Water — the Lifeblood of Any Homestead

| 10/30/2013 9:12:00 AM

Tags: Urban Homestead, Gardening, Water, Wells, Drought, Erin Sheehan,

Erin SheehanWhen my grandparents built their house, they chose the building site to take advantage of a strong, clear-running spring that they had piped into the house. Nowadays the bank providing the mortgage would probably prevent such a thing, but back then I suppose it wasn’t so unusual. I remember in the winter at Grandpa’s house, there was always water running hard in the laundry room sink. Otherwise, the pipe leading from the spring into the house would freeze up and they wouldn’t have water until it warmed up enough to thaw out. 

Because we live in an urban area we are on metered city water. But even for us, water is an issue. Last year’s drought was so severe we were watering the garden nightly. We knew that if we wanted to avoid a sky-high water bill we’d have to come up with an alternative to using the city water. As it happens we have an old well on our property. The original use of the well is a mystery to us. It is a cement tube about 3’ in diameter and 28’ deep sunk down into the ground. If anyone has an idea of what a well like this might have been used for, please write a comment!

Our backyard well

Our Backyard Well

One of the advantages of our urban neighborhood is how helpful and fantastic our neighbors are. A neighbor lent us a large pump and helped Jim hook it up. Within a few hours we had free water coming out to the garden!

Our groundwater is generally quite high and the area where the well sits is sometimes even squishy to walk on. Nonetheless, we managed to drain over 23’ of that well dry using our soaker hose night after night. It was at that point that the drought went from being a bit of a novelty to being almost scary. We know that some areas had it even worse than we did, but it felt like Dust Bowl days to us.

11/7/2013 8:15:59 AM

Hi Dave - great that you can get water so close to the surface at your house. We've really loved using the well. Didn't need it so much this year - we had a lot better weather. But you never know from year to year!

11/7/2013 8:04:35 AM

Hi Mary - thanks for the comment. I've learned a lot about water from my parents' properties - one time they had a stream that was GREAT - they could run a hose from it to water the garden, but then they had a flood and it took out their driveway and nearly their garage as well! Now they have no water outside of their well so they cannot water the garden. It's a huge issue for sure!

11/3/2013 8:51:57 AM

Erin, first off thanks for following my facebook antics and leaving comments. It's always great to hear from other gardeners. The property that will receive all the bags of leaves actually has a spring in the back of the property. One of the projects on the garden list is to some how develop that spring into a viable garden watering system. This year I just dug out a hole in the ground and used a five gallon bucket to water the plants. It's better than hauling water like the year before when I hauled about 300 gallons a week to keep the garden growing during the drought. ***** I'm not sure what your well would be used for other than just what you are using it for. It's great that you have revived the well and it's water to good use. ***** Have a great ground water use day.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: August 4-5, 2018
Albany, OR

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!