Archive for February 7th, 2012

4-H Project


My cousin tracked down two children’s tractor workbooks for me. Level A and Level B.

I hope you don’t actually have to drive the tractor till Level B. I shall start with Level A!

Which might yet be above my head….

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Two Pipes to Nowhere


The problem: Constant flooding of the barn drive, the front barn yard, and the rear barn yard from the culvert in the creek that appears to be clogged or collapsed.

The situation as one can understand it from the surface: There is a cement culvert with two pipes at the barn drive. Two pipes going in….and one pipe going out at the far side of the rear barn yard. So, apparently, at some point these two pipes form a Y to release in one pipe at the other side. One hundred feet of pipe that oddly bypasses the natural creek bed, when one would think it only needed to be piped under the barn drive.

Except……oh, no, grasshopper, all of that is but a mirage!

I had an archaeological dig here yesterday. The spot to dig was selected because it was the spot where water “springs forth” from the ground, bubbling up like a tiny geyser. Perhaps this is the location of a break or collapse in the pipe.

No, grasshopper, you are yet naive to the mysterious machinations of the watery past!

If it wasn’t a bizarre enough idea that the pipe ran 100 feet bypassing the natural creek bed in the rear barn yard, let’s make it even more bizarre.

A thorough excavation revealed that the two pipes in the cement culvert only extend……..about 12 feet.

That’s right. Twelve feet. Or so. And then they end. JUST END.

Two pipes to nowhere. These two pipes neatly stop–in the dirt. No clogged pipes. No collapsed pipes. Oh, no, the pipes just END. Thus resulting in the repeated flooding of the barn drive, front barn yard, and rear barn yard every time it rains. After all, there is nowhere for the water to go after it enters the pipes.

Flooding at the culvert a few days ago:

Oh, and that pipe that releases on the other side of the rear barn yard? We found its source. About halfway down the natural creek bed in the rear barn yard, there is a pipe way down in there that sucks water out of the creek bed to release it on the other side of the rear barn yard.

THAT is where water releasing from that pipe is coming from, which explains why there is never much water coming out of that pipe. There is only water in the creek at all when there is rain and flooding from the culvert that spreads out all over everywhere and partially ends up in the creek bed and runs down into that pipe.

I had tried a lot of previous self-help and minor assisted help in the past few months–digging out the ditch from the release pipe at the other end of the barn yard, going into the pipes at both ends to try to find a clog, having the culvert dug out, and so on. None of that was ever going to work. This would have continued to be a serious problem forever because the pipes don’t go anywhere. And yet, in a way, it was more simple than expected. We excavated in exactly the right place, and there are no pipes to cut off. Just some short additional pipe to run to get it over to the other side of the barn drive and across the fence where it can rejoin the natural creek bed instead of backing up and running all over the barn drive and both barn yards. Part of the creek in the rear barn yard was filled in, so had to be cleared back out to connect.

Unless a more massive amount of work is going to be done to reroute it, the creek will run closer to the fence line than I’d like, but it’s going to be shored in well with rocks to support it when rains come. I won’t know till the next good rain how it works, and if necessary, some further cleaning out can be done to handle the flow. (My cousin, doing the tractor work here, while Dave and Matt were excavating the pipes.)

This is actually a quite small creek, though, and I’ve observed it in some heavy rains in the past few months. It doesn’t get into trouble until it reaches the culvert–because from there, it has nowhere to go.

By the way, for those of you who wondered, I did speak with someone in Natural Resources who assured me it was fine to return water to its natural course, and that allowing the creek to run through pasture here was not an issue. (It actually already runs through pre-existing fenced pasture here both before and after this location.)

Fortunately, in the grand scheme of things, this problem provides a rather low-cost solution. In fact, it was made easier–yet more baffling–by the fact that the supposed 100 feet of pipe never existed at all. The solution is a rather short addition of pipe to run it out to the other side of the barn drive into the natural creek bed.

Why this bizarre setup was ever devised to begin with……………. That, we may never know. Who installs pipes to nowhere??? The only thoughts we can come up with are that this was most likely done at the time period when the farm was used for a riding ring and horse shows. This was the time when all the “pretty white horse fencing” was installed and the rear barn yard was created. Perhaps more “field” was desired in the rear barn yard, so they bypassed the creek, filling in parts of it, though this still leaves the question of why they would essentially dam up the creek at the barn drive in a way that had to cost them some money with the cement culvert and the pipes to nowhere–not to mention, they had to have experienced similar flooding issues after it was done. I did speak to a couple of longtime neighbors about it, and all the light they could shed on the situation was that the “riding ring era” owners did a lot of strange things that were not well thought out but served whatever temporary purpose they had at the time.

Whatever the reason was then, the creek is being returned to nature now.

And the creek said, Glad to see ya, Woman.

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....

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