Saturday, July 28, 2012

Digging a Well

In the past, when I read and heard about people's trials and tribulations when putting in a well, I looked at them as just stories relating their anxiety and problems; for some reason, never cluing in that perhaps they were more a cautionary tail. Surely those were exceptions, rather than rule. That's why I was a bit stressed when I suddenly realized that this was truly an example of how there are no sure things in life. 

Our driveway contractor had quoted a sharp price for putting in our well, and after crunching the numbers, I gave him the go-ahead to do so. He was of the school of thought that put faith in witching for water, and suggested I have our property surveyed by someone before breaking ground. Myself, on the other hand, am no expert in the matter, but I'm still not convinced of its efficacy, and so proceeded to wander around with Grandpa, poking the ground with his tamping rod here and there to see what we could come up with. We eventually found one spot that was a real treat - close to where we wanted the cabin, but secluded by a few trees, with the tamping rod not finding any rocks, but coming up completely wet.

 

The big day arrived, and the weather reports called for rainfall warnings. My contractor called to say he wasn't going to show up unless things changed. Well, lucky for us, they did change! The clouds all blew over, and we only got a light mist that was gone by lunch. We heard the trucks shortly afterwards, and knew he had arrived.

 

Gosh it was exciting to see him hauling in the tiles through the bush, on our meagre trails with his big machine. He had brought us the larger, four foot diametre tiles, which were just on the edge of the ability of his loader to lift safely. Watching him thread his way through the bush with that huge pendulum swinging reminded me of my own trials on my little Yanmar. At least he was safely tucked into his cab, and had years of experience behind him. Still, my heart skipped whenever he hit a hidden stump or rock, and I was especially intent when he actually had to use his backhoe as a counterweight to get around a tricky spot on the slopes.

 

He looked at our chosen location with great skepticism, which was really evidenced on his face when he learned that I hadn't had it witched. He once again pointed down to the old well, over 100 feet away, as being his first choice, but it was my dime, so he proceeded to dig.

 

What a heart-wrenching sound when he crunched into bedrock only a few feet down. He tried in another spot close by, with the same results, and by that point, I realized how we could easily be at it all day with little to show for it, so I agreed that we could take a crack at the old well location and see what we could find there.

 

It wasn't much better, truth be told, as he hit the bedrock only a few feet down, but at least it was wet and had open water there. We ended up digging out the old well entirely, but the new one really only needed a single tile. Instead, we lifted the lid off, and placed a second tile on, and then the lid. I'm assured that this will help keep more groundwater out of the well, and also to put more insulation around it to prevent it freezing up in winter.

 

His truck was unable to navigate on the roads/trails we had put in ourselves, so he dumped his load of sand on our driveway, and had used this to pack around the tiles to level and install them. Much sand had accumulated on the sides of our driveway during his work, and so after he finished and left, I proceeded to haul about four trailers full to the well and shovel them around it by hand. This mounded up the well quite nicely.

 

We've spent the past couple of days pumping out the well with Grandpa's sump pump and my generator. Each time it seems to run much cleaner than the last. We guesstimate that it holds about 75-80 gallons of water, and it takes about 8 hours to recharge after pumping. It remains to be seen how this holds up in January and February, the hardest time for wells...

 

I plan on installing a storage tank closer to where we will be living, and pumping water into it as needed, so perhaps that buffer will work for us. For now, we're just happy to clean it up and know that this is one less thing we have to think about.

 

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