Note to readers. Our summer home in Watervliet, Michigan, has a water pump that resembles a pig – complete with four legs, a head with a snout, and a tail.

Since the cottage is not insulated against freezing, each fall the pump has to be disconnected, and the water lines drained, to prevent the lines from freezing and bursting during the winter. Each spring, the pump has to re-installed. This is a report is typical of the yearly chore.

This task typically starts immediately upon completion of a three hour drive from Chicago. There is a sense of urgency to getting the pig up and working since without it, there isn't a ready source of clean water.

To keep things interesting, the task is done in the early spring, so it's generally not the warmest day of the year. And, as with most plumbing, The Pig set up under the deck where there isn't enough room to stand.

Okay, we were up at the cottage at the beginning of May. And Jeremy and I participated in the traditional "Opening Up The Cottage" Event. "Pig Wrasslin"
Tag Team style this year, as there were two of us. Normally it's just "mano-a-mano" (or "mano-a-porkie" in this case).
Two grown men.
One green aluminum pig.

The first round went to the pig.
Weighing in at about 75 pounds.
Sleek, John Deere Green, aluminum, and as slippery to tame as a greased pig.
Got the pig hooked up. Turned it loose.
And, after a half hour of "priming" (fill up / turn on / turn off / fill up / repeat) we finally got water up from the well into the water lines.
Drip, drip,drip went the water from the filter into the dirt below, turning the arena into a mud puddle.
Score one for the pig.

The bell rang, and we returned to our corners. (Well, to the local Ace Hardware Store). Came back with a filter gasket.
Round Two begins.
Hook it up.
Turned the pig loose.
Prime, prime, prime and prime again.
Water back from the well to the lines again.
No leak at the filter.
But, also no water to the sinks. Can't get put enough pressure on the pig. Pressure's on us.
Mud too.
Bell rings.
Two to zip for the pig.

Another trip to Ace.
Pig has a bladder. (Why would a metallic pig need a bladder??)
Adjust pig's bladder through it's little tail (why does a metallic pig have a tail?)
Round three.
Let pig loose.
Prime, prime, prime, and prime again.
Filter doesn't leak.
Sink has water flowing from it.
Pressure builds on pig.
Pig turns off went it's full.
Hooray again!
Pig looses pressure.
Pig empties out completely.
Water flows back down to well.
Prim, prime, prime, prime. Still no water to the sinks.
Round three goes to the pig.
Pig 3; Humans: 0.

Jeremy spots a WEAPON!!!
A muddy, nondescript 1"x 6" board, about 18 inches long, rotten at one end.
"Hey, let's use a stick, Jer says.
"This looks like a stick we used last year."
"No Jer,' I reply, sagely, "beating the pig will only make us feel better. It won't hurt the pig or fix the problem."
But he insists. We’re down three to nothing, so cheating seems fair. (Finding "the stick" was actually like finding the Holy Grail. It was the KEY to getting the pig working properly. But, over the winter, our minds had forgotten......)
Round four begins.
He sticks the stick (groan!) perpendicular to the ground, under the pig's snout.
Raises the pig’s nose about 2 inches.
We may be on muddy ground, but at least The Pig is now on "level" ground.
Water doesn’t drain back down to the well.
Turn the pig loose.
Prime, prime, prime, and prime again..
Filter doesn't leak. Hooray!
Sinks have water.
Pig turns off and on (and off and on and off and on) as needed.
(Well, the pig won on points, but we won the event.)
In the traditional award ceremony, we solemnly placed the magnetic cottage key holder where the pig's testicles would be, feeling smug with ourselves.
Pig wrasslin' after all, is an art, not a science.

Went to take our victory showers.
No hot water.
Remembered that we had to turn down the hot water temperature to "tepid" last year because the shower pipes are hooked up wrong.
Hot and cold water doesn't mix.
Only hot water hooked up, at varying pressures.
“Showeree” could either choose to risk scolding at unmixed hot water temps (“boiling” the dirt away).
Or we could turn hot water tank temperatures down to "almost cold".
No one wanted to be boiled.
But the only way to actually fix the shower would be to free the pig.
So, after cold water showers, we turn off the pig.
Next time up, we disconnect it and fix the shower.

Pig won after all.