Category Archives: Water

Water Barrel Drinking System

Before we left for our 10 day vacation, we devised a watering system that could last the entire time without worrying about the chickens running out of water.

Water BarrelWe took a 55-gallon food-grade barrel and drilled three small holes in the bottom.  Water barrel nipplesWe then screwed in gravity-feed nipples.  These nipples are designed to move up and down.  When the chickens peck at the nipple, they move up and water is released.  We set the barrel up off the ground just high enough for the girls to reach.  When we got home, it didn’t seem like the barrel water was emptied at all.  Maybe the chickens hadn’t figured the system out yet.  I know with our African Grey Parrot and Cockatiel, it takes them a long time for them to approach anything new in their cage.  Maybe it’s the same with the chickens.

Today, when I was out in the run, Water Barrel drinkingalthough it’s a bit hard to see in this picture, Maggie Mae was drinking out of the nipples!  This will really help in the heat of our summers!!

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Seeds are coming UP!

WOW…  a little earth, a little water, and some sunshine, and MAGIC!

We have sprouts in the garden beds already.  No matter how many times I am witness to this process, it amazes me in its wonder.

Water, water in the barrel

My last post about the shower water to the barrel ended with the hose at the eaves of the house. We have threaded the hose through the ficus tree to reach the barrel top.  As a side note, we placed the barrel under the tree, in between the tree and the block wall to shade it as much as possible.

Hose to the barrel

Now, every time we pull the shower head diverter, the water travels to the barrel instead of down the drain.  Big woo hoo for sustainability!  The barrel is also placed up on a stand so the water can flow via gravity to the planter beds.

Water barrel

At the bottom of the barrel, we installed a spigot with a T-connection.  The larger drip irrigation hose is connected to each side of the T with an in-line shut-off valve.

Barrel to drip irrigation

As soon as the micro-pipe is connected, the collected water can be used to water the two planter beds.  With this, the construction and infrastructure is in place to support our success in this grand experiment

It worked!

2 showers down and no leaks!!!  Even though we didn’t have the barrel hooked up this morning, we ran the cool water out the hose until the water warmed up.  The ficus tree was very happy!

Today, we constructed a platform for the water barrel so the water will be gravity fed to the planters.  Next, microtubing for drip irrigation…

Water, hmmm…

Now, we have been mulling the whole idea of water for quite some time now – long before we started the garden process.  How do you capture gray water without having to do major remodeling to retrofit the plumbing?  Still haven’t figured that one out…

BUT – we did come up with a way to capture the cool water coming out of the shower head as we wait for the warm water to arrive.  Our showers and hot water tank couldn’t be farther away from each other in this house, and it can take a long time for the heated water to arrive at the shower.  SO, we installed diverters at the shower heads, the kind that diverts the water to a hand-held shower nozzle.  But, instead of the hand-held nozzle, we connected a garden hose to the diverter that then goes out the window, along the eaves of the house to a 55-gallon blue barrel to collect all that delicious potable water!

Shower head 1

Shower head 2

I know, it’s not real aesthetically pleasing…  But, if it works, then we can figure out how to make it look beautiful (which may still mean major remodeling…).

With the hose running out the window, we needed to stop any of our air conditioned air from going out, and definitely needed to keep the hot outside air from coming in!  Noodles are the answer!  You know the kind that are for swimming pools – bright colored, floating, foam noodles.  We even had two lying around the house to use to retrieve the dogs’ tennis balls out from under the couch, purple and lime green.

Noodle in the window

Hose hole in noodle

We cut a piece of the purple noodle the height of the window, cut a little hole at the bottom for the hose to fit through, and then squeezed the window closed as tight as possible, holding it shut with a dowel.  We figure it probably has a better R-value than the window.

On the outside, this is what it looks like…

Outside Bathroom 1

Outside bathroom 2

We ran the hose along the eaves to reach the 55-gallon barrel near the planters.

Along the eaves

We used electric conduit clips to hold the hose in place.

Electric conduit clips

At the end of the eaves

Next, we tackle the hose to water barrel to drip irrigation!

Planting area

In an effort to be more sustainable in the desert, we removed the grass that covered our front and back yards a couple of years ago.  We covered the remaining clay soil with rock and xeriscaped.  Many of our plants and trees are on drip lines under the rock to minimize evaporative losses.  In doing this, we save an immense amount of water every month.

After much discussion, we decided to build raised garden beds in the west side of our back yard.  The west side of the yard was selected because there is a concrete block wall on this side that will shade the beds from the harsh afternoon sun.  Raising the beds accomplishes two things.  We can fill the planters with good compost.  The second really important factor is all but maybe one of our four-legged critters will be kept out of the beds on their ever-continual quest for lizards.

This is the area we set aside for our raised garden beds.

Planting Area

The area is large enough for four 3′ wide x 11′ long x 2′ high raised garden beds, 2 to the south side of the ficus tree and 2 to the north.  To start this adventure, we built the 2 beds on the south side of the tree.

South Raised Beds