Holes

Give me a shovel and I’m happy.

I grew up in Utah in a town named Roy. My Dad passed away months before I was born but I’m told our house was brand new when my parents bought it. No landscaping was in place when they moved in so when my Dad did it himself, he left the rear third of the back yard in it’s natural state.

We had a commercial size playground set that attracted every kid for miles, four huge trees to climb – and lots of dirt.

Dirt is the perfect toy. It’s great for a growing kid’s immune system, and is superior to the most expensive of Lego sets.  You can mold it, make highways for your matchbook cars, or create mud pies. The possibilities are endless for a kid with a bucket, a shovel and a four year old imagination. I spent a good part of my childhood playing with the cheapest toy on earth.

Fast forward to adulthood and I haven’t changed.

While we were on the road looking for property I practiced digging water wells because I knew we might have to find our own water source. I actually found it once.

Now that we have our own property, I dig to my heart’s content. I don’t need much of an excuse to grab a shovel. I look for water, gold, antiques and lava (because we live on a fault line 🙂 ).

When we first moved here, I went looking for water and found natural springs on the hillside a couple of feet down.

I dug several other test holes and named them alpha hole, beta hole, etc. I had to fill them in so someone wouldn’t break a leg.

Recently, with the drought, I began eyeballing a spot I suspected may have been an old well. The way the rocks were packed in made me wonder.

I’d previously dug down a few feet then left it alone but considering our other spring was drying up, I decided to clear the area and go deeper.

Me and my husband spent a week clearing vegetation and moving the piles of rock that were already there, away from the hole. We spent day after day digging by hand and with a pick ax and shovel until one day I heard my husband exclaim excitedly “look at this!”. I looked down and saw water squirting out of a crack in a rock – under pressure.

A strong new water supply.

We set the pump in and we’re back in business! It’s producing about a hundred fifty to two hundred gallons a day. Plenty for ourselves and our garden.

I felt a great sense of relief and was glad we’d decided to go through with the back breaking project.

I’m still digging – mostly for gold. I currently have about five or six holes that I lay stuff over to keep people from falling in.

Maybe it’s time to get the water out and make some of those mud pies again.

Restoration

“Spring” cleaning.

We were lucky to discover natural springs at the top of our property and spent the first year digging the main hole and a trench down the hillside to a place near our trailer.

20190518_125123

In the process, we moved a lot of mud and rocks. It looked like a bomb had gone off.

20190518_121658

Mounds of material littered the ground from the top to the bottom of the area where our spring lay. It was so ugly, I decided to clean it up in order to bring back the natural beauty that was there when we arrived.

I began a restoration.

Surprisingly, it went faster than I anticipated. I raked the rocks into piles and picked up the stragglers by hand and before you know it, the place began to look natural and pretty again.20190518_121902

I started last fall and got about a third of the work done. This spring, I finished but I will leave the rocks in mounds where I hope the plants will begin to grow again eventually.

I can’t wait until next spring to see how it all looks.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Spring

The heart of our place.

When we first saw the property, it was late August and everything in eastern Washington was very dry. Knowing this, we were trying to decide how we would get access to water. We considered a large tank and delivery. We asked our agent about a well and she said maybe a few hundred feet down we might find water.

I found water at about two feet.

The day we arrived, I explored every square inch of our newly acquired 3.7 acres and looked for likely spots for water. I had been online getting tips so I looked for green among the brown and signs of winter run off ditches. I found one spot on a hill on the property that actually had some green grass growing at that time of year. I decided to dig there.

I can’t remember how long it took; just a couple of hours I think, as there was solid rock right at the surface, but I chipped and dug away and to my disbelief, the soil turned damp and then… there was actual standing water.

I had found a spring.

It could have been runoff but all signs pointed to spring water as I continued to go a little deeper. It turned out that the whole hillside was either one massive spring with a multitude of outlets or tons of springs all over. Some sources were larger than others but you could almost dig anywhere up there and find water coming up out of clay tubes and cracks between rocks.

We dug a tiny trench down the hillside to a larger holding hole we had made. We used our pump to get the water into the trailer, adding a touch of bleach for safety. It’s been a wonderful source of water since then.

All through the winter we got a pretty good flow but it almost dried up over summer. I ended up pick axing my way down through bedrock and heavily compacted rocks and dirt to carve the spring deeper during the summer months but we had water all year long.

Come fall, we called contractor after contractor to dig a shallow well to make things official but they were all booked months ahead. Faced with another winter with an amateur setup, we added a sediment filter to run the water through before going into the trailer. We had to deal with frozen hoses too.

While I was chipping away at the bottom of the spring, I discovered something interesting.

I began to notice slightly hot spots in places at the bottom. It was coming up through a crack between the bedrock and the looser material. I felt around day after day with my fingers trying to decide if this might be geothermal activity.

Just a month or two earlier, while looking at geological maps for prospecting purposes, we discovered that not only were we situated in the middle of a series of faults but that, by the look of things, we might be sitting right on top of one! That would explain the springs – and possibly geothermal activity.

I called WSU’s (Washington State University) geology department and spoke with a geologist there. He seemed to think it might be runoff but trust me, I have a hunch something else is going on down there.

We hope to have someone take a closer look when we have an official water sourced constructed.

We watered our garden all summer by siphoning through hundreds of feet of garden hose to the holding hole, then pumping it out to the sprinkler. Pretty nifty huh? When we dug the garden, we routed the water into the area and created a temporary mud pit to soften the clay rich soil to a point where it was easier (bit still almost impossible to turn).

Our spring is the heart of our property. It represents life and hope for us and it’s the place I go when I need to think or just cry. It’s my place – and the yellow jacket’s. I had to share the hole with them all summer long.

We managed to get along, somehow, and everyone got their water.

20180928_180511
Looking up the hill with the hose for siphoning.