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!


  1. My dad was brough up on a farm (with 11 brothers and sisters) that had no mains water or electricity until the 1950's, I wonder what my grandmother would think if she read about people choosing to live this way? Years later, she had moved off the farm and my parents were staying with her and she made a comment about the amount of time and water they used for washing!!! I guess old habits die hard - she lived until she was 96!
    We built our house ten years ago and unfortunately didn't give much though to the water - other than having it installed. Now we realise the stupidity of having drinking quality water for our laundry, toilet etc - when so many poeple don't even have it to drink. Needless to say we are trying to find ways of rectifiying the situation as much as is possible.
    Good luck with the well and all your future projects - they are so interesting and informative to read about.

  2. We have to get through limestone here. I'm a bit nervous, but my husband feels good about it. Of course, we may be waiting to start the well on our hill til next spring. Earth bag building takes a long time in the middle of the forest. Happily, we have a well at the bottom of our hill, but our home site is driveable only half the year, and walk-in only during the rest. I may be melting snow, too.

  3. Simple and effective, very nice. Thanks for the photos.We really should be doing something like this. The mountains around us usually have 6 feet or more of snow this time of year, There hasn't been any for a month or more. There are flowers blooming.

  4. I'm so sorry to hear that there is still no available well in your area, yet. At any rate, I'm glad you took quick action and found a quick alternative for the issue. Using a rain barrel is a great solution, indeed. I'm so glad the progress on the well situation is slowly coming to a close. Thanks for sharing that! All the best! :)

    Sharon Strock @ StormChamber