And then the water stopped flowing

See that small roofline right there on the right of this picture, in the foreground, that is the top of the well, 88 feet down from there dangling on the end of a long long rubber hose is a little submersible pump.


Right when I was half way through the washing and the watering and the filling of animals troughs. The pump stopped. abc02-010

What will you do the Kiwi Builder asked.


We need a lot of water out here.


Guarding the newly seeded fields from the guineas is thirsty work.


Not to worry, I said. I have these ugly things.


The rain barrels. One day I shall paint them and turn them into artworks but for the moment they are full of clean cold rain water.

So we had  water for the animal and the milking and the neighbours filled up a few water jugs for the house, and John has a guy, and the guy has a plumbers truck and the guys father is called Joe so it is called Joe’s Plumbing .. and he and John took the little well house roof of,f pulled all 88 feet of pipe out, fixed the wire that had broken, replaced the little pump with a bigger pump, fed it all the way back down into the earth, and once again the water flowed. It is flowing black, the well has been stirred up with all the activity, but after a while it will settle down.  The well house roof has been put back on and 1,200 dollars poorer we are set to go again.

Good morning. The things we take for granted. Without water, we are sunk. The rain barrels would have covered our water requirements for about three days. It is a shock when I am reminded how much I rely on machines and electricity to survive out here.

Is that sustainable?

Have a lovely day.

love celi

PS The essay over at the Parents Space today is a story some of you may have read before. It has been edited and improved. (I hope I improved it anyway) It is called Balloon Girl and it is the story about the time I bit the man with the newspaper on the plane when I was a teenager. I used it to illustrate how we collect experiences throughout our lives that will be useful to us when we are parents, grandparents and loving carers of children. That our past is important, even the hard unexplainable bits are important to who we are.


78 Comments on “And then the water stopped flowing

  1. So glad the water is flowing again — and that you had the rainwater barrels full!

  2. i think having your own well is a lot more sustainable as being hooked up to the water system/grid. what we would like to have is a rain harvesting system that collects all the water that falls on your roof and stores it in a big tank/cistern. i find it very interesting but it is also a bit expensive i guess to set up the system. and completely without electricity… i guess then your rain barrels are the best solution =)

    • In NZ .. on the farms, all the water is collected from the rooftops and into a big tank it goes, in times of drought a water truck comes out and fills up your tank for you, it is surprisingly efficient though..I could see that investing in the tank would be terribly expensive.. morning cat! c

      • good evening miss c. i guess thats how it makes most sense. i wonder why not everyone collects their rain… it is a bit like here in israel: why on earth dont they use photo voltaic more? most houses have a small solar heater on the roof for hot water, but just think what you could do with sooo much sun all year round.
        but then i also wonder why not everyone wants to live on a farm, bake teir own bread and grow their own food… i wonder a lot 😉
        good night miss c.

    • All our roof water is stored in a 3000 litre underground tank with a submersible pipe. It was not very expensive as it was all done as part of the house design. We also have 1000 litres in a tank on blocks, to collect the roof waer from next door’s barn (with their permission of course, they have a similar one the other side which Jock installed for them. We don’t need a pump for that: gravity fills the watering cans via a tap at the bottom of the tank. Power is more problematiic. We heat the house with geothermy (pipes a metre down under the garden) but that still needs some power to operate the heat esxchanger.

      .My daughter has solar panels for hot water and photo-voltaic panels for electricity, selling any surplus back to the grid. When we can afford it, that’s what we’d like to do.

      I’m sorry you’ve had to spend all that money, Celie. The book will maybe fill the bank account!

      • Your set up sounds so clever, I wish all house builders had such forethought, especially your gravity fed tank, we are hoping for something like this for the future, off the garage which has a brand new roof, of course for all of this we need rain and there is not a lot of that out here.. however, storing the rain water in a bigger covered vessel is our next objective! I wish john and jock could get together, just imagine! c

        • You would be envious of the huge amount of rain we have here! Jock is pining for a project even now and he will be 80 in November.

      • hi viv, do you use only the water you collect? and do you filter it somehow? i heard if you filter it correctly people drink and cook with it. sounds very smart your set up =) do you only heat your house with the goethermy? all very interessting!

        • We only use the roof water for the garden, washing the car etc. But we could drink it if we fitted the right equipment. The geothermy provides enough heat via underfloor pipes, ground and upper floors, but we do light the woodburning stove in the winter for the pleasure of it, and to economise on the electricity to run the heat pump, which is cheap anyway.

  3. One of my biggest fears is the pump going down…I have a rotary hand-pump, but it could only be used for siphoning out of the pond, as our well is too deep. Even without livestock, it would be hard-going if the pump couldn’t be fixed quickly. There’s an older, shallower well somewhere on the property, but it pre-dates my arrival, and Hubby can’t find the well-head.
    City boys. What are you gonna do with them?
    Glad yours was fixed quickly – even if it did lighten your purse by a LOT 😦

    • We were lucky that the 24 hour plumber guy was not on another job, but I would have managed for a few days i think, but only a few days, without any rain in sight. Maybe I need a pond, I quite fancy a pond.. c

      • If only…
        We had lots of old folks who practiced dowsing in the South where I grew up, but not up here in the Northeast. That, or they just don’t tell…
        Thanks, Viv!

  4. Good morning Celi do you have a hand pump if not you need to get one if there is ever a fuel or electrical problem with the system then you are not left without water just a thought SAINTS

    • it is a good thought and i have requested one on many an occassion, but I am told that i would need two wells for that to work.. is that right?.. c

      • From what i understand if the electric pump goes out you pull it out and stick the hand pump down. Then when the power comes back on or the pump is fixed you swap them out again. I think the handle part can stay on all the time. There is also a thing called a well torpedo or a well bullet. You lower it down on a rope and bring up water. Its skinny for those pump holes. That would take a lot of work on a farm, but in a pinch you do what you must.

  5. Oh my gosh. Celi I have this feeling of “oh good lord what next!” but that’s probably brought on by the renos here and running into unexpected problems, (like wires hidden in walls which need an electrician, who costs me $140, called before anyone will continue to do any more work even if I have a voltage meter and can prove that the wire is not live). I guess when you live sustainably or with stuff that isn’t up to the minute new, or even just a little off the grid, then you face all sorts of little annoyances here and there. Well, I’m glad you have lovely neighbours who will come to your rescue and a plumber whose father is Joe and your John and blue water barrels.

    • yes we do shuffle along quite well, fancy them stopping because of wires, ah well, hopefully you did not lose too much time.. am I right in remembering that you are doing your laundry area -that side of the house?.. c

      • Yes laundry room and no, not too much time, just 2 hours of electrician’s fees because it seems electricians have a two hour minimum fee even if the work takes five minutes! Oh, just remembered, we live in a village, not a town, in OXON, but Oxfordshire is a hugely overcrowded county, and still we wrestle with outdated and broken sewer pumps in the main pumping station, who no one, (Thames Water or the owner whose land the station is on), wants to take responsibility for, and they’re supplying service for the whole village. Robert is the one always being asked to investigate the pumps because he designs innovative special one-off race car engines…no idea how that figures!

  6. Hi C! Yes, we take so many things for granted… I think your way is more than sustainable, but you could always hang a bucket from that well, just in case… 😉
    Have a lovely day!

  7. I have three of those type of barrels, although mine are plastic and green … I don’t mean environmentally green; I mean the colour green, although collecting rainwater is fairly green…golly, I think my brain is suffering from hypothermia. Good morning, c., and to the all the farmy!

    • yes mine are plastic and blue and not in a green way, but heavy duty enough to last my lifetime i think and that is pretty green!.. hope you warm up Misky, we were very cold again this morning but the sun is out! c

      • I think that any time you reuse an item that has already been called into existence, then you are very green, Celi. The alternative to the blue barrel’s reuse would have been placement into a landfill, or having it pile up in an unsightly mess somewhere. Nope, you are wise to repurpose the blue plastic barrels. 😉

  8. Our water ran out two days ago. It was fixed in a couple hours but you would think the internet was turned off with all the fuss my kids made……it was like a Zombie Apocolypse. No wait…they are more prepared for that!

    • Johns teenage son was told as he came home from school that the water was off and he paused, hefted his bag back onto his shoulder and said i am off to Nannys..and was gone before I could say another word!! morning connie.. love your sexy kale salad by the way! c

  9. I only use rain water to make my tea and to cook with so when my tank had a leak and nearly ran dry I got most flustered so in a small way, I understand what it must have been like for you C. Thankfully though my fix was way cheaper.
    I don’t think we could be totally without electricity and a few machines, then again, don’t the Amish still live without it all?
    Love your first pic – such a warm and inviting homely feel.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  10. Oh, don’t get me going about machines. I know, we all need them in this modern world. How did we manage before? What I’m curious about are governments who prattle on continuously about sustainable power, how we need to do our bit in being greener. But there’s never any mention of how we should cut down on our GADGETS! Industry (and farms) need electrical machinery, but how many labour-saving/entertainment devices do we have in our homes? Are they all REALLY neccessary? When I clean our guests’ rooms, the place is littered with wires and adaptors re-charging a whole bundle of electrical paraphernalia! We are a species who will never be green I fear. Sorry about that! Sorry too about your unexpected large bill – I HATE those things!

    • An excellent rant Christine, we are getting more and more dependent on stuff that can be gone in the time it take to switch off the electricity. And electricity is not that dependable out here, i need to find a way to get water without depending on power! very very good point! c

      • I can sympathize with you there. Power cuts are not uncommon here either.

  11. Lucky, lucky you! I know you didn’t really think so, but YES lucky! Because, here is Colorado it is against the law to collect rain water. We are mandated by the highest powers that all rain in Colorado is to be allowed to flow back into the ground, then into the the ground water or into the canal systems to be carried on to Arizona, Nevada, and California…to save rain is a fine and jail time. So to have rain barrels of lovely fresh from the heavens water is really a lovely gift.

    Sorry about the wire…we seem to be having huge expenses going out right now also..this time of year is so terribly expensive with seed, fertilizer, water, taxes, land taxes, fuel for the farm and of course repairs that it gets rather depressing.

    But we all shall proceed and move forward!

    I hope you have a lovely day, Cecilia!


    • You have got to be kidding???!! Since when has Colorado owned the rain? I don’t know what I would do without my rain barrels as living in the boonies the power goes out quite often and the captured water is used for flushing toilets, animals and chickens and watering my plants. Coming from just outside London, I was bought up on city water, and boy what a difference in my life now. Living at the base of the blue ridge mountains the water is pure, clear and very cold (when the power is working!)

  12. How scary as well as expensive. We do take water for granted. So glad you had the rainwater on hand and that their was still water in the well once the pump was fixed. That is the wildest picture of Daisy! She looks quite distressed about the whole situation.

  13. We had a dowser when we built our house. No one believed that we found water at 240′ here, most wells are much deeper on this part of the coast. Glad you had a little bit of backup, but sorry about the cost. Ouch.

  14. I was freaking for a minute there thinking your well had gone dry.

    As for the color of the rain barrels, our recycling bins are that atrocious blue. Who chose that color? Who? All over my town those ugly blue recycling bins sit on curbs, lean into garages, etc. I hate the color.

  15. Good to read that you got the pump fixed so quickly. How nice that your neighbors responded so quickly. Yes, it was an expensive repair but, just like when my furnace stopped in January, what else could you do? Let’s just hope both repairs will last a very long time.
    Nice to see the animals out in the Sun under blue skies. Soon they’ll be standing in green fields. Yay!

  16. I felt that when the power went out and the house got cold, and there were no lights, it make you feel very vulnerable indeed.

  17. whoosh, glad that was fixed; my emergencies have been dental – I’ve begun writing dental pieces! hugs to you!

  18. When the pump ran dry at home, the pump needed to be ‘primed’ which was difficult and the air was ‘blued’. The pump was in the basement and the well was out the back of the house and 30′ deep. The priming was necessary to get the air locks out of the pipes. I was relieved you were spared that ordeal until I read that the fix was such an expensive pump!

    It seems to me the sustainable thing is not a hand pump, but a wind turbine to create your own electricity! Hand pumps are hard work and pumping 88 feet would be difficult, I believe. You seem to have lots of wind. I suspect they are pricey. Getting off the grid would leave more power for your poor city neighbors. : )

    • they are pricey, like out of our league pricey!! which is miserable as i would love a windmill and you are so right about the wind! what waste.. c

  19. Hi hi hi!! I’m so behind on commenting on blogs, I’m sorry I haven’t visited in a while. Glad all is fixed–water is definitely one thing you need on the farm, and in general! Hope you had a wonderful day. xx

    • don;t you worry about commenting at all! we are all busy.. and that is perfectly fine! lovely to see you tho caroline.. c

  20. Oh my! Ready water is such a luxury. When I was little and we were on the farms, the water came out of wells with a bucket – and it was iron red (everything was red tinged: sheets, socks – so it was hard to see how clean a person could get with it) – and we had to be careful as that well was not deep.
    In those parts, women saw flower beds and pretty plants as a luxury – one that needed water. You hand carried dish water and bath water out to water them. The yards didn’t have grass, but everyone raked and swept them so they looked neat (now people will probably laugh at that!)
    Later we cherished that little pump in the new well at our farm – and babied it all seasons!
    (and that well was found by a dowser using an elm branch – and that’s a whole ‘nother story!)

    • wow, what a stunning comment.. in fact we have been having a fantastic water discussion today, the women up on the farms at home still don;t empty the bath until they have watered the plants and they swear the soap in good for pot plants!! I love the idea of a swept dirt front yard.. that is something i did not know… there is a tremendous amount of water wasted on keeping lawns green (not here obviously) but in california where my son lives I have to shut my mouth not to remind them that the water is PIPED IN! there were battles to get that water there and they are using it to keep a lawn green! Horrors! c

      • Botanists say the soap gets rid of insects, and plant diseases – so one more thing old timers did right.
        Water and water rights is the next big battle already forming up. People need to learn to live with nature as it is – not try to change it ( I think the elaborate old French and English gardens go through periods of man redesigning nature vs natural garden designs during history…man is never satisfied with the way things are?)
        As a kid sweeping the yard seemed odd – but it was very fun and rather soothing ( and kept kids out from under foot?) Heaven forbid visitors come by and find twigs and dropped pine cones everywhere on the way to the front steps and porch..(.we all sat outside then)

  21. oh thank heavens! when i read the title, i thought your well ran dry! so happy to hear you are up and running again!

  22. In many shires here [including ours] building permission for private homes is no longer given out [some dozen years already?] unless said plans contain a huge rainwater tank next to the house. That is not meant for drinking but the pipes are led to flush the toilet, do the laundry and water outdoors. During dry periods you switch back to ‘city water’. One way to avoid waste! Of course you don’t have the luxury of the latter and thank God the pump got fixed [at what cost!]. Loved your story: when are you going to publish them all and make a little extra ‘disposable income’ 🙂 ?

  23. I am wishing for a big rainwater tank/s for you so you can use it in the house… When we come back to the city from our house at Taylors Arm we bring a couple of bottles of tank water with us… I was a bit sceptical at first as the farm tanks I experienced as a child left a lot to be desired but our tanks are in good condition and our rainwater is cool and clean, wonderful to drink and shower in, and wash clothes which then hang in the sun. We have plans to add a couple more. Apparently the test for good water is if frogs live in it. We have plenty of frogs but the screens [hopefully] keep them out of the tank. If not then c’est la vie 🙂 We rely on a pump also and unconsciously keep an ear on its noises to make sure all is well. If the power goes off, we have to use the outside garden tap. But, the old ways are truly best. I hope the rest of the world figures it out soon.

  24. Just as well you have those rain barrels – and what an expensive business. I’d be wanting a big water tank, just for security.

  25. Oh dear, wish Big Man and I had been closer, he is an electrician (on a big scale..think pylons and pumps) and he would have done this for you and certainly not charged you 1200 dollars 😦 A day on the farmy and a little home cooked food would have been enough!

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  27. You were so lucky that your pump was able to be fixed so fast. We have been without heat in one section of our house for three weeks waiting on a part. May I ask a question…is that a fire hydrant that is see in the photo and does it work off your well too?

  28. Ahh…. the rain barrels. That’s all we had when we first moved onto our plot. We painted them brown ( why are they bright blue?), to blend in ! Glad we have gravity fed water, so no pump.

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