Laura Zoeller

Column Laura Zoeller

Laura Zoeller is a farm wife and mother who has been blessed with a wonderful and funny - life.

From wet to dry to done

June 2, 2014

As you may recall, we had some water woes a couple weeks ago. The drain line leading from one of our concrete water troughs was clogged or crushed, and caused a lot of water to overflow the tank and flood our yard.

On an average, sunny day, the yard had a wet spot in it about the size of a large bathroom, which became a marsh when we got a little bit of rain. After heavy rain, the entire yard was soupy, and our basement was wet.

So, we called an excavator to come and dig up the drain line. We decided to also have a French drain at the garage dug, as well as a spring development in a pasture field. (We were paying for him to dig for a day, so we let him dig!) He arrived last Wednesday with his machine. He talked with my husband for a few minutes about things underground that he needed to avoid and, then, prepared to dig.

Unfortunately, my husband forgot to mention one line that should be watched for – the water line to the house. The excavator barely touched it, but the metal teeth on its bucket were enough to put a hole in it and break the vacuum that allows the pump to work.

Having grown up with a slow-to-replenish well, I knew how to function without running water. I hauled water from the barn to flush the toilet, and I boiled more water to do dishes and clean counters. I wasn’t inclined to boil enough water to finish my laundry, however, so I simply shut the machine off for the day.

The guys found the problem with the drain line – a tree root was growing through it – and exposed it. We planned to change the pipe over the weekend, so we left the ditch open. The following day, we fixed the water line and gathered our supplies to repair the drain.

Each trip into the ditch, my husband was accompanied by our son and dog. Both younger critters came out covered from tip to tail with mud and debris. (Thank goodness we fixed the water line.)

After the pipes were glued together and laid in the ditch, my husband got the skid loader out and put the bucket attachment on it. He began to backfill the ditch when the skid loader slid sideways and lodged against a tree.

The big red tractor and a long cable were employed to pull the skid loader out – I was the terrified skid loader operator for the extraction – and we were fortunate that the only damage was some scraped bark from the tree. After a few more minor complications, the ditch is nearly complete.

None too soon, either. The gravel was just delivered, so now we can complete the French drain and the spring development. Oh, and before we do that, the now-dry yard could really stand to be mowed.

Laura Zoeller can be reached at



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