Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Monday, June 06, 2011

well done indeed

start digging a well and unleash the ghosts...
so goes a tamil saying which summarises the intense effort and agony involved in digging a well - or getting a well dug.

thus many have started resorting to the use of borewells - which take no more than a day to drill and access the deep tranches of groundwater.

but, a well is unmatched as the preferred personalised water storage device for a farm. just the sheer volume of water it stores gives the farmer many options.

for over 3 years, DV has been steadfast in not unleashing the ghosts.
but as a necessary step towards increasing our agricultural area, a well would be critical and we were ready to take on the ghosts.

first step is place identification - very importantly, it has to be at a place where the underground springs are copious and generous.
we trust that our rain water harvesting initiatives should help these springs and hence our well.
we did this through a water diviner. it could have been a little sham act of sorts, but we just went with some faith and some logic.

then the diggers take over.
spec sheet
1. diameter - 21 feet for the first 15 feet depth.
2. diameter - 12 feet for the second 15 feet depth.
the intermediate 4.5 feet wide annular space (at around 15 feet) will be the base on which the retaining wall will be raised to prevent the top part (item 1) does not capsize through rain and erosion.

the retaining wall is another story.

so here we go with the digging.

as always, we start with the pooja. the yellow shirted gentleman is the lead digger.

the use of the back-hoe (JCB) is now common practice. this monster gouged out around 11 feet deep of the top diameter cylinder.

the dirt is hauled with tractors. top soil to the fields, rest spread for road repair, other future building works.

the hole starts to develop.

in its developed state. around 7 hours of JCB work it took to get to this size.

now we move into manual zone. a crane is installed. 

the dirt is manually loaded onto buckets and craned to the top.

once we hit the rocky substrata, the explosives come out. this is another regular practice to speed up the process. notice the drilling going on, as well as the tubular explosive packs in his hand. they are packed into the drilled holes.

see the spots where the explosives have been packed into the earth.

after the boom , this is the rubble which then gets hauled out.
they used explosives 7 times through this digging.

and at last, the first sight of water. this was noticed at a depth of around 24 feet.
well digging is done in summer for the simple reason that the water levels/springs are at their lowest flow and if you manage to hit a decent water level in summer, you should be well taken care of for the other seasons.

as the last bits of debris is being cleared, the final look.

the final pile of rubble.

after the initial JCB work, it took around 65 person days to complete the digging.
at a total cost of 75K, it is a reasonably modest expenditure for a well.
the digging team - led by the very hard working Mr T Govindan - was very professional and we would strongly recommend them.


Anonymous said...

Awesome job, blog etc. Amazing spirit both of you, all the best!

Curious, how do you fund this venture? 75k seems like a lot of money..

Jayadeep(JDP) said...

Way to go CSM ! I have very fond memories of our well being dug at my hometown. We dug it first in Dec-Jan and there was water at 25ft I guess and we deepened it to another 15ft in May. But had to dig another 3ft to ensure water always. And it was all manual-job those days. The soil changed colors many times, especially in the end it was very soft soil making it very challenging. My mother still depends on it for everything except watering plants for which she uses the water supply. And I enjoy the workout it gives to draw the water.

Raja said...

Hearty Congrats for the "well" done job.

Sriram, I am Raja (Tirunelveli), visited PR and met you some 6 months back. I have been a regular reader of your blogs. You have been doing a valuable service by sharing all this information. It inspires and helps a lot of people like me.

Do you remember my story. bought a land in Tirunelveli and trying to setup a farm. I need some specific guidance from you and your team. Please send me your email id. I will send you the details. Mine is

Arvind said...

Sriram, thanks for the timely article about digging a well! We are considering one as well, although it will have to wait till next year as the rains have already started for us. I look forward to the completion of the well, with retaining wall etc.

@Raja (commenter above), some time back I created a forum for like-minded natural farmers and enthusiasts to brainstorm. It has not taken off as much as I hoped; needs a bit of a kickstart. I hope you will consider joining in and posting some of your queries there, it may well be the catalyst needed. You can find it here

csm said...

anon - DV has allocated a fund for such infra work.

jdp - home well or agri well? so many fond memories of using the pulley system.

raja - sent you a mail.

arvind - the rate we fixed here was rs 275 per cubic yard. if you noticed, all the foot measures were exact multiples of 3.
so in effect, top dia is 7 yards, bottom dia is 4 yards and depth is 10 yards.
this rate included the cost of explosives.

SurveySan said...

impresive. but need to even out the edges to get a 'pucca' circle.

Osai Chella said...

well'come ! TAKE A LOOK AT This article about our farm experiment near coimbatore

Prashant said...

please check below website for organic farming .
Mr. Bhaskar save is doing this for years .


dv said...

may everyone digging a well find a good ghostBuster like our Govindan

csm said...

ss - who needs perfect circles...??

osai - good stuff...

prashant - check this post on bhaskarbhai

Arvind said...

Hi Prashant,

You may like this previous post on this same blog :)

Surio said...

Enjoyed the post. Two questions:

> for over 3 years, DV has been steadfast in not unleashing the ghosts.
hoiy? hoiy was DV reticent about the digga-digga-digga?

2. Chokka's lineage? Did Abodh get back?

Along with that well proverb I am reminded of another one:
Start digging a well before you get thirsty.

Surio said...

Good news on getting eyeballs on the media. TV documentary next? :-) Congrats.

Here's some points from me:

1. Couldn't you have asked the reporter to use the word "homestead" instead of "experiment"? I understand that you've chosen to call it that, but this is my concern.
As it is the "great Indian public" is notorious for its social climbing and yuppieness and over-conformity. Now movements such as ours will have to overcome this additional prejudice of being branded "experimenters".

> That's the reason I still use plastic;
> it is recyclable. A steel tumbler is more energy intensive,”
I disagree with that premise. Plastic is mainly obtained as a by-product of petroleum refining. So imagine the "total" energy intensity that went towards manufacturing the final plastic tumbler/plate in your hand. Now, in my case, I still happen to use some of my grandmothers' steel tumblers and plates, and I don't even need to "recycle" anything to begin with. So, which is more intensive in the long run?

And with steel you can even repair the steel utensils with the local blacksmith (the dents or cracks and holes), thereby keeping that part of the economy charged up too, is it not? That would be both Holistic and Systemic in my view ;-)

3. God Bless your mother. I wish more mothers are so supportive like your mother was, of their childrens' dreams rather than foist their own ideas of "success" and "perfection" on their respective wards.

Like Sriram I do not intend to set an example or anything. I am primarily interested in being authentic to myself. OTOH, since you are now in the limelight as a 'mascot' (willingly or involuntarily) for this type of "simple living high thinking creed", you have a huge responsibility to get all the facts straight and your narrative must be flowing and emulative.

Therefore, good luck with your farm stay and your plantings. BTW, did you take your wife and son for a "one-of-a-kind" memorable summer vacation to live in the Farm in the last few months?

P.S: I am replying quite late, so I hope the message reaches you.

csm said...

surio - the ghosts were holding DV back. so he moved with the borewell + windmill solution first.

abodh negated the weimaraner angle. he said that it could have some dobe genes. but nothing to worry. same was also seconded by another local dog expert :-)

Jayadeep(JDP) said...

CSM - it is a home well. Wells are even now very popular in our area. I just visited home last weekend and it is almost full and natural water flow along the highway is on(there is a proposal to widen the highway that can disrupt this flow soon).