It may seem strange to include the history of the farm’s water sources in a series such is this, but I know from the two years I spent on a ‘property’ (farm) on the Darling Downs of Australia that there is nothing so crucial to life as water. The water on the farm at Bloomfield is the coldest, clearest, most refreshing water I have ever known. It has sustained thousands of animals and dozens of humans in the 200 years the family has lived on the land above it. I think it deserves a reflection of its own.
My mom, Helen Williams, in the house and barn log she prepared in 1982 writes of the well Caleb Williams secured before his marriage to Gloranah Young. “The creek was too far away from the house for a fresh water supply at the time. The same went for the spring to the north in a pine thicket. Near the house Caleb dug down about 12 ft. and struck clear, cold water, dug deeper and lined the well with stones from the gravel ridge. He bailed water out with a bucket or a balanced well-sweep made of a long pole. “
Later, when Caleb and Gloranah’s son John built the large barn which stands to this day across the road from the house, a good well and watering trough were established in the barnyard. The creek and the nearby spring provided a source of water when the cattle grazed to the south of the barn in the summer.
In 1944 with the availability of electric pumps my grandfather, Morley Williams, installed a water line between the spring and the farm buildings on the ridge. Over the years it has provided water to four households and five larger barns. At the peak of the animal production, it watered 1000 pigs/year and approximately 100 head of cows, heifers and calves/year.
Although Book One’s unpleasant swimming scene with Edmund Franklin took place in Bloomfield, I recalled my time spent skinny-dipping with the neighbour girls in the pool of creek water closest the bridge to write that passage.
My aunts have told me of how, as girls, they used to drink from the ice-cold waters of the spring by grasping one another by the ankles and lowering the thirsty girl, head-first into the water.
My parents have always impressed upon us the importance of protecting the water source. My grandfather, dad, brother and nephew have left buffer zones, practiced no-till cropping and for over 70 years have kept the cattle from muddying the waters of what was once called Trout Creek and is now known as Waring Creek. They have also worked with community groups on conservation methods that have kept the water clear and pure.
In the late 1990s when a proposed gravel pit threatened the very source of the water my parents and dozens of others, at great personal expense, took the development to the Ontario Municipal Board and WON!