Gravity Feed water systems eliminate the dependence on pumps to move water through your taps every time you turn them on. It took me a good solid 5 days work to get my water travelling up and back down efficiently. Laying all the pipes and making connections above ground, testing them all before dropping them into 300mm deep trenches and burying them – hopefully never to be seen for a long time and never to freeze … fingers crossed. Not having much experience with poly pipe and all the necessary connectors and fittings there were a few trips into the Irrigation shop, the guys there are very patient.
My drinking water system comprises of a header tank of 22600L that is positioned at the highest point on my property. I used a lazer level and measuring post to discover the base of the tank sits 6.4m above the ground level of my shack and water entry point, at a distance of 100m. I have a 10500L tank collecting water from 72m2 roof area, from here I pump water up to the larger header tank using a DC diaphragm pump powered by a 12V battery and 80W solar panel. The poly pipe system has 2 ball valves at either end so I can pump water up and allow to run back down in the same line. A T junction was installed to feed water to the solar hot water unit, also with a ball vale tap fitted.
I had a trench digger come in and cut 150m of trenches and while he was here I got him to cut my grey water trenches and dig some swales, also part of the grey water system. He did all this in 4.5 hours and didn’t stop for a break or a drink of water, just a cigarette while he worked, he was also only about 25.
The swale hollows I then filled with woodchip tol absorb and filter the grey water coming from my shed. The swale mounds had a sprinkling of dolomite and on the 1st I scattered some mustard seed for an experiment .“The advantage of sowing mustard are that it disinfects and regenerates the soil, it stimulates the life of the soil and curbs nematodes, especially potato root eelworm…” On top I lay down some dry Lucerne, I would have preferred straw but the produce store has had trouble sourcing it this season. I gave all that a watering today with Molasses and water to activate microbes.
The soil clods were quite substantial and I contemplated Gypsum so read up a bit and discovered a soak test that will indicate whether or not you should use Gypsum or not. After 12 hours soaking and no cloudy water my test resulted in not using it. It rained soon after and I observed the consistency of the soil and clod as they became soaked, and eventually breaking apart and crumbling. What I also noticed was the strange lack of soil life. Worms are far and few between and I suspect a past history of chemical fertilizer might be to blame. My resident Magpies weren’t to impressed either. The swales will be planted with fruit trees, maybe Feijoa and Juneberry if I can find some, and in between with veges.
I took some advice from a book I am reading called A Biodynamic Farm by Hugh Lovell, in which he advises applying Granite dust to encourage worms. Apparently worms like to ingest granite to help their digestion, kinda like Budgies and chooks need grit to help break down their feed! So while paying Ducats for the trench work I grabbed 15kgs of Granite Dust and threw that on the swales too. BTW the book is an excellent read.
Confident I had the external pipes sorted I was able to move to the interior pipes for my sinks etc. I am sure learning a lot and my brain has been somewhat overloaded – in a good way. The best thing about my plumbing experience was discovering Sharkbite fittings, which means no soldering of joints, and they come apart too so you can rework a mistake or extend a pipe easily. I am insulating EVERYTHING as the temps get very low here and frozen pipes mean broken pipes and no water. Hot water wil be supplyed by a DIY solar unit and via a wood oven in winter – more pipe shopping tomorrow.
I have also fitted and wired up 12V DC lights and lay cable for 240V power points that the electrician will complete in couple of days which then means I can finish lining walls and ceiling.
Out in the fields I have planted 11 clumping Bamboo on the dam wall as a wind break, some Mulberries I raised from cuttings, a Tee Tree for the Bees and some extra veges in my vege patch which is powering along on all that Alpaca poo from my neighbour. And started on my jetty to access the dam for swimming, using 2 old railway sleepers as posts.
Gosh! That’s enough for now. Oh and I had to stop in the middle of writing this while I investigated an all mighty bang on my shed wall (at 9.30pm) to open the door to my neighbours pet Wombat ‘Tweedle’ who is now the size of a medium dog. He just walked on in to say hi, so I called my neighbour and we met at the boundary fence in our pigama’s! I gave him a cuddle before I took him back.