Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Of Windmills

Though uncommon to Minnesota (at least from my experience), it is still relatively common to run across windmills used to pump water in Western South Dakota. They are fairly simple pieces of equipment with metal parts, no computer chips, and long lengths of pipe. We still have several such windmills on the family ranch - we have had them as long as I can remember. And, from time to time, we are required to do some work to maintain them.

There are two basic parts of the windmill that require maintenance: the head (the part that catches the wind and runs the pump) and the pump. Working on the head requires someone to climb the scaffold and do whatever work needs to be done at the top of the windmill (somewhere around twenty feet off the ground). Other than the constant danger of falling to one's death and tools dropping from the scaffold, this sort of work can be less intimidating as it tends to be less labor intensive. To work on the pump, though, requires that one "pull the well."

To pull a well is the process by which one manually draws the pump and all of the metal pipes attached to it out of the well. My youngest brother, my dad, and I embarked on this project a few days ago. Typically I would not enjoy a project of this sort because it has to the potential to require a good deal of physical exertion on my part. In this case, however, I was excited to go because of the prospect of twenty feet of water pipe or various well pulling tools hurtling back into the well after we had lifted them into the air. It doesn't happen often that something falls into the well, but when it does, my father becomes positively apoplectic. Apparently there is nothing fun about trying to get those things back out of the well once they have fallen into it.

In that regard it was to be a disappointing day. Nothing fell down the well, and I was required to engage in some light physical exertion. Nevertheless, no one was harmed in the process, and we now have a good, reliable source of water for the cattle once again, so I suppose the project was a success.