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.