Thursday, December 18, 2008

Breaking the Ice (or Not)

It's official. This is the worst winter I've experienced in my entire life.

I have three water troughs in my three stalls and three water troughs outdoors, but only two of the outdoor water troughs have de-icers installed. I have a flaky double-outlet electrical system attached to a stump on our RV lane and no electricity in my stalls. That's why I only have two de-icers plugged in. However, after this morning I'm going to have to change things around.

This is the first time in the history that I've owned horses where I simply could not break the ice. I pounded away at it for 15 minutes with a hammer and a post-hole digger, one of those long, heavy metal spears that help you break through rock.

So, I gave up and brought out a bucket of hot water from the house, which instantly turned cold once I brought it outside. I'm moving the horses around to different pens during the day so that they all get a chance to drink from the de-iced troughs.

I'm thinking that today I will go to the hardware store and look for an adaptor that will allow me to plug into three sockets. My biggest challenge will be finding a third de-icer. If I'm having these problems, so is everyone else, so I'm sure every feed store will be sold out of water heaters and water trough de-icers. I've never worried about it, because we rarely have winters that get down to single-digits, and I've always been able to break the ice.


Mikey said...

Brrrr!! A friend of mine sent me a thermometer pic yesterday from Reno. 2 degrees!!!
Y'all are brave people.

lytha said...

woaaaah, that's terrible! how cold is it there? we have negative one degrees C, but not nearly as cold as what you have, cuz i haven't had to break ice on the trough yet. my gosh your tanks!

how will your pretty sagebrush survive? (i love that stuff, i'm always pulling over in eastern washington to pick it, and trying not to get caught by the cops or locals who will protect their natural landscape from tourists like me...)

~lytha in semi-cold germany

Mrs Mom said...

Now I really feel guilty about our near record high temps here in the Southland, that have brought out skeeters and sand gnats again.

I'll try to remember some of the things I did in winters to help de-ice tanks, in case you cant find what you need out there today!!

Sending you all warm wishes and hot flashes...

Callie said...

Ooh, Make sure you've got the amps for three. I have to keep it down to two, one big one for the girls and a large heated bucket for the goats or I'll blow a fuse! Good luck with that!

Jenn said...

Girl, you need an ax. That's what I used to have to use to break several thick inches of ice in the troughs every day. I remember growing up we didn't have tank de-icers and we had one of those GIANT round stock tanks (think the size you could use as a small swimming pool). Every day, twice a day, we chopped a hole for the horses. By the end of winter the entire trough was pretty much frozen solid except for the one, deep hole we kept cleared of ice and filled with water. Which is why I ABHOR chopping ice in tanks!

Winter sucks. My horses are gimping around in their frozen-solid pastures because of course, it rained and rained and rained before it froze, so they were slopping around making nice deep holes that froze solid.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Well, the good news is that the feed store just got in a shipment of de-icers, so I got the first of 12. I like the ones that go into the plug at the bottom of the tank, and you can run the cord behind the tank and under the fence where the horses can't reach it. All the feed store had on their shelves was the kind of de-icer that you drop into the tank, and the cord hangs over the top where the horses can chew it. Fortunately, they had the kind I wanted in a box behind the counter.

The bad news is that Callie was right. Even by extending one outlet with an adapter, one de-icer already maximizes the wattage for each outlet. I'll have to plug in one de-icer during the night, unplug it and plug in the other one during the day.

My daughter was able to break the ice once the sun had been out a while, and we fished out the big chunks of ice. The lady at the feed store told me that she uses a fishing net to get out the chunks, so that she doesn't have to get her gloves wet.

Lulu said...

Wait a gosh-darn minute! This is the FIRST time that you've not been able to break the ice? Where do you live, and is there room for one more???

I grew up in CO, move to IA, and now live in NE...all 3 states provided enough cold to freez tanks solid enough to walk across the ice. (because some stubborn girl would climb up and STOMP on the attempt to break it)...

As a matter of fact, we run de-icers so much around these parts that we WEAR THEM OUT! I had to buy a new heated bucket for the dogs earlier this week, because I wore the old one out. It still kept the water thawed near the bottom of the bucket, but still allowed ice to form at the top.

Right now? We are getting an awesome dose of freezing rain, and after midnight we are to get up to 8 inches of snow on top of that. Ack.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

oooh! tough times! Hopefully it will warm up fairly soon. We usually have at least one spell a year where we have conssecutive days of freezing temperatures all day long, but most days, it warms up into the forties even though it freezes at night.

Last year, it got so cold for so long that my barn pipes froze and burst. I even had an ice pond form. I had to turn off the water supply until it could get fixed. I was having to haul 5 gallon jugs of water to the horses several times a day.

Rising Rainbow said...

I'm sick of dealing with ice.....and I'm not even going to the barn. But as the brains of this outfit, I'm expected to problem solve this stuff. However, Mother Nature didn't consult me before she decided to give us record breaking temperatures for a record breaking amount of time. I'm afraid my normal emergency plans for ice aren't working.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Well, sounds like you're experiencing what we did last winter. Thankfully I only had llamas up in the barn, though. But we had temps below freezing for an entire week. It didn't even get above single digits during the day.

I was forgetful enough to forget and not remove the hose from the spigot and the entire line including the pipes under the ground, froze solid and then burst! We had a frozen flood, and the rest of the winter I had to trudge up our steep hill, through the mud and muck to the barn twice a day with buckets of water.
And then worst of all was when the weather thawed out and we had to pay the big bucks to have someone dig up our pipes and fix them.

I will never leave my hoses attached to the spigot again. gah!

By the way, I'm looking at your frozen trough and it reminds me of a large glass of frozen margarita....add a little salt on the rim..and yum!

Oh, and I use a small rake to scoop up the ice from my outside bucket. Keeps me dry and unfrozen that way :)

New Mexico

Andrea said...

Brrrr.... how horrible. That is some serious ice!! YOu were so good to bring them out some water. Ugh....

I hope you can get things hooked up so they will have water. It must be so aggrivating. I have not broken ice in years....sigh.