A couple weeks ago we made the decision to deepen our well. We’re lucky to have good water up here at the farm, but our well was shallow and volatile. The drought had taken its toll. We wanted more water security. Everything went fine. The drilling company lived up to its stellar reputation, going above and beyond to get us through the process despite rain, ice, snow, and wind. Aside from the one pleasant but quirky fellow who seemed to have timed traveled from the early 19th century, and thus would not talk directly to a woman, nothing occurred out of the ordinary. Fortunately my husband Jack was here with me, so he could translate when conversation between the three of us was necessary. Pleasant Quirky Fellow suggested we go 15-20 feet deeper, and I tugged at my husband’s sleeve. “Remember what happened the last time,” I said, and he nodded. I’d told him the story many times. PQF looked puzzled. I said, “Do it!” No response. And then Jack said, “Do it!” and PQF nodded and went the extra 20 feet.


The memory I mentioned to my husband involves a story I’ve told many times. Back in the early 1980s, when I was a young bride (different husband) with two adorable step children, we managed to live with a lousy well that netted a quart a minute. We accepted my mother’s offer of a very low interest loan, and we purchased a storage tank that made things much easier. Eventually (and I actually forget the details) we either had or borrowed the money to deepen the well. The well was already pretty deep, and we signed off with the same company, agreeing to go down to 500’, an expensive enterprise. My husband was at work and I at home, listening to the drone of the well rig as I paced hour after hour, hoping upon hope that we weren’t pouring thousands of dollars down a dry hole. After what seemed like days, there was a soft knock on the door, and the ten steps or so to the landing took forever. The man looked grim. “I’m so sorry, ma’am. We’re at 500’ and no improvement.” I remember trying to get the door closed before I burst into tears. I made it back down from the landing to the couch, simply trying to adjust to the reality as the man packed up the rigs and the gear, out of my sightline.


A few minutes later someone was pounding on the door. I ran up the landing, alarmed. The same man was standing there, drenched from head to toe and grinning from ear to ear. I gaped at him. “I had one more pipe on the rig,” he said, breathless, “so I decided to put it down there”—breath—“and drill 20 more feet. Five feet down we struck it. Ma’am, you have 50 gallons a minute.” I stared at him in silent disbelief, and he capped it and went home, saying the pump man would come in the morning.


That man’s decision taught that young version of me volumes about work ethics and attitude. His job had already been done, and it would have been easier for him to drive away, leaving me to my disappointment. He said the look on my face made him think, “What harm would it do?” In this case, the extra mile was only 20 feet. But it made a world of difference.


Nothing this dramatic happened this week when PQF did the same; we were steady at 25 GPM. Not fantastic but totally workable. He capped the well and left. The pump man made a special trip to Auburn to get us the solar pump we wanted, and drove up on a Saturday in the pouring, near freezing rain to install it so we’d have our water back. We’d rationed water out of our 2,700 gallon holding tank, so we never even ran out in the three weeks it took to get the weather to cooperate with the drilling. Now we can plant the orchard with confidence and begin to plan many other projects involving delicious perennials. We won’t take daily showers for granted for awhile. Another man at the drilling company told us that our water is particularly sweet due to the volcanic rock up here and how that rock filters the water. It is the sweetest water any of us have ever tasted. We are blessed beyond measure to have so much of it. As I reflected on the experience, I realized that PQF would have truly aroused some feminist rage in me a decade or two ago. Now I know that anger implies love and there was no reason to be angry with him, only curious in a detached sort of way. More importantly, I realized how lucky I am that this experience reminded me of that sweet man decades ago who went the extra twenty feet for me, and how it’s important that I do the same for others when the situation is right.