Cloverdale farmer resorts to long haul after hand-dug well runs dry
This summer's hot, dry weather has left the 20-foot well dry and empty
The well ran dry for John Best, a farmer in Carleton County who has struggled with this year's hot summer.
While vacationers relax on the beach, Best spends hours gathering water from a nearby stream in Carleton County because his 100-year-old hand-dug well is empty.
"I've been drawing water out of a nearby stream to keep the livestock hydrated," Best told CBC's Shift New Brunswick on Tuesday.
"But it's just way extra work, and you don't realize how important water is until you don't have it at your fingertips when you need it."
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Best's well and his house are the same age, about a century old.
His family owns Becaguimec Farm in Cloverdale, about 20 kilometres east of Hartland. The farm has a dozen cows, half as many pigs, 60 to 70 turkeys and about 60 other meat birds, the farmer said, among others.
They live in a lowland area, where having a well filled to the brim usually isn't difficult, but this year has been "exceptionally dry."
The well looks as if it's been pulled out of a fairytale, crafted with stones all the way down to its bottom, at nearly 20 feet, Best said.
Now that it's so dry, he can see the bottom.
"I have a consultant I was talking to about the possibility of getting some funding for a well and he asked, 'How can you be out of water? You live in a swamp.'"
The long-haul summer
To get water, Best said he borrows a trailer with a water tank on it. He drives to a nearby stream and pumps water into the tank, which takes about an hour and a half to fill.
Finally, he drives home and pumps the water into a reservoir, which then pumps water into all of the buildings on his property.
It's a two-hour task, whose benefit lasts about two days before Best has to do it all over again.
But he has sunflowers, sweet corn and soybean plants to keep alive as well — many of them starting to dry up and die.
Much of Best's free time is spent praying for wet weather, he said.
"I see 80 per cent [precipitation] for tomorrow, so I'm hoping we get something more than a downpour," he said.
Best plans to get a new well drilled but still has some pricing to do.
"They ballpark it at $6,000. It's one of those things that you can't live without but it's not that cheap to have either."
Until then, Best and his family will be making the long haul to get fresh water to stay afloat.
"The crops might not make it but the people and animals have to be taken care of first," he said.
"You just prioritize what you've got to prioritize."
With files from Shift