The Hydrant


Here is one of the reasons my “frost-free” water hydrant in the barn paddock freezes. Long after I’ve filled the trough and shut off the hydrant, the water starts to trickle again. The trickle gradually freezes into a dropping shaft of ice and hoar frost.

It’s very pretty and insanely frustrating.

On Tuesday night I had filled the water trough at evening chores after bringing the cattle in. I had checked for drips before I drove home. But, still, later in the dark, a stealthy trickle had started.


I’ve adjusted the handle and the set screw on the piston rod hundreds of times. Allen has adjusted it. We have dug up the six-foot hydrant twice. And still it freezes — sometimes with a visible trickle, but often not.

The hydrant inside the barn currently has the same trickle problem. Most of the time I can control it by leaving the handle slightly cocked, at about 8:00. Inside the barn, the breathing of the cattle and sheep raises the temperature. If I try cocking the handle outside, it simply freezes solid in the cocked position.

Yesterday the temperature climbed to a balmy 20° F by afternoon and the hydrant was thawed again (and naturally, no longer dripping). Looking ahead at the coming ten days, the temperature is due to fall to -25° F and mostly stay there. Sunday’s high will be -6°.

Last night I filled the trough at the beginning of chores. After settling all the animals, I checked the hydrant an hour later. Ah-ha! It was dripping.

I got out my headlamp and my wrench and set to work.


I’ve made this hopeful repair so often it seemed almost a waste of time to try again. However, that would be evidence of a pathetic spirit. No matter what the odds, one must always do one’s best.

When the hydrant is a frozen rock this week and I’m trudging through ice and snow with buckets, I will need to remember that I tried.


2 Responses to The Hydrant

  1. Jack says:

    I know that those hydrants can be a pain,but I wonder if maybe if you had some one to take it apart all it might need is a new o ring. You don’t have to dig them up to make repairs. Ive had them apart myself. Wish I was there Id like to help, I feel sorry for all the trouble you have. If you could afford a plumber maybe he could save you a ton of trouble. Good luck

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      Allen has taken both of them apart in the past. He’s not well enough to come out these days. I will find a drawing of the hydrant innards and try to locate the o-ring. I have a box of spare parts and it’s possible I could figure it out. Thank you for the idea of a plumber. That hadn’t occurred to me and makes perfect sense!

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