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Water from above

From the Farm

April 1, 2011
By Kerry Hoffman (

Rain drops keep falling on my head.

Conjures up images of sparkling clean water from the sky, doesn't it?

I could only wish.

Instead the raindrops falling on my head were as cloudy as the Minnesota winter-sky and as musty smelly as my rubber boots after being filled by rain. There is no way I would ever stick my tongue out and try to catch these raindrops.

To make the Minnesota winter even more miserable than it already has been, we suffered all winter long with raindrops inside the milking parlor.

At first it was just a few drops here or there. I didn't think much of it. I attributed the drips to condensation. You know the wet stuff that occurs when the air is warmer than objects in the air.

When we built the milking parlor, we put up shiny-white ceiling panels. One layer of plastic was also used put in as a vapor barrier.

Well, it stopped the vapors, but couldn't hold its weight against actual pools of water.

The drips started to grow and become a bit more powerful. At one point I would refuse to take off my stocking cap because I couldn't stand drips of water falling on my head and trickling down under my hair. Gives me goose bumps just thinking about it. (Remember the old cracked egg on your head trick?)

Russell even took a defensive stance against the drips. Every time he found himself in the milking parlor, he placed a 2 gallon bucket up on the metal pipes in the parlor to catch the incessant drips. The drips would hit the steel supports of the parlor and shatter as wide as the most awesome red, white and blue Fourth of July fireworks.

If I hadn't noticed water gushing from a part of the ceiling the other day, we would literally be swimming in our own little pool. That would make it extremely difficult to milk cows well depending on how deep the water would get.

For several Steve and I constructively discussed the leak. I was quite adamant that there had to be some sort of pipe under the ceiling of the parlor. Aint no condensation going to get bad enough to cause a waterfall in the parlor!

He was quite certain we never had any type of plumbing put in such a place.

One morning, after milking, Steve observed the water falling from the sky like Niagara Falls, and that's when he finally believed me. Repairs started on the spot.

Sure enough, a three-inch PVC pipe in the ceiling that carries water from the milk house to our flocculator the machine that treats all of our waste water had sprung a leak as mighty as the Mississippi.

I was making the repairs on my own after Steve and I took one panel off the ceiling. I don't recall why Steve wasn't around. That was OK with me. I wanted to fix this problem on my own, to show him I can be of importance around the farm. I spent the entire afternoon removing ceiling pieces, cutting plastic and repairing the leak.

I have never been so wet and covered in smelly gray, goopy slime as I was that day, but I managed to finish the job.

"You're doing this all on your own, without Steve?" Ben, one of our employees inquired. (I wanted to ask him if that was some sort of female joke, but I refrained.)

"I sure am, and I will have it done before you bring the cows in," I replied.

Well, my repairs lasted for all of two days and then the cows also experienced the power of the leaking pipes. I had torn the ceiling all apart and when my repairs crumbled, the drain water poured from the ceiling and onto the cows.

Those cows really were squeaky clean! The water was flowing like they opened a fire hydrant up in the hay barn. If it had been warmer, maybe the cows would've appreciated it a bit more than they did.

We may have the Mississippi falling from the western edge of the ceiling but I have obliterated the individual drips in the parlor area.

For questions, or comments, e-mail me at



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