Monday, January 23, 2012

Well Water Woes

Hey y’all!  Welcome back to Flowers on the Fence Country!  I feel sort of like the Johnny Cash song right now – “I’ve been everywhere, man, I’ve been everywhere…”.  ‘Cause in the last months, since November, I’ve been – well, everywhere.  Without leaving my computer.  I’ve collected some flash fiction from Malta.  I’ve seen New Zealand with Sue Perkins.  I've met Meghan Shelby courtesy of Roseanne Dowell and Jennifer Taylor courtesy of BarbaraE.  I’ve been on the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland courtesy of Pat McDermott.  I’ve been in Shadow Land, courtesy of Graeme Smith and Jack Shadow.  I’ve been in a cartoon, courtesy of I. B. Nosey.  J. Q. Rose put us on chorus line.  Ginger Simpson gave us a tour of commercials, warning us the cure might be worse than the illness.  So today, I’d thought we’d stay right here.  Right here in Flowers on the Fence Country.  And maybe I’d tell y’all another of my adventures of living in the country.  So, y’all game?  You ready?  Alrigghhtttyyyyyy, then!  Here we go!  The Misadventures of Gail Branan…

You can’t claim you live in the country if you don’t have a well.  If you have a well, you’re not normal unless you’ve turned on a facet at least one time during the year and nothing’s come out of it.  It means that somebody, somewhere, has left the water running past the point where the pump can keep up with the flow.

The culprit is almost always a toilet that's kept running and nobody's noticed. One memorable afternoon, I arrived home to find my husband Randy sitting by the pump house listening to the sound of the pump.  He approached me with his usual demeanor when life’s thrown an inconvenient curve, which is to say he looked like the herald of impending and insurmountable disaster.  

“We got no water,” he announced, as though I couldn’t have figured that out by his vigil outside the pump house.  “Go cut the circuit for the well, we’ll see if it catches up by itself.”

He started cutting grass and I complied with instructions.  I waited an appropriate length of time and flipped the circuit breaker for the pump back to “on”.  Nothing.  I flipped the circuit back off so as not to burn up the pump motor and hollered him and the lawn mower down.  

“No go!” I yelled over the noise of the lawnmower.  “It needs priming! Go do it!”   

“Don’t know how!  Just go shut it back off!”

“You don’t know how?”  Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t know how either, but I’m a girl.  I’d been married to the man at the time for 34 years or so, and it had never occurred to me that all Southern country men didn’t know how to prime a pump. 

“No!  Shut off the power!”

“I already DID!” I shouted back.  “It needs priming and Jason probably knows HOW if you don’t!"  Our son-in-law had worked for Greene’s Well Drilling Service one summer as a teenager.


Needless to say, this left me in a high state of piss-off. So five minutes later he's back at the front door shouting over the lawnmower, "Did you call Jason?"

Can you see the finger? Can you see it?

"No, you told me not to!!"

"Well, go call him!!" 

My son-in-law’s a Deputy Sheriff, with fairly irregular hours.  He is further a K-9 officer and somebody’s always calling him to bring his dog out, even on his days off.  That particular day, by some miracle, he’d had a whole day off and had imbibed a few beers.  So he wasn’t driving.  I explained the situation and he allowed as how he wasn’t  sure he remembered how to prime a pump as that was not part of his job duties that summer, but could probably figure it out if I’d come collect him.  Which I proceeded to do.  We filled an ice chest with water, and Jason and I and my young grandson came back home to attend the pump.  

Jason fiddled a bit, tried one method that didn’t work, and then tried another that did.  WHALA!  Water. 

I believe it was then that Randy volunteered the information that the flush handle on our bathroom toilet was loose and he had tightened it up. 

"You didn't!" 

"Yeah."  Guess what I figured out the last time this happened and Green's came to prime it and make $85.00?  If you tighten the flush handle all the way on the toilet in our  bathroom, it's too freakin' tight, the rubber thing doesn't close all the way, and the toilet runs!  I attempted to explain this to no avail.  So I went behind him and loosened it. He came to check on things and tightened it back up. I waited till he wasn't looking and loosened it again. And took a hot shower, thinking the episode was at an end.  Not.

The next morning just when I was walking out the front door, Greene’s Well Service pulled up.  I thanked heaven all the dogs were in and not running around the yard barking their heads off and playing dodge ball with the tires, my first thought being that Randy called them before I’d gotten home yesterday and didn't call them back.

I told them I appreciated their visit but didn’t need them, the issue had been resolved.  

“Well, he called this morning but doesn’t answer his phone.  Boss man said we’d better come on out.”

Well, if he’d called this morning, maybe something was going on with the pump he'd just noticed and didn’t tell me about.  I told them they were welcome to look, my husband was two miles away and I’d go get him.  We own the local Laundromat so I ran up there to advise of our visitors.  Randy was busily engaged helping one of his favorite ladies, Miss Corrine, do her laundry.  

“I didn’t call ‘em this morning!  Go back and tell ‘em it’s fixed, don’t need ‘em!”

I love my job assignments.  I departed and headed back down our three-quarter mile long, rutted, curving, gravel, country driveway and met their truck half-way up.  I proceeded to back up this rutted, curving, in-need-of-scraping country driveway till I got to a spot where I could pull over and relayed the message.

In my absence, they had figured out that Randy’s call had come in after hours last night and I was graciously advised not to worry about it.  I thanked them sweetly and opted to go back down the driveway when they passed rather than finish backing up.  I then called Randy and got no answer, this being different than almost every time I called him how?  Not.   He called back and advised that he thought he might have called last night and left a voice mail, forgot about it and didn't call back. You think?  They have telepathy or something and just appear when wells run dry?

Ah!  Life in the Southern country side!  Y'all come back now, hear?


  1. Men!!! they're no different up here in the North. LOL

  2. I know exactly where you're coming from! When I was a kid, though, most times we didn't even have a well. We got water from a creek usually. But when we lived in south Georgia -- really south -- below Savannah, all they have are wells. So what stopped ours one summer? Wasps!!! They'd built a nest in the circuit box set right on the well and shorted it out. It was no fun hauling water until hubby --who is color blind, btw-- could clear out the wasps and reconnect all those proper wires. Yes, country living -- but it's soooo much better than the hazards of the city! :)

  3. Oh, yes, it truly is! I'd suffocate in the city!

  4. Loved how you went behind your hubby and tightened up the toilet whatcha-ma-callit. Snickered at that one. I could just see you doing that. I was so hoping that this tale would not end with the plumbing guys leaving, you get home, and there's no water again...!!! Fun story, and yes indeed, the men are the same up north. Thanks for the giggle.

    1. Hey Janet! So glad you stopped by! Probably had some extra umphh for you, darlin'! You know me well enough to imagine the whole scene!

  5. I love when men think they know what to do!! It happens with anything they think they know how to do and then they get frustrated and give up. The toilet handle tightening is an excellent example of how to treat a man. You can't tell them they're wrong, but you can go after them and fix it.:) I don't think this is a southern trait at all, Gail!! Northern men are just as stubborn and think they know everything.:)

    I enjoyed your story very much, because you brought me right into your world. We have got to get your more followers. Do you tweet your posts or put them on FB?

    1. Hey Barbara! Yep, men are pretty much the same everywhere! I tweet and FB when I post, but I'm still a very raw newbie. So any assistance with followers appreciated muchly!

  6. This is too, too wonderful. It brought back a flood of memories (no pun intended). We had a well with water that was way off yonder and whenever it needed to be primed, my mother had a handyman she'd call. It only stopped working a few times, mostly during hurricanes!

    1. Heather, darlin', you don't have to intend your puns! Somehow or other, there's always the perfect one just waiting for you! Yeah you Florida girl, you, you'd know all about the problems of hurricanes and power loss. We sometimes have power outages from hurricanes even in Central Georgia, in some of the really bad ones we'll lose water for several days, three or four even. And of course that means no water when you're on a well. When it came back on in the middle of the night, I heard my youngest son rush to the bathroom and start the shower. I hollered "You have to wait! There's not gonna be hot water for twenty minutes!" He hollered back, "I DON'T CARE!!!!" Ah, the things we take for granted, like running water!

  7. I'm still laughing, Gail. My husband can fix just about anything, but he often needs gentle guidance, and always a medal/pat on the head. We live in New Hampshire in as rural an area as I'd ever care to be, deer and coyotes, marshes and farms, and public water and sewer. I love visiting the country, but I'm a city girl at heart. Thanks for the smiles!

    1. Pat! Thanks for dropping in! Yeah, it's always an adventure. One day I'm gonna break down and tell y'all the story of the night of the drunk naked man in his underwear. (Yeah, I know if he was in his underwear he wasn't really naked but the drunk man in his underwear doesn't have quite the same ring to it, you know?)

  8. are so funny. I don't have a well, never had a well, but I have had a runny toilet or two in my lifetime. I'm married to a man who can fix almost everything. It may take him more than one try, but if he gets pissed enough, he'll fix it. Since I've been in Tennessee for six years now and lived outside the city limits in Cali, I figure I qualify as a country girl. We gotta stick together and keep these men focused.

  9. When I was a girl we had a well that fed the house, but outside, right there by the once-upon-a-time stable, now our garage, stood the second well with a good old fashioned hand pump. My Dad grew up a city boy in Brooklyn, but thought just being a man gave him full knowledge over how things work.(It's that "y" chromosome.)

    Dad wasn't what you might call a five eight no one would mistake him for one either, but Dad thought the bulge hanging over his waistband held iron strong muscles he could draw on when he needed a bit of oomph. (Mind over matter.)

    Certain devices, even in the country, need to be lubricated from time to time. My dad being an oil man, knew this, when he was on the job, but somehow never quite remembered it when he came home.

    I think I've shared my father's love for mowing our two plus acres with his weed whacker, rather than his riding tractor lawn mower, right?

    Weed whacking takes a lot more time and stimulates a lot more sweat.

    I think I was nine. Dad was whacking the lawn with humidity hovering in the 90% range. Taking a break to cool off, he headed for the hand pump.

    I DID mention certain devices need lubricating, right?

    The sky above Dad was blue, the air around Dad turned blue, and the belly bulge never quite made it to Dad's upper arms when he needed it to. Dad was not quitter. He was determined to make the handpump give him water.

    Remember that riding lawn mower Dad wouldn't use to actually MOW the lawn? Well it also had this lovely snow plow attachment. Dad figured if he brought the plow down on the pump handle it would give and water would stream from the spigot.

    I never understood the way my father's mind worked, but I watched him rev the engine, trundle over to the pump, lift the plow, zoom a bit forward, positioning the upraised plow over the pump handle and then engage the "down" button.

    You'll be happy to know Dad DID get fact it gushed out when he snapped the pump in half and drowned the lawn mower too.

    That well had to be sealed off by professionals who got some overtime in because they were hiding a snicker here and there over Dad's handy work while sealing it off.

    Dad had to also go to International Harvester and buy another riding lawn mower he would never use for mowing lawn.


    Sorry I am arriving so late to your tale, Gail. Haven't been on line too much, but I'm glad I finally made it.

    Isn't it amazing how some of the best stories are real?

  10. Very funny story Lin, I'm still laughing, Marian

  11. Oh, man, can I relate. I raised 5 sons and one husband. LOL. I swear our men are related. Very funny.

    I was on my way to a friend's place one day across the lake. I was driving my little boat when I came upon two men from the city. They were trying to get their boat engine going. I stopped to see if they needed assistance. I asked if their gas can was full and properly attached to the engine. They both gawked at me. "You mean we were suppose to bring the gas can too?"

    I nodded, then pulled them back to shore.

  12. Hi, Gail. I've nominated you for an award. You can stop by my blog to pick it up.

    Susanne Drazic