Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Self-Reliant Water System

Another highly important component of the self-reliant home is water. We can live much longer without food......but not water. Look at how important water is for survival. We need it for drinking, cooking, cleaning & washing. For our pets and livestock. For our gardens and house plants. It is very important to include it in your homestead plan.

As much as water is needed........look at how brutal it can be also. Where I live, two summers ago, we had such bad flooding that so many people lost their homes, and some, their places of employment, and then some....their lives. I will always think of the two truck drivers who were driving on Interstate 88 that night, and the highway was not there. Washed away by flooding. Many people, as my father's garage was one of these, was flooded, not by living close to a river, or stream, but from water rushing off the many mountains and hills in New York state.

Think back to the bad hurricanes we have had in the last few years, including this year. Look at what the water did to New Orleans and surrounding areas, and parts of Texas and now again to Texas and the surrounding states. Not to mention the tsunami that took so many people's lives in such a brutal death. A wave that was as high as a huge mountain, while people were frolicking on the beach.

Then again, the lack of water is also something that is equally as devastating. This brings about the wild fires, that sometimes are uncontrollable. People who gave up on growing food, for lack of water. No hay for their cattle or horses, so they sold them at auctions. Prices of horses are way down at this time, but the price of hay keeps going up. Can't grow hay in a area with no water, yet can't bring the hay in at another area due to too much rain ruining the hay laying on the ground waiting to be baled.

So water is the very thing that can do you in, or help you to survive.

I live in home that has never had inside plumbing. At first I thought it would be hard for me to adapt to this lifestyle change. Wasn't hard at all. My husband turned the downstair bedroom into a bathroom, and put a cast iron bath tub in with connected drains. It had a cobbled up kitchen sink with an outside drain that just drained right out into the yard. So he dug a trench for the pipes out past the yard and connected the kitchen sink and the bathtub drains to empty through that.

Luckily we had a pitcher pump on our hand dug well that was probably the only well that was ever on this property since the house was built in the 1850s. I am still using it today as my only water supply. In the winter, contrary to popular opinions, it does not freeze up. As long as you put the handle up when you get done using it, the water will drain back down until the next use. Then you just pour a cup of hot water down to prime it and it will keep you in water all winter. We use it for all our household water and for our horses' needs as well.

At a time when everyone feels they have to trust the water from the store rather than their own supplies, I feel safe with my own water. Since I live rather secluded, surrounded by the state forest, I feel as if my water supply is superior to all others. Everyone who tastes it comments on the fresh healthy taste of our water. But if you were just now purchasing a home with a pitcher pump as we have, I would suggest you having the water tested before putting your money down on the home. Just to make sure.

I have spent more time than I like on washing my laundry by hand. We puchased a very energy efficient washing machine last March thinking we could just pour the water into it. Since it is computerized, that was not a good idea. It would just empty out the water we just carried in and had poured inside! So it is on vacation until our water system is brought inside, which is what my husband is working on right now. Not until next spring though. He had to build a battery and water pump room first, and is only now getting the walls up. Then he will put our batteries that are connected to our solar panels in there as well as the water pump which will be bringing our water into the house. I am looking forward to that!

We carry all the water into the house every morning when we do our horses' water. Then in the evening if we need more, we bring it in. During the winter I have at least two big stock pots of water on the woodstoves in case we need it. For my long hot baths that I love, I usually heat three. So I am looking forward to turning my faucets on like in any other house. Though for awhile I will probably still have to heat it on the stove. For that we will be investing in the evacuated solar tubes that are heated by the sun. Yes, I know, New York state is not known for lots of sunshine.....but I am using the sun right now to power our system.

I hope I have given you some ideas to think about. Whatever you do, never take your water for granted. It is a very precious resource.
Have a blessed homesteading day!

"I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse." Genesis 12:3
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