Off Grid Water :: Rain Barrel System

 {photo from last summer}

Many of you have been asking how our water situation is going out here on the homestead, so I thought I'd share an update...

Previously, I wrote about driving a sand point well here and here.  Surprise, it didn't work out as we'd planned.  With no well for water at the time, an alternative plan was put into action. We did have the roof of the chicken coop to collect rain water, so we picked up a barrel and hooked it up to our salvaged gutters.  After one rain, the barrel overflowed, and we added another.  That kept us in water all summer for animals, washing dishes, solar showers and laundry.  Did you know the average family uses 400 gallons per person per month?  We were using less than that for our whole family per month.  We do refill five gallon containers in town for drinking water and are saving for a Berkey to eliminate that cost.  This week, we put up a gutter on the house and added a 250 gallon tank to our water system.  In just a few minutes of rain this morning, you can see how much water we've collected!  Mike also made a platform and raised the tank off the ground, just enough to get a five gallon bucket under the spout. It makes life so much easier!  Next, we're going to add another gutter and barrel along the mud room's roof and hook that up a drip irrigation system out to the garden.  I'm also hoping to add one more to the roof of the barn for back up.  

We're still working on the well, and have actually made some progress.  It seems that the rock we'd hit last fall has shifted over the winter and we've been able to go a few more feet.  The neighbor guy says we've got to be close now.  To test for water in a sand point well, you fill up the pipe and if it drains out quickly, then you know you've hit water.  Ours is draining, but not quickly enough, so we pound a few inches and check.  It's really hard work and because our rain system works, it just hasn't been a priority.  I would love to have it done before winter though.  Melting snow for washing is tedious work.  

If you have any questions specifically about how our water system works, we'd love to chat, so please ask!

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Knitting :: Finished L'Arbre Hat

I finished knitting my L'Arbre Hat this morning while snuggled up next to the warmth of the wood stove.  Outside the window, a light frost covered the ground, eliminating all motivation to get going on morning chores.  I'm sure glad we've only got frost hardy seeds in the ground.  We usually plant the more tender crops around Mother's Day, but we just didn't have time yet.  I'm also glad that these spring cold snaps don't last long, because being unmotivated is not a good thing this time of year. We're trying to get the garden planted and the inside walls and floors done before company comes next weekend.  I'm sure glad I have my knitting to keep me sane during these hectic days.  Maybe this post should have been titled "Things I'm Glad About".  

Anyway, back to the hat.  

I loved this pattern.  The instructions were clear and anything you may have trouble with is explained on their blog post.  I did make a few changes...  I used a Size 6 needle, because I couldn't find my Size 8's.  To compensate for the smaller needles, I cast on 88 stitches and then increased 8 stitches {or one repeat} just after the ribbing.  It fits just about right, but I do wish that I'd ribbed for two inches instead.  I don't like the way the one inch ribbing always wants to fold under.  It just occured to me that if I'd cast on the extra eight stitches right away, the edge may not pull in like that, but I really dislike hat a loose hat that doesn't stay put.  I have quite a bit of yarn left, os maybe I'll snip off the ribbing and redo it with a two inch edge.  Or maybe not.  

What are you knitting today?

{Joining Ginny}

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Knitting and Gardens

It's the most perfect kind of spring weather... scattered thunderstorms sending us indoors for a few rows of knitting and when it stops, we're outside to work the garden.

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Here's what we've been up to lately...

::  Mike and Cole finished up the herb spiral.  It tuned out even better than I could have imagined and I have so much to say about it, that I'll save it for another post.

::  Devouring Wintercress.

:: Anticipating Serviceberries, a whole month early this year.  If we can manage to beat the birds to the delicious fruit, that is.

:: Each day, we're planting as many seeds as we can.  Potatoes are in the ground along with carrots, onions, rutabagas, radishes, leafy greens, garlic, chives, basil, cilantro, dill, anise, Sage, and Summer Savory.  

:: I couldn't bare to let left over dye from a custom crown go to waste, so I threw in a skein of merino and let it sit over night.  The yarn turned out a lovely shade of green.  The color reminds me of fiddleheads and I'm going to make this with it.  I'm still working on the little sweater from last week, but I keep ripping it out, trying to figure out what stitch pattern I want to use. Speaking of fiddleheads, I need to take a walk down to the woods and check for them today. Last night we had a good rain {hallelujah, the rain barrels are full again} and I bet they've all popped out of the ground. {Joining Ginny}

:: The chickens have also been enjoying all the seeds we're planting, so I insisted that we get the garden fence up pronto.  Four hundred feet of fencing.  Fifty hand dug posts.  Two days.  It looks gorgeous and keeps the chickens out, but remind me never to do that again.  The official measurement on our main garden is 114 ft. sq, which seems quite manageable for our first year homesteading.

:: Homemade bread rising next to a warm window.  Because having the excuse to go check on the bread was a nice distraction from digging fiftyish holes by hand.

What's been going on with you lately?

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