WATER!! We Dug a Well!

Water gushes out!

After weeks of trying to drill a well on our little off-grid homestead we finally hit water this evening (Saturday)!  What a triumph!  It was one of the most patience-building and perseverance-requiring jobs we have ever done!  I still can’t quite believe it!

We had purchased a Brady kit from Home Depot that explained how to use 2” PVC pipe to drill a 25-30 foot well.   One helpful website explained how to make teeth at the end of a pipe and use water pressure with water hoses connected to the top.  The drilling is done by rotating the pipe back and forth, slowly working into the ground while the water washes the cuttings back up to the surface.  After enough pipe is down, your 1¼” well point and pipe are dropped into it and the drilling pipe pulled up.  Sound easy enough?  (Groan.)

All of the water we used to dig the well was hauled in, of course. Silver Oak made many trips to the neighbor’s house to refill our barrels. One hose ran water from our tanks on the roof, and the other from the water barrels on the truck.

The Brady kit

The auger drilled through tree roots

We started several weeks ago with high hopes, and after spending one day laboring for hours to grind through the hard pan about 12 feet below the surface, we had to start over because a pipe got disconnected and stuck about eight feet down.  That was only the beginning of many discouragements.

The first ten feet were easy

It took 4 minutes to get it in

The next week we rented a machine invented by an Amish man that eliminated some of the exhausting manual labor.  This worked great till we hit the hard pan which was several feet thick.  One time we pulled up the pipe and found the teeth at the end completely worn flat. 

Silver Oak made a handle to clamp onto the pipe to grip it easier

No teeth left

New teeth cut

After cutting new teeth things went faster, but below the hard pan was a layer of mush that kept caving in, making the pipe stick.  The water would quit washing up.  Instead it built up pressure inside the pipe, and things started popping apart if we didn’t raise the pipe quickly.  Try lifting a 30 or 40 foot pipe filled with water straight up into the air.  It leaned precariously with the weight of the water, threatening to break or burst.

Going at it some more

Using the machine

Nothing was going like the instructions said.  Finally we set up scaffolding above the hole and worked it by hand again.  That went better, but we still kept reaching that sticky layer and when we ran out of water we would have to start over and work our way back through it.

Today (Saturday) we were at it again.  The pipe would get full of water and refuse to wash, forcing us to raise it again.  We would go down 25-30 feet, get it all loosened up, and then need to add more pipe.  In the time it took to grab the PVC glue and slap on a connector and another length of pipe, the hole would close in making it impossible to progress.  If we raised the pipe to wash water back up, the additional length filled with such pressure made things start flying apart.

Several times Silver Oak declared in desperation that he just didn’t know what else to do.  It looked increasingly hopeless.  We would cut the pipe just to save the operation, gradually add length as we worked back down, and it would cave in again.  Nothing worked.  It reminded us of our “impossible” adoption from Kazakhstan two years ago.

We made it to 30 feet, and since the water was no longer washing back up we dropped the well point to see if it worked.  When we raised the drilling pipe the clay caved in again and the well tip could only go down about 23 feet.  We pounded on the top gently to drive it deeper and it wouldn’t budge, but we saw water coming up the well pipe!  We quickly hooked up the pump and got a tiny trickle of water for a minute or two.  Blah!  The well tip had gotten completely stuck and nothing more was coming.  But the worst part came when we tried to pull it back up.  We had twisted the pipe back and forth, causing the threads to loosen where the pipe was fastened to the tip, and when we finally got the pipe back up it left the well tip at the bottom of the well!

This looked like the end.  We’d lost our tip, and we’d lost our well as the stuck tip would interfere with any further action.  Despair.  Hopelessness.  Discouragement.  We were beginning to think we would be working on this the rest of our lives.  We’d been praying already, so we prayed more.  Silver Oak decided we must at least try to regain that well tip.  We lowered the drilling pipe back down carefully, washing with water as it went.  He cut the top off and quickly lowered the well pipe into it.  He felt a little bump when the well pipe reached the stuck tip, then he jiggled it a bit, and turned.  Unbelievably he screwed the pipe right back into that tip, and the water had washed enough that it loosened it so we pulled it back up!  Amazing!  Thank you Lord!

The well pipe that disconnected but re-attached

I’m sure this is boring you to death by now, if you have read this far.  The next time we got the drilling pipe down about 30 feet, we did some things differently.  Again we connected the pump, primed it, and got nothing but a little drizzle of water.  We fiddled around to no avail.  After 7pm the children wondered if we were going to stop soon for dinner.  This was getting very old, and we were getting nowhere. 

Past exhaustion, we saw our work was in vain.  I looked at that lousy well and informed Silver Oak, “We’ve drilled a 30 foot hole, and just can’t get it.  It’s time we hire someone who can do it right.”  At that moment the pump gulped, and to our astonishment water burst forth! It gushed a strong steady stream out of the pipe on the pump, forming a pool in our front yard!  Water was coming OUT OF OUR WELL!!!

Words cannot describe our elation.  We hollered and shouted!  The children gathered in amazement.  Later we recalled my words of gloom and doom.  What if we had turned off the pump three seconds before the water appeared?

Several of the children were concerned about all the water being wasted on the ground. Ha!

Farmer Boy digs his own well

Tonight, for the first time since we moved to this new homestead six months ago, the water tanks on the roof were filled to overflowing from our own well!  And they filled fast!  Isn’t God good?


The Arrival of Buttercup

Linked w/Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives Thursday, My Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday