I pulled into the yard and set the hand throttle for a fast idle to cool the motor. The fan blew up dust from the yard. The big dial-thermometer on the porch read an even 100. That was hot even for late July. I walked around to the back, opened the valve on the tank and stuck my head under the stream.
Roland’s pickup was parked under the Maple tree but the yard was empty. Mike’s convertible was right where he left it, baking in the sun. Smokey, the mare, had abandoned her watch at the fence and stood under another big-leaf maple, eyeing the now empty water trough. Smokey’s trough was normally fed by the same spring that filled our well but that was dry. I had just enough hose to reach the trough and could spare ten gallons.
I had just begun to drag the hose under the fence when Roland came out of the house.
“Mike thinks we should dump the water into the well so we can pump it into the house like normal. Sandy want’s to take a shower.”
“I don’t know about that. Steve says there’s an old cistern up by the creek. Maybe we can get the truck back there and fill that.”
“I know where it is. It’s really overgrown and we’d have to cut a bunch of saplings to get the truck back there. Just dump it in the well. It’ll work out.”
I filled the horse trough and drained the tank into the well.
“I’ll have to make another trip to water the garden,” I told Roland when I was done.
“Wait till it’s cooler. It’s better to water the plants in the evening anyway.”
Susan showed up in her beat up little VW bug two days after Halftrack and Sandy arrived. Along with Trish it made for a full house. Susan stayed with me in the bus while the other four crowded into the two bedrooms of the house. I had half a dozen 5-gallon water jugs I kept by the bus for cooking and washing but the rest of the water I hauled for the house disappeared down the well at an alarming rate. Susan was no stranger to rustic living and wondered about dumping water down the well. “Three hundred fifty gallons a day is a lot of water for a household,” she said.
“I think Roland has a plan but I’m not sure what it is,” I told her in response to her amazement.
We hung out for a couple more days. Sandy and Trish went riding along the pipeline with Harriett on her horse, Smokey, and two other mares in the women’s collective herd. Susan and I stayed in bed late, till it got too hot and then took the truck to town for water and lunch at the cafe. While the water tank drained into the well we went hiking up the mountain. Roland and Halftrack told each other war stories and split firewood for the cook stove and picked the last of the peas. Summer squash was on, lettuce was beginning to bolt in the hot weather but was still edible, while the chard was holding up much better. New potatoes were beginning to show above the dirt. The bounty of our humble cabin was becoming plain to see.