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August 06, 2020 3 min read 2 Comments

There are some weeks around here that start to feel a bit like Bill Murray is punking me with some Groundhog Day fun. If you have ever run a small business, or know someone who has, you know most maintenance and repairs are self-administered. If you know a farmer, you probably know that there is rarely a time when a mechanic is called. Or a plumber...or a welder.

For better or worse, farmers are often in the midst of their own repairs, and we're no different. My excuse is that there are few good mechanics left that I can afford. For cars and trucks we're lucky - a good friend opened up a shop nearby, and now we get phenomenal, affordable mechanical work on vehicles. For farm equipment, though, we've never paid less than $90/hr and many times machines have come back only for the repair to fail again. So I've made it a point to know my equipment and know my systems like the back of my hand - repairing when possible, and replacing when necessary.

Additionally, a good friend of mine instilled the idea of incremental positive change on the homestead/farm years ago. I try to live by Pete's mantra - which was on a nail above the bench grinder - "everyday, make one change to make your life easier." We have no heated spaces to fix things, so in the dead of winter or the middle of summer, I'm usually doing repairs on the spot. Such is life. However, I've become much better at keeping the right tools on hand (in the right places!) so repairs can be made. AND, we've put in miles of fence so those repairs aren't interrupted by wandering pigs :) These are the incremental positive changes that matter.

This week, I decided to replace a well pump that had been out for months. We've replaced this particular pump four times now. We thought we had it figured out last time - an electrical issue resulting from an intern who had hit our utility pole years ago resulting in an off/on leg on the transformer that worked MOST of the time. But this well is especially high in solids - manganese, we believe - and now this may also be killing pumps. Tired of spending $600+ on really nice well pumps, I bought a cheap 1.5HP pump on eBay straight from China. Well, to add to the mounting body of evidence that Chinese electronic products may not be reliable, I pulled that pump back out of the (300' deep) well twice in one day before realizing it didn't create enough pressure (head) to overcome the pressure from my hand :( In the meantime, I assumed the issues had been caused by me, so I decided to solder the electrical connections instead of using butt connectors as usual:

 

One of the biggest analogies farming has taught me is that failure is good. Not learning from failure is bad. Hence the incremental change! As I get older, I try to learn more from my mistakes, apply them across the board on the farm, AND make our systems better and more organized. This pump one is tricky...I think for this one, we might need to consult a few experts to see what our best path forward is. I'm fine to spend the money to make it work well, but i don't want to throw that money away, let's make it work once and for all!

In the meantime, we're lucky enough to be benefitting from a redundant system. When we replaced our house well pump with a submersible, I plumbed the farm and house systems together, separated by one valve. So currently, we've got water everywhere until we solve this one! Redundancy...the next topic?

Cheers!

Brooks


2 Responses

BROOKS
BROOKS

August 26, 2020

Thanks for the kind words David! We’re all in it together right?

David Foose
David Foose

August 26, 2020

Brooks,

Just read your article on the pump issue which pulling a pump full of pipe water, especially 300’, is not something you want to do more than once every 10 years! Just kidding. Anyway, these articles are more beneficial than you think. For example, in Perry County residents know who is the best to get in contact with concerning certain issues. I think the mechanic you’re talking about is on Middle Ridge above Little Buffalo who I personally don’t know, but I was talking to an individual at a local flea market outside New Bloomfield who spoke highly of the person which the person is a certified mechanic “retired”. Anyway, yes, put these articles out on the table and PC neighbors will steer you in the right direction. I belong to the Millerstown Fire Department and We’ve had many HVAC service technicians in our buildings and the work was horrifying. I would recommend without a doubt that Old Port Heating and Plumbing in Juniata Co. is the POC for call for any HVAC, Well, Electrical, Plumbing, etc. which they work with the common man and provide excellent service/

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