Our water supply is the most important need we have here at Peaceful Forest. This house was built in 1850 and hadn’t had many changes since that time until we move in. I have done research on our house and it most likely had some changes before the 1940s but not after that. For many years it had been a hunting camp. Owned by a bunch of hunters who lived to party, drink and trash this place. Garbage being mainly alcohol bottles and beer cans buried all over the place. We spent years cleaning it up. It did have its own water supply though – a hand dug shallow well with a pitcher pump. I don’t know if this is the original well that was put in when the house was built. It may have been, but the enclosure built around it may not have been added back then. I have no way of knowing that.
Our water supply has never let us down. Our well has never gone dry. Regardless of the weather, in hot dry summers under drought conditions, such as current conditions in July 2016. It is a spring fed well and the water is always clear, cold and good. Our three horses drink a huge amount of water daily. They have two 5 gallon buckets in their barn at all times. Their buckets are refilled several times through out the day. Many times when you refill a bucket and carry it into the barn one of the horses will immediately drink the whole bucket down right then. Then do the same with another bucket. Or another horse will come in from outside for her bucket of water. You can make several trips pumping a new bucket of water each time.
“How do we use a pitcher pump in the winter?” “Doesn’t the pump freeze?” Yes, it certainly does freeze. As long as it is drained down when you are done using it, then the next time you need it, just pour a cup of warm water into the pump. Wait a few minutes and it should be primed. If not, repeat with another cup. It usually thaws it out the first time. To drain it down when you are done using it, wait a a couple of minutes then raise the handle slowly and you will feel it drain down. Leave the handle up. If you don’t, you may have trouble thawing it out the next time you want water. After hearing so many people complaining about frozen pipes and having to use heat tape on their pipes it makes me thankful for our simple pitcher pump.
It is very important if you are using a pitcher pump on your well, to keep it clean. For some reason visitors’ male dogs always want to pee on it. Keep them away from it. Children always want to play with it. It is fine to teach a child to pump it properly but never let them bang it or hang onto it. Teach them to only pump it when water is really needed. Never waste your water. Never wash hands or anything else at the wall with the water running. Using soap or emptying dirty containers over your well with the water running is not a good idea. You need to keep the well clean. My father-in-law always told about his sister dropping their milk bucket into their well. They had to remove all the water. Bucket by bucket, climbing up and down a ladder. He said it was a horrible job but they had to remove all the milk and clean it out. So we are super careful around our well.
Through out my gardening season I keep empty buckets in different areas in the garden. When it rains I collect the rain water for watering the garden on days when it doesn’t rain. Then I don’t have to carry the water from the pump to the garden. Every morning we bring in two buckets of water that sit on the counter next to the sink. They are both covered with lids so nothing can drop in them. We dip from that through out the day. We have another larger bucket that sits on the floor that we use for things like cleaning, baths, showers, etc. Our water is heated on the wood stoves in the winter. Then we have a constant supply. In the warm weather we heat it on the propane stove.
During the summer we keep a number of green 2 liter soda bottles in the sun. They give you an instant shower anytime. I use them in my bath tub, just pouring the warm water over your hair and body. I know it sounds like it would be hard to do, but it is not. Uses no fuel. Figure on six bottles per person though I never use all six even with very thick, long hair. Clear bottles will fill with algae very fast in the sun. The green ones (from 7-UP, Ginger ale and Mountain Dew), not so quickly. They will get it eventually though.
The thing about living this way is that it is not costly or your situation desperate. There is always a way to make things work out. If our well went dry, which it never has (knock on wood!) we have other options. If needed we have a creek within walking distance. There is a spring too, about two or three miles away that everyone uses for water. I often see people there filling their water containers from the pipe that runs from the spring to the road. You can always find a solution to whatever problem arises on your off the grid homestead. Just “Google” it!
Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole