Fall 2020 Work

Amy and I spent last October on the Bird house property in Lone Pine to make some major improvements. The main goal was to get the huge RV on site. To get there, we first had to:

  1. Fix the well – The water pipe coming out of the well had burst and gushed out of the ground prodigiously. We also needed to upgrade the water system.
  2. Install a septic system – This required a permit and a lot of digging from Cricket.
  3. Scrape a road out of the sage brush. Besides scraping sage brush away, we had to harden the sand with a vibrating plate.
  4. Get Internet access. This was pretty easy and just took one day.
  5. Get the RV in place. This was much more difficult than I thought, but we got it there with a little help from Miller Towing.

The Well

One of the unique things about the land at Lone Pine is that it is in the high desert where cactus die and sagebrush barely get by. What is cool about the area is that it has a lot of water flowing right under the ground and I can pump it out for free. The High Sierra catch a lot of water that pours down many creeks that run right near our house. The water table is usually about eight feet underground at the bottom of our property and even goes above ground in the spring.

When I left the property last July, the main pipe from the well broke and it was pumping over 60 gallons a minute out on to the ground. It was bubbling up and eroding the sand away. The pipe had to be fixed and then I needed filters, a tank and a pump to push the water up to the top of the property.

Our property can be broken up into three area as seen in the next drawing. The top third is all boulders. The middle third is all sage brush and cactus. The lower third is close to Diaz creek and has enough water to support grass. The well sits on the bottom third of the property and is probably 100′ deep, but we don’t know how deep it really is. The shed did house a pressure tank and water heater, but it didn’t have a water storage tank, filter or secondary water pump. I decided to have Will, my do-it-all handyman, build a pump house to his specifications. He maintains it for me as well, so I wanted him to be responsible for the design.

This image divides the property into three sections. The upper section is full of boulders. The middle section is an alluvial plane and you can see how the 1′ topographical lines are very evenly spaced. The lower third of the land is where the water is. The well is shown by the brown square next to the shed.

My neighbor Joost showed me his pump house with a series of filters and a second pump to push the water up to the top of the property where we will eventually build our home. I asked Will to duplicate the design so that we’ll have good water. Amy helped me design the 6′ x 8′ pump house building to match the shed. The first thing we had to do was lay a concrete foundation. I got a pallet of concrete from Home Depot in Ridgecrest and Will borrowed a mixer from a neighbor.

The well comes out of the ground through a four inch diameter pipe. The wires to drive the submersible pump are coiled on the ground. Will is working with the 1 1/2″ pipe coming from the pump. The pressure tank is sitting in front of the shed and will be placed in the pump house. The two stakes in the foreground show are about 6′ apart and show one side of the shed.
Will borrowed this mixer from our neighbor for free. He towed it with Joost’s jeep.
I got a whole pallet of concrete and the things to build the pump house.
Will set up the foundation and we started pouring a ton of concrete for the foundation of the pump house. The wide angle lens of my camera makes the shed look really tall.
Will and I finished the concrete in one afternoon. Amy and I put our hand prints in the corner by Will’s feet. My father’s been pouring concrete like this for decades.
Here’s the finished pump house. Amy has some plans to spruce it up a bit. To the lower left of the pump house is the line to my three irrigation lines to feed my gardens. The aluminum sliding door on the shed works again. The green water tank can be seen between the shed and the pump house.
Here’s the aerial view of the bottom third of the property. The road is much more distinct now after Cricket scraped it with his tractor.
Here’s the delivery truck coming from the hardware store with our two tanks.
That 2,560 gallon tank is easy to move, but we couldn’t agree on where it should go..

With the pump house in place, we needed the water tank and pipes for it. Will was doing all the stuff for the pump house while I was working on the septic tank with Cricket. I ordered all the stuff at the same time from the True Value Hardware store in Inyo-Kern. Herb runs the store and they didn’t wear masks there, but they got me fixed up.

They just rolled the 1,250 gallon, septic tank off the truck and the water tank was next.

The tank cost $1,200 and the fittings, pump and filter were probably another $1,000. Another $500 was spent on the concrete and wood, siding and insulation for the pump house. Then Will spent about 50 hours on the house and system for $1,000 in labor. So, I probably spent about $4,000 for the full water system that pumps water all the way up to the top of the property.

I’ll write about the exciting septic system in the next post.