A Month of Holidays April 2012
  We accomplished such a lot this month - mainly due to April having two long weekends!

We normally could only work on the farm every second Saturday and every Sunday when we didn't have anything else on and in an average month we could put in max 6 days of work. But this month we were able to put in a whopping 11 days of work and in addition had to take off an extra day each side of the end of month long weekend to get the borehole drilling completed.

And it just so happens that two of our big projects at that time, the "New Road" and "Log Fence" were both so near completion and we just had to do some finishing off on each of them.

  Opening up the New Road
  We had left the removal of the biggest tree stumps till last - but they had to be removed before we could open up the new road.

The basic strategy was to dig around the stump and chop away all the surface roots. Then we would wrap our big chain around it, attach the chain to the tractor and rip the stump out of the ground. It sometimes needed a bit of "gentle rocking" but would eventually come out. Just like pulling a tooth!

Real hard work digging out tree stumps


  And at last - the new road completely open on the Sunday 8th April. A little narrow but we could get a car through quite easily. We may have to widen it a little in the future but we tried to remove as few trees as possible - especially the big ones!

There was still one big controversial tree in the middle of the road. There was enough clear space for the road to go around it and we planned in the future to make a garden feature there.

We left that big log till last - used the
tractor with the big chain and a lot of sweat
to move it out of the way

  Finishing off the Log Fence    

Finally down to the last two sections of the fence to close off the old road and the fence was finished.

Over 170 poles planted, 340 crosspieces attached with 680 threaded rods and 1360 washers and nuts plus three months of weekend work equals over 500 meters of log fence. Whew!

On the right, the tools we used: I've got the drilling machine and mini grinder, Martie's got the spanner and flat file for cleaning up the threads after they were cut with the grinder.

After lots of research into log fence hinge systems and gates, I came across a very simple log gate design idea on the internet and found some very neat galvanised hinges at our local Stewarts & Lloyds metal merchant. I bought a few sets of hinges, bolted some logs together, fitted the hinges and we had gates. Simple but adequate for the time being.

We made three set of gates. One gate one log fence section from the main gate, the second in the north corner and the third along the back stretch of fence at the kink.

Once the gates were up we were confident those pesky cows would not be able to get into the property again.

  Drilling for Water  
Checking out the equipment. This is seriously heavyweight stuff

A very expensive and very important step in the progress of developing our farm. And really a big decision point in our planning.

We planned to drill two boreholes. If we found good water in our primary spot on the higher ground we could simply carry on with our farm layout and plans as they were. If we found it at our secondary location on the lower ground on the other side of the forest, we may have had to adjust our plans a bit to get the water to where we wanted it. And if we didn't find good water at either of these sites .... I'd be out of budget and have to try a third site which was too close to the tarred road - but I didn't even want to think about that!

Kahiel the diviner put us in contact with a drilling crew in Klipriver and they slotted us in after they finished a drilling job in the Vaal Dam area.

We camped out for the month end long weekend so we could be there to see the operation through. The crew were to arrive on the Thursday afternoon but due to a problem with their previous job, only left the Vaal Dam area at dusk. Not sure which way they came through to Heidelberg (they say they use the backroads as their rig would never get through the weighbridges) but they got stuck in traffic just before the Rensburg turnoff coming in from Balfour due to a major accident on the old Durban road. This resulted in them them having to take a detour down the Valpre road to come out on the other side of the highway near Rensburg.

Just before midnight on Thursday we drove out to meet them and guide them in through Rensburg suburb to the farm. They parked their rig and headed off home for the night. We climbed into our little tent with great anticipation for the next day's activities.

Drilling rig positioned and levelled, diesel smoke filling the air
and we were ready to go. And the guy in the rainsuit??

First few meters down just produced a lot of dust
A sample was taken every meter down. Mid afternoon samples showed dry sand
varying in colour and texture all the way down to 20 meters
Finishing off the day on a high
- we hit some mud!

We really did not know what to expect with this borehole drilling operation. You can research boreholes and drilling into the ground as much as you like, but being there when it actually happens sparks so many more questions. Many of them were satisfactorily (or rather, carefully) answered by Willem, the rig manager but many more surfaced as our anxiety levels increased.

So, day one was exciting in that it was a new experience. The big twin turbo V8 diesel motor driving the compressor running flat out all day long, the drill bit knocking into the ground centimeter by centimeter, the brute power of it all. The noise, the dust, checking each sample as it came out from under the rig. And then seeing some muddy stuff coming out at day end had to be the cherry on top.

Then as daylight faded away and the compressor was shut down, Willem took us in closer to the big V8 twin turbo diesel to see the exhaust mainfolds glowing red!

Adding to the samples

Now we see why the guy needs the rainsuit

Day 2 started with a big gush of mud when the compressor was turned on. Some water had settled into the hole overnight- a good sign. But then we hit the quartzite. Soon after that the rig broke down with an oil line failure and overheating problems. The crew shut down and dashed off to find parts.

Day 3 - a late start after fitting the parts to get the rig back up and running. A few 25 Litre drums of oil to top up the system. Filling the fuel tanks from 500 litre diesel bowsers. As I said before, this is big stuff.

Sample area after day 3
When the rig eventually got going the rest of the day we just drilled and drilled into quartzite. Sometimes dry, sometimes wet, but no big gushes of water. Around midday the drill was pulled out for sharpening and at the end of the day it was time to make a decision. We were at around 85 meters. Do we go deeper? Not only was the drilling getting expensive but if we do get good water at that depth, the equipment required to get it to the surface will also be expensive. We decided to go to 95 meters and quit.
Early morning startup gush.
Stand well clear or you won't just
get wet, you'll be coated
with grey mud!
Day 4 - The hole had filled up with water overnight and the big gush when starting up the compressor was spectacular.

We took it down to 95 meters and pulled out the drill, cased the hole to around 30 meters and called it quits.

A yield test was done by dropping a submersible pump, pumping the hole dry and then throttling the output until a smooth flow is acheived. They calculated 110 litres an hour which to me was usable but to them it was a dry hole.

A peek into the compressor truck
cab. Not intended for comfortable
driving - just gets the rig from A to B.
And just enough essential tools
lying around for the crew
to fix anything anywhere
  The rig was then packed up and moved down into a forest clearing to drill at our second option site.
Exciting red splurge
And this was a different story altogether. By the time the rig was set up and ready to go it was 14h00. The crew were tired from three days of adding and removing rather heavy 3 meter steel drill extension sections.

These guys are not scared of a little mud
Sample area at completion of drilling

The drill rig crew looked happy with the mud yield and we drilled down into the quartzite for another 12 meters to give the borehole some "sump" storage.

A yield test was done and the borehole was capable of producing 3300 liters an hour. The hole was only 28 meters deep and the flow was so strong that once they stopped the test pump you could hear the water running back into the hole through the casing slots.

It was dark, everyone was tired and the crew pushed off home to leave the packing up and moving the rig off the site in the morning.

  And we were understandably a tad despondent and very anxious.

The big V8 revved up and in went the drill bit. The normal cloud of dust to start with dry sand down to 5 meters. Then the sand colour turned lighter brown and from 6 to 9 meters, a deep red. From there on the drill produced red mud for the next 9 meters until we hit the quartzite.

Picking out the last samples
Drilling the last meter - compressor constantly pushing out water - we have good water