A Photo Journey from the Weekend of the Solstice

The well is nearing completion. Despite the ever decreasing depth of our hole, you can see water not far below the surface. If we’re lucky, we’ll end up with a year-round shallow well. If we’re not so lucky, it will be a seasonal one.

Here’s Marcin and me covered in black slime. Since the electric submersible pump would not fit into the casing, we decided to look for a hand pump. Ironically, hand pump set-ups are more expensive than the electric submersible ones! A complete set-up can cost you over One Thousand United States Dollars! Sounds like some open source work is needed in this area!

Fortunately, everyone in the area formerly used hand pumps, so they’re around and if you’re lucky, free for the taking. We were lucky. A neighbor had one.

But getting it turned out to be a dirty job. We pulled the pump with the pipe attached out of the hole. Higher and higher the pump wobbled in the air. When suddenly Crash! It tumbled to the ground, snapping the pipe apart. A burst of pressure released a black slime, which started spurting out of the pipe and all over us. Since this all occurred on the main highway out of town, I am anticipating a line up of neighbors asking us what was going on!

The cat started bringing home the bacon, er…, bunny. He and the dog had quite a feast. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Some good friends visited and among other adventures we found St. John’s Wort! Famous for its anti-depression qualities, but also useful externally for wounds, bruises, scrapes and such. I’m adding it to the list of reasons not to mow. Had we brought out the noisy beast earlier in the season, we would have never know that we had such a treasure. St. John’s Wort is distinguished by its yellow flowers and pinholes in the leaves. Apparently, according to the legend I learned this weekend, evil spirits spited St. John upon his death by poking holes in the leaves of this plant.

All sorts of goodies are blooming and fruiting. From left to right: black-eyed susan, wild strawberries, gooseberries, elder flowers, sour cherries. Eaten before a picture could be taken: mulberries and raspberries.


  1. richard

    i had a feeling about the hand pump. thats some old school, appropriate tech. the electric pump would have been nice, but the hand pump will come to be efficient in the long run. one less thing to drag down the grid (however slightly an electric pump does).
    yummy about the food! gooseberries seem delightful. wish i could have been there to get covered in black slime! oh well, i get those kind of opportunities at work anyway!
    See you kids soon!

  2. Brittany

    Electricity. A blessing or a curse? We’re certainly looking forward to electrical “abundance” with solar panels and solar concentration. Currently, we are running the generator, at least, once a day to fill our power needs. Computers plus internet plus power tools plus a pump to get water into the pressure tank are what sucks our power.

    Add a submersible pump and we’d never be free of the noise of the generator (until those solar panels are up!). Besides that, the pump will eventually break and need to be replaced, again and again. That’s exactly the kind of costs we’re looking to avoid here at Factor e. The other advantage of a hand pump is its innate ability to create water awareness. If you have to pump to get water, you’re going to use every drop wisely.

    With that said, the main advantage of an electric pump is its ability to pump water into a pressure tank with the minimal effort of turning on the generator. (Only modern hand pumps, that can run $1000 or more for the whole set-up can pump directly into a pressure tank.)

    With a hand pump, we’ll have to use the simple fill-the-bucket, carry-it-where-you-want-it method. How much can you carry? With a little practice, probably a bucket full of four gallons in each hand. With no water pressure, that will last you a day, maybe a little more. (That doesn’t consider watering the animals or plants. You’d need to make a couple more trips for that.) Pumping and hauling water, then becomes a chore. Add 15 minutes to the daily chores and extra time when you want to take a bath. Doesn’t sound so bad. But, let me tell you, chore time adds up. Little by little, your entire day could get eaten away doing chores: carrying water, milking the goat, feeding the animals, watering the plants, chopping firewood, making a fire, cooking meals… In fact, I think most pioneer women’s “job” was probably doing chores.

    I’m guessing that we will use the well mostly for drinking water. If it needs to be filtered, we’ll put it directly into a filter and use it from there. For our other needs, we will continue to harvest water from the greenhouse roof and use our friend electricity to pump it into the pressure tank.

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