There is a well in my garden, just inside the front gate. With the drought that has been afflicting us recently, and bearing in mind that there have been several in recent years, I'm looking seriously at whether the well can be brought back into use.
The well is 27 metres deep. An old guy who used to work on the farm here told me that originally they had a handle that you cranked, that drove a series of buckets on a chain to bring the water up. Later on, they built a small pillar to hold a mechanism that was driven by a donkey walking round and round.
Today there remains the pillar, and there is a small hole in a slab of concrete, normally covered by a heavy wooden beam, that leads down to the water. I am testing the depth of the water, to see if it is worth buying a pump to pump it up.
This pillar, covered in ivy, used to hold the cranking handle, and more recently the mechanism for the donkey.
This is the small hole in the concrete slab, leading down to the water.
You can see the surface of the water if you shine a bright torch down the well, but the camera flash barely captures it. (If you click on the picture, in the enlarged version you can just about see a circle of light spots around the bright reflection, delineating the edge of the water.)
To test the level of water I lowered this iron bar down the well until it hit the mud at the bottom. It looks to hold a little over 1.3 metres depth of water. This is after 6 weeks without rain, so I take it as a positive sign.
As I am doing this work, the old nursery rhyme that starts "Ding, dong, bell, Pussy's in the well" enters my head. The last lines run:
What a naughty boy was that,
To drown poor pussy cat,
Who ne'er did any harm,
But killed all the mice in the farmer's barn.
I had trouble understanding these lines, since they meant to me that the only harm the cat did was kill all the mice, and I always thought that mice were a nuisance, so killing them was a benefit. It took me many years to work out that the use of "but" was in the sense of "but by contrast" as in Othello; the man who loved not wisely, but too well.
I suppose, strictly speaking, if it had meant the former, the verb would be kill not killed. But I was young.