“When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water.” – Benjamin Franklin
We bought our homestead knowing there was an issue with the water supply, yet fully confident, from past experiences, it would be an easy fix; and initially, it was.
After replacing the pump and various other pumphouse parts, water was restored. Sure, it smelled metallic’y, leaving laundry a bit dingy, and would occasionally spit and sputter, filling the faucet screens with an ungodly amount of sediment – at least we had water to bathe and wash laundry and dishes with.
Drinkable water was another issue; it was decided it would be in our best interest not to drink the water coming from our faucets, at least until we could find the, so far, elusive wellhead and sort everything out.
“Water links us to our neighbor in a way more profound and complex than any other.” John Thorson
Several weeks ago, a neighbor stopped by and told us where the previous, previous owner told him the wellhead was. After a cool “water divination” trick and a lot of digging, the joke appeared to be on us, as the wellhead never revealed itself. We soon had to move on to another pressing project – Danger Trees.
Now, there is no more putting it off. Over the past several weeks, the sputter became a stutter, forcing us to make a concerted effort to find the aforementioned elusive wellhead.
After removing the back deck (it’s ok – it’s rotting and needs to be replaced anyway) and armed with a potential clue in the form of a circa 1974 diagram the county had on file, indicating where the wellhead is – which by the way, was nowhere near the location the neighbor gave us – digging began, again with no success.
Next, we (let me clarify, when I say “we”, I mean Mr. Misty and his best friend visiting from out of state) borrowed a backhoe from another neighbor, and began digging, this time where the diagram directed and guess what we found?!
Nothing… NOTHING! We found nothing.
Rather than waste any more time in the rain – yes, by then, it had started to rain – “we” started digging from the pump house until “we” found the line and followed it. The line is surprisingly deep, 4-5 feet underground.
“An over-indulgence of anything, even something as pure as water, can intoxicate.” Criss Jami, Venus in Arms
At some point, we could hear “glug, glug, glug” from a broken pipe that was still a foot underground and once much of the pressure from the dirt and clay was removed, we lost all water pressure in the house and the newly dug trench began to quickly fill with well-water, confirming that our issues are not related to a dry well, but rather with breaks in very old lines.
The guys were able to perform a quick patch, restoring water to the house. It’s still not suitable for drinking but we are making progress.
As we follow the pipe, it’s looking as if it’s indeed in the area the neighbor suggested and may have been marked by a Cottonwood tree that we recently had removed. We’ve suspected, for some time, that that tree was the “root” of many of our water problems as the roots are humongous, and should the wellhead be located under the stump, it’s going to be a challenge getting to it.
Through this all, I’ve been cheerleader, cajoler, cook and baker and general moral keeper upper.
I think it’s a role that I will be asked to take on many more times in the weeks to come as we continue our countless homestead restoration challenges…er…projects.
What has been your greatest homesteading challenge to overcome?
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