With all the talk about the drought in California, it’s a good time to be thankful for the plentiful water we have here in central Virginia. Pictured above is a spring, where an irresistible force, water, meets an immovable object, a rock. It’s just a spot where water comes from out of the ground, to the surface. This particular spring is pretty small, just a few gallons per minute. If the cattle had access to it they would just tear it up into a big mud-hole, so they are fenced out. It’s what we call an unimproved spring. It’s about 2 feet in diameter and the water from here flows pretty much uninterrupted to the Rapidan River, about a mile away. There are dozens of these small seeps and springs on this particular farm.
Before the advent of refrigeration, dairies relied on spring houses to keep dairy products cool. These structures were built directly over a spring, and the flow from the spring was channeled around the milk containers.
It’s hard to imagine hand milking cows, then hauling the milk here, and then hauling it to town. Changes in dairy regulations and advances in refrigeration made these structures obsolete by the 1930’s.