SFH Journal: 2021-02-01 through 02-07 – Plumbing the Depths of History

With Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, Mr. Monte is anxiously preparing a card, presents, and many other signs of sincere affection for his dearest Miss Fleur. So, on this very snowy Sunday, I have been able to regain access to the official Serendipity Farmhouse blogging computer. There’s a warm fire in the wood stove, and I look forward to a delicious lunch because my most beautiful and capable Wife will be making pastrami sandwiches with a perfect loaf of her exquisite homemade bread. – Indeed, all is well here at SFH!

A simple dashed line – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

For some, including Mr. Monte’s claimed 23,417 feline followers, the following story may be too long and tedious. Too bad for them. This story isn’t meant for those folks. It is meant for lovers of history and those who will follow us as residents here at our cherished Serendipity Farmhouse.

Sometimes you do the right thing and you don’t even know it. Or, you don’t know it until many years later. For example, in late-2016, dearest Wife and I commissioned the Rappahannock Historical Society to compile a detailed history of what is now the vast 1.203 acre estate known as Serendipity Farmhouse.

We were both impressed and overwhelmed by the more than 200-page document we received in early-2017. It was filled with maps, charts, photocopies of deeds, contracts, and other official documents. Even the cover page gave us pause to think about the historical significance of the land upon which our little farmhouse is built – “Formerly part of 1731 Colonial Land Grant from King George II and a 1751 land grant from Thomas 6th Lord Fairfax.”

Wondrous Spouse and I are students of history. We enjoy finding the puzzle pieces of the past and making a picture out of them. That explains why we have paged through the huge binder many times, trying our best to sort out the different names, persons, and relationships, creating a small “who’s who” in the SFH historical timeline. – Our reading of the history provided entertainment.

It wasn’t until December 22nd, during the week before last Christmas, that we found how fortuitous was our decision made in 2016. It was on that day that we found a practical application of historical documentation that saved us many hundreds of dollars that week and perhaps thousands of dollars over the next several years.

In 2013, our home inspector’s report noted that SFH had very low water pressure. In February 2014, our water pump died and had to be replaced. We thought the new pump would improve the water pressure. It did not.

For several years we lived with the problem. Various plumbers suggested that we might need a new pressure tank, but they weren’t sure. In July of 2020, our well went almost completely dry. We thought that several weeks without rain caused the problem. (See SFH Journal: 2020-07-06 through 07-12 and SFH Journal: 2020-07-13 through 07-26.) When we did have water, the pressure was very low. By December, almost nothing was coming out of the tap. So, we called in the professionals.

After testing this and that, that and this, a plumber, wiser than his years might suggest, stated without hesitation it wasn’t our pump or our pressure tank. No, we were the proud owners of an underground water line with an ever-growing leak. “We can fix it for about $3,800.00 – if you’re lucky.”

Worn out fitting

Left with no alternatives, we accepted the bid and waited for digging day. After one weather-related postponement, the day finally came. The two workmen arrived, looked at the colored lines painted on the grass by Miss Utility, and immediately started digging directly in front of the pump house.  Their plan was to find the leak and simply repair the leak at its source. Within an hour they found the source of the leak. It was an old, worn out galvanized steel 90° angle fitting. – That was the good news.

The plumbers immediately replaced the fitting; turned on the system; breathlessly waited for signs of success; and soon found out there was probably another leak somewhere else along the line. – That was the bad news.

The workers casually mentioned to me that when they tried to trace the path of the existing line, it went away from the farmhouse rather than towards it. That didn’t make much sense to them. – But … But … It suddenly made all the sense in the world to me.

Quickly, I ran into the house pulled out the history binder and started looking for old survey documents. No, the survey made in 2013 wasn’t the right one. The survey made in February of 1978 was the one. Years ago, I had wondered why that survey showed a dashed line running from the original water pump down our lane. But there it was on the survey.

Below is a comparison of the 1978 and 2013 surveys. The answer was all in a simple dashed line – – – – – – – – –

Next I looked at a deed from the same year stating the following: “The right to use the water from the well located on Lot D for the benefit of Lots A, B and C, as set forth on the plat herein.” – Serendipity Farmhouse was Lot D, and the other three lots on our lane were Lots A, B and C. That was the answer – the water line did not go directly from the well to our house. No, instead it headed westward down the lane. The line to our house branched off of it further down the lane.

I informed the workmen of my finding and showed them the survey. It was at that point they decided there was no need wasting time looking for a second leak. Instead, they would run an entirely new line from the pump house directly to Serendipity Farmhouse. – Once the new line was in place, they turned on the water system and behold – there we no leaks and our water pressure was greatly increased.

The work was done for the originally estimated $3,800.00. It could have been more. The life of our water pump was increased because it was no longer continuously pumping water back into the ground. Finally, my neighbor across the way now had an answer to a question he had for years: “Why is it always so wet and soggy on the east side of my house?” – – Now the answer was clear, we at SFH had been giving him free water to keep his grass green through the longest droughts.

Lesson Learned 2021-01: Read your history – it will save you money and heartache.

SFH by the Numbers

The following links will catch you up with what’s come out of our gardens and what has gone into mason jars and the freezer since our last Journal post:

SFH 2020 Plantings

SFH 2020 Harvest

SFH 2020 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly: 

SFH WX 2021-02-01 through 02-07

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