Welcome to Normal Life… Mostly.

I overslept this morning. This is not a good thing because Lucrecia or Percy come over to let the cows out, and I need to be done milking before they arrive. That’s not generally a problem, but I was running late.

My friend Walter from Curahuasi had messaged at midnight to ask if we could please check on his mom, Alicia, because she hadn’t answered her phone in a few days. Steph and I talked and decided she could quickly go before breakfast. Neither of us are supposed to be out on Saturday, strictly speaking, but what were we to do?

It was about 7:00, and I was just starting to milk–Lucrecia would be arriving soon–but then Dane came rushing over and said that Hazel would not get up. I told Estrella I would be back.

Hazel was flat out and in a lot of pain, thrashing about and moaning. She felt like she was ever so slightly bloated, but that didn’t explain the pain. She could not stay sitting up. I started tending to her, but then I heard Lucrecia wishing me a good morning. Ahh!

I rushed over and got to milking Estrella. Lucrecia sat on a tire beside me and chatted about life. They have only a trickle of water, too. It’s making things difficult. She said the people at the reservoir are supposed to be working on the problem. I finished so she could let the cows out. She said it was no problem for her to wait because she likes watching how I can milk without having to tie the cow’s legs together to keep her from kicking. Well, okay.

I milked the goats next. Barbara waited until I was on the last strips of milk before lifting her foot high and stepping into the milk pail. Grr…

The children weren’t done with getting the goats out, so I decided I would quickly grab some water from the creek to use for washing up. However, the ditch was nearly completely dry. Turns out they have closed off the ditches up above to catch water, so we will not be having ditch water soon.

No water. I planned to deal with that after checking on Hazel. I wasn’t sure what was wrong with her. She was not doing well, so I decided to call the vet, but nowhere could I find the number. I asked Percy, but he said he only knows a cow vet. I tried Oscar, but couldn’t reach him. I asked Lamar, but he couldn’t find the number either.

I decided to give her pain medication, a steroid, antibiotics, and dextrose to try to get her revived. While this was going on, the children all gathered around me, having finished their chores. I told the girls to go in and keep an eye on Walter and Seth because they couldn’t be in the house alone. Seth was supposed to be with one of them, anyway.

Fifteen minutes later, they were both back out, but one of them was carrying Walter. I instructed them to go back to the house with the boys. “Oh, we don’t know where Seth is,” they replied nonchalantly, cooing at Walter.

I began barking out orders (sweetly, I think) for everyone to join in the search. They hadn’t seen him since sometime during chores, maybe half an hour ago. I ran around the buildings while they checked the house. I sent Dane up to Lamar’s to look. He wasn’t anywhere around. Anne went running up to Lamar’s, too.

I was headed up the field myself, when they found him. He was on a quest to find Steph. I figure he was gone around forty-five minutes. That was scary.

I got everyone settled to eat breakfast, but I wasn’t hungry. Forbidding them to leave the house, I went up to Lamar’s to inspect the water situation until Steph returned.

She had walked most of the way to Compone before catching a ride. Alicia wasn’t home when she got there, but a neighbor told Steph she was with the cows. Steph walked down towards Alicia’s field, meeting another lady before getting the whole way there. That lady said Alicia had been in another field and would be back by now, so Steph walked all the way back and found Alicia home.

Alicia had her ringtone turned all the way down. She said she didn’t feel like talking to Walter, but that Steph could tell him she was okay and not to worry. Steph caught a taxi back to Inquilpata, grabbed a few things at the only tienda there, then headed home. She certainly had her exercise in early!

Meanwhile, I had found that there was only a trickle of water coming at the spigot. There is a reserve tank of water on the ground that I decided was time to use. We wanted showers, and we needed to fill up our water bottles again. I couldn’t quite figure out the system, but thankfully Lamar was only a phone call away. He answered my questions, and I let him go.

I couldn’t find an extension cord, so I walked down to the house, checked that the childrn were all okay, and headed back up with a cord from the bodega. But the pump would not start. It would just whir quietly, but nothing was turning on the inside. I unplugged it quickly. Now what?

I sat and prayed furiously at the pump. I then went and found a hammer. The combination of prayer and a weapon was effective. I beat on housing a bit, plugged it up and heard a difference. I unplugged it and beat some more. Plugging it back in, it came to life! Thank the Lord.

Steph arrived about then, and I told her I would be down directly, once I had cleaned everything up. Last thing I did was to turn the pressure pump on, but it would only go up to half pressure. I cut the power so it would quit running and called Steph to let her know there was a spigot on somewhere, and we were losing precious water.

She took all the children outside quickly to check all the possible locations. Sadly, the problem was worse. She messaged me back that a pipe was broken. I quickly cut off all the valves up top and glided serenely down through the field, singing a ballad as birds joined in overhead and butterflies flitted down to brush my cheeks with morning dew. In other words, I went like a mad man.

One of my male children had pulled a pipe over for an outside spigot, breaking it off flush with the concrete it was buried in. Having worked for my dad in the remodeling business for years, I have never yet found the brilliance in burying pipes in concrete.

While I chipped away at the concrete with a hammer and chisel, I kept up a conversation via WhatsApp messages with a fellow in Honduras who knows far more about goats that I do. He had lots of good information and tips. He was afraid Hazel’s symptoms sounded possibly like Tetanus. I prayed some more.

With the concrete broken out, I now had to cut the pipe off below the coupler. I counted three different places this pipe had already repaired, and the concrete had been broken up and repoured already sometime in the past. I’m thinking I may need to find another way to protect it for the future.

The best option I could come up with for cutting was to break a blade for a hacksaw, giving me a piece a couple inches long that I could slip down into the hole. I could then using two fingers to wiggle it back and forth while my other hand kept pressure on the blade. It takes a long time to cut a pipe like that. I was about a third of the way through the pipe when Oscar got back to me with a number for the vet.

I called the vet right away, and he said he’d be here in fifteen minutes. I knew I had at least an hour to finish cutting the pipe. He arrived just as I glued the new coupler onto the pipe in the ground.

It was nearly 1:00 in the afternoon, and Hazel was definitely bloated by this time. We tubed her and got a bunch of gas out, but the vet said she was in too much pain for it to be only gas. He reached into her rectum with his bare fingers and pulled out manure, showing me that it was too dry. Thank you for that! He says he figures she likely ate some metal or plastic that is lodged in her gut. We gave her various things to help get her gut moving, but he’s not sure she’ll live. He’ll be back before dark to check on her. I am thankful it’s not Tetanus.

I went back to the plumbing situation. It only took a couple more cuts and some glue, and the pipe was back as it should be. I used a clamp to secure it to the wall with screws. Hopefully that helps. Then I stood there and chuckled to myself. What will go wrong next? Then I heard a blood curdling scream from the front of the house. That’s what I get for chuckling.

I found Anne holding a bloody eye. In a freak accident, she had been hit by the seat of the swing, leaving a nasty gash. I still had dirt and glue on my hands, so all I did was get a cool rag with water from a bottle to stop the blood. I called for Steph to come bandage her up; Steph had been upstairs putting the boys down for naps.

Back up to Lamar’s, I switched all the valves back to open and tried the pressure pump. It got up to pressure quickly and held. When Steph gets up from her nap, she should have enough water pressure to get some things done. And we should be able to shower tonight. And the reserve tank should be able to refill overnight with the low pressure, Lord willing.

I was sighing to a friend of mine about how things were going. He lives in Latin America, too. His reply, “Welcome to normal life… mostly.” Some friends are just gifted with comforting words that way.

My plans for today were to study this morning for tomorrow’s sermon and maybe do a project outside this afternoon. The whole day had been spent in putting out fires. I feel like I need to lie down for a bit. I’m looking forward to a day of rest tomorrow, but I have to get my sermon prepped first.

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