Although many people would not want to rely on the off grid water systems that we have put in place, here are the major pieces of our water around our off grid homestead:
1. Drinking Water
The primary source of water for this home is the rainwater catch cistern. However, with much of the North being in a drought since August of 2011 the cistern is not as full as it should be, along with a shortage of ice for the ice house.
For years the homeowners’ carried their drinking water from town. The land cooperative decided to spend the money and drill a deep well, with a solar assist pump, not only for drinking water, but bathing and irrigation of the gardens. Although these homeowners’ continue to use their cistern as their primary water source, they do have the option of the deep well water also.
2. Hot Water, Showers and Bathing Off Grid
This is a truly ingenious system for taking a shower! The reservoir is filled with hot water from the cook stove (Or depending on how fast or how many are going to take a shower, half cold water and the rest hot water.) and gravity feeds to a shower in the basement directly below the reservoir next to the “ash catch” room.
A simple lever is used to access the heated water into the shower. And even though there are teenagers in the home, the parents note that there are no problems with long, extended showers that so many teens are prone too! The basement is also unheated, so that may be a factor as well.
Below is a picture of the upstairs “washroom”. It is located between the master bedroom and the open loft area of the children’s rooms.
A simple pitcher and wash basin are the fundamentals for face and hand washings and brushing teeth. I am not sure whether this is plumbed into a gray water system or has a five gallon bucket below the vanity curtains. That is an extra hand mirror on the side of the vanity and behind is a closet covered with more muslin curtains.
The claw food bathtub pictured above is seldom used anymore, but when the wife was pregnant she said she spent many hours in it trying to relieve the ache of back pain related to pregnancy and working in the fields. It is located kitty-corner from the wood cook stove in the kitchen. Now it just holds the laundry basket.
3. Our Water Well
Although this home is totally non-electric, solar grids on the greenhouse are used to pump drinking and cooking water from their 300’ deep well up to the house.
All other water is pumped by hand from a cistern beside the house used to collect rain water.
4. Off Grid Toilets
Beside the water room is a half-bath with a flush toilet. This is usually only used in the winter and flushed with a pail of water. Again it had the pitcher and basin for washing hands.
Note this nice rustic, traditional outhouse. It is built on a side hill and has a porch. The inside is “papered” with all kinds of pictures cut from various magazines!
5. Off Grid Laundry
This homeowner prefers to do laundry in town when they make their weekly trek to the library for homeschooling and internet access. However, they dry their clothes at home. Here is the obligatory clothes line. If this doesn’t bring back memories of wind fresh sheets, I don’t know what will.
I remember hanging clothes on the line during the winter. They freeze dried! I would bring the jeans into the house and stand them up against the wall until they thawed and finished drying over a chair. This suspended wagon wheel in the living room next to the masonry heater is for drying clothes! How charmingly inventive!
This is part of an off grid series, where I take you on a tour of the off-grid home without solar assist and a walk around the farm.
My hope is that you will enjoy the experience as much as I did and perhaps learn, or remember, a bit of an older/newer lifestyle.