To paraphrase the famous lines from Robert Burns’ To a Mouse poem: The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
(If you want the Scottish brogue version: The best laid schemes o’ mice and men gang a’ft agley.)
Today’s plans were to play outside after first writing the column, maybe getting some apples and making apple muffins or a pie, picking burrs off Apache and Toby and perhaps just enjoying the weather by sitting on the porch.
At 8 a.m., ready to wash my face and get going after feeding everyone except myself, there was no water, although I could hear the ancient Deming pump running — and running and running.
My heart sank. Usually, this time of year, Lester Baringer of Baringer Pump Service of Salem, Ohio, comes to baby the relic, repack it, give it new oil, tighten whatever can be tightened and I say a prayer over it so it will not quit. Please God, don’t let it quit.
A frantic telephone call to Les, who’s been doing this for me for about 19 years (and periodically warning me that one day the inevitable was going to happen, and he was right) and he was on his way. He first came here with Richard Burton and has been helping me ever since.
Oddly, by the time I got my nerves settled, there was water. But the pump ran endlessly and the pressure was rough. I knew the end was near.
Suffice to say, the old pump received the last rites. And poor Les spent the entire day in the pump cellar, cutting and cranking up by hand 10-foot sections of rusting pipes through a hole in the floor, one at a time. Finally, there were no more sections and the well was found to be 81 feet deep and the water level to the surface was at 6 feet.
Keep in mind, the well had to have been dug about 1908 and someone made a colossal goof by building the overhang on the porch over the room above the cellar. This made it impossible to get at the well with any machinery without cutting a hole in the roof. Forget that!
In the meantime, an S.O.S. to Judy brought her to the rescue with about 15 gallons of water. I had filled the horses’ buckets before Les got here and now I have enough for them and me — if I’m stingy with it. No long cold bath, several gallons to flush the commode, leave the dishes in the sink and use gallon jugs full that my friend Carol and her daughter, Kathy, brought me many years ago for just such an emergency.
Les is coming at the crack of dawn tomorrow to put in a new submersible pump that should last far longer than I will live and then some. And as I told him, it could have been worse — it could have been 10 degrees below zero. He expects to be finished by noon and I will have myself a nice, deep hot bath.
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Now, to what I planned to write.
As of Oct. 1, the flowers around both mounting blocks are still blooming themselves crazy. Even the nasturtiums — that since Memorial Day when the seeds were planted hadn’t so much as shown a bud — are knocking themselves out.
Marveling at the huge potted chrysanthemums in every imaginable color at Molnar Farms — I’ve known the Molnars for a jillion years and count on their produce from strawberries to pumpkins — I asked Rick how they grew them so beautifully.
They are started from 4,000 cuttings from Florida the first week of June. Each is inserted into a little plug and about June 20 they go to Catalpa Grove to be potted before returning to Rick to be watered and fertilized and the buds pinched for a month. After Labor Day, they are in full flower and by now are almost all gone. Get yours early next year.
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Before the pump episode, I was going to tell you first about the latest drama on my back porch. I sometimes think I should charge myself admission to watch what goes on there every hour.
Anyhow, I’ve been live-trapping and relocating numerous chipmunks and this particular morning I looked out the window to observe my latest catch. I could not believe my eyes: There, standing atop the trap, and totally terrifying the captive who was plenty terrified to begin with, was a young, but huge, red-tailed hawk.
The hawk was flapping its wings, pacing and trying to figure out how to catch this snack that was already caught. It eventually gave up and I relocated the exhausted little chippy, who would have been entitled to a heart attack.
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Maple Avenue is about a half-mile from me and the other day I was returning some plastic flower pots and hanging baskets to Uhrain’s Greenhouse when out of the corner of my eye I saw a yard full — and I mean full — of hen turkeys. There had to have been at least a dozen. John Uhrain told me he sees them all the time and they’re getting more tame each day. Good thing the area is off limits for hunters.
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Latest laugh from the classified section of the daily newspaper: Under Pets Found — “Found cocktail, Mahoning Valley Exotic Bird Club.” A correction, “Found cockatiel…” appeared the next day.
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Hurray! As of 8:30 a.m. Oct. 2, a new pump is installed, the water is running and all is — ah — well!