It rained off and on on this last trip to the farm a week ago. Which is a good thing. This part of the state has been in a drought. The wheat will only make a half a crop this year. The rain kinda hampered my progress, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. I managed to get a couple sheets of tin replaced on the barn roof––they’d blown off years ago––but there are four more to go. It’s a little hard to stick on a tin roof that’s wet. I had to wait for the sun to come out.
While I waited I tried to repair the side of the north porch on the farmhouse so I could eventually install a storm door where there hasn’t been one for some time. It would make the house look a whole lot better and make me feel better to not see an ugly gaping hole where a door is supposed to be. That worked okay except there was no gutter on the house and so water ran down my neck as I worked on the outside wall. I need to make those additional gutters a priority.
My sister put in a small garden on the farm, between the two houses, since my last trip. She said the water sprinkler had sounded like it was sucking air as well as water. So for 24 hours I obsessed about whether I’d have to pull the pump and check the water level in the well and maybe even think about having a deeper well dug. Maybe the drought was causing water levels to fall. Then I figured out that with all the re-piping I did in the well house a month ago, the pressure tank––an integral part of any rural water system––probably didn’t have any air in it. So I got the car close enough to the well house to use my air pump and put about 35 pounds of pressure into the tank. It worked! No more sucking air sounds. I love it when a problem has a simple solution!
The thing about the air pressure was just one of the many things I could have learned from my father if I had paid closer attention while I was growing up. Every trip something comes up that I’d like to ask him about. The mystery door in the hay barn that doesn’t seem to have any useful purpose. The layer of rock in the front wall of the house (covered up by siding). Why a new water well was dug in the sixties. Did the old one go dry? I still could ask him those questions, I suppose, but since he died in 1994, I may not get a direct answer. But I’m trying to remain open to clues, in whatever form.
I had some family events this trip, including a birthday to celebrate, and between those and the rain not a lot got done on the farm. But it was a pleasant time to be there. The mockingbird was still singing and the dickcissels are back from Central America singing their three-note monotone melodies from the fence line, and what could be wrong with that? Despite the overgrown and otherwise neglected farmstead the antique white and red roses that my grandmother planted in the thirties have managed to survive. Both were in bloom this trip, a poignant reminder of those generations past who tended them. My father always brought my mother the very first of these roses to bloom each May. I dug up a shoot of a white rose that was under the huge old elm trees next to the farmhouse and brought it home. I made a hole for it in my suburban yard and it seems to be thriving.