Thursday, March 17, 2016

Down the Well

Here is another remnant that I stumbled on out in the woods, this one much older.  It is an old, hand-dug well.

RB and I first found this a few years ago when we were out riding in the woods. We were lucky to see it as it is nearly invisible in the summer when brush grows over it.  There is nothing left of the farm it once watered.  Accidentally riding into it would be a very bad thing.  The first time I saw it, the water level was quite low and there were the remains of a dead dear in the bottom of the well.

I am not sure why, but I often think about this well and what might lie at its unseen bottom.  I also think of the skill and labor that went into digging and lining it by hand.  Can you imagine anyone building this now?

For all of our "progress" we have lost so much.  Not least of which are the small farms and homesteads that once made this a thriving community.  If there is any one thing that has truly decimated this country, it is the loss of small farms and the communities that they supported.  It is the true American tragedy that few seem to even notice.  Agribusiness has replaced agriculture and the animals, people and land all suffer for it.

I have given a lot of thought about how to cover or fill in this well because I hate the thought of creatures falling into its cold depths and not being able to get back out.  Getting materials out there to do that would be quite a job though.  It is the kind of job communities used to gather together to do.  Like the skill that built this well though, the communities are also gone.

I believe it is on state-owned land, although property lines are a bit hazy out here.  Maybe one of these days, I'll drag some lumber out here and try to build a cover for what is now no more than a hazard.

PS - for those who wondered about the skull in the last post, it was that of a small doe.


  1. that well would worry me as well. can you drive the ATV out there? that way you could bring what you need

  2. Oh and I agree about the loss that occurs with agribusiness. the other loss is when I see beautiful farm land being chopped up for sub-divisions because it's more valuable as lots then as farm land.

  3. You are so right about the changing face of America. Small farms and ranches and the local village/community were independent and self reliant. During WWII my father worked in a shipyard in California. One of the foreman told him, "Send me a farm boy and I can teach him to do anything."

  4. Timely coincidence, I recorded a local PBS program called "Harvest" over the weekend. It is an extremely interesting tale of the family farm in the southern tier of New York and its decay. After my husband watched it we were talking and somehow this abandoned well came up and how we re-discovered it that day riding. If anyone has the opportunity to watch that program I highly recommend it.

  5. My dog fell down a well like that out in the woods one day. We're lucky he yipped for help or he'd have been lost forever. The water level was just high enough that I could pull him out by his scruff.

    We covered it as well as we could with deadfall and reported it to the Forest Service. I'm not sure if they ever found it, even though I gave them exact coordinates and marked it on a map. I should go look for it again.

  6. I hope you are able to at least cover it, and flag it. So very dangerous.

    Yes, the small farming way of life has been pushed aside for the huge corporations and for those who know how to play the subsidies game. Very sad for our culture.

  7. Eek, that would make me nervous!

  8. Neat old well. We have a 'hole' that is the top of an underground cave on my neighbor's land. They don't cover it but it doesn't have water in it. Each year either coyote or raccoon take up residence in it. It would be bad to come across in the summer with an animal or 4 wheeler.
    I see many of our small farmers renting out to the big agribusiness. They can make better money on their rent than they can on farming it themselves.
    It is a shame that large agribusinesses get subsidies to do help them grab and mistreat the land.
    I shake my head.

  9. Some animals may get water there..perhaps a warning sign would be good! :)