Friday, January 29, 2010

collecting water- the spring head

Here on the homestead we have no well or city water line coming in. Critter and house water is from rain collection. Our drinking water is from our spring here on the land. In normal rainfall years, the spring will give us over 3 gallons of water a minute. Even in the driest of years she still flows, albeit slowly, but still provides us with enough drinking water. Old locals say that this is one of the only springs that never seems to dry up.

We generally take the truck out about once a week to check mail down at the road and to fetch our week supply of water. We use about 2 gallons a day for the two of us. If needed we could use a wheel barrow and go a bit more often or go and carry four gallons back at a time. It isnt the flattest walk in the land however an every other day walk hauling 35 pounds of water would be good for the soul. Round trip  from the house is a little bit over  a half mile.

harvesting rainwater-the cistern

Unlike most folks we have no well or city water.Our shack water is collected from the gutters and goes into a 1700 gallon cinder block cistern. This water serves for our household and critters however we do not drink it. For our drinking supply of water we use our spring here on the property.

Our cistern here on the homestead is made of cinder block and then coated to be water proof. Part of the shack has a gutter system to collect the water from a rain and then run it through pipe into a set of screens and then down in to the cistern. We have a small pump that then pumps the water into the shack. However if needed we could hook a pulley system over the cistern and pull the water out by the bucket or use a small gas powered pump that we have. To most this would be a daunting task, to us it would be next no extra hassle as we dont use much water.





The cistern holds about 1700 gallons so it is not a huge cistern as compared to some. It does however, do a pretty good job of fulfilling our needs. I am sure our 70-80 inches of rain a year is much of the reason we are able to get by on such a small cistern, as it is always or nearly always getting replenished. We are also very conservative of our water usage and only use about a 100 gallons a week for all our needs. I have been slacking and taking laundry to town when we go but if I do wash here it is about another 20 gallons a week of water that we would use. All the animals water comes from separate rain barrels. Even in the summer, on the rare occasion that we need to water the garden, our cistern is able to keep us with plenty of water. The only times it wasn't able too was because of human screw up or when we had(too) many people here during drought. We do haul water from the pond when it becomes necessary.

so how much rainwater can you collect
To figure out how much rainwater you can harvest just multiple the square footage of roof space you have available X 0.6 gallons per square foot per inch of rain, and you can see how much water you can collect from each inch of rain that falls.

For a more in depth article on rain water calculation

for ideas on rain water harvesting,,1180779,00.html

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

winter water woes - how to prevent them or atleast live through them

 With  our second big blast of winter weather headed our way  in the south, I thought this may be an appropo time to   bring up winter water woes.  Since we are in the south and dont typically get  months on end of frozen weather, our houses  and water systems dont have  the protections against  winter that places in the northern bits of the country do.

Winter time water issues cause many people too many headaches especially when you have a greenhouse and indoor gardens. Throw a few humans into the mix and a pile of critters and water issues can cause much grief. While water issues are a pain to deal there are things we can do to help weather frozen pipes and no water.While none of these are long term solutions, they can help make the lack of running water a more tolerable situation until the weather warms up and thaws things or it warms up enough to go off high alert status and back into normal living mode.

Believe it or not after just doing this a time or two and seeing how much stress is relieved, it becomes a habit and just a part of life. It is no longer the hassle it was even if it does freeze solid for a while as you have all your bases covered and it gives you the time to figure the trouble out and hopefully solve it.

So here are some of our winter water woe preventive measures and how we deal with it. What are some of yours?

When you hear of a cold spell coming your way, go get all the buckets you can muster up and begin filling them. Keep a couple empty as you will need them.

If you have a wood stove get a couple large pots on the stove to keep water hot at all times. This serves a few purposes. It works for carrying some to critters for thawing waterers and buckets. It gives you hot dish water and bathing water as well at all times. If you dont have a wood stove have pots to be able to heat sufficient water available.

Make sure all your bases are covered in heat tapes, pipe wrappings, heat lamps or heaters etc. Wind along with very cold temperatures will freeze lines quick as a wink even if a tiny couple inch area is all that is exposed.

Fill any and all extra jugs with drinking water. A gallon a day per person will suffice for drinking purposes.We like to keep a week on hand at all times even though we use the spring here on the property.

When the cold rolls in leave the faucets dripping at all times while temps remain below freezing throughout the day. Put a pan or dishpan, something there to catch the drips. These drips will keep you will a constant supply of fresh water to replenish what you will be using to keep plants and critters watered in the event you lose your water during the extreme cold spell.

More often than not hot water freezes before the cold. Water can be heated easily in most cases. Be sure to leave the cold dripping. Our pump doesnt run at all with it at a pretty steady drip. Our drip here provides us plenty of water for everything here so that if we lost all water we could go about a week before having to either solve the issue or go start dipping by hand from the cistern.

Because we have the critters and gardens to contend with we keep about 50 gallons on hand for them in buckets. If we had more buckets, I would increase that amount with out thinking twice. We keep the bucket water in the living room which we have closed off for the winter. The buckets do take up a fair bit of space but, it is better than figuring out where to come up with 50 gallons of water when you wake up after knowing a cold snap was coming to no water..

Disconnect hoses from hose bibs, drain and put away. If you have had to unscrew a frozen hose with ice in the line, you know why. This also gives you easier access to water if you use a hose for watering as the hose always freezes before the water spigot freezes.If you have a shut off valve for the  hose bibbs it is also good to shut it off at the main line and drain it. This prevents water from  freezing in the line itself and then bursting. We forgot this last month during our wintery blast and dealt with two weeks of no water after.