Saturday, March 9, 2013

Captain's Log, Day 106: Trenches, Dams, and Tractors

          It was a rather gray day when the family woke up. The eldest of the siblings was rather expecting to have an easy time of it and was halfway through mental calculations on the blanket fort he was planning on constructing with his brother (after he smacked Nemesis for using up all the hot water in the shower, of course) when his mom knocked on his door.
          "It rained last night and the barn flooded," she announced. "Dad is going to need your help draining the water out of the barn and cleaning it out. I think he also wants you to dig trenches in the ice to divert water flow away from the barn."
          Displaying the kind of analytical thinking that usually led to hospital trips, Radar bargained, "Can I use the tractor?"
          "Ask Dad," Mom replied as she left Radar to his cold shower.
          Dad was (surprisingly) just fine with Radar using the tractor. After breakfast, Radar and Nemesis prepared for the morning's work by running for the mudroom in an attempt to retrieve the non-leaky pair of rubber boots. They were about to come to blows...when it was discovered that all the boots had nice holes in them. Nemesis managed to squeeze into a pair of non-perforated rubber boots two sizes too small, while Radar disregarded convention and stuck his feet into a pair of snowboots. "What the heck," he remarked, "I'm going to get wet anyway."
          Dad went to town to see about a pump for the barn after giving Nemesis and Radar the instructions on where to make the trenches to divert water. He also added, "If you can dig out that snowdrift behind the chicken house so the water can flow that way, that would be great...I doubt you'll be able to manage it, but give it a shot if you have time."
          Radar and Nemesis grabbed a shovel and an ice pick respectively and started chipping. It took only about a minute before Radar got bored and threw down his implement. "Be right back, Nemesis " he announced. "I'm going to get the ax."
          After returning with the ax and--bonus!!--a sledgehammer, the brothers got back to work. True, the sledgehammer was quickly discarded when it was discovered that an impact resulted in an ice-cold spray of water being launched up one's legs (leading to a rather high-pitched yell from a nameless party), but the ax and the ice pick worked well together. It worked so well, in fact, that by the time Radar got bored again (50 seconds; he also got hot and took off his hat, hanging it on the fence by the pasture), water was already flowing merrily down a nice trench, draining the lake in front of the barn door.
          Nemesis pointed over at another lake over by the end of the driveway. "I bet, if we cut out that drift, we could just drain that down into the valley."
          "Good idea," Radar agreed. "But let's get out the tractor."
          One dinged-up barn door later (not entirely anyone's fault; the tractor had about an inch of clearance on either side), Radar was driving the tractor at full speed towards the drift, bucket in shovel position. He quickly cut through the drift and accidentally took out the top of the drain pipe that was supposed to help drain water.
          "Oops," Nemesis winced.
          "It's all right," Radar shrugged. "I'll fix it later."
          Nemesis helped chip out the trench, and soon water was flowing away down the hill. Radar did a few donuts with the tractor for the fun of it before driving into the pasture (and into the new lake that was about 6 inches deep) and attacking the snowdrift by the chicken house. Nemesis opened the trench by the barn up a little bit more; a dangerous operation, since the area he was whacking at tended to get filled with manure. Radar remembered this fact when his ears got cold and he went back to retrieve his hat. Nemesis had accidentally shoveled horse manure on it.
          "YUCK!!!" Radar yelled, holding it at arm's length and trying to determine if his ears were cold enough to justify wearing it anyway.
          "Sorry," Nemesis apologized, backing away in case Radar decided to hurl the maltreated hat at him.
          "I will end you," Radar threatened, hurling a snowball at his brother's head before retreating to the house for some new headgear.
          Upon his return, Radar immediately soaked his jeans when he sat down on the tractor; preoccupied with his hat, he had neglected to notice the advent of rain and thus had not protected the seat of the tractor, a seat which was now home to a lake of its own. "Great, now my rear's gonna itch," he complained.
          His brother, predictably, ignored him.
          Nemesis attacked the leading edge (a small one) on the outside of the fence; Radar demolished the huge drift on the inside of the fence with the tractor, using the displaced snow to create a dam to prevent further water travel to the inside of the barn. He drove back outside the pasture to help Nemesis with his portion of the drift, creating a nice, wide canal for the water to drain out of the pasture and forgetting to close the pasture gate--an oversight which one of their horses, Dakota, decided to take full advantage of. He vanished into the hay storage area (which they had also neglected to close).
          "Nemesis..." Radar began.
          "I'm on it," Nemesis sighed. "I'll get him out, you herd him with the tractor."
          Once they had shooed out errant horse back where he belonged, Nemesis jumped on the back of the tractor and the brothers drove into the pasture to have some fun. By dropping the bucket of the tractor and charging the canal they had dug, they essentially "swept" the water from the lake and sent it shooting through the canal, into the trench, and over the hill. Fifteen minutes of this (they were easily amused) and the brothers were able to see a significant drop in the water level in the pasture.
          "Alright, I think we're done here," Radar announced.
          "Hey, do you remember that one day, that one summer, when we drained the hot water from the house to flood the driveway and made dams and creeks and stuff?" Nemesis asked.
          "You bet," Radar nodded, wiping his nose. "Good practice, huh?"
          "Those were the days," Nemesis agreed, sounding like an old guy.
          Radar thought for a moment. "Too bad we didn't have the tractor back then. We could have gotten in even more trouble...hey, do you think I could build a huge snow fort with this thing?"
          Nemesis wasn't listening. "Hey, Dad's back," he announced.
          "Guess not," Radar admitted.


  1. Oh my! You guys sound like you had some awesome fun! I would have loved to have witnessed it! Floods are always the worst. I have built one too many diverting wall structures of blankets and towels in the basement in times of flood... as well as bailed my life away... water and indoor structures do not get along...

  2. Eww! The hat!! That sounds like quite a day... Kind of puts my family's laundry-room floods in perspective. My job was simply to sit next to various drains while my dad was outside messing around with the vent or something (I have no concept of how this is all connected) and to listen for "strange gurgles". Admittedly, it was a lot less work than yours...