The weight of water. How heavy it feels when I lug it up the hill. And how heavy it feels when it’s gone–the sinking realization that the well has run dry. Two years ago when we moved onto this land, we found a spring and developed it as a shallow well–10 feet down was all we dug and it has kept our thirst (and the animals and vegetables) quenched. But when the overflow stopped a few weeks ago, Edge forgot about it and I didn’t even notice. And we’ve had just enough single days of rain sprinkled through the last few weeks to disguise the dryness of late summer. And then there’s this fact: we use up to 400 gallons of water per harvest day to wash the vegetables, though our well’s storage is 300 gallons. And so we look to ourselves, at the ways we could have conserved if only we had thought to have foresight.
There have been countless times I’ve been thankful for our water, for the fact that it is gravity fed to the barn and that we don’t rely on electricity to run a pump. I once moved into a house during a wind storm that caused a three-day power outage, and aside from what we bought, we had no water until the electricity came back on. This kind of system has always seemed so fragile to me. I’ve laughed with a friend who also hauls water at the reactions we get from those that can simply turn a faucet–how we each think the other is crazy. You mean you carry all your water?! You mean your water source is gone if the power goes out? Now I wish for a deep well and a pump, when simplicity and a shallow well feels fragile.
I am kicking myself that we hadn’t thought of this possibility and made plans for it sooner. If we didn’t need potable water to wash our vegetables with tomorrow, we might mull over the solution a bit longer–the animals can drink the pond water, and we have enough water reserved from Monday’s harvest to water the seedlings–but the fact is we need more than a few 5-gallon buckets of potable water by tomorrow. So today: buy a 1000 gallon tank, pay for a bulk water delivery.
We live in a state where floods have filled the disaster headlines, where the word drought brings up images of California, not our own farms, and so perhaps I have taken it for granted that water will always flow out of the well. For all the inconvenience of the situation, though, I am grateful that we can buy water, that the restrictions we face are nothing compared to seriously drought-stricken areas of the world. Given the forecast is accurate, tomorrow it will rain, with a chance for more on Saturday and Sunday. With the rain, and with patience, comes replenishment. Until then, I’ll feel the weight of water that’s run dry.