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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

bob the builder 7 of 8


Right now we are at $6500.  Still below the cost of my other lot of land, and half the cheapest new car you could find.  I’m writing this sixth installment just one day after the first article appeared on the blog ( writing up to a week or week and a half prior to publication ) and a lot of commotion is being raised about bulk water supplies.  I’ll cover that before I wrap up this series with all the miscellaneous items sure to bring joy and happiness to the off-grid experience.  First off, whatever picture you have in your head about water storage, STOP!  This isn’t Dune where the guerrillas have a secret million or billion or whatever gallon underwater aqueduct.  Bigger is NOT better.  More is better, but bigger is not better.  For artificial water storage, you must have many small units rather than one large one.  Earthquake damage, vandalism, manufactures sloppy quality control ( on purpose or unintentional, whatever ).  Always assume the worst and the worst is something happening to your sole source of water.  Before I buried a 1500 gallon tank I’d bury five 300 gallon tanks, regardless of extra money or extra digging.  I started my water storage with 2 liter soda bottles, added one gallon juice bottles ( very thick and strong plastic ) and then a few water delivery company five gallon jugs.  It’s enough for several months worth of water.  I’ll start out bigger this next time, but it will be tank (s) in multiples rather than one single one. 


As my roof will be plastic and dirt-I refuse to get taxed more and spend more in materials and improve my odds of being seen from afar-my rain catchment is going to be cement on the ground.  Ferrocement- chicken wire and cement ( Portland cement, one part cement to three parts sand ).  Add a bit of dirt color, and weave the slab around in-place shrub brushes for camo with the bottom trench collecting and diverting the water into your buried water container ( my thoughts are to use the square types encircled by a metal cage ).  As my lot is rolling I have plenty of spots that gently roll downhill. 


I don’t see the need to completely duplicate an on grid water system.  For sinks, an elevated container above on a shelf, suitably prettied up, give you all the water you need.  For showers, I still think a stove heated pot for hot is adequate.  As you age, shrink the size of the pots and add more so the weight is not an issue.  Dump in a bucket next to the shower along with cold, and insert your 12v water pump hose ( plugged into the bathroom battery ) which runs to your shower head.  When done, hide the components ( or, have an enclosed cabinet for the bucket which opens on top ).  For the gals, separately wash your hair in the sink ( you might have to help her dumping water over her head ).  All this low flow will help conserve water.  Next article will wrap up the series.


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  1. I recall reading in Rancho Costa Nada that the homesteaders used buried 32 gallon trash cans in a creek bottom for rain cachement. Sounds like a fairly inexpensive way to get started, and you can add accordingly as you see fit. For smaller containers, rather than the hard water company delivery (Alhambra style) bottles, consider the collapsible 5 gallon variety.
    I might have posted this link before? But the link for the book below might offer up some useful tips on water cachement. The author lives in the Arizona desert, and is said to capture all the water that he can use in his dry climate. You might at least read through some of the reviews.

    Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 2nd Edition: Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life and Landscape


    1. I've read RCN twice and didn't remember that detail. I was probably focused on the rants the second time around.

    2. I might have read it at the website rather than in the book? Or possibly in one of the reviews?


    3. Don't forget this free 88-page guide to rainwater harvesting: http://www.twdb.texas.gov/publications/brochures/conservation/doc/RainwaterHarvestingManual_3rdedition.pdf

  2. We have three 1,200 gallon cisterns. (These are actually smaller than you think. I can haul one of these tanks home from the store in the back of a small pick up,) One is connected to the house and 2 are reserves. Plus, we have a 200 tank (can't be buried) in the back of our truck to haul water, several 275 gallon water totes we have picked up cheap over the years and dozens of 55 gallon barrels to collect rain water. So I hear what you are saying about having several tanks for redundancy.

    How much water do you use in a year? This is assuming that you are home 100% and not at work or going to town.

    If it was me, I would aim for having that much water storage on hand.

    For cost wise, you may want to look at water "totes". These are used to haul bulk syrups and juices to manufacturers. They are a plastic square with a metal tube framework around it. They technically can't be buried but if you dig a hole and line it with scrap plywood, you can install them underground. Just don't put too much weight on top. I have picked these up used for as little as $85. (Later, I bought a couple of dozen. Sold several off for $125 and that paid for mine.)

    Totes are pretty common and easy to find. If they are dirty, just drive by a do-it-yourself car wash and use the power sprayer to soap and rinse.

    Not sure if I would go with cement. Too much hassle to clean off dirt, bird poo, etc. I would buy a large roll of plastic from Home Depot. Unroll as needed. Roll up and put away when done. It will keep your water cleaner. Not only that, but your plastic can serve lots of other purposes -- emergency roof, window repair, greenhouse, etc.

    Idaho Homesteader

    1. I second the plastic ! multiple uses and isn't visible except during a rain.

  3. Just finished reading "Fuel" by Nathan Jones. It is probably one of the most realistic end of the world stories I have ever read. It definitely goes on the top shelf with 'Lucifers Hammer', 'One Second After' and 'Lights Out'.

    The character development was excellent. They act just like the folks you know-good and bad. I found myself getting so drawn into the novel that my frustrations at the jerks had me grinding my teeth.

    I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good, realistic end of the world story. About the only thing I questioned was that I felt that the distances covered on foot per day were a little optimistic.

    However, be warned this is not an armchair Rambo, shoot 'em up book. So if you are looking for fantasy doomer fiction, go look elsewhere.

    Idaho Homesteader

    P.S. Jim, I sent you a guest article by email. Let me know that you got it.

    1. Just checked my e-mail, yes I got it and thank you. I'll run it this Saturday ( posting a note on Friday's article to that effect ). I'm going to go check out that novel.


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