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?

Blessings,

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

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24 thoughts on “WATER!! We Dug a Well!

  1. So glad you have water now! I can’t imagine trying to dig this yourself. We have one but we have to go pretty deep due to the natural caves in our area and we are high on a ridgetop. We’re about 350 ft deep into the Roubidoux aquifer, great water but we could not hand pump.

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  2. CONGRATULATIONS!

    We still have this on the back burner. I told my husband I didn’t think it would be all that difficult to do, just labor intensive. I know my uncle and grandfather both dug wells. After reading your story (btw, I love your site!) I’m not so sure!

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    • I know from reading others’ stories that it is not this difficult everywhere. In fact we know someone who has done quite a few irrigation wells this way 25-35 miles from here and has not run into some of the things we did. We are on high ground for Florida, so maybe that makes a difference. Who knows! But I would not hesitate to try it if you know you can reach water in your area.

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  3. I remember living in the country as a girl and having water from our own well. No other water tasted as good as “well water”. For a while after I married and moved to a small town that had “city water”, I would crave a glass of water from my parents’ home and would get my husband to drive forty-five minutes just so I could get some water. LOL. I hope you enjoy your well for many years to come. God bless.

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  4. I am so glad to see you succeeded in digging your well. I would love to do that here. I doubt I would need to go quite so deep in NW FL. Your blog is great!

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    • Yes Nancy, we are in the process of getting it tested. I’m sure hoping to find good results. Meanwhile we always run drinking water through our Berkey filter anyway, which is supposed to be safe to use with murky water from a ditch. But we want to irrigate our plants and trees with good water too, when our rain water storage runs out.

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  5. I’ll be so interested in hearing about the water testing. I didn’t realize that you could drink the water at 30 feet. I am very interested because we’re planning on digging a well too (we live in Manatee county) but were told that we needed to go down 150 feet for drinking water. Your post came at just the right time for us! Thank you for sharing.

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  6. I have been thinking about a well too lately, but gave up hope of that when I found out that you have to dig 300 feet minimum around here to get into the aquifer. You and Silver Oak never cease to amaze me with your creativity and stamina. I get tired just reading your posts sometimes. Thank you for being such an inspiration. Have a blessed week.

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  7. Wow! So glad you persisted and were able to get water. We have 3 wells on our property here in Ohio. They were already here and only one was used for drinking, bathing, etc. A well by our barn gives us water for gardening. the other we pumped once for fun and was it black. It could be used for watering I imagine. All 3 of these are about 35-37 ft. deep. We have very HARD water and it’s rusty. You go deep here and it’s black sulphur so I’d rather have rust. But it does ruin white clothes if you aren’t careful. Even gray can get very dingy so they become work clothes after awhile. So glad we didn’t have to dig them. Congratulations on getting your very own water. Really enjoy your posts.

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    • Thanks, Deb. It sounds like you have good back-up sources for water in case something would happen to one well. We plan to do two more as well, but for now it’s great with one! Hopefully we have learned enough that the next two will be easier than the first.

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