Saturday, March 12, 2011


It has been an extremely long 24 hours. I slept a total of 2.6 hours and my rugs need to be washed, but I am happy to report that the problem has been solved! Thanks to the amazing help and unwavering kindness of friends and readers this girl's basement has no standing water at all!

I spent the entire night hauling buckets, by 4:30 AM I was so worn out and sore I thought I would crumble on the old basement stairs. But at some point you just snap out of any sort of stupid self-pity and do what needs to be done. I got my second wind and kept about 200 gallons of water away from my furnace. By morning I was that shaking-tired that infuses the whole body. You feel like one of the characters in some epic movie moving across mountains in a cape with a pony on a lead rope.

But in the morning I got a text from the Daughton Family, my heros. I called Cathy and she told me Tim was coming over to assess the damage and he would be bringing me back to their house for a hot breakfast and then taking me to Home Depot to buy a sump pump. I could have cried. With them in this, I knew I would be okay.

After an amazing meal of eggs, bacon, cinnamon toast and coffee (I was so hungry it was ridiculous) we picked up our supplies in Bennington and then headed back to the farm in the Daughton Suburban. At the front door when we arrived was a site for sore eyes...a black pump and a yellow hose. Someone had just simply come to my rescue without a note. (I later found out it was the gals from Windwoman Farm). If anyone doubts the reality of guardian angels, well, then they haven't tried to run a farm alone....

We spent the day rigging up a water removal system, and it might be what Tim calls "Ozark Engineering" but I'll be damned if it isn't doing the job perfectly. Here's what we did.

Tim drilled several holes in a large 5-gallon buckets bottom sides and then we wrapped it in gardening cloth. The cloth was held in tape with Gorilla Tape, and created a screen to keep rocks and debris from entering the bucket. We submerged it in the lowest part of the basement and stabilized it with gravel. I bought a 1/3 HP sump pump with the auto-start float you all suggested and all the other hoses, clamps, PVC, and other supplies we would need. We rigged it up to shoot up 7 feet (three feet below the 10 foot max) and then ran it out a hole we drilled and threaded with PVC pipe. The hose now sends water from the basement out and away from the house.

Some of it was trial and error, and some of it was luck, but we put away the Shop Vacs by noon. Now the basement has some serious dampness issues, but is cleaned up. I now feel pretty confident doing it by myself or for someone else. A skill I would have never learned away from this house (which more and more reminds me of Maude). I might be dealing with a rough first-year, but this farm has taught me so much. And when I realize next winter I'll already have a 4WD truck, a plow man on call, a year of lambing under my belt, and a sump pump. Hells Bells, there aint nothing I can't take on.

Right now I am beyond tired, beyond hand salve, beyond useful, and beyond grateful. I do not deserve this kind of love from you, but I accept it as gracefully as this clumsy girl possibly can.

Thank you.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like quite a body numbing ordeal. Glad friends were able to help you!

March 12, 2011 at 8:07 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

Not sure I would have put the sump so close to the water heater but it will work. You can live with a sump pump running sporadically.
Now on to lambing. Don't get too concerned about this as you have a breed known for easy lambing.

March 12, 2011 at 8:08 PM  
Blogger Spiderjohn said...

Jenna.. you are one hell of a young lady. I think that is why people want to help you.

March 12, 2011 at 8:13 PM  
Blogger Bex said...

Way to go, Jenna. You've managed to build a fantastic relationship with your neighbors and readers. I covet that. Keep it up and you'll do just fine. *hugs*

March 12, 2011 at 8:14 PM  
Blogger mdoe37 said...

Why its beee-uuu-teee-ful!

Now young lady, have beer and get some sleep!

March 12, 2011 at 8:34 PM  
Blogger Tatiana said...

So glad it worked out for you! Good Luck!

March 12, 2011 at 8:41 PM  
Blogger tpescdoc said...

Jenna, you most certainly do deserve this kind of love. I agree with Spiderjohn, you are one hell of a young lady. I'm sure I'm old enough to be your mother, and I'd be damn proud if I was. I grew up right down the street from you in Allentown. I don't usually leave comments, but I was so bothered by the nasty comments by the person who had a problem with your food choices. I can only pray I have as much character as you have. You are an incredibly positive force in this oh so negative world. Keep your chin up and keep up the great work!

March 12, 2011 at 8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoa, thank goodness that's over with. I felt for you lugging all that water out - I'd have conked out early in the game!
Glad you survived! :)
Meanwhile, our neighbor's basement is still under several inches of water. Her sump pump has been going steady for days now.

March 12, 2011 at 8:47 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

YES! Now, onward....

March 12, 2011 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I was hurting with you this morning reading about all you were having to do and what seemed to lie ahead of you. Praise God there are still angels in the form of neighbors that come to the rescue. It is such a relief to know your situation is under control and maybe you can get the much needed rest you deserve tonight. I hope you are already asleep and are reading this tomorrow, rested.

March 12, 2011 at 8:55 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

So glad you've come out on top again...if Chagrin Falls, Ohio was closer to Veryork, we'd have been there, johnnie-on-the-spot! Hugs Jenna, you deserve them!

March 12, 2011 at 9:07 PM  
Blogger kippy said...

Agree with Spiderjohn. That was some adventure with the basement wasn't it?! Hope you get lots of rest tonight.

March 12, 2011 at 9:09 PM  
Blogger windhaven farm said...

Shoot... isn't that bucket going to interfere with your plans for a tricked out rec room in the basement? (hahah!)

Glad it all worked out... I'm worried about our new place, the sump was nearly over flowing when we inspected it and we told the bank, but I'm sure they weren't too concerned... we have 2 weeks till we close! Agh! Our old 106 year old house basement looks pretty much like yours!

Well at least the heat/gas is not on, and hopefully if it does flood some, it will dry out quick enough.... aren't old houses fun!!!!!!

Get some sleepy dreaming about your new lambies hopping over electric fences that work good!


March 12, 2011 at 9:12 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Go buy a box of caffeine pills, put them in the truck box. When your legs give out on you take one or two.

March 12, 2011 at 9:17 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

Oh I wouldn't worry about your pump being that close to your hot water heater. Our's is every bit as close as your's and it has been fine for the 8 years we have been here. Yes old houses are (not) fun, our's being 300 years old. Keep the chin up, as we all need a hero. But the light at the end of the tunnel is that winter is pretty much over and you made it, and with all the snow and cold we had this year, next year should be a breese as we tend to not get snow like this only but every few years. I hope at least!

March 12, 2011 at 9:21 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

Looks nice, well done! - but did you pick up some extra hose clamps and inner tubes? :)

March 12, 2011 at 9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whew! So glad you got that taken care of. You deserve a reeeeally good night's sleep tonight. I am grateful to your friends who helped. I can assure you that many more people would have helped if they lived closer (my own husband included!)

March 12, 2011 at 9:25 PM  
Blogger Ellen Rathbone said...

How lucky you are in your friends! The Universe is smiling on you. Well done. :)

March 12, 2011 at 9:33 PM  
Blogger Lauren said...

Wow! You had a rough weekend. I am so glad you have friends so close by. I joke with my best friend that we need to start a "new family"... surrounding ourselves with people who are like minded, understanding of our current lifestyle, and ready to be there through thick and thin. It sounds like you have found that. I am so glad people were there to help you. I hope you are snoring right now.

March 12, 2011 at 9:37 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

This is going to be one of those harrowing memories, but you did it. Thank yous to the Daughton Family and the ladies from Windwoman Farm for taking care of our Jenna for us!

March 12, 2011 at 9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We were there last week. Ah, the country life!

March 12, 2011 at 9:48 PM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

Glad things have turned a corner for you. Sweet dreams!

March 12, 2011 at 10:16 PM  
Blogger Kitchen Mama said...

Everyone has already said everything there was to say in the last 24 hours, but I do just want to say two things: 1) the easy and warm camaraderie of your readers, and their loyalty and love for you, are really inspiring and 2) you deserve to sleep all day tomorrow, with just a few wake-ups to take care of the animals.

Or maybe a couple more things...

Like many others, I wish I was there to help, to bring some food or lend a helping hand. At least you can go about your days (and nights) knowing you have a lot of people pulling for you. Family is not just blood, it's like-minded people and can span continents. I'm really proud of you and inspired by you--you're a real trooper.

March 12, 2011 at 10:28 PM  
Blogger Kimberlie Ott said...

Your INCREDIBLE!!!! Celebrate after some rest! You did it............with a little help from your friends.....and look how cool it is you reached out and made those friends! Keep your chin will so be Spring soon! Because of you I have 6 peeping chicks in a brooder in the bathroom......your a real encouragement! Hoping we all can be for you too.....

March 12, 2011 at 10:39 PM  
Blogger jim said...

yes girl-you did a great job with some help from some friends- hope all our advice got you where you ended up --we all follow your every day and live it through your writing=happy dreams-get some rest

March 12, 2011 at 11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done Jenna. It was wonderful of your friends and neighbors to help you out and you had so many people pulling for you. You mentioned about the moisture in the basement...the good thing there is that you can get your basement a dehumidifier and you already have the place to run the waste water from it to...Your brand new sump. Just run a drain from the dehumidifier directly into the bucket holding the sump pump and no worries. Again, great job and everyone is proud of you.

March 12, 2011 at 11:36 PM  
Blogger Donna said...

I'm so relieved that the Daughton Family and the gals from Windwomen Farm helped you, we certainly can't have you exhausted before lambing season. You know what else? You've added another skill to you bag of independence and if and when something similar happens you'll know just what to do. Get some rest and enjoy the rest of your weekend.

March 13, 2011 at 12:11 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Bless the Daughton Family and the galls from Windwoman Farm!

Sorry you had to deal with all of that Jenna but how wonderful for people to help out like they did. I'm sure it's nice to know you'll never have to drag that water up the basement stairs again.

Get some rest. HUG!

March 13, 2011 at 12:58 AM  
Blogger Jeane said...

First time commenting although I have followed your blog for well over a year now. I just wanted to add, I enjoy your writing so much, you are certainly an inspiration to all of us. You have to know you make your parents proud! Blessings to Chance for his generous donation, your friends, the Daughtons, and the women from Windwomen farm. Hoping your Sunday is peaceful.

March 13, 2011 at 1:44 AM  
Blogger daisy g said...

Your good karma is coming back to you! Hope you had a restful night.

March 13, 2011 at 6:43 AM  
Blogger Dancing shepherdess said...

What would you do without everyone bailing you out ;)

March 13, 2011 at 7:10 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Ozark engineering my ASS. That's woodchuck engineering. Half the houses in Vermont have that setup (Mine included) Glad it worked.

Congrats, now rest. Doctor's orders are to watch the entire civil war documentary, with a 6 pack of beer.

March 13, 2011 at 7:27 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

I just looked at your photo again. It appears,if you have a power outage and water rising, you can pull the motor on the furnace and put it on top without disconnecting the wiring. I wonder if the former owners had to do that. Is there evidence of high water on the walls?

March 13, 2011 at 7:53 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

We're almost there--on the other side of this monster winter. (Written from the Berkshires of Massachusetts, and as a veteran of the shop-vac bucket brigade routine.) Spring will be so sweet this year!

You inspire me, as always. Thanks.

March 13, 2011 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger jim said...

jenna, check to make sure that your screen covering the inlet holes to your bucket don't clog up with debris from time to time-water has to go in the bucket in order to exit the house.- sleep well girl, another one beaten. Jim

March 13, 2011 at 9:23 AM  
Blogger Patsy from Illinois said...

I am so glad everything is working okay now. You do need to get a dehumidifier to get out the dampness and you will also use it if you plan on storing canned food down there too along with potatoes and apples. God brings us angels when we need them.

March 13, 2011 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Chestnut Farm said...

Jenna, please make sure you run a dehumidifier for a few days to dry things out....Easy to grow mold in a damp to run one over the summer as well! So happy to hear it all worked out!

March 13, 2011 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Glad to hear it's sorted out - what a relief! I know nothing of sump pumps in this land of no basements and no water, but I grew up in Illinois, and I remember my dad having these issues in our basement there. There was a lot of cursing involved!

March 13, 2011 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger CallieK said...

You always manage to deal with whatever life throws you but even more than that you are one of the most optimistic people I've even known (at least in print!) so in honour of that, I think you'll appreciate this song -The Waters of March

March 13, 2011 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger KellyV (Kelly the Fifth) said...

Living in Los Angeles, I always thought we were kind of cheated not to have basements, rumpus rooms, and all the other names we hear people call these mysterious places under houses. I had heard colleagues from other places talk about sump pumps but did not give it much thought. Quite a lesson for a West Coast lady Miss Jenna. Sylvia, Chance, and your neighbors were your angels. Lovely. Here is to a deserved rest to our CAF Angel - that's you Jenna. You bring your readers a lot of good will and delight.

March 13, 2011 at 11:09 AM  
Blogger DarcC said...

That is an ingenious solution right there! I wanted to suggest that is should not be a big deal to raise up your furnace and hot water heater, just a few hours of re-piping and some bigger cinder blocks. It may be worth a few hundred dollars of plumber's labor for the peace of mind.

March 13, 2011 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger Chance said...

Awoke to the Big Melt in Vermont and another tale of your stunning resilience. My gratitude is extended to your in-real-time angels, the Daughtons, the Windwomen, the people who wrote such great technical comments... like I said i am inspired by you and your readers on a daily basis. Thanks for that.

March 13, 2011 at 11:37 AM  
Blogger Chance said...

PS. The advice to start running a dehumidifier is spot-on in my opinion. No mold need make its home in yr basement. Rest easy and on to lambing...

March 13, 2011 at 11:38 AM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

what great friends and reades you have. bet you're thrilled to not have to wake up during the evening and haul water!

i bet there's a new home owner "what can go wrong will go wrong" handbook that you could purchase that outlines seasonal issues with an older home. or maybe ask your readers, everything you've experienced as an urgent time energy and financial issue dozens of readers already have personal experience on and many are also currently going through the same issue. what April home issues could possibly be prepared and budgeted for in March?

i find it heartless that the previous owners failed to mention this issue, did they own the home during winters which this type of precipitation had been seen? it seems impossible for a house that old this is the first time water has filled the space. a simple heads up on their part would have been wonderful and i doubt it would have cost them the sale of the home.

hope you have a smooth sailing sunday.

March 13, 2011 at 12:56 PM  
Blogger John Taylor said...


I am so glad you have got the basement water problem squared away. If I did not live all the way in AZ I would have been at your door offering some physical help. While all of these "lessons" your house and property are providing do seem like a pain in the rump just know that you have received an education that will stay with you a life time and will allow you the skills necessary to get through any problem you face! For a single woman on a 5 acre property raising sheep you are pretty amazing and doing a great job.

Grace and peace,


March 13, 2011 at 2:19 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

So much stuff to learn, Jenna, when you have an old and cranky house. I have had several really wriging winters in this old one, but thankfully this one wasn't too bad - pipes froze only twice - and for a few hours, not for literally weeks at a time!! That's got to be good. You are learning old house stuff on the job!! Worth a fortune if you had to pay for this education in more than sore muscles and friends' help. Hang in there - spring is almost here!! Daid with tongue in cheeck as I go to lug in yet more wood.

March 13, 2011 at 4:25 PM  
Blogger Sewing Machine Girl said...

you realize, of course, that this brings even more fantastic talent to are the first inventors and mad-scientists. Soon you will have the knack... Dilbert cartoon, if you don't know it already, look it up and you will see what I mean. Rock on GF, from one knack girl to another.

March 13, 2011 at 10:33 PM  
Blogger Reason's Whore said...

On the bright side, at least it was a weekend. Not what you would choose to spend your weekend on, but a mercy at least you didn't have to go to your day job on top of it all.

March 14, 2011 at 12:07 AM  
Blogger SouthernHeart said...

Wow. There's something to be said for being "tried by fire" and surviving! Hopefully, today finds you rested and on to brighter things - like sweet lambs in the near future. Kudos to all those who reached out to you in "real-time" beginning with Chance, the Daughton family and the Windwoman Farm...and anyone else who lent a helping hand! Blessings to each of you.


March 14, 2011 at 3:06 PM  
Blogger Dre said...

By God whenever I think I'm having a bad day, all I have to do is read one of your posts! Haha I mean that in the best of ways! I am sure all of this has been incredibly taxing on you, but if you can conquer your mountains with such haste and humbling understanding, you give me faith that so can I.

March 14, 2011 at 11:22 PM  

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