wait for spring!


I stayed in town, waiting for the weather to clear. Long enough to have lunch with my daughter. At which point, it wasn’t worth trying to drive home and coming back when her shift was done. Plus, the weather still hadn’t cleared.

There isn’t really any place to hang out indoors for too long, so I drove around a bit, where the roads were passable, in town. I stopped by the beach. The last time I swung by there, I counted up to 53 fishing huts in the area you see in the above picture. Many of them are completely hidden by blowing snow.

That didn’t stop people from fishing, driving on the ice, or trekking about in their snow mobiles!

After a while, I sent a message to a friend and neighbour who lives a mile past our place, asking if the gravel roads had been plowed. He was eventually able to tell me that no, they hadn’t, but his brother had driven through and they were still passable.

For his 4×4.

I was able to learn from a local Facebook group for highway conditions that plows were going from our little hamlet to the town I was in, regularly, but that couldn’t tell me anything about the gravel roads. If the main road was done, it would be fine. They never do the cross roads until later, but it isn’t far to our driveway. I just needed to get that first couple of miles.

By the time my daughter got off her shift, we were making back up plans for what we would do if the road wasn’t plowed.

As we left town, I came very close to turning around to see if we could find a hotel we could afford for the night. Visibility was low, winds were high. If I had found a safe place to turn around, I probably would have, but there wasn’t.

When we finally got to our gravel road, we still weren’t sure if it was plowed, but there were tracks we could follow, so we went for it. It wasn’t until about half a mile, when the road suddenly became open and clear, that I realized that yes, it had been plowed. That area had been full of snow in the morning. The parts between trees were full of snow again, but in this one open section, the blowing winds actually kept the road clear. It wasn’t until we passed our first crossroad that I could see a plow ridge across each side. On the road itself, the wind had already blown snow over any sign of plow ridges on the sides.

The problem with following tracks is, they were mostly made by vehicles taller than ours, and I was really concerned about dragging my undercarriage. In messaging with my friend earlier, he had said he probably wouldn’t go out in his own mini van, as he would have been pushing snow. In the past he’d done it and the snow ended up dislodging the belt on his engine. My van is a bit taller than his, though, so he thought I might be okay. Still, it concerned me! The whole drive was pretty white knuckle driving. I hate to think how bad it would have been, if no plow had gone through at whatever time that happened.

We made it to our road and, at first, we were really excited. It look liked someone with a plow attachment on their vehicle had gone through! I just had to get through the plow ridge across the cross road. Once on it, though, we realized that the lower snow in the middle was cleared by some vehicle’s undercarriage!

On reaching the driveway, I stopped on the road while my daughter opened the gate, then dashed ahead to open the garage door, so I could gun it down the driveway and turn into the garage without having to stop.

It felt so good to get home!!!

My daughter, btw, called her manager to say she wasn’t going to make it in for today. We had more snow all night, too. As far as I can tell, the plows haven’t gone by, either.

While all that was going on, my husband phoned the plumber again. I’d called the day before but never got a call back. My husband left a message and got a call back, right away – for some reason, the plumber never got my message from the day before!

Much to our surprise, he was willing to come in today – on a Sunday!

So my goal for today was to get our driveway clear, at least. When he called this morning, there was some concern about the fact that the roads were not plowed, yet. I told him I was about to go out and clear the driveway. Before I did, though, I made sure to shut off the breaker, drain the hot water tank and leave at least the basement sink’s hot water tap on, to let air in so the tank could drain out.

Thankfully, he came later than he thought he’d be able to, as it took a long time to work on the driveway.

I tried the gas powered snow blower, first. It still won’t start, and the more I tried to start it, the more fuel would leak. So I set that aside. It’ll just have to wait until we have the funds to take it in and get it checked.

Instead, I broke out little Spewie, and the two 100ft extension cords.

The poor little thing does an amazing job. The snow was taller than the blower, so once I got the first pass done, I made each pass using only about 10 inches of the machine’s 20 inch width. I still tripped the power bar a few times and had to pause. Which I didn’t mind, since it gave me time to scrape the ice off the inside of my glasses lenses. They’d fog up and ice over almost immediately, so I spent most of my time trying to see over my glasses. 😀

I did the driveway just wide enough to drive through and was working on clearing more space in front of our garage when I saw someone go by on the road in a front end loader. He drove past our driveway.


Backed up.

Drove into the driveway, clearing and widening the area at the road.

Then he drove in, clearing the driveway wider on one side, all the way through were I was working towards, and dumped the snow near the pile of wood we’ve got waiting to be chipped.

Then he went back for another pass.

And another.

This saint not only cleared what was left of what I needed to do, widening the driveway from end to end, he even cleared a lane all the way to our little gate in the chain link fence.

I could not believe what I was seeing!

Not even after scraping the ice off my lenses and looking again. 😀

When he was done and stopped, I came over to thank him profusely – and had to ask who he was, because I couldn’t see! It turned out that he was the guy who works for our renter. The one who delivered the bales we’ve bought from the renter the past couple of years. He had been on his way to do some work on one of our fields (they have been harvesting their wet corn in the snow and baling the stalks), saw me and decided to help! As I thanked him, I told he did in half a minute what would have taken me another hour! 😀 He said he was only sorry he hadn’t come by earlier.

What an angel!

It wasn’t long after that the plumber arrived (in fact, just moments after I first started to write this post! LOL). He looked pretty surprised by the state of our driveway, and was able to pull right up the lane to the gate, and I was thrilled to tell him what happened. He knows our renter, too, and knew who I was talking about when I told him about the driver.

As soon as I saw him coming down the driveway on our security camera (handy thing, that!), we closed the cats up in one room so we could leave the basement door open. He started unhooking the old tank while a daughter and I got the new one, still in its box, down the stairs. Which was quite easy to do.

Modern tanks are so light! 😀

The switch went very smoothly, since they were the exact same tank.

So now we have two old tanks in the basement to get rid of! The ancient one that got replaced shortly after we moved in still sits where he left it. Unlike the new tanks, it’s incredibly heavy and needs to be dismantled to get taken out. The new one, we could lift out ourselves easily enough, but I want to dismantle it, too. Maybe I’ll even get to see why it broke down after only 2 years!

Once the new tank was in and he opened the valve to fill it, the well pump, of course, soon turned on. It sounded fine at first, but after a little while, I could hear the sound changing and told him, this is what it does. Sure enough, the psi soon dropped to 0 and it started making that awful noise.

He couldn’t say for sure what the problem is. It could be a bearing giving out. Or it could be cavitating.

I had to ask him what that meant. 😀 Here’s a link, explaining cavitation in a well pump.

It’s more of a symptom than a cause, but can damage the pump.

And it can be caused by a problem with the foot valve, just as my brother has suggested.

We talked about it, but there wasn’t much he could do to tell me more. Given the age of the pump, he recommended we just replace it. A deep well pump like this one will cost about $550, he says. And that’s just the cost of the pump. I would imagine it would take at least a couple of hours to install it.

It will have to wait.

Until then, we will have to make sure not to have run water faster than the pump can fill the pressure tank.

As the tank was filling, he asked if we were good with doing the rest ourselves; waiting for it to fill, making sure the air was out of the pipes, etc., before finally turning the breaker back on. I assured him we were, so he left soon after.

The last time he was out, changing the thermostat on the hot water tank, before we discovered it was leaking at the bottom, he never charged us for the work, since he figured he would be back. So today, I got a total for last time, and this time.

It still only came out to a couple of hundred dollars. Plus, I can wait until the end of the month to pay him.

What a sweetheart!

Once he was gone, I went back to the tank. The pump was still running and making that noise, so I shut off the valve to the tank. The pump started running smoothly almost right away, so for the next while I would turn the valve on and let the hot water tank fill until I could hear a change in the sound the pump was making, then close the valve, giving the pump time to catch up. That went rather smoothly. Once it was full and we made sure all the taps were clear of air, I flipped the breaker to heat the water.

We now have hot water again!


While all this was going on, my darling daughters did some bread baking, so this evening we got to enjoy tea with fresh baked bread, while watching episodes of The Edwardian Farm on Tubi.

A great way to close off the day!

I look forward to having a boring day tomorrow! 😀

The Re-Farmer

4 thoughts on “Ups and downs and ups

  1. Hang in there. Maybe this is the start of things staying on an upward swing for you. 🙂

    You were right about that meeting being needed and your mom absolutely needing to be there also. As for location, I’d go for neutral ground like a restaurant. Since it’s public, it also deters needless theatrics and drama.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: An amazing Christmas gift just happened! | The Re-Farmer

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