Monday, March 17, 2014

Rainwater Collection

A few months ago, we used the last of the "city water" from our tank and pumped in 100% rainwater.  We were having water trucked in 2000 gallons at a time.  When our last tank of purchased water went dry it was time for the big switch to rainwater.  It is a wonderful feeling to know that the water we are drinking is pure and clean.  Our four year old daughter would tell me the water tasted funny when I served her a glass of city water.  That is scary!  

This is how we are catching the water falling from the sky:
Our studio building is corrugated - super corrugated -which made putting a gutter on it rather difficult.   

So Jim Bob made a template to bring the inner corrugation out to the gutter.

He used the template to cut and bend the flashing to fit up into the building.

There were 20 pieces of flashing to cut and bend.

Once it starts raining, the water flows off the building into the gutter then into the 4" PVC.  

There are three drains along 40 foot gutter.

This is the far left drain.

The center drain.

Then the right side drain that sends all the water to the roof washer and then into the 55 gallon drum.    

This is a good shot of the bent flashing, the pvc and the drain holes.

Since our gutter is so close to the ground, we had to let the water collect into a drum that was buried in the ground. The screened box stops debris from entering into the 55 gallon drum - just another part of the filtration system.

In order to get the water out of the drum, we are using a transfer pump with a float switch.  

When it rains the water flows into the drum, makes the switch float float which turns on the pump and transfers the water out of the drum, through the pump, down the 1 1/2" poly pipe and all the way over to the tank. Viola!

We also have a cover that catches water.

When it rains the water flows into the gutter, out the drain and into the roof washer.

This is a screen over the PVC to stop the big debris from entering into our tanks.  The roof washer catches the first 15 gallons or so - probably not enough but it's a start - of dirty water off of the roof.  

This was a really cool trick.  JB wishes he had come up with it but he didn't.  While researching roof washers he came across a guy who had done it but could never find the site again.   He bought a 1/2" NPT tap on ebay for about $4.50.  He drilled a hole in the PVC and then tapped it, put a little teflon tape on the boiler valve and screwed it in.  Simple and clean and works like a dream.  We use the water out of the roof washer to water plants and to wet down sand for sand castles in the sand box.

Once the roof washer fills up, the water overflows into the 4" PVC pipe and flows into the tank.  Once this tank is full, we are pumping the water into the tank by the bus.  Soon, we will have a cover over the bus and will be able to catch that water into those tanks and won't need to transfer water from tank to tank.  That will be AWESOME.

We are storing our water for long periods of time.  With that in mind, we knew we needed to filter the rainwater.  So after the screens and roof washer, the water goes through a sediment filter and then a carbon block filter.

It then flows through a UV light that kills any harmful pathogens that are remaining in the water.  It is then pumped into the bus for us to enjoy!  The water is crazy soft.  You can actually feel the water on your skin - it has substance or something.  It tastes so clean and yummy too.  It is Lena Marie approved!  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Bus - A Year Later

I thought an update post for the interior of the bus would be fun.  Over the past year, we have changed a few things...

We took out the shelves and drawers for the art supplies and such and moved them into the studio.  We started homeschooling and found that we were using them in the studio "classroom" more than in the bus "classroom".  We cleaned out a basket and saved some art supplies for the spontaneous Saturday morning crafting time that Lena Marie is famous for! 

We were able to clean out a basket because we got a dresser!  Yay!  I say "we" because Lena Marie and Zeb quickly moved some of their clothes into the bottom drawer.  That's right - I still only have 3 drawers!  Lena Marie even put her name on the drawer!

We were able to get a dresser because we took out the flushing toilet.  We now use a compostable toilet in our outside bathroom.  Nothing screams, "IT'S WINTER!" like a 28 degree toilet seat!  :)

We totally rearranged the living room!  Alright, we moved the couch from one side of the bus to the other but it felt like such a big deal.  I decided to switch it up at Christmas time to make room for a tiny little Christmas tree.

This was our Charlie Brown Christmas tree!  

Once we moved the couch, we were able to get a chair and a little table in here!  Holy cow, right?  The chair was JB's Goodwill find and I reupholstered and spray painted it to give a it a new life!  And we took out that awesome rug.  I could NEVER keep that thing clean and things were beginning to grow on it..

This is where we stash our shoes.  I didn't realize how many pairs of shoes a family could have!  And they take up so much stinkin' space.   Have you seen that movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs?  That scientist kid invents spray on shoes.  It comes in a can - you just spray it on your feet and viola!  Instant shoes!  I thought it was a fabulous idea and it would save us so much space.  I'm going to google it and see if it really exists.

We took out the trap door cover thingy and now have a place to sit.  That black circle behind the cushion is Phin's cat door.  The piece of wood that you see on the door folds down and locks the door from the inside.  Another one of Jim Bob's brilliant designs!

We didn't change much in the kitchen. The kids have a calendar on the end of the cabinet and that is about it! 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Almost a Year Later

December 22, 2013 was our one year anniversary here.  We made it!  We still don't have "normal" jobs.  Jim Bob is making pots in the studio like a mad man and I am creating recycled record clocks mostly for wholesale these days.  The kids are growing like weeds around here.  I guess fresh air, plenty of room to chase some chickens and home cooking is a good recipe for growing children.  They are so much fun and they keep us moving, man, do they keep us moving.

The bus is great.  Hopefully soon, we will have a cover over it and catch that rain water when it falls from the big sky.  We are on a 100% rainwater catchment. That water is awesome.  We have filters - one sediment, one carbon and a UV light filter that keeps the water free of crazy pathogens. We thought it was necessary since we are storing our water for long periods of time.  The studio building is catching water - off the curved part and also off of the kiln patio.  We still need lots of catchment surface if we are to sustain ourselves out here though.  All in due time, all in due time.  I will post pictures of the system at a later date.  Ironically it is raining outside right now!  Yay!

We are still on the plan of being self sufficient.  We have lots to learn and figure out but we are walking slowly down the path.  I guess that is where this blog will lead - down the homesteading path. That sounds like an adventure too!

The biggest recent change is the slab we poured for the kiln area outside the studio.  That happened some weeks ago.  It turned out fantastic!

The 15 x 15 patio cover was built some months ago.   You can see the gutters and the plumbing for the water catchment (better pictures to come).  Eventually, the two electric kilns will be moved out of the studio and unto the slab.  Progress is wonderful.  This means JB can finish building his benches and such in the studio and finally feel settled.

Our farm animals have changed quite a bit.  We lost sweet little Madame right before Thanksgiving.  She is buried under a tree out in the pasture.  She was 14 in human years - 98 in dog years.  We miss her so.  The bees left their hive and stung me in the eye on their way out.  Big bummer.  We will give it another try though! Next time, I will wear my bee get-up for sure.  I also found out that I am allergic to bee stings - yikes!  We lost our guineas too.  They wondered off into the forest one too many times and never came back. Ridiculous birds.  No more guineas for us. 

But we do have - GOATS!  Oh boy are they so much fun!  We bought Holly, Max and Mary in June.  King came to us a in January and the baby goat girl just a few days ago!

We have 3 does:  Holly - the best goat in the whole world.  She is the only goat that I know that would prefer to be alone.  She is solid, a wonderful mother and super fun.  I just love her!   Mary is our second doe.  She is also a great girl.  She is a bit quiet and shy but very inquisitive and the first one to headbutt Phin if she feels he is getting to close.  We don't have a name for our third doe yet.  We brought her home yesterday and we are still getting to know each other.  She is soooo sweet.  She is a bottle fed baby so she doesn't know that she is a baby goat yet.  I introduced her to the herd but she was more interested in chasing Lena Marie around.  We are still bottle feeding her three times a day too. That is why she is in the bus tonight. So cute and fun!  We also have two boys.  The neutered one is Max.  He gets into more trouble than our donkey (according to Lena Marie.)  Then their is King, our herd sire.  He is still a baby but soon enough he will be a busy goat boy.  The goats are fun and useful.  They have been helping me clean up the place.  I put their electric fence pen around a bit of brush that I want gone and viola!  Between the five of us, we have it all cleaned up nicely.
Max, King, Holly and Mary

Holly hanging with the kids in the play house. She is awesome.

King, the future big daddy.

Max, the royal pain.

Holly was pregnant when we bought her.  She birthed 2 little bucks at the end of October.  It was an amazing experience.  We sold the two boys to a nice family up the road.  I milked Holly for a short time.  Looking back, I handled it all wrong!  What a learning experience this all is!  

Sweet Mary

We also have a donkey boy, Chancho.  I think we got him in September.  He is about 10 months old.  He is so much more than I ever thought a donkey could be.  In a good way most days but some days I could sell him in a second!  He sticks his nose into everything.  I can't hang clothes out on the line while he is out and about.  He grabs the clothes and walks off with them!  The kids shoes go missing semi-often because Chancho picks them up and takes them off into the pasture!  He is super lippy and I am trying to get him to play fetch.  He likes to pick the ball up and shake it but I can't get him to bring it back to me yet.  He is super smart, friendly and sassy.  Each day I love the guy a little more.  
He likes to come into the studio and see what we are up to. 

Here he is thinking about grabbing some laundry!  Sneaky donkey boy.

We recently added 25 chicks to our menagerie.  They are finally old enough to be outside instead of in the studio.  We think we have one rooster in the bunch but that is fine by me.  I miss the sound of a rooster crowing.

Our big chicken girls are laying eggs like crazy!  We have 9 hens and getting 7 or so eggs a day right now.  What do you think we will do when the 24 girls are laying?  Farmer's Market here I come.

This is Dolores.  She is a wonderful chicken!

The cat in charge - Phin.  He wouldn't be able to lay in the chicken's nesting boxes these days - those chickens would let him have it!  But he does look quite comfortable.  Let's see...he has brought us 4 snakes, 3 birds (into the bus), mice galore and one baby cottontail rabbit.  He brought the rabbit into the bus and dropped it on my foot.  I gave out a pretty big yelp.  I had no idea what it was!  I looked down and there was this sad little rabbit panting, scared to death.  I took him back outside and put him in a brush covered area where I knew rabbits lived.  I thanked Phin for the rabbit but told him I preferred chocolate bunnies wrapped in foil from the grocery store.  Hopefully he took note!

Briggs and Ted, our fabulous livestock guardian dogs, are doing absolutely fantastic.  They keep the farm safe from coyotes (and we have a lot of those) and all other nocturnal creatures.  They are wonderful with the chickens, goats and kids.  I can't say enough good things about these boys.