We’ll be driving down the Interstate at 70 per when Larry will say See him? He has spotted a coyote far off in a coyote-colored field of grain, or a tufted owl deep in the forest, or a field mouse grooming his whiskers — things no other mortal will notice, at least certainly not I. Where? I always say and he’ll say, Oh, sorry, too late.
Which is why it’s more than strange that this huge fir tree went unnoticed by either of us. Joe called on his cell Monday to say that he’d found the perfect drill placement for the new well on our property. “Right by the big fir tree,” he told Larry.
“What fir tree? There aren’t any fir trees by the oaks,” Larry said. “Didn’t think there were any fir trees down there at all.”
“City people,” Joe must be thinking. “Don’t know a fir from a rosebush.”
A form of oak-blindness, I think.
So this is Joe, and drilling began yesterday.
Larry, seated at the base of the huge fir tree, supervising the procedure.
We returned today to the drill site, and I’m sorry to report that the first attempt has not been a success. Joe estimates that his hole will only be able to produce 5 gallons per minute, which is threshold enough water to run a home in which people want to take showers and do laundry, for example. He has drilled down 100 feet and found a small seam of gravel sandwiched between layers of blue clay, but is convinced that he can do no better here by the huge fir tree. An estimate. He won’t know until he lowers a pump into the hole and gives it a try.
So now what? We had decided to drill a new well after being advised that it would be too difficult and expensive to pump water all the way from the existing well at the old house. (Which, by the way, offers 16 gallons per minute.) Different story today, as Cathy, Joe’s wife and assistant, has been regaling me with stories of other wells they’ve dug this summer. One such affair has the home across the highway and a half mile up the Coburg Hills away from the well. Do we believe this? Maybe not, but surely then, we could pump water from Well A to Homesite B. Oh, it’s about the money? Ah, got it.
Yet we have now altered the land. This is our first tangible entry into a beautiful landscape on which early people burned the grasslands, which is said to harbor an elk herd, deer and a threatened woodpecker. We have to take this seriously. Are we sure our presence here will be a positive intrusion?
At a pig-roast this past Saturday (yep, and it was delicious) I was interrogated by a friend who said she just wanted to know one thing about this adventure. “Why?” she asked. I gave her my stock answer, but the real answer is more layered. We want to care for this gorgeous land, and we want to do something important and meaningful with whatever time we have left, and we just simply love being outside, walking, discovering. We want to know things. I asked Joe if the aquifer beneath us has a name and he does not know, but I want to find out.
In the meantime, here are the berries which have homesteaded on the Hundred Acres, from which I’ve already made more jelly than we could eat in a year. But how can I leave them all for the birds, great flocks of which are certainly enjoying their share. Believe me, there are enough for the entirety of Benton County and well beyond. Come on down!