Gone Awhat?

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. This variation of a line from a Scottish poem is one we've proven true at our farm. Plans to build fences, gone awry. Stacking hay, gone awry. Purchasing a riding lawn mower, gone awry. Veterinarian bills, a broke down truck, and a never-ending list of building projects. This is our life, we make the best of plans. Where do they go from there?

“But Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be in vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!”

We get it. We make plans which don't always work out. We toil, we struggle, we sweat, we ache. Eventually, we get there. It's never easy but it's always worth it. As Annie and I frequently say, it's not perfect but it's ours.

Our best plans for this last weekend were to fix a leaking yard hydrant and get our recently repaired hot tub dropped back into our deck to be ready for use. After a full day of monkey wrenches and quick trips to North 40, Saturday ended with the old pump reinstalled including the old extension rod. We added a new plunger and gasket, but it still leaked and sprayed everywhere.

The hot tub was set in place Saturday evening, filled with water on Sunday, and powered up on Monday. However, the heating element appeared to be caput. From 8:30 Monday morning to 4:30 in the afternoon, the temperature only rose five degrees and was still far too cold to be used.

Our plans went awry. We had a strategy with our handyman to try fixing the hydrant next weekend, and a friend of mine walked me through how to replace the hot tub’s heating element. Our plans would be completed eventually, just not within the timeframe we had hoped. These are the most discouraging moments of the farm life. It can be frustrating for anyone when goals aren’t met, but when you’re hoping to have a pump that won't be a geyser come winter, these lingering failures can be disappointing.

However, I've only told half of the story. Saturday ended with the broken pump reinstalled and still gushing water every time we turned in on. When I went out for the morning chores on Sunday, there was plenty water in the horse troughs and duck pools. Refills weren’t needed so I didn't turn on the hydrant. With it leaking, I didn't want to use it unless necessary. Later in the afternoon, the trough in the main pasture was low so I reconnected the hose to the hydrant and lifted the handle. To my surprise, no spray. I filled up the big trough and still no squirting. So I filled up the other trough and all three kiddie pools we use for the birds and goats. We used it a few times on Monday and still no spray. It leaked on Saturday night, and the next day it was magically fixed. We did nothing. Whatever was wrong corrected itself over night with no human intervention. We now have a fully functional yard hydrant.

Monday evening, I hung up the phone call with my friend feeling defeated. Annie and I were really looking forward to soaking in the hot tub. Even though the fix seemed simple, I knew it would be another week or two before we could get it resolved. I thanked him for his help and went on with the rest of the day. We left the farm to run some errands and go grocery shopping. We were gone for a couple hours. When we returned, I went inside to put groceries away and Annie headed out to feed the horses. When she came back in she had an unexpected update.

"Our hot tub is 85°." I thought she was kidding. She wasn’t.

An hour later, the water temperature was up to 95° and it was at 99° by the end of the evening. It took seven hours to go from 54° to 59°, then it jumped up another 40 degrees in the next few hours. I don't know how it happened. There is no logical explanation. We didn't touch any of the controls or mechanical parts. We only looked at it with our phone-a-friend lifeline. He must have Doctor Stranged it because it magically started working after we disconnected the call. We now have a working hot tub.

This is the way our lives function. Things don't work until they do. Sometimes, we mess up the first try then our second attempt gets the job done. Often, nothing goes the way we planned. Sometimes we figure it out on our own and other times we get by with a little help from our friends. We know when plans go awry, they won't stay derailed forever.

We live a charmed life. It is impossible to deny this fact. I hope you can see it in every word I write, in every picture I post. Annie and I have brilliant, vibrant, and talented kids who constantly challenge and inspire us. We have a farm that isn't perfect but it's ours. And we now have a working hot tub. As I count our blessings, I also know we couldn't do everything we do without a supportive cast of characters - those friends and family members who encourage us, advise us, and cheer us on. And occasionally, all we need is a little magic.

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