The deception arose because water never quite dried up in the pond. I had assumed the pond water was steadily recharging the windmill’s borewell. Clearly the clayey bottom allows little percolation. The same soil, baking under the harsh sun all over the property, makes the rainwater skid off without rehydrating the ground. The evidence was there: after a sharp shower the ground would go soggy; but just a day of sunshine would turn it into hard pan again. I had not given the evidence enough weight.
For three weeks in April and May the windmill was starved of water because the water table had fallen lower. I called the people from Aureka over and we lowered the suction pipe by another 20 feet. [- its is now 140′ deep into the ground]. But the lesson to be learnt was harsher. Pumping would stop after 20 minutes and we’d tie up the windmill for an hour. That was the time required for weak springs underneath to recharge the borewell. This was the drill for weeks on end. As I write, harsh sun and still breezes are creating heat waves most days. The temperature ranges between 35 and 40 deg Celsius. The windmill stands still for many hours, which gives us the left handed gift of recharge time for the borewell. A very brief gale and a swift shower for about 40minutes improved matters somewhat. Better rains in distant villages appear to have increased the underground reserve -and hence flows to our borewell.
I can see what need to be done. The pond alone is not enough as a sustainable solution. It gathers water fallen elsewhere. What I need to do is trap water everywhere on the property and cause it infiltrate underground. I have already a plan but the time, labour, and costs are daunting but it can be done.
The chant everywhere in rural India is that labour is just not available. True. Where have all the millions gone? To the cities and towns and wherever else that gives them a better break and wage. The farmer’s own income is not so fanciful that he can pay an attractive wage to his labourers. Farm incomes are low because productivity is low and that is low because soil fertility is low. Regarding the last, the leadership has no clue- neither of the problem nor the solution. Just as one must believe in God despite the priest, one must hope farming can be made attractive despite the intruding professional agricultural scientists.