Category Archives: Project: House

Well, well, well

Two weeks without reliable water in the house. We’ve been buying 2.5gal jugs of clean water from the grocery store. The water is not as terrible as last week, but it’s still cloudy and orange, and varies minute to minute. It’s definitely not good enough to drink or shower in, so I’ve been showering at work. But we’ve given up trying to protect the pipes from whatever is in the water, and are now OK with using toilets at least – the alternative was a drag.

We had some water treatment/well repair people out on Wednesday and they sent a camera down the well to see what was going on. They had to run the water out of the well as the camera dropped, and a lot of time was spent waiting for the water level to drop. But, that’s how it works.

The casing at the top of the well, which is there to stabilize things and to prevent ground water from getting in, looked OK. But that only goes down to 60 feet or so, IIRC. Past that, there were a couple of spots where we could see murky water running into the well, and some staining on the rock that suggests it could be a source of the problem. That was at 90′. They saw the water coming in on the camera’s way down, but on its way back up, that water had slowed. So, that could mean it was just a crevice where the well’s bad water was collecting, and emptied out when the water level dropped. Or it could mean it’s an actual source of bad water but which flows at a variable rate.

They were able to go down to ~150′ with the camera. After that it became impossible to navigate the camera around the metal brackets that are installed every few dozen feet to hold the tubes and wires that connect the pump to the surface. But the well is like 400-450′ deep so anything could be happening down there.

We’re waiting for them to get back to us, but we assume they’re going to recommend adding additional casing to seal off that spot at 90′. No idea what that will cost, yet. No idea if it will fix the problem or not.

Bottom line is: the well is bad. It’s probably iron and iron-eating bacteria (along with tannins and other crap). Nobody knows if we can get rid of it.

A new well costs close to $10,000 – and there’s no guarantee that a new well wouldn’t go bad too.


Here’s what our water looked like at 7:00PM last night.

Not coincidentally, I’m sure, it’s the color of the soil around here.

That’s considerably worse than than it’s ever looked.

Here’s what that same glass looked like at 10:00PM.

Oh, Well

September 11, 2016, a day that will live in infamy as the first time this happened:

At the time, after talking with the builder, we thought the problem was that I’d used too much of the water in the well and had drained it down to the sediment.

And then it happened again in December. But we’d had a bunch of guests. And we all took showers the same morning. So we figured we’d run the well down again.

And then it happened in January, on a day when we had hardly used any water. After that, we talked to the builder again, and he talked to the well people, and they all said we need to install tanks that will hold hundreds of gallons of water; this will take the “stress” off the well since the well pump won’t have to run as often – we’ll just use the water in the tanks. How the water gets into the tanks without running the well pump and stressing the well is beyond my ability to comprehend. Plus, if any of the bad water got into the tank, it would contaminate the whole thing… all 200 or 400 gallons. Right?


And then it happened again in February. And we called the builder and he asked for a sample of the water. He had it tested and the answer was : Iron! We have iron in our water. OK. Get a filter! That works for some kinds of iron contamination, but not all.

And then it happened this Sunday. And we called the builder and he was all about the tanks again. So we called a water filtration company and they came out and tested the water. They didn’t find any iron, because the iron comes in spurts. Something happens in the well and suddenly the water around the pump is contaminated with iron. Then, after a day or so, the iron slowly settles out and the water is clear again.

They found high levels of tannins, which suggests surface water contamination. Which shouldn’t happen because wells have liners that go down a certain number of feet to prevent surface water from getting in (the pump itself is 300 feet down). This suggests a broken well casing. This could also explain the iron – clumps of iron-eating bacteria and the iron-rich dirt they live in occasionally fall into the well and turn the water into brown poison until they settle out.

And then it happened again this morning.

So now we have to drop a camera into the well and see if there’s any obvious problems with the casing. If there is, we have to try to get the well people to fix it. Nobody thinks we’re likely to succeed at that.

And, we still have to install a filter.

Until then, we have to use bottled water.

This is country life.

Have a drink on me

The water from our well woke up in a bad mood. 

Actually… I broke the water. I’ve been trying to get some grass seed growing, so I’ve been watering. And I accidentally ran the well (mostly) dry. No idea how long it will take to refill and get all the sediment settled. This house is cursed.


Big smudge on the window Thursday AM. Big dead dove on the ground underneath. Little dead hummingbird under a different window.

That’s what windows with inside screens do to birds.

So, we’ve taken the feeders away.

The birds haven’t stopped coming by, though.

Here’s a female summer tanager, wondering where the seeds went.

Nikon D90, 70-300mm.

Wild Wild Life

Here are a couple of the wild critters around the new house.

Someday when I get my trail camera I’ll see if those paw prints in the mud were dog or coyote.

Until then, birds!

Nikon D90, 70-300mm

Pileated woodpecker. There is at least one pair of these in the neighborhood. I’ve seen them together a few times while out running. This guy was perforating a tree about 20′ from my desk.

Nikon D90, 70-300mm

This little fellow is a blue grosbeak. He’s a regular at the ground under the feeder – picking up what the swarms of sloppy sparrows throw on the ground.

Took me a long time to ID him since all of my books and all of the pics on the web say that a blue grosbeak should be bright blue, like a bluebird. This guy is so dark he looks black without binoculars or a big zoom lens.

Nikon D90, 70-300mm

Good old mourning dove, hiding his tail behind a clump of dirt.

That’s what our ‘yard’ looks like. It’s bare Carolina clay, absolutely overflowing with rocks. Not sure what we’re going to do with it yet.

Nikon D90, 70-300mm

Lots of hummingbirds – including one that keeps getting stuck in our garage. Luckily, she’ll land on the end of a broom so I can shuttle her outside without much drama.

Nikon D90, 70-300mm

Sometimes, they perch in the tree above the feeder and wait to attack any other hummingbirds who come close.

Nikon D90, 70-300mm

Here’s a nice pair of tits. (DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE?!!!)

A big-ass vulture and I had a stare-off last weekend. As I was walking out of the garage, he flew across the driveway and landed in a tree, about 20 feet up. He got bored with me after a couple of minutes and whooshed off to find something stinky to stick his head in.


My grandparents lived on top of a hill, in very very rural NY. There was no cable TV, and the choices for broadcast TV were slim. So, in the early 80s, as soon as the tech was available, they got a satellite dish. It was huge: 5 feet across, mounted on a steel pole anchored by cement in the back yard. A giant crank on the back could be used to aim the dish at the different satellites (you lined up part of the crank mechanism with little scratches my grandfather had made in the metal – one scratch for each satellite he’d found). Each satellite carried a handful of channels so you’d plan your TV watching for the evening around the particular satellite you were looking at – cranking the disk around during winter nights was miserable. But, even given the hassle, they could pick up all the networks, including HBO (it was unscrambled then). It was even better than cable!

Well, We just got a dish mounted on our roof. It’s about 16 inches across. We get like 250 channels in HD. Hooray for technology.


One of the exiting parts of moving to a house in the country is learning which services are available and which aren’t. For example, we don’t get cable TV on our street. 0.8 miles away, at our previous house, we had cable TV. But not here – not enough people on this street for the cable company to bother stringing a line. We have DSL, though, so we can get 8Mbps internet, instead of the 30Mbps we got at the last house (or the 300Mbps we got at our apartment). It’s apparently enough for streaming video, so all is well.

We also, we just learned, can’t get garbage pickup. So, it looks like I’ll be hauling trash to the dump in my car. Time to get a plastic trunk liner!

Housey Dory

The kitchen is pretty much done. Just need to take the instructions off the microwave door and the protective plastic wrap off the pendant lights…


Exterior is basically done. Just a bit more landscaping left.


Builder says we can move in, maybe, starting next week.


Floor is done!



The particular style we wanted was back-ordered until the end of July (at least), so Mrs chose a different one that was similar in color to the one we had planned to use. I didn’t notice. Well, I noticed that the planks were wider on the actual floor than on the samples we looked at, back in December. And when I mentioned that, she told me about her multi-day phone adventure with the flooring people. That was the deal: new house, but she handles all the bullshit. It’s a really wide plank (7″, I think) and that would normally scare me; wider planks shrink more in dry weather. But because it’s an engineered floor there shouldn’t be nearly as much, if any, shrinking.

Whatever. Done.

Just a few details left to finish-up : paint fixes, mailbox, a few lights, steps up to the front porch, shelves and counter top on this bigass row of cabinets in the living room:


Soon. Soon. Soon.