WITCHIN’

We’ll start today with some statistics: One adult Black Angus female will drink 2 gallons per hundred pounds of weight per day. Double that amount if lactating.

One well producing 5 gallons per minute will require 8 hours of pumping to provide daily water to 30 lactating cows. We have such a well, those cows, plus 30 some calves and two adult bulls. See where I’m going with this?

Right. We came up dry last Thursday and began to go into panic mode. I began to go there; Larry, of course, was pragmatic. The well would recover. Life would go on.

But in the morning, when the well had not recovered, we put in the call to Ryan. Cows are gonna get thirsty, (and you should hear those cows when they’re unhappy.) Ryan, as always, was on it. The solar pump idea wasn’t working, but he has two tanker trucks and the equipment necessary to get water to his animals. We were now able to turn off the water to the tanks fed by our exhausted well. Here’s what the new system looks like:

You will notice that there are no cows availing themselves of this new water. That’s because they like the old tanks, the ones with the friendly goldfish. It’s where they like to take their afternoon naps. Fortunately, however, the well had resumed pumping to our cistern, and we could again look forward to normal amenities, like showers and the dishwasher.

We’ll get back to this. But in the meantime, we had been noticing a strange circle of vibrant green grass near the orchard. We’d remembered the spring that was discovered at the construction of the fence, and wondered if it was responsible for the lush growth. Did this suggest that there may be an aquifer below which we could tap into for the water we’re missing?

A neighbor, who happens to be an engineer, scoffed at this idea. “You have a leak in your sprinkler system.” End of story. But he was kind enough to give Larry a piece of copper wiring, which could be stripped and made into water-witching rods.

This was fun. You bend the wires into an angle and hold them ahead as you walk, and see what happens. For Larry, nothing. But for me, damned if they didn’t want to cross. It was strange to feel the pull as one rod wanted to cross the other. The wind? Maybe, but the wind didn’t make them cross for Larry. Pretty clear I’m a witch! But were they pointing to a spring or an aquifer?

The neighbors wanted to try their hands at witching, and neither could produce the magic. But nothing would shake Ted’s conviction that a leak was causing the green patch. And to prove it, he, a talented post-hole digger (we all have our gifts) would dig a hole into the area with, as it turned out, a tool Larry had somehow inherited from my dad.

Tried to insert a photo here without success. Sorry, Ted. He is indeed talented at digging holes, and the hole he dug soon filled with water. But from the leak or my spring? Timed passed. We called Jake, our pump guy, who came over on Saturday afternoon to install a switch which would turn off the water to the affected area. Sure enough, the water in the Ted-dug hole dissipated, so yep, a leak, not a spring. But I still maintain that there is a spring, my witching proves it. I went back to my blog in 2015 to find the entry proving its existence and found the reference. Ha.

Larry and I spent the morning today working on the fence destroyed by the downed tree. Missing Peter and Andrew here.

Not easy, requiring tools not in the Viehl tool chest (and no, I’m not speaking metaphorically here), so we adjourned the effort and simply loaded the truck with downed branches, destined for the next fire. The cows, meanwhile, were having a loud, demanding conversation. There was no longer any water in the tanks they prefer, and they were outraged. Finally, following some herd instinct, they began to flow, a black river, down the hill to the next pasture.

When they had all made their way to the correct (according to us) pasture, we were able to shut the system of gates that would lock them out of their favorite lounging site. And this in turn, allows me access to a magnificent stand of blackberries, ripening in the August sun. Feeling a little too pleased with ourselves, we relented and opened the faucet for the one tank within their reach, so that they may continue to enjoy what water our well, may provide.

And, by the way, the chickens are fine. Thanks for asking. See you next time!