Ah, Mother Nature is a fickle friend.
I had been conversing (needling, haranguing, arguing and even nagging) Mike for more than a year about the irrigation pump and all the hand pumping we had to do in order to get water from the river to the pump (referred to as priming the pump). The water needed to fill the suction pipe all the way to the pump before we could use electricity to draw a steady stream of water through the 2 1/2 inch irrigation line that takes a circuitous route around old tree stumps, under the county road, through the garden and from there into hoses to fill water tanks for 7 different pastures, pens and barns.
The hand pump on the irrigation would be similar to the old pitcher well pumps only not as robust. It also moves around as the pumping process is going on since the irrigation line is not solidly attached to the ground. Oh, and did I happen to mention that the pump is on a steep sidehill of the river. There is no solid footing anywhere around. Add to the fact that the suction pipe (the 2 1/2 inch line that continues down the hill from the pump to the river) is about 30 feet long, and it has to be filled with water clear to the pump for the electricity to take over the task.
All of this was normal. The part that I was complaining about was the very bottom of the suction pipe that sits on the bottom of the river. It has a flap on the end that allows water to go into the pipe when the hand pump is used. The little flap then seals as the stroke completes the pump to keep the water from running back out the bottom of the suction pipe. Each stoke, in theory, should bring more water into the pipe. However, the suction pipe was more than 30 years old and the little flap would not always re-seat itself allowing for the hand pumped water to flow back out even when the pipe was nearly full. The pipe itself had many repairs from holes worn into the aluminum. Sometimes it would take 10 minutes or more of physical labor just to get the pump primed.
My bellyaching finally got the best of Mike and he went to town to get a new suction pipe and bottom attachment with new flaps and everything. We got it installed early fall. I was elated because the new pipe kept the prime between waterings. I did not even have to hand pump at all, just flip the electric switch and we were off to fill stock tanks.
This is when Mother Nature stepped in with a colder than normal winter. Mike always drained the water from the irrigation line and the pump to keep from freezing water expanding and busting pump or pipes. But since it had been so long since we had that flap at the end (check valve) working correctly, we had forgotten about the water in the brand new pipe that ran from the well to the river.
Ah, Mother Nature, sometimes I wish that you didn’t have to keep reminding me that you are in charge.