Sunday, October 25, 2009

The pump shack

Originally uploaded by amkb

Anna: Another photo from the family farm.

When I was quite little, we didn't have running water or indoor plumbing in the house. What we had was this pump shack. It was located outside the fence around the house, as we used it to water our cattle, too. The unpainted area used to have an opening on the side with a water trough by the wall. A special metal pipe could be hung from the pump's spout, redirecting the water through the hole and into the trough. There was also a long handle that could be attached to the pump to get water manually, in case there was ever a power failure. We had quite a few of those back then. From here, we hauled water for use in the house, the chicken coop and the barn, as needed.

Inside the shed, on the side the pump was at, was an old wood cookstove we used to heat up water for baths. There was a claw-foot tub we'd take turns using, filling with more heated water as needed. There was a drain in the concrete floor, so when we were done, we'd just pull the plug and let the water drain onto the floor and into the drain. We always made sure to take baths on Saturday night, so that we'd all be clean and shiny for church in the morning. Being as little as I was at the time, my sister would carry me from the pump shack to the house, so I wouldn't get my feet dirty. I still remember one very dark night, looking over her shoulder as she carried me, and seeing a lightning strike somewhere off in the distance.

The shack was also a workshop. The other half of the shed held all sorts of tools and work spaces. There was even an old fridge were we kept the cream we collected for sale to the local creamery, which has long since been closed.

Then one day, someone flicked the switch to run the pump, and no water came out. We had to attach the handle and manually pump and pump and pump until we finally got some water going, but it was the end of our well. I don't know exactly why, but it had gone dry and we needed to dig a new one. My father chose to have a well dug near the house. He also had an addition added to the original part of the house, which was made of logs, building an indoor bathroom in the original part of the house and having running water installed in the new kitchen. My mother got an electric stove out of the deal, too - I don't think the wood cookstove we'd been using could be moved anymore. My dad even had trenches dug for pipes to a couple of fountains installed for the cows that would automatically maintain water levels, and even added a pump right in the barn.

Ain't technology grand? ;-D


45+ and Aspiring said...

Thanks for sharing this beautiful picture and wonderful images of a past time! It's neat that the pump shack is still there . . .and though its use all sounds wonderfully romantic, I can't imagine having to wait around for water to heat for my bath!

Anna said...

Glad you enjoyed. :-) Being as young as I was, I don't remember the tough stuff quite so much, even though I know it was there. I did learn to appreciate the self-sufficiency of being able to have water, even during power outages, though.