I think the fire ants are the worst they have ever been.

They ate my okra plants this year.

THEY ATE MY OKRA PLANTS.

I don’t mean they just ate my okra plants. They ate the first pods that came out, then in their impatience they ate every blossom as it bloomed, finally munching the leaves until nothing was left but the stalk. I think they would have eaten that if Silent Bob hadn’t pulled the stalks out of the ground and threw them in the compost pile.

They might be over there finishing them off.

They don’t even bother to make mounds in the garden. The entire thing is one big ant farm.

They like my friable garden dirt and the water they get on a regular basis.

Damn fire ants.

And then there was last Wednesday.

Mother and I had gone out to feed my chooks, hoping that when we checked the rain gauge it was going to show that it had at least had sprinkled on the pasture in the last few days.

Walking towards the back hydrant, dust blew up around the fallen pine needles. Not a drop in the gauge. The crispy grass crunched under my feet and I felt the first bite.  I crushed with malice the ant body whose mouth parts were dug into the skin on my big toe and it’s butt started stinging yet another site amid the tiny pustules from earlier in the week.

The second I turned the hydrant handle I knew something was wrong.

I watched as the water trickled out of the hose and then stopped.

Between the drought to two years ago and the well drying up last year, believe me, I know the value of water. I know keenly how devastating and trying it is to supply a farm with water when there isn’t any.  Dread churned in the pit of my stomach and self pity roared into my attitude. Surely the new well hadn’t gone dry, dug deep into an aquifer below an aquifer. Surely the not quite one year old 3 horsepower pump had gone out. Surely we weren’t with out water again.

My thoughts were bad. I had a dinner party that night. I didn’t have time for this.

And I couldn’t remember a dadblasted thing about well diagnostics when my brother had tinkered with the old well or the activities of the  four well companies that had come out and tinkered with the old well, or the three times the drillers had attempted to drill the new one.

Crap.

Crap, crap, crap, crap.

I checked the circuit breaker, turning it of and on, four times. One might reason that the electricity got stuck somewhere and just needed crazy, back and forth, back and forth action.

Yeah.

No.

I went out to the well and looked at it.

It looks like this.

Well

(Please notice the dead huge oak limbs scattered across the ground. That is what happens when you have a drought. The consequences last for years.)

Crap.

I vaguely remember water logged storage tanks.

I googled.

And then I followed the directions.

I knew enough to know that after when the needle on the pressure gauge registered zero that was a bad thing.

And I couldn’t hear anything running, no ticks, clicks or whirs.

I had two passing thoughts: to take the  pipe wrench (which is a totally cool tool under most circumstances and which I was lugging around with me since well diagnostics began) and randomly start smashing stuff or call the well company.

Silent Bob said he would text me the number.

My smart phone complained of too little storage.

Double crap.

The well guy answered after two rings. The glut of new well drillings having dissipated over the last two years, I think he was wishing he had some business.

“I don’t think the pump is turning on.” I said desperately into the phone ready to spill my guts and start crying or wailing.

“Yeah, I checked the breaker.” I answer into the phone, with ‘duh’ disguised on the end.

“Really? Ants?” I say, thinking surely not.

“The pressure switch?” I answer.

I hang up once we have agreed I will call him back should his instructions not work.

Next to the storage tank (that big light colored thing in the picture above) is this:

pumpcontrol

Which when you open, looks like this:

AntsonSwitch

It’s a very cool switch that I don’t have a clue how it works except that it is connected to how much water is in the tank and when water (measured in pressure not in cups) gets too low, it sends electricity to the pump 400 feet below and then when it gets to a certain top pressure, it stops sending current to the pump 400 feet below.

Off and on it goes, working like clock work. Unless, you have fire ants.

Apparently fire ants love the whole electrical thing going on in that little box.

Look closely.

AntsonSwitchClose2

That two little flat disks are called points and when those are touching, electricity is flowing, completing the circuit that I mentioned above. When ants congregate around all that copper and wiring and springs and points, they die and their dead ant bodies and all their crunchy body juices get stuck in between the points and the points can’t close and conduct electricity.

Makes you wonder about them. Entomologists think they are attracted to strong electrical fields.

Well pumps are veritable fire ant aphrodisiac, in a self annihilating sort of way.

Now you know. In case you have a well.

Damn electric-loving fire ants.