By Travis Birch
We own an undisclosed amount of property in an off the beaten path area about five hours from our home in town. We are developing this patch of earth to someday live on when our children head to college. We put into practice many methods to acclimate to a normal life on our terms. Among these activities is having a steady supply of water.
We have a few sources that we go to for this. We search for springs to feed water tanks, and dig wells. These are
consistent sources that we count on daily. Another source, and it is fairly simple, is to collect water that the Lord sends down to us. Utilizing the roof on our cabin and finessing some guttering into some 55 gallon barrels as a collection device or a Collection Barrel, we can maintain some water to assist with gardening, cooking, cleaning and bathing. Waste nothing is our mantra at the cabin.
I have a friend that works in a food processing plant and he has access to barrels and other collection devices. The company cleans the plastic barrels when they are empty as part of their standard operating procedure. Then they recycle them, or offer some to the public for deer feeders, or projects like this. I clean the barrel at my house prior to heading to the cabin. A little dish washing liquid with Food Grade Brushes and some warm water does the job. A couple of minimal rinses, and a final wipe down gets us ready.
A final inspection proves that there are no holes or damage that could ruin this project. I use a Hole Saw to cut an entry on the top. The plan is to insert a downspout from the Guttering into the barrel. You want the end of the down spout to just enter the barrel, and not extend all the way down to the bottom of the barrel. Finally, I stuff some Steel Wool around the downspout and the hole to prevent any unwanted critters from entering. Then we just sit back and let the good Lord fill it for us.
When the weather clears I remove the lid. You are likely to find twigs or leaves in the collected water supply. A hand held strainer is ideal for removing these tidbits of nature. I use a 2 Wheel Dolly to move the water barrel to the shed to keep it on hand, and in rotation with other collected barrels. Keep your water segregated out of the direct sunlight. Sunlight and oxygen are great catalysts for growth. If you feel more comfortable you can add a cap full of bleach for about every 20-25 gallons of collected water to keep it fresh. In our cabin, the freshest water is used for cooking or bathing. The older water is used for watering our gardens. Important to remember is that this supply is incremental to our regular supply, and not a primary source for us.
As it is with everything, temperature can surely effect what you can and can’t do. If you find that your supply is frozen from the night before, use an axe, I keep a clean axe nearby during the winter in anticipation of this. Hopefully you only have an inch or two of ice, and you have just a little bit of ice chips to clear. Collect your ice chips and melt them over a fire.
Being one with nature doesn’t always mean sleeping on a bed of moss under a canopy of trees and speaking in the tongue of the local wildlife. But does include making the most of what nature hands you. The Lord provides, and it’s our job to make the most of His gifts.