This week, we cleared some land for our barn. We will get some power poles this weekend and set them in the ground to build a pole barn. We have also hired a neighbor to “brush hog” the land. A brush hog is basically a heavy duty lawn mower. It rips out any sage brush or rabbit brush. The land has a lot of good native grasses that we want to keep as part of our pasture. We will plant additional seed including a mixture of grasses, both cool season and warm season, clover, alfalfa etc… Ideally there will always be something growing a good portion of the year. If we were to till the land, we would lose a lot of the native grasses which can be difficult to reestablish.
We also began drilling the new well that will supply water to our house and pastures. We set aside enough money to drill 200 feet. The first day of drilling didn’t go very well. The well drillers went down 140 feet and only found enough water to supply a rate of 5 gallons per minute. This is basically enough to run one shower and nothing else. If that wasn’t bad enough, the water wasn’t very good and rather dirty. The next day I called to get an update and they had reached 180 feet with no additional water. They called back a couple hours later to report that they had reached 200 feet and found an additional 10 gallon per minute (gpm). This is enough to supply our house and maybe a little bit of lawn for the kids to play on. They wanted to know what I wanted to do. My options were to live with 15 gpm, or to drill deeper. The problem is that water is hit and miss around here. Just a few miles away some wells were drilled to 1000 feet and water was never found. At the cost of $70/foot this wasn’t an easy decision to make on our limited farm budget. ($70/foot is just the cost of drilling and well casing. It doesn't include water pipe, pump, electric wire etc...) I could drill deeper and still not have any more water than the 15 gpm I already had and not only not have enough water but now be over budget as well. Hollie and I talked about it and decided that the whole reason for buying this land was to have more pastures in order to grow our farm. We decided to roll the dice and keep going. I called the well driller back and asked him to go another 80 feet and see where that put us. They replied that they would go get more pipe and be back in the morning. I barely slept that night realizing that our whole farm teetered on something as basic as water. I was so stressed out that my back, neck, and jaw ached from being so tense. My mind was going a million miles an hour playing out all the different scenarios. Our kids felt the tension and realized that something wasn’t right.
The next morning seemed to drag on as I waited for an update from the well driller. Finally around noon they called and reported that they had gone 40 more feet and were now getting about 40 gpm of good water. Instantly relief swept over me and the tension disappeared. Hollie was so excited that she took the kids over to the land to see the water they were pumping. By then they had gone the last 40 feet and were now getting 70 gpm. Then they explained that they still needed to perforate the pipe which they estimated that once done, would give us a total of 100 gpm. We are still waiting to find out the actual results of the pipe perforation, but regardless, we have enough water to irrigate some nice sized pastures. So we are already over budget, but at least we have water.