Cleaning the Well

“Hurry, bring the water in,” Mom called as we dawdled at the pump on that bright morning. We were watching Daddy pile up tools nearby – shovels, a crowbar, hammers and nails. He and another hired hand were going to clean out our well.

Mom called one more time, then Daddy looked up. “Better get that water to your Mom,” he said, and we scrambled. Daddy never gave orders much to us kids, but when he did, it was time to move.

We pumped hard, bringing up great gushes of pure, cold, sweet water to rock the bucket hung on the lip of the pump spigot. The two buckets were filled quickly and we ran them to the house and came back for another filling.

“That’s enough,” said Mom, as she took the buckets from us at the door. We turned and flew back to where Daddy and Sam were already tearing up the platform where the pump sat. Sam was loosening the huge rusty bolts that held the pump head onto the platform and Daddy was tearing off the side boards that framed the platform.

Backed up under the outside staircase that led to a mysterious attic, we watched as the pump teetered, then the two men lifted it and laid it gently on its side. They went to work unbuckling leathers and other parts and finally lifted the pump head onto the grass nearby.

They tackled the platform with the crowbar and claw hammers until the boards could be lifted up and put beside the pump head. Finally, the well itself was revealed, naked and cold and wide mouthed – much wider than we’d imagined.

Daddy called us to come and see, and we cautiously peered down into it. It was a shallow well, twenty feet deep into the Wyoming sand and rock. A trickle of water spilled through the rock on the north side and made bubbles that popped almost as soon as they appeared. Rounded rocks, like big river rocks, made little islands.

And what else did we see? Frogs. Lots of frogs. Our good and trusty well was home to dozens of frogs.

Daddy and Sam started laughing. “Well, we know the water’s good or the frogs couldn’t live in it!”  We believed them without doubt. Of course the water was good. Otherwise the frogs would die. Right?

Then came the exciting part. Daddy put on his wading boots and Sam tied a rope to the fence. He wrapped the rope around the fence several times, then stationed himself on the edge of the well. Daddy took the rope and wound himself around it as well as he could, then stepped over the edge. We gasped in astonishment. He had disappeared.

Sam smiled at us. “Don’t worry. Your Daddy’s all right, I can see him down there.”

After what seemed like an hour, we heard the slight gurgle of the little stream lift itself into a louder gurgle, then into a roar and then Daddy yelled. Sam started pulling the rope up hard, hand over fist, and up came Daddy, drenched and shivering, but grinning.

“There’s water enough for two more families down there!”

After a change of clothes and lunch, Daddy went back to work, rebuilding the platform and reattaching the pump head. Sam had been given other chores for the afternoon, but Daddy was home all day that day. We were proud of the new, non splintery platform and the cold, cold water that gushed clean and pure. We knew it was good for us. It was even good for frogs.

About Pat Veretto

Pat is a frugal living expert with many published articles. She lives in Colorado and maintains her own Frugal Living Blog (which we love!).

2 thoughts on “Cleaning the Well

  1. I hate to have to ask this, since it will reveal me as a total city-girl… What did your dad have to do to clean the well? Something happened down there that made the water come in faster. What did he do? (I’m assuming they replaced the wood cover platform, and cleaned and conditioned? all the working bits of the well head and pump… I have no idea what would be involved in that either.) Can someone take pity on this poor clueless city girl and tell her what was involved, both at the top and the bottom of the well?

  2. I’m not a city kid, but I confess that I don’t really know what he did, other than enlarging the the hole where the water was coming in! :)

    I have never been down in a well myself and this happened when I was a kid (many, many years ago!).

    I hope someone will chime in who knows.