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We returned from Washington state this past November , ready for our six months at our home on the desert , expecting our water tanks to be full from the summer rains as they always had been . Uh oh . There had been only one good rain while we were gone . Our tanks were definitely not full .
So we conserved more , flushed less , purchased drinking water . And we watched as the prickly pears shriveled and the water levels in our tanks went down , down . We started to worry , and this started us wondering about a Plan B . A little history first . Three years ago we bought 40 acres that adjoins our property , 40 acres that came complete with a decrepit mobile home , a windmill , and a dry well . Our neighbor had left and abandoned everything there about five years before that , and it all became an eyesore he had finally sold to us .
The well was thought to be 100 years old , and had produced good water for many years , until it was abandoned by our neighbor . Perhaps it was its disuse after being abandoned that made it dry up . Perhaps it was that several other wells had been drilled nearby in recent years . We didn ’ t give it much concern or try to figure it out when we bought the place . We were used to rain catchment at our house , and since the mobile home sat under 2,300 square feet of roof , we immediately purchased a 3,000-gallon tank and began catching rain .
Charlie spent those first three years resurrecting the mobile home , renovating it into quite a nice guesthouse . We imagined friends and family coming to visit , and we thought we might perhaps even rent it out at times , once the danger of Covid passed .
But if we really did have a string of guests , 3,000 gallons might not be enough of a supply . We were thinking this as we were leaving for Washington state this past July . So , anticipating the usual summer rains , we purchased a second 3,000-gallon tank .
But as mentioned , we returned at the end of November to find the tanks at our house not replenished and both tanks at the mobile home less than half full . “ Drought ” was now part of everyone ’ s conversations . For the first time in our 25 years here , we were worried about water .
So , what would be our Plan B ? Sitting right there were the windmill and the dry well . Could it possibly be resurrected ? Charlie was motivated to find out if we could make the well functional again . To begin , he dropped a string with a small weight attached down the hole , and when he pulled it up , he learned that there was wetness at the bottom . Perhaps the well was not totally dry after all ?
All it took was a phone call to Skinner ’ s Well in Alpine and out came Saul , an experienced well man , with one of his sons . They pulled all 150 feet of pipe out of the ground which revealed that the bottom fourfoot length of pipe which held the various parts of the windmill ’ s pumping mechanism , including what is called the “ leathers ,” had
Left : Blowing out the well . Above : The windmill pipe and mechanism .
12 Cenizo Summer 2021