Sunday, June 8, 2014


Hot topic in Central California, that's for sure.  A God-given gift that feeds all life has become a political manipulation.  We watch and wait and wonder "how crazy are they?"  Do they really think that pouring all of this year's snow melt - which isn't much - into the ocean "for the fish," and giving farmers ZERO allotment of the water they've already paid for is "fair"?  Only in the minds of politicians.

I hate "fun" blogs that go political, and so, I will leave it at that, and move on to why I mention water.

If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you know that we have a small walnut farm.  We have 17 acres of Serrs, a variety of walnuts that are larger, darker, and more flavorful than the market's current favorite, Chandlers.  Anyway, our trees are 50 years old.  They are big and beautiful, and still produce with vigor.  We water them from our private well, and are not dependent upon ditchwater for irrigation.  However, the lack of water running through the ditches for the past few years means that the aquifer has not been replenished, and the level of standing water is dropping lower and lower.

Our well was dug in 1991.  We bought the property in 2010.  As the flow from our standpipe has decreased, and the length of time to irrigate has increased, we've been researching our well.  What we found was that it was dug to 207', and was designed to draw water from as deep as 120'.  This was all well and good in 1991, when the standing water level was at 30'.  The current standing water level is 120'.  A few more weeks, and we wouldn't be able to reach the water at all.  As a result, we've got a well/pump service helping us, and yesterday was a BIG day.  If you've ever wondered how water comes out of the ground, here's a bit of visual instruction.

The first thing they had to do was get the truck to the well, not an easy proposition.
Unfortunately, by the time the truck arrived, we'd been waiting for a couple of hours.  I did a food run, and by the time I got back, they'd already removed the pump.  Surely I have a picture of our pump somewhere.  Cute little thing.  It's the smallest ag pump in the county.  I'm not joking.
Once the pump was out of the way, they had to pull out the innards.  I don't know what the individual pieces of the well mechanism are called.  The well itself has a shaft that goes down as far as it goes.  We'll get the specific information tomorrow, when we drop a camera down the hole.  Inside the outer pipe is a smaller pipe.  If the well's diameter 10" (a guess), then the inner pipe is somewhere around 8".  Inside that is a smaller shaft, and inside that is the rod that spins the bowls in the depth of the well.  Are you following me?

After much clanging and banging, they were ready to start pulling out the first 20' section.  It's held by the head, that attaches to the pump.
The pieces needed to be taken apart, one at a time.  Notice the big alligator grippy things wrapped around the pipe.  There is one upper and one lower, and they twist in opposite directions, with two guys pulling the one on the top and the truck attached to the one on the bottom.
Once this piece was removed, they needed to secure the center shaft, inside this pipe.
These were held in place with little "c" clamps.  Then they put a collar around the pipe, put the hook into some cable on the collar, and hoisted it.  Up, up and away!

I'm not sure if you can see near the concrete pad, but the first 20' section is out of the ground.  Now they need to unscrew all three pieces from those they are attached to.

Free at last!  Now to get it out of the way.

They tied a cable around the tree, to help guide the pipe to the wood supports on the ground.

 Notice the clamp holding the remaining sections in place.
This was repeated six times, to get the 120' of pipe out of the ground.  Then came the last section, which contains the bowls.  This portion spins the water around, collects it, and forces it upwards sending the water out of the ground to irrigate.  How do they work?  I have no idea.  It's magic.

By 2:30pm, they were packing up their truck and heading out.  We've gone from this:
a paltry trickle of water that was barely getting the job done, to this:
Needless to say, there's a bit of anxiety in the household, as we hope and pray that tomorrow's video tour gives us good news.  We've got some work cut out for us, as the Well Master converts our system to a submersible pump.  We know there's water down there - he dropped a bolt on a line, and you could hear it "plop!"  It's just whether or not we can reach it, hopefully on Wednesday, that is critical.

I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, the well is covered with a sheet of plywood and concrete blocks, and Pixel has come to live with me until the hole is absolutely and completely secure.

As I said, I'll keep you posted.

Pray for rain for Central California!

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