How to Winterize your Outdoor Water Systems

The freezing point of water is 0℃ or 32℉. It is the point at which liquid H2O turns to a solid which we then call ice. Water expands as it turns into ice, therefore can cause damage to pipes and other items which are exposed to freezing temperatures. Depending on your local winter temperature, you may need to consider winterizing your outdoor irrigation before freezing temperature approaches.

Lets examine the winterizing procedure of each component of your outdoor irrigation system, starting with the timers.

The Link-Tap system and the Netro system are both wi-fi connected smart timers that are virtually identical in function and composition and so the winterization process is the same.

To winterize your water timer, first power off the device and turn off the faucet, remove the irrigation pipe or hose from the timer, then remove the timer from the faucet. Clean any debris on the gasket if necessary. Gently shake the device to remove the water inside. Lastly, store the water timer indoors to avoid freezing temperatures that may damage the device. In addition, if the water timer will not be used for over 5 months, it is best to remove the batteries to prevent battery leakage from damaging the timer.

Please note that there is no need to unplug the flow meter connector from the main unit or to delete all watering schedules from your user account when winterizing your water timer.

All the watering schedules and configurations have been saved in the cloud server. When next spring comes, you just need to log into the app, reconnect your hose timer to the faucet, then your system is ready to go

LinkTap Pty., Ltd., Australia, Frequently Asked Questions

Drip tubing and emitters are almost always safe from damage due to freezing temperatures. The tubing is buried underground and also meant to drain after each watering cycle so it is okay to leave it all in place. Some systems have a blowout valve at the far end of the tube and if so, you can leave this valve open during freezing temperatures for extra assurance.

Outdoor faucets also called hose bibbs which are connected to the main plumbing can be protected by several different methods. Scientifically speaking, running water will freeze at a lower temperature than still water and so you can let a faucet drip overnight to prevent freezing. Of course here in the desert we really don’t like to let water just run out with no specific purpose so adding insulation is preferable. Pipe insulation sold specifically for this task is available at the hardware stores but you can also use old t-shirts, towels or blankets. Exposed outdoor pipes can also be wrapped with electrified heating wrap.

Hoses should be disconnected from faucets, rolled up to be cleared of water and stored in a protected area.

Water tanks generally do not freeze solid in our mild winters although the single-digit freeze we had in 2011 put this statement to the test. It is the valves on the water tanks which are susceptible to freezing. This is an important thing to protect as a break in a valve can empty an entire tank. For the greatest protection, close any valves and disconnect any hoses then insulate your valves with old towels, blankets or even an old cooler. PVC valves and associated pvc plumbing are most susceptible to freeze so be extra vigilant in protecting those components.

An insulated valve cover made from an old cooler

We typically get our average first freeze of the season mid-November. This year we a right on time for that scheduling. In true Texas weather fashion we could have highs back into the eighties next week and some plants may want water again. It is up to you to determine whether to go back through the process of un-winterizing your outdoor water components when the heat rises again. Mid-March is the average last frost and it is the time we can assume that we are finally in the clear again as far as freezing temperatures go. The four months of “could be winter” in between are always up to individual preference and determination. It’s one of those things that keeps Terlingua living exciting.

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LinkTap Pty., Ltd., Australia, Frequently Asked Questions, 2015-2022,!/, All Rights Reserved

Southbound Sandhill Cranes

I love this game! It is usually sometime around Thanksgiving that I hear the distant sound of the honks. Stop.
What is that noise?
Look in the sky, they can be difficult to spot against the blue.
An unmistakable V-shaped formation. It is the Sandhill Cranes.
Consider the date, November 5th. Is that early this year and does that mean a cold winter?

Getting in the Fall Spirit

This time of year we are all well aware that the season is changing. The days are getting shorter, the North wind is pushing it’s way into town with a coolness not felt for months, and there is a stream of cars driving South on highway 118 as the transient souls who live out the summer months in far away Northern climes return to re-claim their own patch of the dirt lot. It is fall in Terlingua and the chili cook-off posters are up in the store windows. (There are two chili cook-offs, both claiming to be the original, one and only, international championship….a story I need not delve into, you can google it and come up with a few different variations as to why two?) Regardless, the chili cook-offs (along with Shelby Mustangs) are what put the modern version of Terlingua on the map and hence, one of the reasons each and every one of those transient souls including myself and possibly your own self too eventually made it down to claim our own patch of the dirt lot. These facts are Terlingua ancestry, just as much as cinnabar mining and State or National Parks.

What autumn in Terlingua is certainly not well known for is leaf-peeping, the term for loading up the car and taking the scenic route in order to admire the natural display of color from the leaves of trees. There are some very valid reasons for this, they are:

  1. The chili cook-offs invite TX DPS to patrol the roads vehemently and we locals aren’t always on our best behavior when it comes to complying with all known vehicle rules and regulations
  2. Lol, not many trees

We are not completely out of luck though because we do have some decidedly terrific things working in our favor if we wanted to do some autumn leaf-peeping, they are:

  1. Scenic drives, some of the best in the country and an almost endless amount of miles to choose from.
  2. Trees in specific places
  3. Other plants that are not trees that also have leaves or other displays of fall color
    ocotillo with leaves
    Ocotillos with leaves will create fall color, Photo by Angela Linda

    Where to drive and what to see

    When I lived in North Carolina as a younger adult, leaf-peeping season was so popular that the traffic on the Blue Ridge Parkway would fill the roads until it was almost not enjoyable to participate. Luckily I knew how to enjoy the season by getting off the main drag and onto the backroads. Here we don’t have this headache to worry about as the traffic even on a busy day is never too bad (yet!) so stick with the most popular routes in the State or National Parks.

    Take the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive down to Cottonwood campground and go hug a tree, a big cottonwood that will drop yellow leaves on you. Maybe you should bring a rake and try to make a pile or at the very least there should be enough leaves to lie down and make a leaf angel.

    close up photo of yellow leaves
    Aspen leaves, photo by Ruslan Sikunov on

    If you plan to drive around from Thursday to Saturday of the first weekend of November make sure you have all of your i’s dotted and t’s crossed on your vehicle to (hopefully) avoid getting pulled over by law enforcement. License plate lights out is a very common reason for citation and absolutely do not drive if you have been drinking alcohol.

    When you are finished lying around under the giants continue on down to the mouth of Santa Elena Canyon and see what the large stands of Coyote Willow have to offer. Even if your timing is off, spending an afternoon in the quiet shade of Santa Elena Canyon is never a disappointing affair. The Basin road is also perfect for an afternoon toodaloo and oh yeah there are lots of trees up there. If you want to get up close and personal with the slick hues of the Quaking Aspen, Madrone or Bigtooth Maples you will need to hike up one of the trails to the top, they are steep, rocky and not for strolling so prepare appropriately for a big hike ahead of time. However if leisure is more your style you can walk the very short and very sidewalked Window View trail to admire the bowl of fruity pebbles that is autumn in the Chisos Basin, absolutely no judgement from me for not being a bad-ass rim hiker.

    Chisos fall colors, photo by Joe Blowe

    Headed in the other direction, if you drive across the Terlingua Creek bridge then continue on FM 170 along the River Road to Presidio you can spot some large cottonwood and willow trees in Terlingua Creek and at Panther Canyon without the need to get out of your car. The River Road is also a good bet for thick stands of ocotillo and leatherstem which provide their own miniature display of fall leaf-peeping but you may want to walk around to enjoy the color close up.

    Ocotillo leaves turning red, photo by Brad Sutton/NPS

    What is it all for?

    We will not be putting leaf-peeping on the list as one of Brewster County’s top attractions but who cares, not everything you enjoy has to be the best you’ve ever had. Sometimes we need to stop and take a step back to remember why we are here on the Earth and to enjoy the small little pleasures and fall in Big Bend is certainly one of them. I am sure there is a good and valid reason you spend your time here reader and I emplore you to enjoy yourself. If taking a scenic drive and leaf-peeping is valuable to you and you are enjoying your time here on the planet then it is valuable to us all.


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    3 Facebook groups you should join

    If you aren’t already a member of Facebook just skip this article, there’s no need to join just for these groups. I will admit fully that I have tried to leave Facebook for good more than three times. Just a few months ago I had a message pop up and an old friend was ranting in a group message from 10 years ago. I tried then and there to delete all of my messages so I would not have the ghosts of the past come back to greet me anymore but I soon discovered that there was no feature for deleting every message, it had to be done one by one. Well since I was so determined I did embark on this task. The group message from 10 years ago was not something that I wanted to deal with again. I had to highlight each message, select delete and then confirm. Highlight-select-confirm. Highlight-select-confirm. Highlight-select-confirm. Highlight-select-confirm. I dedicated close to an hour of this repetitive operation before I gave up and deleted my entire profile. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    “I did it!” I declared in the kitchen later, “I deleted Facebook!” I was elated to be free, finally. But if there is one thing you learn when you delete a social media app it’s the things you miss out on that were truly valuable and served to actually enhance your life. It’s true, I was missing out and these feelings were not FOMO from the night life in town, it was about not being able to interact in my top three favorite groups that consequently have to do with the natural world.

    1. Terlingua Weather.

    Yes, there is a period at the end of Terlingua Weather. and your little quirks are why I love you so much TW.

    You know when you join a group that has Terlingua in the title and seems like the location should be the main focus of the whole group but a bunch of people want to post regularly about things happening in Alpine? Yeah I find that annoying too and Terlingua Weather is not that group. It is strictly about the weather in Terlingua!

    You know when you join a local group that has something in the name like Weather and you feel like it should be the main focus of the group but some people regularly post memes about stuff like dogs and happy hour. Yeah, I find that annoying too and Terlingua Weather is not that group either, in fact memes are extremely rare. This is a group with absolutely no drama, it’s just local people talking about the weather, and it’s awesome. You should join!

    A donkey looks over his shoulder in a snow scene
    I totally shared this pic in Terlingua Weather.

    2. West Texas Vegetable Gardeners

    I have been a member of West Texas Vegetable Gardeners for several years and at first it was real slow going. There were a few posts here and there and more people looking for answers than had answers. Since the pandemic hit it really allowed people to examine their lives and get back to the Earth. It was a gardening revolution and the little West Texas Vegetable Gardeners group has now grown to over 5 thousand members.

    This group was originally started by some folks in Midland and you will still get daily conversation from people in that area but it’s truly West Texas in that there are regular people posting from Lubbock to Terlingua. The moderators have done an excellent job of keeping the group focused on growing vegetables in the harsh conditions of West Texas, and no more than that. No sales or commercial advertising are allowed, it is just neighbors helping neighbors so it is truly an organically grown. Can we ask for anything more than a group that stays true to their roots and is not overrun with spam? I think not.

    Woman in her garden holding a basket of vegetables
    This is what it’s like. Pictures of people in their garden with baskets of vegetables that they grew and harvested, but in West Texas!

    3. West Texas Xeriscape Gardeners

    Xeriscape is a term you should get familiar with if you aren’t already. Merriam-Webster defines the term xeriscape as “a landscaping method developed especially for arid and semiarid climates that utilizes water-conserving techniques such as the use of drought-tolerant plants, mulch, and efficient irrigation.” By that definition alone it makes sense for us to design our landscapes with xeriscape in mind. I also like to point out that xeriscape focuses mainly on plants which are native to the region. I am a huge fan of native plants so I am also a huge fan of this group. West Texas Xeriscape Gardeners is an incredible resource for learning about the native plants that will survive and thrive in our landscapes.

    Echinopsis plants at the Cactus Gardens, Ashington, Sussex
    Echinopsis plants at the Cactus Gardens, Ashington, Sussex by Roger Kidd is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

    Many people consider xeriscape to be only cactus and stones like the preceding image but the world of xeriscape and native plants contains a plethora of soft flowering plants. Spending some time exploring West Texas Xeriscape Gardeners will introduce you to many of those plants, like these blackfoot daisies.

    blackfoot daisy and bluebonnets


    If you are not a member of Facebook I still do not recommend you join just to become members of these really great groups. But if you already have an account and have just been avoiding social media for a while, this might inspire you to take another look at your relationship with the platform. If used for specific purposes that are truly valuable and serve to actually enhance your life, like local weather and gardens, well then that’s fine and dandy.

    Excuse the mess

    I am working on a complete overhaul of this site because things were getting a little messy and it was hard to clean up. I will have all of the information back up within a few days so check back here soon. I’m really excited to be unveiling the pages on plants with the new launch too! Then after we are organized again, there will be a lot of NEW content to explore.