The Great Plentiful Douche of 2020

We updated our outside shower to something honestly quite amazing. It’s missing finishing touches but we have most likely found the final location and configuration.

Quaint! And private, I don’t care if a coyote sees me bare assed.

Now before I get into the details, the one big gain here for us is infinite hot water, at will. I know it doesn’t sound like much but believe me, to us it’s the most amazing thing in the world.

First of all, this is water we do not move by hand, which is a first in 5 years. How does it works in the middle of the woods? Well we improved an abandoned beaver dam to buffer some water in the stream. Stream water can be murky so we made a siphon between the beaver buffer upstream and a giant tub downstream. The tub is one more opportunity for sediment to settle. I tried to make the water run down a long hollowed out pine tree but we couldn’t get the level quite high enough. Turns out a siphon is a thousand times better anyway.

From the giant tub, a simple 12V pump pumps the water into a tankless heater.

The water pump, some things still need proper places.

I had enough spare parts for a whole other solar setup. 1 charge controllers, 3 super dead lead acid batteries I revived with the water trick, and finally 1 charge controller. It’s not much of a solar setup, it’s what we started with years ago, but it’s perfect for 1 water pump in the woods.

It remains to be determined if we’ll consume more electricity than we’ll produce with this 1 panel in this 1 spot. We used to have a second extra panel but I tractored it by accident :\.

This pump is setup to stop when a certain pressure is reached. So it keeps the line to the tankless heater pressurized and then stops drawing power. When you call for water, the pressure drops and it starts up automatically. The tankless heater lights up and you get hot water.

The really incredible device tying all together: an outside tankless heater.

There is literally no work to the whole operation, no moving water nor applying heat with a fire like we did before when we wanted hot water.

The whole setup

Now the one imperfection of this system is that heating is done with propane: a fossil fuel not from our land. I’m sure no one in the family will dare disparaging the approach given how much time we all spent taking hot showers. The kids especially spend extra long in a small tub, toys have been replaced with various forest things we find and throw in the water (ferns, sticks).

It’s worth mentioning that hot water is a mixed blessing. On the warm days, there is nothing better than being forced to take a uncomfortably cold shower. It really cools you down for several hours. With this luxurious shower it’s impossible to resist the temptation of comfortable warm water, this does nothing to help you bear the oppressive heat of a Summer day. I’m sure there’s a moral in there about easy choices not necessarily being the best ones. I choose to ignore it from the depths of my steaming hot water.

Funny language anecdote: shower is quite funnily “douche” in French, and so when we used solar heated camping water bags years ago, we inevitably called them douche-bags. This new one’s been dubbed mega-douche.

Flowering marsh, a nascent swim hole & the incredible prospect of getting the tractor over the stream

Our land has an enormous marsh running through it, seeing it in bloom is quite the spectacle.

Out of nowhere, we got carried away playing with the water flow. We always had the idea to make a little swim hole and a bridge and it all seemed so far away until we went for it.

We funneled the water existing the marsh, it makes crossing the stream much easier and will allow for a small sediment pool before the swim hole. The most amazing part of this endeavor is that we can see for the first time how we’ll be able to take the tractor beyond the stream. The majority of our land has been hardly accessible by vehicles, taking a tractor to the other side means much better paths, which means plenty of easy access to wood, ability to build in more isolated areas and so much more. This is quite exiting.

There is still a lot of work to be done to make this a quaint place to cool off on the hot days.

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.