Since Spring 2015, when a new bunch of cattlemen decided to refurbish the old cattle watering station in my part of the desert and run a bunch of cattle here, I’ve occasionally had to choke down thoughts about the expressive uses Howard Roark found for dynamite.
There was a well already on site, but due to some sort of geological anomaly it’s very shallow – little more than 50 feet – and the water would not normally be considered potable. This cattle operation, for reasons of its own, decided to spend the money to have a deep well drilled on higher ground and installed a solar-powered pump they clearly intended to run at all sunlit hours.
Having spent that money, they then tried to nickel-and-dime things. First they tried to patch the existing concrete tank, which wasn’t made very well to begin with and had been quietly returning to the earth for I don’t know how many decades. That really comically didn’t work.
Then they brought in a big plastic tank, but didn’t want to go to the trouble of connecting it electrically to the well pump. So they just ran a pipe from the overflow to the extremely leaky concrete tank. Which ran its water out over the ground day after day for three summers, wasting I don’t know how many thousands of gallons of water to say nothing of the incredible muddy mess it made of the watering station.
That last part was none of my business but I really resented a bunch of outsiders coming here and pumping the damned aquifer dry just out of penny-pinching laziness. At least they had the decency to switch off the pump during the winter months when they don’t free-range cattle.
The cattle returned last month, and I’ve been waiting to see when they’d turn that damned pump back on. Happened a couple of days ago, but they made a small modification to their overflow pipe…
…and routed it into the old well casing. So they’re pumping water out of the aquifer and into the shallow well. I’m not a geologist but I imagine in the fullness of time most of that water will find its way back into the aquifer. So I guess that’s better than pumping it out onto the ground to make a mess and evaporate.
Last summer the kid who’d been managing the cattle in this area – whom I had truly grown to loathe – quit amid ironic complaints about how deplorable the desert dwellers were. Actually he quit in the face of outright death threats he had more than earned – not everybody out here is as, um, civilized as I am. His replacement has so far shown himself a lot more mature and easier to get along with. Hence the pipe extension, I suppose.