Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Working Smarter, Not Harder

You can lead a horse to water . . . but how do you keep the water from freezing when the temperature stays in the teens?  Even if the water isn't completely frozen, drinking icy water is not ideal for animals as it chills them and makes it harder to stay warm.

During the first polar vortex, Herb solved the problem by hand-carrying buckets of hot water all the way down the hill to the pasture tank, three times a day, sometimes three trips at a time, even in the dark when he got home late.  He did it willingly so the animals would have plenty to drink, but I hated that he had to do it.  I suggested he use the Doodad, but he pointed out that even if he drove slowly, the water would slosh out of the buckets and freeze in the bed.  Too true, but it still niggled at me every time he made that trek.

Luckily for Herb, before the second polar vortex hit I used the trailer to pick up our new bull calf--and something in the trailer tack room jumped right up at me and said, "Here am I, send me!"

It was the water tank/saddle rack we bought back in 2004 so our horses would have their usual water on the long trip from Tennessee to far West Texas.

When I saw this High Country Plastics water tank, bells went off in my brain.  I remembered an experienced farmer saying, "Work smarter, not harder."  And I thought, why not let this tank work harder instead of Herb?

Pretty much the hardest thing Herb had to do was put the tank in the back of the Doodad, and even that was pretty easy since I drove the Doodad over to the trailer and backed it right up to the door of the tack room!

The next step was to find a long, unfrozen hose.  We had previously bought an attachment for the garage sink faucet so it was a cinch to hook up the hose.
The other end of the hose went into the water tank, and Herb turned on the hot water.  The tank has a handy screw-in plug to close the top hole where the hose goes in.  It also has a handy spigot at the bottom, which is threaded in case you prefer to dispense the water with a hose.  Considering the freezing temps, we opted not to mess with dragging a hose around.

Once the tank was full, we immediately disconnected and drained the hose, then rolled it up while it was still warm and flexible from the hot water.

It was a simple matter to drive the Doodad around to every tank.  (I took my photos a bit out of order, so the tank is already half empty here after filling the Home Pasture tank.)  How did we ever function without the Doodad?!

We didn't want to mess with getting through the gate of the Home Pasture, and the tank was only a few yards away, so Herb decided to use a bucket.  (Note the water shooting out of the spigot.  Also note the black screw-in plug and right above it the open cap of the thingy--sorry, Google failed me--that opens to make the water flow smoothly.)

"This gets heavy," Herb commented idly as the bucket filled.
I know I would be too lazy to hold a series of heavy buckets, so I suggested that Herb turn on the spigot and gradually move the bucket away and down until he could set it on the ground while the stream of water shot in effortlessly.  Just call me the Queen of Working Smarter!  (I like that better than the Queen of Lazy.)

The nice thing about dumping several buckets of hot water into the tank is that the ice around the edges breaks up and melts, and any chunks too big to melt can be thrown on the ground.

Next stop, Kara's Pasture.  The tank was easy to slide onto the open tailgate (even full), thanks to a piece of old carpet underneath.  Once again, we aimed the spigot over the tank, and that was the extent of our effort.
Julie led the horses to the water, so we didn't even have to do that!

Angel has always loved playing with hoses, so she was the first to investigate.
"Come on in, the water's fine," she said.

I know perfectly well that this solution won't work for people up north or for those with lots of animals to water.  But it works just great for filling a couple of tanks if you only deal with tank-freezing cold a couple times a year.

There are larger tanks around, but this 30 gallon tank has the advantage of being easily portable and small enough to empty completely so there's no residual water to freeze in the tank.

The biggest problem with this method is that Herb now has to use the treadmill in the basement to get his exercise on freezing nights.  I honestly think this is so easy that I could do it myself when he's not around. . . . but that would be working harder, wouldn't it?  And we all know I'm too smart for that!


  1. Dear Lea and Herb, you have a great looking place! One day I will return from Arabia and come by to visit you in my rv.

    Rich in arabia.

    1. Thank you, Rich. You're welcome any time, but I recommend the warmer weather, coming from Saudi Arabia! :D


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