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  • There's a Geyser in the Yard
  • Sumner Smith
  • farm

There's a Geyser in the Yard

When we first moved back to the farm last fall it was weird - it was like the farm had held on while my dad was alive, but when he died it just let it all hang out.  Trees fell on the fences.  Fence posts fell over.  The kitchen sink stopped draining.  The toilet stopped flushing.  Copperheads appeared in the yard - for the first time in 35 years.  I like to think the farm didn't want to burden my dad when he wasn't feeling well, so it held on to its problems until he passed.  The less optimistic side of me felt a bit like it was testing us to see if we really wanted to take all this on.  In either event, shit really got real once the rain started.  We had an exceptionally rainy fall - the lake flooded high enough to use the emergency overflow for the first time in 15 or 20 years.  And during one of these crazy rains the contractor working on the house called to say that we now had a sinkhole/geyser in the yard.  Uh, come again?

Sure enough, a 100 foot culvert going under the yard had collapsed... which led to water undermining part of the yard... which led to the sinkhole... which led to the water shooting out of the sinkhole in a geyser-like fashion during a thunderstorm.  So that was different.

I was, at first, in a bit of a panic.  Taking care of 1/10 of an acre in downtown Asheville does not fully prepare one for the whole "100 foot culvert collapse" problem.  

So we stared at the hole - all of us, lots of us.  We asked opinions.  We got quotes.  (Eye opening quotes - replacing 100 feet of culvert is not cheap.)  We found a guy who engendered confidence and asked him to do the work, we agreed he'd have it done before Christmas (of 2015), we felt good we had figured out how to solve the problem.  And then... crickets.  The guy never showed up again.

As winter turned to spring we started the process over... got more quotes.... found another guy... figured out we'd now have the problem solved by early summer... and then crickets.  Well, sort of.  A couple of times this guy said he could come but we were out of town.  But long story short we lived with our sink hole for the better part of a year.  It didn't rain much once 2016 got here, so it wasn't actually a major functional problem.  More like  "watch your toddler if they're in our yard because we have a sinkhole.  Yes, really."

But finally, a few weeks ago, the second guy and all of his equipment showed up.  How he got this rig through our narrow gate and down our narrow driveway I'll never know.

 And he dug up the whollllle yard, and now we have a new culvert and giant patch of dirt for reseeding.  And also probably some lessons... like sometimes things don't have to happen all at once.  Sometimes you can live with an issue for a while, get comfortable with it, realize you're not in control of it, and it will still be ok.  Or maybe it's always have a backup plan, and if a guy seems a little too smooth he probably is.  But either way, the geyser is no more, the farm seems to be happy to have some of its parts back in working order, and I'm pretty happy that the whole "geyser in the yard" story is now just part of farm lore. 

  • Sumner Smith
  • farm