The hole

Many years ago, in a land not so far away, a city couple bought land in the country and their kids named it Peeper Hollow Farm. The family was happy there and eventually began to dream of adding more living creatures to their little plot of land. A single dog soon had a few cats for friends, then came the two horses, followed quickly by a coopful of chickens and three sheep — a ram and two ewes. As sheep do, those three sheep made more, and before long, the happy family had a whole flock!

As the flock grew, they required more land to graze, so more pastures were fenced in with permanent fencing. When the final touches were put on the five new pastures (added to the original two), several large boulders were found lying just below ground. With heavy machinery already in the area, the boulders were dug up and stacked in one of the fields, making that field suddenly identifiable as the “Rock Pasture.” And all was good.

One day, as the boy of the family was doing what teenage boys do on wet spring days when bored, he stumbled upon a hole in the ground in the Rock Pasture. The hole caught his eye because nearly the entire field was covered with water after all the spring rain, yet all of the water seemed to be flowing towards this one point where it swirled like the drain in a bathtub, disappearing into the earth. What a find for a young, curious mind! After some investigation, the boy reported the hole to the family, who then began to watch this curiosity in earnest. Was it an animal hole, as it seemed to be when dry? Was it some type of drainage hole? And where did the water go?

Eventually, both the boy and his younger sister grew up and moved far away, as children often do, leaving the parents to happily keep the farm and care for its many creatures. During walks through the Rock Pasture, they always went to stare at the hole. But with time, it seemed to grow — and that began to raise concerns about the possibility of lost animals: could a dog fall into the now-larger hole? A lamb? Never having seen such a hole in the city where they had once lived, they had no idea what might have caused it — but they watched and started to worry. Finally when the hole became large enough, they filled it with an old tree stump, figuring the barrier would keep the dogs and lambs safe but still allow the water to rush through. And all was good.

Yet the hole continued to grow, and eventually their concerns grew with it. One day the stump was swallowed into the deep recesses of the hole, so  the man and the woman decided to fill it in a “better” way, allowing for drainage but not leaving enough space for animals to fall in. They brought out their wheelbarrow, shovels, buckets, and whatever they could think of to help, and then filled the hole with a couple of large rocks, then a load of smaller rocks, then large gravel, and finally small gravel — and they were happy. The hole was filled, and their baby lambs and running dogs would not be swallowed. As they dragged all of their tools back to the barns, there was a feeling of jubilation — the massive job had been completed! They had won the battle against the hole!

As the years passed, however, they realized that the victory had been short-lived. The hole continued to grow, and eventually it swallowed the big rocks and the gravel, and the couple found themselves looking down a hole as wide as a manhole cover. Not to be caught wanting, the man went to the home-improvement store to look for solutions — and he, of course, found one: a plastic manhole cover that was meant “for drainage issues.” What a find! They decided to simply cover their problem and allow the rainwater that ran through the pasture to continue to flow into the hole. Problem solved — finally!

But then some time later, as they walked among their sheep in the Rock Pasture, they noticed that the hole had again become bigger. Much bigger. So big, in fact, that the plastic manhole cover had been swallowed by the hole, which now gaped open and looked to swallow any passing four-legged creature! In an effort to save their lambs, the couple dragged out a full sheet of plywood and covered the hole. “Well, that should take care of it!” the woman said to her husband as they looked over their work. And it did take care of it — for a short while.

The hole, however, was not satisfied to remain under the sheet of plywood. Within a year or so, the hole began to peek out from two sides of the long sheet. The woman knew this was not good. The leg of any passing dog or sheep could get caught by the hole. In fact, if they struggled enough, perhaps the edges of the hole would fall in and swallow the dog or the sheep. When the couple lifted the plywood sheet, the hole was big enough for three full-sized sheep to fit comfortably. Something had to be done! So the man and the woman finally had the sense to ask for help. They began talking to tiling and drainage companies, since this was obviously a water issue — and that’s when they finally solved their problem with the hole!

To be continued. Find the second part of this story in the blog posting on Monday, May 9th.

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