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“Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.”
– Vesta M. Kelly  
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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 12 December 2018  

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Bill Radford

  Pools of trouble
  By Bill Radford

   Longtime local journalist Bill Radford and his wife, Margaret, live on 5 acres in the Falcon area with ducks, chickens, rabbits, dogs, cats, two noisy parrots, goats and two horses. Contact Bill at billradford3@gmail.com.
Summer has officially arrived. And I have to admit, I've kind of soured on the season this year.
   
   Green should be the color of summer. But it's brown that rules.
   
   A winter that wasn't really winter set the stage; I remember only one snowfall of any significance. That was followed by a dry, and often scorching, spring. (One plus side: Our lilacs actually bloomed this spring. Usually they start to bloom, then are stopped short by a late-season freeze.)
   
   In past springs, we've had to restrict the horses' time in the pasture because they're not used to eating all that grass. No such worries this year. The pasture is barren; even the weeds that sprout up every year are struggling. The rest of the property is just as bare, so another plus side is I'm not spending my weekends mowing.
   
   We, at least, had a plan for beating the heat: a new, above-ground pool. We got a pool two summers ago, a used, 15-foot-diameter Intex Easy Set pool. Made of a durable rubber, it has an inflatable ring that rises as the water level in the pool rises. We set it up in the former goat yard at the edge of the pasture, then arranged to have 4,000 gallons of water delivered. Filling the pool ourselves would have taken way too long, and we feared it would put too much of a strain on our well pump.
   
   But when the pool got filled, one side failed to properly stand while water on the other side threatened to spill out. The next morning, the water was gone and part of the pasture was a swamp.
   
   The pool setup requires level ground, and we obviously had not achieved the proper degree of levelness. So with help from a neighbor, his tractor and a laser-leveling system, we prepared the ground again. And had water delivered again. And this time it worked.
   
   We used the pool again last summer with less trauma, but it was showing its age; the inflatable ring, for example, wouldn't stay inflated. So this summer, we bought a new pool, a similarly sized but different model with a rigid frame instead of the inflatable ring. We set it up where the old pool had been.
   
   And, of course, disaster struck again. The water delivery kept getting delayed. And without water inside to keep the pool firm, the frame snapped in a windstorm; several pieces were broken and the liner was torn.
   
   Our options included ordering replacement parts, buying the same-model pool again or giving up. The replacement parts were costly and we couldn't find that pool again in town. That left giving up, but my wife had her heart set on a pool. So we looked for other options.
   
   One: a stock-tank pool, apparently also known as "cowboy pools" or "hillbilly hot tubs." A galvanized metal stock tank would stand up to the wind and presumably be leak-proof. But the cost — $500 for a 10-foot-diameter tank, plus the delivery fee — was prohibitive.
   
   But in considering the stock tank, we realized we could buy a pool that size (and much cheaper) and not have to wait for water to be delivered. The gallons required were less, enough that we felt comfortable using our well, as long as we filled the pool in stages.
   
   So we bought yet another pool. With the smaller size, it would fit on a concrete pad in our side yard. We knew it was level, it was close enough to an electrical outlet that we wouldn't have to use an extension cord for the pump (which is discouraged), and it would offer more privacy and protection from the wind.
   
   So we set it up and began to fill it. After a half-foot of water or so, it was clear there was a leak. We tried various methods of trying to find the leak, including using food coloring in the water, but nothing worked. So we began draining the water, though it at least wasn't wasted; we were able to divert it to our cottonwoods, some of which are dying thanks to the drought. And before the pool was completely empty, we spotted a tiny rip responsible for the leak. We patched it and started filling the pool again.
   
   Again, it was in stages. And when I went out a couple of days later to complete the last stage — another 6 inches and it would be full — disaster had struck again. Water was spurting out of three tiny holes on one side of the pool.
   
   I realized pretty quickly who or what was responsible. The dogs had just been out — one a Boston terrier with very sharp claws. Gremlin had obviously stood up on the side of the pool and punctured it, a danger we hadn't thought of when thinking the side yard was a great location.
   
   I rushed to the Falcon Walmart in search of a solution and came back with a couple of as-seen-on-TV products. One was Flex Seal — “liquid rubber in a can” — but it wasn't going to work because it is supposed to be applied to a dry surface. The other, Flex Tape, from the same company, is a "super strong, rubberized, waterproof tape that can patch, bond, seal and repair virtually anything!" Most importantly, the instructions said it could be applied "hot or cold, wet or dry … even underwater." So I applied the tape on the inside and outside of the pool and slowed the leak to a seep. By the next morning, even the seepage had stopped.
   
   So the pool is finally ready, though I had to set up a small fence around it to keep the dogs away. I was sure at times that our plan to beat the heat had us beat, but that cool oasis now beckons.
  
The Radfords really wanted this pool - and they went through plenty to get it. Persistence finally paid off. Photo by Bill Radford
 
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