Living on a farm has its share of blessings and pain-in-the-butt realities. We are largely responsible for our own affairs. If you want potable water, dig a well and run a line into your house. If you want to trade in your coal oil lamp for something with a few more lumens, you need to trench in a power line from the service running in front of your property. If you need natural gas, tie into the local utility company. If You’re old enough to remember landlines and want a ringy dingy telephone of your own, call Telus to connect the line. If you prefer a flush toilet over a two-hole outhouse, you’ll need a septic tank and field or pump-out.
Each one of those come with price tags in the thousands and thousands of dollars. Hiring a trencher and operator, plumber, electrician, gasfitter, and general contractor. Calling Dial Before You Dig. Putting up with the mess and inconvenience.
Eventually, It’s done and you live your forever after country dream life. Until, decades later stuff starts happening. A few weeks ago, our phone line went dead. Not as big a deal as it used to be before cell phones, but a damned nuisance anyway. Turns out a wire broke in the cable a few miles from home.
Last fall we noticed that, for no apparent reason, the lights in the house would dim. We put up with it and tried to explain it away. Quite soon, we (okay, I) got scared that the house would burn down because something was obviously wrong. Very wrong and electricity scares me at the best of times. A service man came and tightened something. Problem persists. Second guy repairs the connection at the house. No go. Third guy replaces a breaker at the transformer on the pole in our yard.
When I can longer run the oven, do a load of laundry, and make a piece of toast simultaneously, Roy calls again. This time, it seems replacing the transformer with a higher amperage one should be the answer to our prayers. Initial estimate: $6900. Having them consider it an equipment failure means we’ll pay only about $1700. Thank goodness.
Today while we went to do our income tax, the guys replaced the transformer. A disgusting toxic overwhelming smell greeted us when we opened the door of the house. We couldn’t place it. We tried to locate the source.
Guess what? Surge protectors work. It partially melted, looked scorched, and smelled like hell. But the Lenovo laptop, iMac desktop computer, Sony CD player, phone charger, and extra monitor all appear unscathed. Just discovered a second protector fried. Nothing much plugged into that one. Whoa, close call.
The moral of the story is this: we need to do the little things to protect the big things. Otherwise, those investments are in jeopardy through complacency or neglect. Plus, you may dodge having to file an insurance claim, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.