I hadn't showered for four days and I milk cows for a job. Can you even begin to imagine how disgusting that is? To top it all off, I had a speaking engagement with the Whangamata Garden Group, the subject being how to save money by making your own household cleaning products and cosmetics. It is the stuff nightmares are made of. How could I turn up for the garden group smelling like the effluent sump?
How did I get into this predicament? Well, sharemilkers can't be choosy and when you take on new jobs, you also take on the infrastructure associated with them. And if these fail, you get caught up in it all. Apparently, the pump that brings the water to my house and the farm I'm on has never failed in 20 years. Unfortunately, it failed. The dodgy pump was secreted down a 60-metre bore and no amount of crane-pulling and swearing was going to get it back up.
The experts arrived and because there were 200 thirsty cows, a yard full of muck and a milking plant to clean, an extremely long length of alkathene was unrolled to bring water up from the stream with the aid of a petrol generator and a powerful pump. Crisis averted.
After only one day without water, the effects had been starting to show. At home, dishes were piling up. Washing Leg 1was mounting. Kids were complaining of thirst and demanding showers. As for the toilet, we just won't go there. But thanks to the long length of alkathene, the show was back on the road ... or so we thought.
I milked late that night, as we needed to have water to clean the plant before we started. Everything was dirty, as the limited amount of water had been diverted to the thirsty cows ... no water equals no milk and you can do without a blow like that at the start of the milking season.
I grabbed the hose with gusto about 8pm, ready to blast the shed back to cleanliness, opened the nozzle and ... nothing. The water was off again.
I wished I had grabbed that shower in Leg 2the afternoon. Bugger! The kids who normally avoid the milking shed like the plague both turned up to say "Muuuum, there is no water in the house.''
Surprise, surprise there's no water here at the shed, either! Poor cows.
By 8:45pm, I was down at the river examining a pump and generator I knew nothing about. Because you can never find a torch when you need one, we were assessing the situation by the light of my 13-year-old daughter's iPod. I knew that technology would come in handy one day. As far as I could see, the pump was primed, the foot valve was unfettered and in the stream, the hose was intact and the generator roaring. There must be something wrong with the brand new pump ... So there we were at 9.30pm, carrying buckets of hot water from the farm's hot water cylinder to the house, so I could wash enough cow muck off me to be hygienic and the kids could show up at school the next day with minimal embarrassment.
Next day, the shed was a disgrace. Poo everywhere. The experts were trying hard to rectify the water woes but it took three more days. How was I going to face those ladies? Luckily it rained and water cascaded off the roof. I scrambled to fill containers, enough to wash the milking plant and me. I won't be taking water for granted any more.
Lyn Webster is a solo mum, a solo sharemilker and runs a side business on how to make your own cosmetics and cleaning supplies. Go to her website, www.pigtitsandparsleysauce.co.nz, to learn more.
- Waikato Times