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Category Archives: self sustainability

  • 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 :)

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    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.

  • Triple the Garlic – update

    The garlic is in, a bit later than should be; oh well.IMG_3419

  • 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

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    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.

  • Triple the Garlic

    IMG_7061The garlic is going in very soon, we built and prepared 4 more beds to plant 600 cloves.

  • Sky porn

    We had the most amazing skies again ending the week end. At some point I expect to be blasé about them but a year in, I still find myself snapping pictures in awe.IMG_0004 1IMG_0010 1 IMG_7001 copy

  • Wrapping up the garden

    Pulling out some carrots, adding in some compost

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    Not so verdant anymore, it’s nice to be able to walk between the rows again

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    Beans drying for future consumption

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  • Blueberry Orchard

    Catching up with the myriad of projects we undertook this Summer, we planted a small blueberry orchard. It unfortunately didn’t take well and 40% of the twigs look dead. But the rest are good and we’ll keep replacing and growing it over the years. We got a whopping 10 blueberries out of it this year :) We expect to be drowning in the blue gold within 2 to 3 years.

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