It's that time again.
Hot weather is coming. My grass is already drying out. Yuck.
Today, Dad and I tackled one of the most depressing tasks of spring: turning on the sprinkler system. Back in the manual days, this was no big deal. It meant wrestling the huge sprinkler key onto the tiny lever some 10 feet down a hole and turning the key.
Nowadays, however, with the "improvements" of an automated system, it means that some new electrical problem will occur every year. Usually, one of the stupid little valves will refuse to shut off. Last year, the control box gave up the ghost and had to be replaced.
And this year? The Return of the Rat.
In the autumn of 2011, as I was opening the valves to winterize the sprinkling system, I found a rat in the backyard valve-cover box. He'd made a nest of dead leaves and acorns and looked majorly pissed off at me when I ripped the roof (lid) suddenly off his home. In fact, I had to poke him with the screwdriver to get him to leave. I spent 20 minutes with a bandana over my face and leather gloves on, digging out his nest. I then put DeCon out everywhere and hoped Mr. Rat would eat it and crawl under some bush and die.
I was very pleased last autumn to find the sprinkler box empty. But that little bugger fooled me and moved in AFTER I'd shut everything down.
So today, while there was no rat in the box, there was a nest. AND the little vermin had chewed through a wire and gnawed off one of the plastic screws, making it so we couldn't shut off that valve. This means, of course, that the whole system must be shut down in order to keep it from running continually. Groan.
Oh, and it also meant another 20 minutes with a bandana and gloves, digging out a nest. Gross.
But this is not all.
No, as I was moving the large sprinkler key out of the corner of the garage, I accidentally hooked the handle against a manual edger hanging on the wall, and the tool came crashing down onto my arm. Since an edger has "teeth," I was "bitten" on the right forearm. Due to the triangular shape of the "teeth," it truly looks like something with fangs has chomped into me. In fact, Dad's first thought when I showed him was that the rat had bitten me (although the marks are an inch apart, so that would've been ONE BIG rat).
So, the day is now over. My sprinklers do not yet work (no surprises there; it's never easy), as we have to replace parts and wires. I have extra laundry to do, washing all the clothes and towels from the rat nest clean up. I had to buy new garden gloves (too risky to keep the old ones after that). I may have been exposed to hanta virus and tetanus. And, my arm looks like I've been spending some time with my own half-vampire creation, Eric.
This is why I dread the yearly job of readying the sprinkler system for summer.