A month or so ago, I shared with you our brand new system for winter water catchment. It involved burying 50 gallon food grade barrels underground, with a hand pump to get the water above ground. In this post, I’ll share how that system worked (and didn’t work), and how we are managing to catch water (in winter!) on our off-grid homestead.
This system worked really well for us, until it got very cold. Then we realized quickly that our system, while great as a season-extender, was not going to get us through a Missouri winter. The barrels were most likely not buried deep enough, and the pipe that extended above the ground was not sufficiently insulated.
As we build systems for our homestead, we go through a process of research, plan, execute, and wait and see what happens. Sometimes, our projects turn out really well. Our above-ground water catchment system will work amazingly well for 9 or even 10 months out of the year. Long term, we will install a large underground cistern with either a solar-powered pump or a hand-pump. This experiment has not been exactly what we hoped for, but it was worth trying.
So how exactly are we securing water for drinking, washing, and eating, you ask? Fortunately, we have been able to capture snow-melt from our metal roof, and use our Berkey filter to purify the snow-melt for drinking water and for cooking.
As for everything else – dish washing, bathing, and watering our chickens – it’s back to the pond we go!
Our daily chores now involve at least one trip to the pond to collect buckets of water. Usually, that involves breaking through at least 2 or 3 inches of ice!
As we add in amenities to our lives – for instance, when we finally moved from the tent into the house after several cold nights – it feels like such luxury! I have never before been so enamored with automatic hand-washing stations in public restrooms, or so grateful to take a hot shower at a friend’s house. Our simplicity has afforded us a new understanding of gratitude for the many comforts we can take for granted.
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