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7 Jan 2010 - 11:46 AM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

Everything needs it. The chooks. The pigs, for both drinking and a wallow. The cows. They need a lot, about 50 litres a day, by the look of the bath that they drink from straight outside the house block. The sheep need it, I need it to water the vegies and sprout the barley as feed.

That’s why there’s a pump to get the water from the dam on the far hill to this side of the creek. Thing is, it was blowing smoke, and I thought I’d change the oil. So now, not only have I put two holes into the water tank that gravity-feeds near the barn, the one I used to use for the pigs and chooks, but the pump, by some force of nature, has also gone kaput. It no longer shoots out dark smoke. It no longer chugs away earnestly to bring water to the animals. It sits idle, and quiet, the result of a novice trying to do something useful.

On the first day post my 'repair’ I lug a couple of hundred litres of water. The second day is hotter still, and it takes 300 litres of water to create the wallows, water the cows and keep all the troughs full. Without a pump, it’s hard, fruitless labour.

Liam at the servo gives the old Honda pump the once over. It won’t go for him. It doesn’t go a day later, until the young bloke who works there tinkers with it and somehow, nobody knows how, gets it putting along. Liam thinks it’s a very temporary fix and doesn’t want to take any money for it. Fifteen minutes of pumping after I hook it up proves he’s right, and it conks out again. The responsibility for a lot of lives is in my hands, and I don’t like the idea of going out for the day and leaving animals thirsty.

I take the pump to town to get another man to look at it. He reckons it’s twenty years old and should’ve carked it long ago. So does the bloke at the rural store, looking at it like it’s an antique. It’s fixable, but you wouldn’t waste your money on it. Warm, sunny days fill the horizon, and with them comes the prospect of endless hours carting water.

The solution is easy. A new pump. Several hundred dollars later and a swank new Subaru motor is doing a much calmer, quieter job than its predecessor. It uses far less petrol, there’s no smudge of acrid smoke billowing from the motor and I’ve created wallows and drinking water aplenty. Even the vegies are well watered, meaning I shouldn’t go wanting, either.