That is the response I got from my husband when I attempted research for this post. It went something like this . . . .
“Honey, what do you call that metal pipe-looking thingy attached to the white pipe attached to the well pump?”
“It’s the pipe attached to the well pump.”
“Well that sounds cumbersome and inelegant in writing.”
“It ain’t glamorous work that I do, baby.”
“Will you write this post for me now that I have put all the pictures in place?”
I was fairly certain I knew what that meant. I wish I could get away with that no response trick.
Since my professional -on-staff was not helpful, this post contains little in the way of professional terminology. However, I do have pictures of child labor for you.
Child labor — it’s cheap but unskilled. And it was completely necessary last month when a thunderstorm took out our well, leaving us without running water. Sid removed the tile covering the well and our kids gathered around to see the mysterious source of our water.
With mystery and marvel aside, it was time to labor. Sid grabbed the pipe attached to our well pump.
Hmmmm . . . . it may not be glamorous, but it does look brawn-building.
Did I mention that the well pump is a whopping 400 feet beneath the earth’s crust?
And the weight they were desperately trying to get a grip on is about 400 pounds?
Sidney jumped in to help with the heavy lifting and Lincoln wedged a board against the pipe, holding it in place when Sid needed to change his grip or rest.
Oh yeah, definitely without glamour but there was a lot of sweat. I imagined wee tiny muscular tissues ripping apart and reforming in Sid’s arms, shoulders and back at preternatural speed.
I kept taking pictures. I don’t have any muscle fibers to rip.
Sid decided a different approach was necessary.
Look at their innocent faces — the day was still new and they had hope and confidence and a TRACTOR — “Let’s get this well pulled! Yeah!”
A clue, dear reader! If you missed the foreshadowing the first time, return to the above sentence and read it again.
Lincoln manned the tractor, raising and lowering Sid on the forks. Sidney put his muscle to work, helping his Dad get a grip on the pipe.
Lincoln’s job looked deceptively easy, but the sun burned hotter and sweat dripped down his face.
I chose to stand in the shade as much as possible.
We had a lot of pipe out of the well and Sidney switched positions, pulling and directing the pipe up the driveway.
“So Mom, if we lived in the city, we could have all the chlorinated, fluoridated water we wanted without the work?”
“Yes, dear, but we didn’t want all that chlorine and fluoride clogging up the iodine receptors in your thyroid.”
“You are so wise mother.”
(I have imaginary conversations like this frequently, in which I inspire respect and awe. It keeps me entertained).
Even the wee little girls were pressed into labor.
At this point, I thought about putting down my camera and helping my girls pull. But then, I would have missed this shot . . . . . . . . . .
I briefly considered whether I should feel guilty about taking pictures while they worked so hard, but I discarded that perspective in favor of the one that says, “You are building independence, hard work and pride in a job done well, Mama.”
Anyway, when that pipe became too long, heavy and unwieldy, the girls moved to the Kubota. They chained the pipe to the Kubota and drove a few feet at a time when Sidney gave the signal. Rachel was very afraid to drive it by herself, so I rode with her and then moved to walking beside her and moved farther away a few feet at a time, taking pictures. Soon, she was confident and didn’t need me anymore.
The day ended — a hard-working day. We ( I use that term very loosely) pulled all 400 feet of pipe and the well pump out of the ground.
The first time they pulled it and replaced the old well pump with a brand new pump and eagerly lowered it back into the ground, tasting water on their tongues and feeling cool baths awaiting them back at the house.
Well, I know Sidney expressed a great desire for a shower. Personally, I was not dirty.
But our brand new pump did not work.
But all is not lost!
No, this was where the kiddoes got to see the value of experience at work. It took them 4 hours to pull the well the first time. They had learned some things along the way, so they did it the second time in 1 hour. They made some electrical repairs and eagerly lowered the pump back into the ground, tasting water on their tongues and feeling cool baths awaiting them back at the house.
Unfortunately, dear reader, I must tell you that we still had no water.
It was then too dark to see. The man of the house and his children went to bed knowing they had to get up the next day to pull the well for the third time.
The woman of the house was thinking about the problem of too many pictures of well-pulling. Also, she wondered when she could say goodbye to the outdoor potty.
This little one was very tired and suffered an eye injury, but don’t worry. She wasn’t injured in the line of duty. She was being careless with the salsa and her eye.
Prairie recovered her eye.
And the Gaskins kids helped Sid pull the well twice more the next day. Sid tested everything he could think of; he had to be sure before he sent me back to the store to return the brand-new well pump. It had this funny little quirk —though it was a submersible well pump, it only worked ABOVE ground. As soon as it was lowered into water, it stopped working.
Though it was frustrating, the Gaskins kids learned a few things. The third time they pulled the well, they did it in 40 minutes. The fourth time they did it in 27 minutes.
So they learned about hard work. They pulled 1600 feet of pipe out of the ground in 2 days.
They learned efficiency.
But above all, they learned how much they LOVE the water that comes so easily and freely from the tap.
Actually, it was a good reminder for me too.