Water, Water, My Kingdom for Some Water


We need water.

Of all the various hurdles and obstacles we’ve overcome to build a house in the middle of nowhere, this is possibly and probably (please God let it be) the last great challenge. The well guys came out yesterday morning with their big drilling rig and two little pieces of wire.

Steve-the-Builder told me they were coming. “They’re going to witch a well,” he said.

I said, “Oooh! I want to see that!”

He said, “I figured you’d seen that before.”

I said, “Yes, because they do that ALL THE TIME IN THE SUBURBS.”

Sometimes I don’t think he understands me.

Of course, I had to try this out for myself. (Why do I have SO MUCH HAIR?! Don’t look at my hair. Okay, I’m pretending you’re not looking at my hair, so we can go on.)

The water witcher tried to train me. The little wires didn’t move or anything when I was holding them.

I said, “This doesn’t work. You’re making this up.”

The water witcher said, “You have to believe.”

I said, “I believe there’s not any water here.”

He said, “There’s water RIGHT HERE.”

So they brought their big rig over and started drilling.

And drilling.

There was a lot of standing around and watching the drilling.

The messy innards of the earth spewed out a pipe set across the creek. That’s my car in the corner. That seemed like a good place to park when I got there….. It’s a good thing I didn’t leave a window down or anything. Except I DID.

You can’t even see my car anymore. The smoky dust is kinda cool, though, isn’t it?

Like a movie set.

Maybe a scary movie set.


Yeah. THAT movie.

Except, like my car window being down, it was real.

And so we have to try, try again. I’m planning to take our puppy, Bluebell, over there, feed her a big can of dogfood, and let her run around. When she picks a spot to poop, that’s where we’re drilling the next well.

I figure that’s as good a method as any. You got any better ideas?


  1. jan says:

    MY fathaer-in-law swears by it. Never seen it done but the pictures are pretty cool.

  2. Heidi says:

    They better be diggin for free till they find water!!! We always drive a sand point around here till they find a ‘wet spot’ lol sounds ishy dont it…. Hope you get water soon – most people dig a well BEFORE they build the house!! LOL but we did the same thing – thank God we found water! Good luck my dear. It looks nice and warm there – its 18 degrees here this morning in chilly Northern Wisconsin!!!!! :elephant:

  3. Suzanne McMinn says:

    Heidi, yes, it sounds dumb, doesn’t it, LOL. But actually there is a well there, and we thought we were going to be using the existing well, but eventually we determined it was inadequate and decided to drill a new one. At that point, we thought it would be better to drill closer to the house. Now we think we’re probably going to go back over to the old well site and drill the new well near the existing well–since we Know there is water there. (And just go deeper since the existing well doesn’t have enough water–it’s not a very deep well.) It sounded sensible to drill the new well closer to the house, but that didn’t work out too good….!!

  4. Blaze says:

    My dad can actually dowse a well, I don’t know how it works, or why it works but I’ve seen the man do it. And he actually worked for the Water Company for like 25 years so it is possible if you have someone who has the right mojo or whatever heh.
    Hope you can get a well drilled that will service you, and hope you have “good” water.

  5. Ann from Montana says:

    “Witching” or dowsing is very common in my neck of the woods. A dear friend of mine “witches” – you have to believe! She has ALWAYS found water and good water – she has found water and then said, “No”, there is better water not so deep – kept going and found it.

    I don’t know how it works, but as for me, I BELIEVE!

    Good luck!

  6. Kim A. says:

    I can see you have been having all the fun. *grins*

    I haven’t seen dowsing in action, but I’ve heard that some people can do it. Apparently this fellow needs a bit more practice! Or maybe he just doesn’t have the right “mojo.”

    Good luck.


  7. Letha says:

    From my experience(which isn’t a lot),even if you come up with a dry drill you have to pay for each drill even if it’s dry. Kinda sucks!! But that is the chances you take when you live out in the country and that is your only source for water. In the end it will all be worth it. My parent have property in West Texas…..just be thankful you aren’t having to drill through rock and slate. Not to mention having a rattlesnake den close to the well. On hot summer West Texas days you have to approach very cautionly when you read the meter. Out in the country you read your own meter. Living in the suburb of Houston that method is totally crazy…..read your own meter???!!!!


  8. MARY says:

    :butterfly: Good luck with the water hunt! My daughter did a report on Witch Hazel once, and that is a favorite of “dowsers”, as well as willow. Pick a nice flowering branch of witch hazel, and give it to the witcher next time!! LOL! You probably have it growing in your yard!! :drowning:

  9. Jill S. says:

    Oh boy, have we been there. We finally drilled neared the GREENEST tree, thinking it was getting water from somewhere, and we were right!

  10. Becky says:

    Wow, I always thought that was a myth. People really do that, huh?

  11. Martha says:

    I have a good friend (a teacher) who “witches” wells for family and friends. I have never known her to fail. She uses a willow forked twig. She believes you have to be born with the “gift” to witch. I have never heard of wire being used–I have no idea if that would make a difference or not.
    Good luck and God bless your water hunt.

  12. kaye says:

    Dousing for water? It all sounds rather witchy to me. I like the idea. But your witcher needs more practice I think.
    Good luck finding water. You’d think as much as it rains it would be easy! But that’s different I guess.

  13. lintys says:

    Sounds very stressful! I’m sure you’ll be glad when this is all over and you’re in and settled. I hope you’re successful with the next attempt.

  14. Amy Addison says:

    Oh, Suzanne, I’m so glad I read this blog first thing in the morning. It just makes me smile all day. I love the idea of letting BlueBell pick the spot you drill next! Uh, and I hope you get the inside of your car cleaned out. Yikes!

    Let us know when you hit water.

    (and you don’t have that much hair. Trust me.)

  15. Pam in La. says:

    This is one of the most interesting articles you’ve posted, at least in my opinion! I’m a cajun country girl who lives 1/2 mile from the Mississippi river and we have no problems at all as far as water is concerned, so apparently that’s why I enjoyed this article so much. When all is said and done, you’re going to absolutely love living in the country, and you’ll wonder why it took you so darn long to get there!

  16. Carol says:

    I have always been facinated by the idea of Water Witching, however I like the “Dog Poop” theory. I have 4 dogs and this could be a new fall back profession. Let me know how Bluebell does!

  17. Jen(aside) says:

    Keep us up to date on the water problems… I want to find out if this guy finds water!

  18. Maria says:

    You took his picture and that’s where you went wrong. YOu stole his soul. Next time no pictures and it should work. You may want to try ornamental cow poop instead of dog poop. I’m told that works better. No pictures tho!!

    I’m very glad you sacrificed your well for our amusement tho. And sorry about the car. I can’t imagine what that must look like.

    Even though you are done with the drywall and on to the floor, I’m still inviting myself down some day.

    Liked the picture of you!!


  19. kacey says:

    well, better luck next time. It sure would be nice to have water in the new house… 😮

  20. The Park Wife says:

    We have alot in common, however, we are in the early stages, just working on the road. And, boy that became a huge debacle this past weekend.

    I am glad I found your site so I can be prepared as we go along on this adventure of building in the middle of nowhere!

    By the way, we have water witchers in these part, and yes, you must believe!

    The Park Wife

  21. Susan says:

    Yes you have to believe! We had to try more than once to hit water too. Wishing you good luck this time! :thumbsup:

  22. Melanie says:

    Ooh! Ooh! Before you drill next time, call Dirty Jobs. You will A – hopefully find water, and B – hang with Mike Rowe. If that isn’t a perfect day, I don’t know what is. :love:

  23. Lis says:

    Hmmm, I didn’t know you could use wire for that. I always thought it was branches or something. :wave: Hope you find water soon! Great pictures of the smoke :clap: Looks very creepy hehe

  24. Tori Lennox says:

    I am so disappointed in your water witch! Hope he does better today.

  25. Maryann says:

    My late dad used to be able to use most woods to “witch” water. My sis and I can also do it. but not as well as he could. The only hint I can give you if you want to use wire. Is let the end of the wire rest on your pinkie finger. The rest of your hand should just be holding the wire up. This allows the wire freedom of movement. Start off by the old well to get the feel of it and to see if it works with you. Some ppl just don’t have enough electric currant running through their body. Yes I get zapped by static shocks all yr round.

  26. Brandy says:

    Good luck with the next drilling! Dowsing is an interesting occupation/calling.

  27. Remudamom says:

    We have a well that we used for 25 years, and my dh’s family used it long before that. It’s about a quarter mile from the house, but it worked out ok.

    We had so many dry summers that we eventually hooked up to rural water so we didn’t have to be so careful.

    Dh had a creepy water witching story about a guy he knew. I guess some folks can do it, but I think the puppy poop spot will work just as well.

  28. catslady says:

    As a girl from the suburbs I admit I’m a nonbeliever lol. Seems to me they’re just waiting to get lucky – and I hope you aren’t paying for each drilling (I could see some not wanting to find water the first time) but then I’m a skeptic. They do know you have a timetable don’t they :thumbsup:

  29. Estella says:

    Water witching works . I can do it. Where I live a lot of people are able to witch their own wells. Hope you have better luck next time.

  30. Heidi says:

    Suzanne! I had to laugh when my granny told me today that they did the same thing when she was little!!! HOW FUNNY!!! They used a green willow stick that was shaped like a Y…. I had told her what you were doing and the FIRST THING out of her mouth was – she has to believe!!! How hilarious is that!!! LOL Good luck – the temp got up to a balmy 26 degrees, almost broke out the shortys and tank tops today…. :weather:

  31. Annette says:

    The Witching worked for my parents! 500ft later! I wish you all the luck finding water! we lived in the middle of nowhere (2nd highest point in Roane County) for 10 years, not a drop of water anywhere, neighbors had a well got to 840ft, still ran out of water. We had a well that went to 350 ft, no water So we had a cisterine and had to haul 4 to 6 truckloads (about 1500 gallons)of water a week, we had our gutters from our home hooked up to the tank for a while, but it gets gross quick! When we moved and were able to hook on to city water, I swore I heard angels sing! after 10 years of watching every drop! I decided a 25.00 water bill was bliss!

  32. Bayou Woman says:

    Uh oh, that’s embarrassing. Do you have to pay for a “dry hole”? LOL!
    PS We don’t have that problem “down the bayou”. Our water table is 3 feet down, anywhere you dig!!!

  33. Granny Sue says:

    I’ve witched before, just for fun. We used a forked peach stick. It has to be a green stick, not an old dead dry one. I tried the wires too and it worked, but I liked the peach stick better. The stick would pul unbelievably hard to the earth, sometimes it was difficult to control.

    We did the same thing you did, being new to this state back in the 70’s. We drilled 263 feet and hit nothing but dirt, not even rock. Then we decided to take a neighbor’s advice and use the spring. It was wonderful until the droughts in the 80’s. We drilled again in 1991, and went 723 feet before we hit water. It’s our $10,000 hole in the ground. But we have LOTS of water. If your house is on a ridge, in this county (next door to you), you can expect to drill from 600 to 800 feet or more to get good water.

    What you need to do now is drill a gas well and get free gas! Our well is in, but we haven’t hooked up to the gas yet.

  34. Pierce says:

    Well, being a driller, it kind of puts me in a bind about giving my two cents.

    First, the disclosure: I don’t know a thing about the geology in or around your property, hence nothing about the process of actually finding water there. I’m located just NE of Seattle WA, so, things are probably different 😉

    Personally, I believe the sticks move….that’s it. I’ve witched my own wells, I’ve witched other peoples wells, and come to that dramatic conclusion: the sticks move. Often, they seem to move where I set the rig up over a big boulder, or where there’s water….at 600 feet. But, not when there’s water at 40 feet…go figure.

    One thing I have learn though – unless there’s actual hard evidence supporting the movement of a bore hole – i.e you’re at 250ft of depth, but every neighbor for 50 miles is at 100 feet with water….then don’t move the hole! You’re just drilling the same stuff up that the last hole drilled up – thereby wasting money. In less words; ‘Drill to the water’.

    Oh, and tell those guys to put some hard hats on.

    Just my two cents 🙂 Good luck! Like the pictures too.

  35. Vonda says:

    My father could witch wells and always found water for people. It does work…I never tried it but he was always successful. There are still people who do this here in the Pacific NW. :sheepjump:

  36. rositta says:

    Those pictures look very similar to the ones I have from when we drilled our well at our cabin. I saw the water witch (he was a neighbour) in operation and the drilling crew didn’t really have faith in him. They did drill though and we hit water at 160 feet where the rest of our road had to go over 300 feet (it’s the Canadian Shield). He did use wood though not wire and I watched as he walked the property and saw when it moved. It was bizzare. Good luck…ciao

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