Thursday, December 10, 2009

One of Those Days, or, Everything Running Smoothly As Usual

It was one of those days.

First of all it was 12 degrees in the morning, which is too cold.

The wind had blown the roof and one of the walls off the rugrat barn, which is the sun chalet for the babies who live in the shed. They were confused when they came out of their cozy shed, but that is not unusual. They looked at each other cautiously, to see if the others were also surprised. Their expressions said: is it just me? Or did this building used to have a top part? And a wall in the back?

The consensus was inconclusive. After all, it is certainly possible that some of the things we take for granted never even existed. But maybe they did. Anyway, the rugrats pressed on gamely, accepting the new reality.

Zut Alors perched on her own tiny ice rink - the frozen-solid water bucket - to mull things over.

The farmer put a special coat on Wendell to go out for his six second piddle because it was so cold. It was a very stylish coat that the farmer's French Bulldog used to wear, black and sleek with a fake-fur leopard-spotted collar. Very European.

"Do not lose that coat, Wendell," the farmer instructed. Wendell zipped outside and was back scratching at the door in six seconds. Without the coat.

So that was how the day started and from there things just got worse, with the farmer spending most of the day toting water in buckets and chopping wood by hand, and trying to make cheese even though it was way too cold for the cheese to drain properly.

The big brown truck had a dead battery. The little brown truck had a dead battery too. Because it was 12 degrees. The farmer was also getting a dead battery, right around dusk. Which comes at around 3:30 or so these days.

Then suddenly to enliven things, a water pipe under the porch burst. Water gushed merrily under the house into the crawl space. The farmer huffed down to the wellhouse and shut off all the water. There is a lot of water here, water to the house and the barn and the dairy and the cottage and the greenhouse and all the outside taps, most of which were covered with a foot of pipe wrap anyway and completely unusable.

Then the farmer crawled under the house, where it was pitch dark by now, and where the previously gushed water was freezing fast into little ice puddles which took a lot of the fun out of crawling around in the dark under a house in 12 degree weather. The farmer was looking for the water shutoff so that just the house could be shut off and the cottage and barn and so on turned back on.

Because it's nice to have a little water now and then. You can't make tea without it.

The farmer couldn't find the water shutoff and so crawled back out to get a flashlight and to call the neighbor who is a plumber. First the farmer tried to go on the Internet to look up the neighbor plumber's number, but of course the internet wasn't working, it hardly ever does. On the plus side, the phone wasn't working either, so it didn't matter that much.

The farmer went back outside to use the cellphone to call another neighbor to ask the other neighbor to call back with the number for first neighbor, the plumber neighbor. Then went to examine the burst pipe and collect some good flashlights, because if you crawl under a frozen house with just one flashlight it is a dead certainty that the battery in it will expire as soon as you get within three feet of the water shutoff.

Before that was even finished the second neighbor pulled in the driveway with a full set of flashlights and crawled under the house and shut off the water. It was agreed that the burst pipe could probably be fixed pretty easily, and that all in all things could have been worse, but that the pipe fixing would best be left until after a couple of days of thawing.

Then finally the farmer came out to feed everyone in the pitch dark, two hours later than we were all supposed to be fed.

All things considered, everyone politely pretended that everything was on schedule and running smoothly.

Sometimes that is the best policy.