Thursday, March 4, 2010


When you grow all of the vegetables that you eat all year, it's pretty important that your garden does well. One of the things that can really mess with a garden is a really dry spring and summer. Especially when your cistern (the only source of water for your garden) leaks despite numerous attempts at repair.

The cistern would be awesome if it reliably held water. It collects all the rainwater off our large barn and the smaller hog shed (no hogs yet) beside it. Unfortunately, it does not hold water reliably and this has become increasingly frustrating.

Cisterns are how many people around these parts (and many other places as well) had access to water. It was only a handful of years before we bought our place that they actually drilled for a well. Our neighbors, two doors down only have their cistern for water. Since they use it for drinking, they have had it thoroughly cleaned and have clean water delivered to fill it instead of using roof water as folks did for many, many years before.

We have a second cistern right at our back door. Jamey installed a new old-fashioned hand pump to that one and we use water from that cistern to water our chickens.

Jamey has tried fixing our back garden cistern by re-cementing it's cracks and on at least one occasion he used wire to help reinforce the cement. Still, water did not hold. He looked into liners, but those are very expensive to have custom made. When Jamey gets something on his mind, he researches and researches and researches, wanting to make the best choice. This is what he found.

Large water containers. As you can see, we picked them up before all the snow.

The front of the hog shed is behind the trailer and tanks.

They were used only once to hold soy lecithin. They are in like-new condition and fit perfectly under the overhang of the back of the hog shed where the cistern pump is already set up. You can see some of the pipes to the left. The electric pump sits on a shelf just out of view on the left as well.

This next picture shows you the decrepit state of the back of our barn. We can't wait to fix that up. Anyway, you can also see the sad little spout coming off the big barn onto the top of the hog shed (very top left of photo). That water and the water from the hog shed flow down the spout and into the top of our underground, leaking cistern. There is a hole under that big rock. Even though I am sure my children can't lift that rock, I will be thrilled when we can fill it in/permanently cover that hole.

Possibly over Jamey's spring break, he will reroute the gutters and spout to flow into the new water tanks and hook the pump up to them.

The spring rains will come, the water will flow into the tanks and we won't lose a drop.
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  1. Pretty neat!:)I have heard rainwater is good to wash your hair with. Is that true? On another tangent, the Bluberry Crumble Bars you shared last evening, Oh my, talk about YUMMY!!!! I looked for the recipe on here, but didn't see it.Are you willing to share it?

  2. Amy, I have never washed my hair in our rainwater. I don't think I want to since it runs over all kinds of bird poop on the roofs before running down the spouts:-). Good question, though. I imagine if it would be clean, it would be lovely!

    Here is a link to the blueberry bars- glad you enjoyed them!

  3. I love that last picture! First of all the back of your barn looks so much like the condition of our barn/shed. Also, we have a shallow well that is covered very much like your cistern. And, that setup with the drainage pipe runnning to the cistern looks like a solution my husband would come up with too!

  4. Rainwater is amazing for washing your hair. It leaves it so soft, unlike the chemically infused city stuff we have.

    It's awesome you collect rainwater. I cannot wait until we figure out a way to incorporate that type of system for our garden.

    Have a fantastic weekend!!

  5. Where on earth did you find those containers??? What a wonderful find. I'd love to know of a source. Great post.

  6. Diane, Jamey did a search on Craigslist for water/storage containers (or something similar)in our area. Up they popped!

  7. Ha...found them!!! Made me laugh though cause they are calling them "totes"....275 Gallons! Ours are around $135...did you all pay that much. Well, you really got me thinking. Thanks again.

  8. Diane, ours were $75 each (would have been $85 for just one) from a processing facility where they were surplus. Good luck!

  9. Over here in aussie land most people who don't have town water connections have rainwater tanks, and use the rainwater for everything from drinking to watering the garden :)

    We have a very small rainwater tank (1000L) attached to the house, and two larger tanks (5000gallon and 11,000 gallon) tanks that we pump water into from our local creek. We use the rainwater for drinking, running it through a ceramic filter, and the creek water for everything else (but do drink it filtered when the rainwater is low). Over here you can get a "first flush" system on the downpipe leading to your tank that collects the first lot of water and all the dirt, dust, leaves etc so it doesn't go into the tank. When we put new tanks on the house, we'll be installing those too. Much better for the water quality lol!


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