Open Water on Ice

Middle Spring Ice Hole Upper Pond

I had written the other week about the strong flow from the new 2″ pipe from the sap house spring keeping the upper pond significantly ice free. Since then we had that deep freeze to the negative teens. That isn’t the coldest we’ve ever had but it was cold enough so that where that pipe was splashing on the rocks built up enough ice that it blocked the end of the pipe. This caused the entire 2″ pipe to flash freeze back the 2,000′ to the sap house spring on Sugar Mountain. Flash freezing happens when the water is super chilled and then stops moving.

Thawing 2,000′ feet of 2″ pipe is not practical. Unburying it from the snow would also expose the 1″ pipe beside it which is still running fine. Once exposed the 1″ pipe might freeze too. Given that the 1″ pipe from the middle spring provides enough water for us to get by we’ll just have to wait for the 2″ pipe to naturally melt in the spring. Sometimes the simplest solutions are best.

The other springs are keeping the upper pond full so it is not critical to thaw the 2″ pipe. Better to use our effort on other projects. As a general rule it about five times harder to work outdoors during the winter. That is to say every takes about five times longer and there are things that can occupy a whole day that simply don’t happen in the warm seasons. Patience is best as we conserve our time and effort for projects that matter. The pipe shown above is from the middle spring which is only about 1,500′ of 1″ pipe. It didn’t freeze because it splashes in to the pond high up above the water. This summer I’ll adjust the the 2″ pipe to prevent the end from freezing. In a perfect world we’ll also bury the lines but there are some other projects that have to be coordinated with that.

In the past the pond has frozen over solid, great for skating. But this year with the increased water flow we have open water. Sirius, one of our working dogs was a bit too inquisitive and fell in the hole at the middle spring outlet shown above. Another of the dogs, Remus, alerted Will (“Quick! Come! Timmy has fallen in the well!”) but by the time Will got to the pond Sirius had already dragged himself out from his chilly bath. Sirius’s outer fur coat was soaking wet but the water probably didn’t penetrate the dense under coat to his skin. Will put Sirius in the cottage to make sure he’s okay – he is no worse for the wear.

The dogs and I had a talk about the ice hole so hopefully that won’t happen again. This summer I plan to move all of the water flow inlets so they’re next to the beach area. That will make it safer for the dogs to get a drink at the pond during the winter.

Outdoors: 47°F/29°F Rain, High Winds
Tiny Cottage: 62°F/61°F

Daily Spark: It is remarkable how many workers at health food stores are smokers.

“Middle spring,” I hear you say, “Surely it needs a better name than that!” Aye, perhaps it does.. Ideas? Not Roger, Peter, Paul or Mary. Most things around here get descriptive names. The middle spring looks to have been made by the settlers perhaps 200 or more years ago. I found a ancient brick there. Maybe we should call it the brick spring…

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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7 Responses to Open Water on Ice

  1. ant says:

    you’re not worried that the 2″ pipe will burst from the freezing water inside of it?

    I’m also curious about how you do the plumbing with all your different paddocks and such.

    IIRC, you let one water source drain into the next and so on, so that it is a gravity fed constantly running system of fresh water for the hogs. You must have to bury the water lines in the paddocks no? How deep do you go? What kind of plumbing do you use?

    • The plastic pipe is extremely tough – I’ve never had any burst. We have literally miles of it on our farm, much of it 25 years old and almost all of it laying on the surface. We rarely bury it. Our frost depth is very shallow, 0″ to 4″ due to the early snows. Places we bury tend to be for other reasons such as gaining earth heat, avoiding tractor tires which will mess up pipes quite nicely with the big cleated chains, avoiding hooves, etc.

  2. CarolG. says:

    How about Sirius’ Folly?

  3. David lloyd Sutton says:

    Walter, would multiple outlets from a plenum terminating the main pipe preclude the cessation of movement that is the crystallizing cause? (Next summer, of course.) Good you have some redundancy!

    How do you manage LLGD access to your cottage? Looks like a lot of muscle and hair in the aggregate! I assume most of ’em sleep out most of the time?

    Perhaps the Brickling Spring?

    Its a chilly sixty four here today and last night was a frigid thirty four. And of course the oat and wheat fields are full of that famous green snow. Its almost too cold to go around in my usual t shirt, but not quite yet.


    • *grin* I’m wearing shorts and a T-shirt too, David. It’s a balmy 21°F today, much improved from a few days ago when it was forty degrees colder. You’re temperatures are blasphemy to Old Man Winter so don’t say them too loudly or he’ll come roaring up over the ridge!

      The dogs all come in for a visit at some point each day but most of the dogs sleep outside the cottage. They find the cottage at 65°F to be too warm for their liking. They have a variety of dens and caves scattered around the landscape where they curl up, if not simply in a snow bank or down with the livestock. When checking livestock at night it is not unusual to run across Remus, Hanno or one of the others out sleeping in the fields on the hay with the animals. They take their work pretty seriously. If the coyotes swing through our valley they start singing their wild kin away.

      The multiple outlets is an interesting solution. That might solve the problem of one freezing up and blocking the pipe…

      • David lloyd Sutton says:

        I’ve nothing like your experience with cold conditions, of course, but if you try the multiple outlets idea, I’d make each of the outlets a lesser diameter than the main line to preclude icing by keeping up velocity and hopefully keeping the full diameters of the outlets filled. And I think I’d dramatically increase the angle of drop from plenum to outlet mouths to provide for a bit more of that precious velocity.

        And though I tease with the N. Ca. temperatures, remember that we have moist air. Shivery stuff!


        • Makes sense. And as to temperature and humidity, that is one nice thing that once we get past mud season the humidity plummets and it is actually easier to stay warm at colder temperatures. The moisture can really suck the heat away.

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