At the turn of the spring, my wife put a pretty big item on my honey-do list: a stock tank pool in the corner of the yard.

A stock tank is a large, round water trough made of galvanized steel. They are also quite easy, so I was told, to convert into a small swimming pool. My wife, a meticulous researcher, showed me a few well-produced videos that made the project seem doable in a weekend.

We were lucky enough to score the last 8-foot tank from Tractor Supply. As employees helped my father-in-law strap it down in the back of his truck, they were obviously skeptical. We got it to the house and into the backyard, no problem.

That was the only easy part.

Next, we leveled the ground where the pool would sit. The stock tank tutorial videos made it seem as if this task would only take an hour or two, but our backyard is a mess and it ended up taking two more weekends and several cussing fits.

Apparently, we’re not the only ones hip to the stock tank pool trend. The type of pump and filter we needed was sold out everywhere. My wife found one on Amazon, but it turned out to be a scam. We got our money back quickly but, still without a pump, I was forced to try my luck on the Facebook Marketplace.

After a few dead ends, I found someone selling the pump we needed – in Montgomery. They could only meet between 9 and 10 a.m. the next day, so I headed down early Saturday morning, humming “Sweet Home Alabama” in the dim morning. In the dingy parking lot of a Burger King, we made the handoff. In fact, the seller threw in a pool ladder and an extra pump for an inflatable hot tub, neither of which we have any use for.

Still, I returned home in triumph.

We only lacked the part that spits filtered water back into the pool. We decided to move forward anyway and clamp the hose to the lip of the pool for the time being.

At long last, we filled it up and donned our swimsuits. It was glorious, absolutely worth the work. I envisioned myself having a float before work in the mornings and after a full day of yard work, heck, anytime I wanted. I am a simple man with simple dreams.

The next day, our daughter went out to the pool to find it empty, the ground around it sopping wet. The hose returning filtered water into the pool had flopped out, somehow, and the pump had started running on its own. As it runs, the pump motor is cooled by the water it draws in. Running the pump with no water can burn out the motor for good.

To even imagine it was too much. Luckily, the pump was fine. We clamped the hose in a different way and filled it back up.

The next day, I came home for lunch to find one of the gaskets was leaking, and it took almost a whole lunch hour to fix it. Now, every few hours, either my wife or I will text the other, “Have you checked on the pool?”

No home projects are ever finished, it seems. Pray for my backyard neighbor, who must be wondering what in the world is always going on over the fence between us.

RILEY MANNING is a fiction writer, former religion reporter for the Daily Journal, and a copywriter at Mabus Agency. Readers can contact him at

Recommended for you

comments powered by Disqus