Friday, March 27, 2015

Using Water from the Well

Hidden amongst a grove a trees at the lowest part of the property is a well. When Opportunity Farm was first settled there was a house built just above where the headwaters of the Haydens Bog start. It is easy to tell where it was because of the bulbs that come up there each Spring and the old fruit trees that would have been in the garden. Having close access water would have been very important. There is no flowing water in the area so the only way to get clear fresh water was to dig for it.
The well is about 4m deep, circular and is lined with stones. There is no mortar which allows the water to seep in. For over two years we lived here and only had a vague idea that there had been a well on the property. When we were faced with running out of water one summer we asked a neighbour about this well and he pointed out the clump of trees. A closer investigation revealed the hole covered by rotting lengths of wood and buried by leaves so that it was hard to spot until we started to uncover it. Once we had cleared away the debris then the sides of the well had to be raised above ground level. This part we mortared and made a level top for a lid for the well.
The Well lid amongst the trees with the tank in the background
The well is close to where we have been fattening the piglets. The paddock near to the well is full of tussocks that the pigs dig up and slowly the piglet tractor is digging over and mulching this to improve the pasture. For one season we pulled water out of the well by bucket to fill the pig's water trough.
We bought a water testing kit online and it came up excellent in all areas except one. The result for pesticide residue was inconclusive. There is a hardwood plantation upstream of the well that is sprayed. We tested again with another kit. Same result. To be sure that the water is suitable for human use we may have to send a sample away for lab testing.
Meanwhile we have put a submersible pump in the well that is operated by two solar panels. The aim was to be able to gravity feed the pig's water from the tank and the tank would refill when it emptied  sufficiently to trigger the pump. This only works as far as that. The pump does not stop when the tank is full so the well water overflows out of the top of the tank. Today I needed to refill the tank so after connecting up the tank I had to make sure I went back about 30 minutes later to disconnect it. We will get the technology sorted in time - all new ideas take a little while to cut out the glitches. It certainly beats pulling a bucket out of the well or even refilling from the dam.  
The tank and panels with the hose heading for the pigs. 

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