From the Hayloft: Water down the drain | Columnists

Living rural life has a lot to offer hard-nosed people. What most people don’t fully understand is that housekeeping can often be different than in densely populated areas.

For years, for example, every spring, just before all the flowers I had planted the previous fall came into bloom, the neighbor’s Mediterranean donkey would escape and eat every single bud. Every. Last. One.

In doing so, this tiny beast also stomped and somehow managed to tear down part of the retaining wall around the flower beds, then left calling cards in the front yard, driveway, and occasionally on the stepping stones to our deck.

Since “Merlin”, as he was known, also liked to play tag with our dog, as she raced around, Divots were thrown up in the yard. These are not problems that most people in the suburbs or in apartment buildings ever have to deal with.

Our most recent challenge was our water supply. People generally don’t even think about their water unless tree roots block their pipes and then there can be a problem. If you live “outside,” there are additional considerations.

Not only do we need to take care of the health of our sewage system, but also our water supply. Most of us have our own wells. The water is usually very cold and refreshing and perfect for consumption. However, there are some caveats. Our water is contaminated with iron. Lots of iron.

When I bought the house a few years ago, installing a water softener was a priority to prevent the complete destruction of the pipes and appliances, including the water heater. I contacted a few dealers for a heavy duty softener. I explained the situation to the vendors and received a few condescending “Aren’t you cute?” replies as they thought I was overreacting when I told them how hard the water was rated.

I particularly remember one gentleman standing in the kitchen as he pulled out his water test kit. He proceeded to do his water drop test as if he were putting on a magic show. He held up the test tube and carefully dripped a single drop of solution into it – while explaining that he’d never had anything over 12.

Undeterred, I continued wiping out the cabinets, knowing it would take us a while. When he turned 17, he announced that something must be wrong with this test solution, so he started over. This time, when he hit 21, the water started turning blue. Barely.

The water required a solution of 29 drops. He was taken aback but bravely tried to tell me that his product could probably handle that type of iron. I asked if it had a warranty with a 30-day free trial that included the cost of installation and removal if not satisfied.

He cleared his throat and tried to tell me that the water probably wasn’t such a big deal. I then ran some hot water from the kitchen sink while holding a white rag just under the stream. After a minute there was a noticeable stain on the fabric – I then asked if his product would be able to handle that kind of heavy iron.

He started talking about additional filtration systems (one for each bathroom, the kitchen, and the laundry room) that we would consider. Again, I asked for a guarantee. It didn’t come.

Eventually I found a working system – a smaller version of the big one my parents had. It fit in the space needed (barely) and has kept the water clear, odor free and refreshing. Until last week.

Some hickey on the system regulator was worn out and needed replacing. Of course it was not in stock and had to be ordered. The hubs were able to easily replace this part once it arrived, but then another part that was attached to the first part just got sprayed all over the place so it needs to be replaced as well.

It is also out of stock. As we await the arrival of this hardware, we face the dreaded red water. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still drinkable and can be used for anything, it’s just that after less than three days without a water softener, our bathtub now has a noticeable rusty brown cast and I avoid doing laundry or use the dishwasher.

The hubs were shocked at the lack of soapy water from his shower and the odd film and sediment that appeared in the jug of Kool-Aid we made for our son Sparky. All familiar from my childhood.

I will once again take the Rust Out school of cleaning and discoloring all the tough water stains we used as a kid. Hopefully the hubs will have the system fixed soon and we can return to “normal” operations.

In the meantime, I’ll keep impressing Sparky with the water magic trick of getting a brown stain on a light-colored cloth from the hot water faucet and boosting my iron levels for my next blood donation. As my dad told me as a kid, “You mustn’t let this drive you crazy — it’s just water over the dam and down the drain.”

Written and submitted by Sarah Roush for The Circleville Herald. The views of this column do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.

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