Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Day Without Water

Well, the better part of the day, anyway.

Yesterday's mishap with the shut off valve, led to one of those practical guides of how much water do we need to store.

Water storage pre-mishap:

Bowl of water in sink, soaking to loosen dried food (poured into doggie stew pot)

1 5 gallon pail, nearly full, which collects water from the relief valve on the water tank.  (used to wash dishes).

14 2L pop bottles (used 2 for dish rinse water.  I wanted 'cleaner' water for the rinse, which proved fruitless after the first few items were rinsed, used 1 in the bathroom to wash hands and flush the toilet until the snow melted)

2 4L jugs distilled water.  (used half of one to bake bread).

24 500ml bottles (drank about 4)

pot of tea (made before the mishap)


3 5 gallon pail of snow (dishes)
4 5 gallon pails of snow (bathtub, to flush toilet, and wold have added hot water for baths if we didn't get the problem fixed)

At the end of the day:
11 2L bottles
about 20 500ml bottles

Melting snow is definitely more convenient (and cleaner) than hauling water from the creek.  It can also be put into a variety of readily available containers once the bucket comes in the house.  I had two pots on the stove, and one on the wood stove all day, melting and heating snow.  I filled the bathtub with snow to melt slowly.  I could have easily grabbed more 5 gallon pails, pots and bowls if I needed more, or faster water.

I also left the critters to fend for themselves for the day.  Although it's not really recommended (eating snow requires more energy than drinking water), one day wasn't going to hurt them.

If this had happened in the summer, with everyone at home, with our water intake being higher, and needing to get water to the critters, we would have been in trouble.  Not because we don't have access to water- we have the creek and a natural spring next door, but because carrying water takes some forethought.  For one thing, carting 5 gallon pails are heavy, and without lids, would spill quite a bit.

So even though we had more than enough water for this situation, I'm going to increase my water storage.  2L pop bottles would work well to get water from the spring, and if I'm going to store them, I might as well store them filled.  I have a large camping jug, and I might as well keep it filled as well.  A couple more of those would be handy for hauling water, as would some 5 gallon pails with lids.  A couple more cases of bottled water wouldn't take up too much room either, and the bottles would be very convenient if I had to do this long term.

Another handy device would be a siphoning hose set aside just for water.

For the critters, I think I need to look at a 55 gallon drum.  We have lots that we use as rain barrels, and water 'troughs' for the critters, but one without the top cut off wold be good for hauling water from the creek.  Of course, long term, running the fence to the creek would be the best solution.

Dad picked up the parts I needed in town, and came over to help me fix the pipe last night.  By 7pm, we were back in business, and now I know how to do minor plumbing repairs.


  1. So, snow is handy? Good deal. When you carry five gallons of snow, how much water do you get? How do you get barrels of water from the creek? Right now, I need a plumber type behind the claw foot tub to stop a leak. It is beyond me just because of back and lack of strength. Oh, yeah, shoulder would not allow me to do it. I'm glad that yours is fixed.

    1. Snow is very handy! You don't get a lot though. A 5 gallon pail of snow would fill the pot on the stove three times, and almost be a pot full of water after it was all melted. So, roughly three times as much snow as water? And then I think different types of snow would amount to different amounts of water, too. This was light fluffy stuff, but I would imagine that heavy packing snow would make more water. Or maybe just compact in the bucket more?

      I'd still need the 5 gallon pails to get the water out of the creek and pour it into the drum, just carting it in the drum would be easier than in the 5 gallon pails sloshing around. How to cart it? By quad or horse cart, depending on the situation.

      I hope you can find someone to help you out with your leak. Plumbers are so expensive!

  2. i'm glad that your Dad came and helped to fix it! hauling water IS a pain and melting snow is much easier. we went a week last winter without running water and that's what we did - used it to wash dishes, flush the toilet, etc. we also have a rainbarrel and gutters that collect 80litres when full. you wouldn't be able to use the rainbarrels in winter because they would freeze but i am sure that you and hubby could jerry-rig something to catch rainwater for use during the spring, summer and fall and that water could be used for your animals. we filter our rainwater through 2 Berkeys (love them!) and use the filtered water as our drinking water.

    anyway - glad everything turned out ok!

    your friend,

    1. Through the spring and summer I set the rain barrels up along the edge of the barn and chicken coop. I buy feeder fish at the pet store and throw them in to keep the mosquito population down. I had 6 55 gallon drums last year. 3 or 4 sunny days will empty them all out. I'm always looking for more barrels.

      I read your Berkey post awhile back. They do sound great, but I haven't gotten to the filtration stage yet.


  3. Being without water is a pain. Did you find that toileting used a lot of your precious resource?

    We had an outhouse at our fist place, and my husband is building one here at this one. I don't know about building laws in your province, but here in NS if there's already an outhouse on the property it is grandfathered in as being ok. Otherwise, I think you're out of luck (unless it's for a camp). We were lucky. We bought a property that still had the original privy standing (I use that term loosly! lol). It was one of the selling points for us :-)

    1. It wasn't too bad, we follow the, 'if it's yellow, let it mellow...' philosophy. It does take a lot of water to do a gravity flush though, so much more water used than if we had a camping style toilet.

      I had no idea what the laws have to say about building an outhouse, so I tried looking it up. From what I could find, (which wasn't much), it's still legal, at least in cottage country. A composting outhouse, on the other hand, may not be legal. Which is kind of weird.

    2. His intellect is dizzying!! lol I'm having second thoughts about reconditioning the outhouse for use now.