Our well is on solar power.

The kitchen is a complete mess. I’ve threatened to just throw away all the dishes and buy new ones.

At our work party last Sunday, we finally took our old well tank offline. One of the reasons we closed at Sunflower River was the buyer in front of us took a look at the water quality report and got cold feet. The pump has been slowly dying since before we purchased the place. It would sometimes get stuck on, sometimes get stuck off, and it makes a low grade unmotor-like sound–the grinding of bearings from a water pump that has sucked too much air.

The tank itself was actually in worse shape. Years of drawing water from a shallow well has left a thick layer of sediment rotting away inside it. Often, when the moment was wrong, a brown gush of dirt would spray out of the faucet, and even on a good day the filter on our drip system gets one day closer to completely clogging.

Understandably, we’ve been hauling our drinking water from Caer Aisling. The iron content in the household water is high enough to make some people sick.

Getting a new well has been a massive and complex process. We’ve had to dig trenches for cables, raise a solar panel, and fit together a well tank, pump, filter, and all the parts that go with such a system–pressure gauges, pressure release valves, air control, and hoses running between everything.

It is hard to find a better application for solar power, as the pump is naturally a D/C system, and the “battery” is a large, pressurized tank. You have exactly as much capacity as your pressure tank holds between sun down and sun up, and that is a much more reliable and easier to maintain energy store than any battery.

All the same, there is a lot of distance between saying “Let’s put our pump on solar” and getting sunny, delicious water out the other end. Yesterday was our drop dead date, where we had done everything we could that didn’t involve taking the old system offline.

Our solar panel was up, our cables buried, and electricity was flowing to our pump house. All of the bits belonging to the tank and pump and were dry fit together and our diagram of the whole system looked pretty reasonable.

That didn’t prevent 3 more trips to the hardware store, half an hour away. The early morning elation of dragging that old, broken A/C pump and tiny tank out into the sun was tempered by a long afternoon with dozens of pieces to the new system laid out on a tarp. A real life three dimensional jigsaw puzzle.

Each time one more piece was installed, it left room to stress out more about what was left. “Why is that part still out here? Don’t we need that?” We knew we might not finish before the sun went down, and by the time it was all together, turning off the light to the pump house pitched us all into darkness.

I could still see the new system, in my mind’s eye. There’s something about it that makes it feel welcoming. Each component a mystery solved, and confidence gained if it ever breaks. Building it means we know how to fix it. It is no longer a threat to fail at any moment, but one more thing we know about. It is now another bridge, another tile floor.

We went to bed without water last night, taking a shower at Ezra’s birthday party in town. and I got up this morning to test the system for the first time. It didn’t work. It never does. You check everything you *know* is right. That though, is the stuff you already know about. So that isn’t the problem.

On the scale of what this project has taken, a quick rewiring and one more cup of water weren’t too much to add. Particularly to finally hear that pump roar unsteadily to life. We have some tweaks to make, but until then that pump will be giving us water.

Thank you, , for taking point on this project and shepherding it through an enormously complex logistical process. I know this one kept you up too many nights, but it’s really time to give yourself some credit and a pat on the back.

Which I might humbly request of you as well, dear reader.

I’m off to do some dishes.

x-posted to