Saturday, January 7, 2012

around the homestead-refurbishing the cistern

For the last few weeks we had been noticing puddling water around the cistern room but because we have also had decent amounts of rain it was hard to tell if something was amiss. On Wednesday manthing had to go into the cistern room and he decided to look at how much water was in there and we only had 2 blocks of 7. With just the two of us here and knowing how much rain had recently fallen we knew the cistern had sprung a leak. After looking around we believe we found the source but then a decision had to be made. Would we simply patch the hole and be done or would we finish emptying it, clean it out, scrape it down, make any repairs, and reseal the entire thing.
We decided that since the cistern was well over 20 years old and had never had any maintenance that it would be wise to completely go through it and hopefully be done with it until we are too old to be doing such things. We also had a fairly decent window to get the work done before the weather turned, a big bonus in January. The bad part was that our window was a fairly small one for the work that needed to be done so it meant bustin our butts a little bit to getter done.
We had to start by finishing emptying the cistern, so we brought the 325 gallon tank up and filled it. We knew we would be without any water for at least four days and perhaps more depending on the weather. This left about 3 inches of water and a big layer of nastiness that had collected on the bottom for twenty odd years. The only way to get it out was by climbing in and bailing the water out by the bucket full, lifting it over the edge and having the second person hauling it out to dump. It then had to be completely dried and scraped down to remove the old sealant and expose as much block as possible. After getting as much out as we could , it was decided the kitty litter soaker upper stuff would work best to dry it then we could scoop it out.
Once it was all dry we made any repairs that needed to be done and could then begin applying the sealant. After applying each coat of sealant it needed to dry for several hours before the next layer could be done. Last night, we were able to get the second coating on and decided that the rain was not going to come in until late this evening so we would do a third and final coat this morning We also neglected to pull the gutters from the pipe going into the cistern since there was only a 10% chance of rain. At 3:30 this morning we had a middle of the night trip to pull the gutters out and protect our masterpiece.
The final coat went on this morning and we are now hoping that the heavy rains that are forecast do not come until tomorrow so that we can put the gutters back in, fill the cistern and see how the pretty cement pond works.

Monday, January 2, 2012

monday's mountain musings- break is over

busy bees on New Year's Day

Happy New Year! It has been a little while since my last post but all is well around the homestead. I decided that I needed a little break from life with the exception of my darn math class for a few weeks (translated to, math moron trying to keep an A) and then decided that my winter break was going to be a break from everything except the essentials of homestead life. It was a much needed break after having such a busy spell of folks coming through over the last couple months.

Our first big dose of winter has finally arrived. Yesterday it was in the 60's and today it is 34 and VERY windy. Tonight will be the first night we get into the teens or single digits. I am going to either be really brave or really stupid and not cover any of the outdoor veggies that are growing. An old local farmer last summer told us to just leavum and they will be ok. In reality, I don't have much choice as row covers would not stay on the beds with this wind. The green house stuff will all be covered with an inside layer to keep things alive. I have about a 100 cabbage and broccoli plants in there that I thought bugs killed last fall as seedlings that have all come back to life as well as peas that are just starting to produce, greens, lettuce and asparagus seedlings.

Not much has been going on around the place in the way of improvements or changes. Manthing has been working steadily this winter (not complaining) so project time is limited for him. I have been a lazy slacker with most everything but school. Wood for next year is being cut when time permits and a clearing is being made for an eventual raised bed, hoop house. Seed catalogs are arriving so soon I will be sorting and deciding what and where stuff will be planted. Seeds will be started in a week or two for the early crops and before ya know it spring will have arrived.