Often it’s the little things that break your spirit. I feel as if I can deal (barely) with the dark and blustery skies, the poor sleep, the to-do list that papers the entire refrigerator, the rush and the pressure. But I have no flex. My composure is taped together and brittle. When the smallest thing goes wrong, I want to scream or burst into tears.
For the past ten days I’ve been dealing with a mysterious short in my barn electrical system. Actually, “system” is too generous a word. I have an electrical outlet at the barn, and then I have a collection of extension cords snaking everywhere. Someday I will remedy this, but I haven’t yet been able to afford it.
One set of extension cords powers the barn lights and the barn paddock fence. The other runs the heater in the paddock water trough and the heat tape on its “frost-free” water hydrant. (I put frost-free in quotation marks because despite multiple attempts to dig up the hydrant and fix it, it consistently freezes every winter.)
The temperature has been below freezing for weeks now and I’ve needed those heaters to keep the animals’ water open. However whenever I have plugged them in, something has shorted and tripped the breaker, shutting everything down.
“Bad lead cord?” D suggested.
Over the past two weeks I have gradually bought new, heavy-duty outdoor extension cords and replaced every section running the fifty feet to the water trough. Maddeningly, the electrical flaw rarely seems to short the system immediately but usually after an hour or so. With each replacement I have been sure I’ve fixed the problem. Each time I’ve been proved wrong.
Yesterday I decided that perhaps my power strip was bad. I replaced it with a new strip. I plugged back in the electric fence and the water heater. Everything seemed great. Eureka!
I left for work (in a mad rush, no time to muck the barn).
When I returned for evening chores, planning to muck the barn and shovel gravel, I was alarmed to see cattle tracks in the snow by the garage. Uh-oh. I glanced up and saw my naughty teenaged heifer, Dorrie, followed by calves June Bug and Neal, loose and playing in the snow down by the pond.
Clearly my “fix” had fixed nothing and my barn paddock fence was dead.
Instead of shoveling gravel, I wrangled cattle. In an hour I had all the livestock safely in the barn, contentedly eating hay. I had mucked the stalls into the aisle (to be dealt with later… always later). I rushed off to make a scheduled meat delivery.
I have another idea what might be causing the short. I’ll test my theory today. But these little things are wearing me down.