Yesterday afternoon, I’m working in the shop, I hear the Mrs call out to me. She is standing by our water hydrant and shouts “When are you going to solder?” Huh? I am doing some wiring and that’s sorta close to soldering, only if you have done your wiring correctly, if you get my drift. I say “What?” She once again shouts something about solder. While she was doing this, I noticed she had the water hydrant open all the way, but nothing is coming out. This was odd, we usually have to be careful when using the hydrant, ’cause it sprays out high pressure water when wide open, kind of like my dog when he drinks.
I am a bit puzzled by my wife’s questions, when we clearly have a water problem not a solder problem. I put my tools down and walk out to see why she’s… “have no water”, I hear her say, with a bit of frost in her tone. She must be upset about the no water deal. “When did we lose water?” I ask. She said something about trying to tell me, like 3 times, and thinks I need my hearing checked. I won’t mention her mumbling things. So, it turns out she was using the water up in the house and it dribbled to a halt.
We have Rural Water. Apparently, in the spring of 1976, the boys of the family that lived here were in the process of digging a new well, out in the front pasture. Digging anything in this part of Kansas is an effort in character building. The reason we have so many stone fences is they all were, once upon a time, in the ground. Their kinfolk still live in the ground, and you hit them, ’bout every other shovelful. The boys had not made any real progress when a pickup truck drove up the drive. They dropped their shovels and wandered over to say howdy, and found out the guy in the pickup was from a company that was putting in Rural Water. He was driving around the township, asking the citizens if they would like to sign up to get water piped up to their dwelling. When the guy in the pickup asked if they would like to sign up, they could not say yes fast enough. The started hole and the shovels got left behind and were not thought of again.
You may be wondering why would a farm would want water piped to it, rather than using a well? It has to do with oil development in the early ’50s. Well water around these parts, has never been what you would call tasty. There is a lot of mineral in the water, due to the limestone ridge that runs though the area. Around 1950, they found oil in the area. Specifically on the 160 acres this farm was part of. They had some of the first oil wells in this part of Kansas, on this place. Getting oil out of the ground was not easy. What they did was pump a brine of salt water into the hole to pressurize the oil out of the ground. And what that did was dribble into the aquifer, from which the citizens of the area were drawing their water. A cause and effect kinda deal, that had lasting consequences.
When we got this place, you could see that it had 2 wells and a shallow hole with rusty shovels lying next to it. Both wells were capped, and when I asked why, the former owners said the wells were salty. I tried asking them about the hole in the pasture and the rusty shovels, and they didn’t want to talk about it. So, the upshot is, we are dependent on other people for our water.
Normally, this isn’t a problem, unless you are one of those rugged individualists who thinks dependency is sin. I feel your pain, brother. In the nine years we have lived here, we have always had water. Sure, there was that time, March of ’09, when the ice storm knocked out power to the north half of the county. We had reduced flow and a bit murky to boot, but we were in disaster mode and expected such things. We just dipped into our “when the balloon goes up” supply and didn’t think nothing of it.
This time, it was a blue sky, balmy day sorta thing. What do you mean, the water has quit running? Um, did you pay the bill? The Mrs starts calling, gets an answering machine with “try this number for water problems.” Called that number, and got the same thing. Finally, got somebody to answer, who had not heard the water has stopped running. In fact, they were not sure who we were. “You mean you’re at the, what we used to call, Joe Smith property?” Uh, yeah, though you might want to change the name to the people that are actually paying the bill. “Uh, yeah, we probably should” he replied. He also said the only thing he could think of was somebody was boring out near Atlanta. That’s about 12 miles northeast of us. He said he would go check on it. About a half hour later, this being around 5PM, he calls back and sure enough, those bozos hit something of ours and he needed to get some parts and should be able to fix it tonight. He also mentioned that nobody else had called in yet with water problems. I figure a fair part of the township should be dry about now, and it had not ruffled anybody else’s feathers yet.
The wife announces that she is taking a day off if she can’t shower in the morning. We still had water in the stock tank, so I was not sure what she was so riled about. I go back to finishing my wiring job in the shop. About 7PM, I come into the house to wash up, and the water is back on, and all is well in the land of eternal wind. Blue sky disasters kinda shake your faith in society, but as the song says, a county boy can survive. Funny, they never mention the smell when singing about that kind of thing.