Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I'm Retiring As Irrigation Goddess--

What. the. heck.  It's always the week before you're trying to go relax somewhere that all hell breaks loose.  Literally...

After a longish break from worrying about our yard or how it looks, we finally got our front yard renovation started.  We were able to put down plastic and lovely bark on like half of the front, so it looks all grown-up-ish in front of the house, except where the beds extend out away from the house.  Then it looks like no one has lived here for about 8 years.  Seriously.  I can't even describe how bad it looks.

In putting down mulch we decided to get the bits and pieces we needed for the various sprinkler heads that have or have not worked for roughly seven 4-5 years, mostly because the last time we renovated, we used a skid steer to yank various trees out, and when we did that, we accidentally also hooked the underground water lines.  So to keep it simple, we just turned off those sprinkler zones.  Forever.

Until this year.

And of course, IT'S BEST TO WORK ON THIS STUFF RIGHT BEFORE YOU'RE TRYING TO GO CAMPING.  Because, the mom ALWAYS has a ton of free time to spend kneeling in the mud trying to fix irrigation, two days before you're leaving.

I should insert here that I am a freaking irrigation GODDESS after 15 years working on this yard.  I should start my own irrigation company, I've repaired so much of it.  

At first it seemed simple.  Assess.  Ok we need to replace two sprinkler heads.   Wait. Make that three heads.  Two that were broken, and the one that we hit with a pick ax while putting in the lovely new mulch.  No wait--another two at the road were broken off and shattered all the way down below the ground by the snow plow.  Again.  Add those to the list.

Because I am an irrigation goddess, I fixed the two at the driveway with parts that we already had, from 15 years of collecting random parts, but they were some off-brand sprinkler brand that I don't know how to work.  Still, I screwed them in and hoped that, even if they might blow water in the road and not on the actual lawn, at least they might not leak any more.  Plus, how hard can they be to figure out?

Unfortunately, these off-brand sprinkler heads can only be set to spray water in 90-degree or half circles or whatever, BY EFFING ALIENS because humans must not be allowed to decipher the code of arrows, circles, and X's on the top of those stupid heads.  Also, I don't have the brand-specific tool to adjust them, because it's special, so I promptly lost it.

So today, instead of making potato salad or cookies or putting our hot-dog-roasting sticks in the camper, I...went to the sprinkler supply store for new heads to replace the three sprinklers in the flower beds that were no good, and came home with parts, thinking, haha yeah, check this out.   Dug them up and replaced the first two, but the last one is the wrong size to screw onto the existing pipe, because WHY WOULD THEY USE THE SAME SIZE PIPE IN THE WHOLE YARD HAHAHAAAAAHAHAHAAAA.

After fixing what I could with the parts that WERE the right size, I felt pretty good about myself, so I turned on the water main, and immediately discovered that one of the previously working sprinkler heads in the lawn had been hit with the lawnmower since I assessed everything last, and it was obliterated.  I called our youngest, who had run the lawn mower last, to come start digging out this new problem sprinkler while I started on another head by the driveway that needed dug out further and probably replaced. While I was working to dig that one out, 6" down in solid clay and rock, I broke my trowel in half.  Threw the broken trowel for an almost 15-yard field goal and went in search of another trowel.

I tramped off to the garden shed, barefoot, but couldn't find any of my other trowels.  I DID manage to get tangled up in a 50x50 shade tarp that seemed to suddenly be big enough to cover the Titanic, and some random electric cords from pet water dishes that had found a life of their own.  Then I stepped barefoot on a dead mouse, among the staples on the floor.   Sweet.

I replaced the half-dug-out sprinkler with MORE parts that I found, and it did spray water. BUT, it didn't ROTATE.  Add that to the new and growing list of new parts I need to go buy.  Tomorrow.  Mental note to my mom-self that none of the camping stuff is getting done yet.

Time to move on.  Next I replaced an old solenoid on one sprinkler zone with a new one (even though they SAID the old one wasn't bad).  I wired the new one in, and  HA! -- it worked!  Except that where I screwed it on... it leaked.  So, I re-tightened all 6 bolts on the valve with a wrench, and... managed to BREAK a bolt completely off.  So, now the sprinklers in that zone aren't on 24/7, but the solenoid assembly is leaking, which I guess is an improvement over a unit that doesn't leak but also doesn't work.

To fix THAT properly, we'll have to cut into 3" water mains and re-join a whole new valve, which unless you've ever worked on this stuff, you can't even imagine the pain in the level of nuisance this is.  For the love...

Long story shorter, I still have to buy at least 5 more heads, dig them all out, and replace them.  And they'll be some new brand I'm not familiar with, so yay.

In the meantime, I'm also supposed to be loading our camper for the five of us, so it will be ready to go for this weekend, wash all the laundry, and figure out what to do with my entire garden of starts that are INside under lights, which will die while we're gone unless the sprinklers can be fixed.  Circle of life stuff, guys.

So, today was pretty sucky.  The margarita is helping, though.  Thanks for listening.


  1. I am terribly impressed with your irrigation skills. And I think you should come to my house and either fix my koi pond or fill it in because I'm not going to do it. haha.

    I hope you all have a wonderful and relaxing camping trip. I can't imagine how camping would be relaxing, but I hope it is anyway. :)

    1. HAHAHA-- ponds. Don't even get me started. We have a 40,000-gallon pond that looks like it needs the same work. Or filled in. gah.

      And you're so right. Camping is nice, once you GET there. It's all the loading the camper with food, bedding, clothes, bug spray, tents, chairs, coats, toiletries, ETC ad nauseum, ("where's my toothbrush??") and tying up all the loose ends here, like setting up drip water for the chickens and hanging baskets, take out the trash, make sure there are no wet wash clothes moldering in the laundry over the weekend, etc., that makes it NOT relaxing. You should SEE my check-list...

      Add to that, the fact that it all has to be done AGAIN IN REVERSE when you get home, and then all the laundry dragged in and washed etc. Plus the whole time you're gone, you're still in mom-mode--so it's like moving your household somewhere else, but with the same daily routine of 'Put away your shoes. Whose dirty cup is this?'

      THAT is what makes camping...not a vacation for the *mom*. For me, "relaxing vacation" means: When we get back from eating out, our bed is made. Period.

      And when we come home this time, we have two weeks before I get to do it all over again, for an RV road trip to San Francisco.

      Also, there's a 62-pound, 5-month-old mastiff puppy thrown into the mix now, so add the giant dog bed, toys, food dishes, slobber rags, and her ramp to get in and out of everything.

      Yeah. Bahamas + me + sometime soon = yes.