Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof


A couple of days ago I mentioned to somebody our temperature here had dropped to -7. His comment, “You should be able to get some work done with a bit of frost.”

Admittedly it was more pleasant checking sheep when you had the opportunity to walk across the surface of a field rather than grub about in the mud, but still, I’m not a fan of frost. We’re OK with a couple of degrees but we’ve just too much water piping running through buildings to keep lagged; especially when cattle will happily pass a boring afternoon by chewing off the lagging.

Anyway, so much for getting some work done, one of the buildings froze. If we’d had two hundred cattle drinking they’d have kept the flow running and it wouldn’t have frozen, but there were only a couple of dozen. So I just made sure they had enough water for the day because the thaw was promised.
And sure enough the thaw came, and with it the burst pipe. Now a lot of our water piping is alkethene with push fit connectors or the chunky ones you can tighten by hand without faffing about with pipe-dogs. But some of it is still old fashioned galvanised. And guess which joint burst? Yes, the one where the stop tap was connected to a length of galvanised. Not only that but it was the joint at the bottom of the stop tap that went, so the stop tap was as much use as a spare bride at a wedding.

So it’s a case of switching it off at the mains and because there was a water heater involved I got somebody in from our local agricultural engineers. Together we looked at the system. The galvanised pipe installed in the mid sixties was looking rough. The problem was that we couldn’t reach it without moving the water heater and that is bigger than me, fastened to the wall and both plumbed in and wired in. So we slung a pipe in to bypass it and we’ll have a rethink in spring. For now the water was running again.

And somebody said, ‘Now I suppose the pipe will be airlocked and you’ll have all sorts of problems bleeding it through.

That’s when I said “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Everybody had water ‘now.’ Of course this morning there were problems. I couldn’t have fixed them yesterday because they hadn’t happened. The problem was that there was no water going into the header tank. (Note the photograph.)
Now I was pretty sure what the cause of this was. If you’ve ever had to work with an old fashioned ball-cock (the best sort, they’re rugged, brass and last for decades) you’ll know that inside them there’s a valve nozzle at the end you screw into the water supply. These narrow the water supply down to a jet to work the ball-cock. However what you find is that when the water pipes freeze, all sorts of crap flakes off the inside of the pipes, and it can make its way down the pipe and block the valve nozzle.

So buggerlugs here had to fix it. The first rule of header tanks is that they’re as high up as possible. If there’s plenty of room above one for you to work in, the plumber’s not been doing his job properly. So it’s a case of tie a ladder to the beam and go up and have a look.

The second rule of header tanks is that it’s always dark up there. The third rule of header tanks is that is at this point you discover your torch has finally given up the ghost.

So equipped with a rejuvenated torch, perched on the ladder, I finally got the ball-cock valve taken off, (luckily there was a stop tap conveniently placed, we must have been thinking when it was put in) and I took it into the kitchen where my fingers could warm up enough to feel anything, and I had a pair of reading glasses so I could see what was going on. To be fair there is room to work on this tank. We had one where everything was so tight that when a galvanised pipe leading to the ball-cock developed a split in it, there was no way I could get in with stilsons to do anything about it. I ended up giving the pipe a coating of weld across the split to stop it leaking. Anybody who says you cannot weld galvanised pipe with water still running through it has never been desperate enough.

Anyway back to the job and ten minutes later everything is assembled and we’re cooking with gas.

And an hour later I had to bleed it because part of the system had got airlocked.

Who knows, tomorrow I might have to go back and bleed another bit, but at the moment everything’s got enough water.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Oh and if you’re looking for something to read, whether on a kindle, or on a phone or tablet with a kindle app, how about

Another collection of anecdotes drawn from a lifetime’s experience of peasant agriculture in the North of England. As usual Border Collies, Cattle and Sheep get fair coverage, but it’s mixed with family history and the joys of living along a single track road.

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20 thoughts on “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof

  1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt December 14, 2017 at 1:49 pm Reply

    I keep resolving never to whine about anything else again. Wish I could keep the resolution, but when I think of you up on that ladder, patiently applying the wrench, doing what needs to be done because living things depend on you, I am struck by major admiration. No desire to imitate, even if I could, because I have my own short list of mechanical things I’m good at, and it doesn’t include header tanks, but you can’t have everything. Congratulations on getting through another day.

  2. oldhenwife December 14, 2017 at 1:59 pm Reply

    I was told that you couldn’t call it a ball cock these days, it has to be a float valve. We keep a copper ball cock, much battered but polished and beautiful, suspended on a wall as an ornament. Didn’t know there were galvanised pipes though, lead, copper and plastic is all I know. Lead is best, with beautifully wiped joints, my godfather taught me to do that when I was eight. He taught Spouse when Spouse was in his twenties and I was never allowed to do it from then.
    Frost is fine except when you want to dig up carrots. And beetroot.

    • jwebster2 December 14, 2017 at 3:15 pm Reply

      I have done copper with soldered joints, I’ve never worked with lead because we don’t have any lead pipe here. (not part of the system anyway)
      But we still have ball-cocks and proud of it 🙂

  3. oldhenwife December 14, 2017 at 5:24 pm Reply

    Lead pipe only in the Library? No lead here now, it’s illegal, can make you mad it’s said but I’m perfectly sane. Had my brain looked at and told it was just a bit used.

    • jwebster2 December 14, 2017 at 6:02 pm Reply

      just a bit frazzled round the edges? 🙂

  4. oldhenwife December 14, 2017 at 7:38 pm Reply

    The edges didn’t matter, the lump taken out was the problem. Made me hear bagpipes.

    • jwebster2 December 14, 2017 at 7:40 pm Reply

      that’s bad enough even when somebody is playing bagpipes, must be a bit of a beggar if you hear them when they aren’t!

  5. oldhenwife December 14, 2017 at 7:54 pm Reply

    Oh no, I liked it. Always did and do. Lead piping is far more dangerous in the library ask Colonel Mustard.

  6. oldhenwife December 14, 2017 at 8:32 pm Reply

    Heard about it on the wireless. But at that price! Remember, I’m a Yorkshireman!
    Off to bed again, it’s become a habit.

    • jwebster2 December 14, 2017 at 8:36 pm Reply

      I picked it up cheaper somewhere 😉
      So long as waking up remains a habit, you’ll be fine 🙂

      • oldhenwife December 15, 2017 at 11:44 am

        Did this morning. I think.

      • jwebster2 December 15, 2017 at 12:26 pm

        well it’s a start 🙂

  7. jenanita01 December 15, 2017 at 10:03 am Reply

    Buggerlugs? I love this description… so charming!

    • jwebster2 December 15, 2017 at 10:59 am Reply

      It’s apparently a Lancashire expression and is first recorded in the forties and fifties. Normally used like ‘whatsisname’ but also as a way of addressing small children 🙂

      • oldhenwife December 15, 2017 at 11:47 am

        Lancashire? (Nowt wrong with Lancastrians, at least they’re not s**therners)) but Buggerlugs has been part of Yorkshire talk since time immemorial. Well, all my lifetime which is much the same. Spouse’s sex therapist told me to”Come ‘ere Buggerlugs” in the clinic.

      • jwebster2 December 15, 2017 at 12:27 pm

        Couldn’t vouch for Yorkshire, but I know the Lancashire use, especially North Lancashire

  8. jenanita01 December 15, 2017 at 10:03 am Reply

    Reblogged this on anita dawes and jaye marie.

    • jwebster2 December 15, 2017 at 11:00 am Reply

      glad you liked it 🙂

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