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Category Archives: water

  • Ice blocks for the fridge

    Taking advantage of some very cold nights to make some ice for the fridge. Big blocks like these keep through a few warm days. Eventually we’ll want a way to make a lot more ice and a place to keep it underground, the hope it that it would keep through the Summer.



    IMG_7980We cut pieces with a hatchet.

  • So far so good

    The Bison hand pump is holding up pretty well to very cold weather and so is the underground overflow. The greenhouse definitely helps and has withstood fierce winds recently.


  • A greenhouse to cover the well head

    With a hand pump being our only access to water, we’re taking extra precautions to ensure it will survive the tough winters we get. While technically not necessary for the pump we got, it can only help and should also improve the chore of gathering water. And we get a greenhouse out of it :)



    I like the idea of combining under one roof, 2 functions where freezing is non-desirable, water and growing plants. Our dream is to build a bigger greenhouse down the road and maybe even heat it. Water for the plants would be right where it’s needed and benefit from the higher temperatures. Our only worry right now is whether it will survive the freak wind gusts we get.

  • Well overflow disposal

    Our well is somewhat unique in that water has been oozing off the top constantly at a rate of about 2 gallons per hour. This is a problem in the cold months as it can freeze and damage the casing or the hand pump. Since we had the well drilled last March, we knew we’d have to take care of this before Winter came back. Well, here we are; I spent the whole Summer thinking about what we could do with it. The standard solution in these cases is to create a sump pit near the well to dispose of the water and give it back to the ground bellow frost line. But few things are standard in our house, so I thought about maybe pumping the water out with a Raspberry Pi driven pump but this presented its own set of challenges.

    Finally, I decided to indeed dispose of the water in the ground but first run it all around the house, 170 feet away from the well. It brings me to great soil which percolates well; above all, it gives us a fresh potable water line running all around the house which we can tap for projects.

    We could circulate it in a coil for air conditioning in the house, we could use it for filling our outside shower in the Summer without having to move water, we could have it keep an animal water tank replenished. In other words, the flowing water becomes an opportunity for improvements as opposed to something we just dump back into the ground.

    Of course, it’s harder, less standard and more costly. The well is by far the most expensive project we’ve undertaken so far, we have spent on it as much as than the house itself.

    Ken is back for a huge trench


    This Summer having been very dry, the well actually stopped flowing a few weeks ago. It’s unlikely that the water tables will fill up very much before Winter is here for good, so the project will not be tried by fire immediately. We expect trial when the snow melts next March. Maybe our well was relieving pressure and will never flow over the top again which would suck given everything we’ve done for it. No matter what, we’ll be ready if it happens, and counting on it for projects if it does so consistently.

    150′ of black pipeIMG_6880IMG_6881

    Building a small leach fieldIMG_0024IMG_0036IMG_0049IMG_6893

    Testing the systemIMG_6898

    160′ away, success!IMG_6901

    Sorry, I kind of messed up your houseIMG_6886

    There, go find another oneIMG_6890

    Filling it back upIMG_0094

    It was worth a try but it’s far from idealIMG_6906

    6′ down the well casing, Mike helped me tap a threaded 3/8″ hole so the extra water would go in the black pipe underground. This is the poor man’s way of doing it without a pitless adapter, down the road when we are ready to run water to the house we will make that hole bigger and do it right with a pitless adapter. It didn’t make sense for me do “do it right” immediately because installing a pitless means having to remove the hand pump, which means I might as well put in a second pitless for running water to the house. Which means I might as well dig another trench to the house. Et cetera… It’s just to much to tackle for now, and we don’t even have room in the house for a water tank.

    Mike helped turn a very stressful part of the project into a non-event.IMG_7126

    Except that of course, all the rain that we didn’t get this Summer decided to come down right before we had to work in the hole, it made it hard to work in, and it brought the water table up. For the longest time I thought that what we had rigged together was leaking which could contaminate the well. I ended up redoing it all and checked it thoroughly to be convinced that no water from the ground would find its way to the well. I spent many hours after dark in a muddy hole re-doing and checking until I was certain no water was seeping out.

    Take 2, with a check-valve, currently checking for leakage

    IMG_7130All in all this was a long, stressful and costly project. As with many things, I’ve learned a whole lot in the process and I feel more prepared for the next challenge. The hope is that it will also be worth it to have this fresh water flowing around the house that we can tap into for projects. I said earlier that the well had stopped flowing at the top. Well 6′ down the casing, we found out it hasn’t :) It was a good surprise to find water there.

    It’s very nice to be able to rely on Mike, Matt & Rick for help & feedback on this massive project. Once again we find ourselves indebted to people’s kindness in helping us.

    I will add hay to the top of the leach field for good measure in ensuring it doesn’t freeze; the setup will then be tested by this coming Winter.

  • Potable verdict

    We just got the test results from the well, we can drink it :) This is huge for us. No more bottled water, almost a year in.

    The first glass of water we drank and are still alive to talk aboutIMG_0109

    Having a well is amazing and we are becoming quickly dependent on it. We use a lot more water because it’s easier to get. Watering the garden, longer showers, laundry, anything goes now :)

    Surprisingly efficient way to do laundry, and so much better than wasting time and money at the laundromatIMG_4681

    With the nice weather back and easier access to water, we’re enjoying luxurious showers.IMG_4682

    When we had just moved in, I noted there were 3 things our household didn’t support:  potable water, laundry and reliance on gas to power tools. The well allowed us to eliminate 2 of the 3, with the 3rd one still unlikely to go away anytime soon.

  • Happy campers

    FullSizeRender(2)Stainless steel Maine made Bison hand pump. Gets us water from 72′ deep, which at 1.5 gallon per foot is about 100 gallons that we get to pump from. We’re still not sure how fast the well fills back up 72′ deep, but we measured it at the top and it gives us a couple of gallons per hour.

    So we still need to understand how fast the water comes up the water column. We also need to come up with a solution to prevent the water from rising above the freeze line. Fortunately, we have 8 months until next Winter to figure it out.

    We aren’t drinking the water just yet, we need to wait and get it tested first. The pump operates very smoothly and pumps out a few gallons in little time and with little effort. Our effort to gallon ratio is about to go way down, this will be an enormous improvement from where we are now. Eventually we’ll run water to the house, there is still a lot of unknown on how we’ll do this, but we have ideas for manual processes that are part of a daily routine or solar instrumentation.

  • From 380′ into the earth

    Not exactly gushing out but the fact that it reaches ground level will make a hand pump quite doable. The whole experience was quite a roller-coaster of emotions. I find myself staring in fascination at the water oozing out.IMG_3603

  • Getting a well drilled

    Unfortunately not a whole lot of water at 300ft. We’ll see where static is tomorrow and decide if we go deeper.IMG_3600

    Very impressive piece of machineryIMG_3597Not a very green process.

  • Found a small spring

    springI’ll keep an eye on it through the Summer. It could prove very useful down the road.

  • Humbling cold

    Nights bellow -20°C are forecast for the next few days and I happen to be home alone. It’s humbling to be solely responsible for keeping warm. All the evening chores are mine too.

    Getting the shower ready

    1. break the ice in little pieces

    who needs Minecraft?

    IMG_29862. Scoop out the little pieces with a milk crate (holes to let water through make it easier)IMG_30193. Let things settle for clear water

    IMG_30254. Fill pots


    5. Apply heatIMG_3165IMG_3169

    Before dusk I gave the chicken a path to their food to stretch their legs and fill up one last time before a long night.

    IMG_3026They also got home delivered warm water.


    I really hope they’ll be all right.

    Should be enough wood for the night, emergency fire starter kit included.IMG_3164

    I “ran” electricity to the house for convenience. I’ll do it right when the ground thaws but in the meantime this will make so we don’t have to worry so much about charging and going outside to do so.