Results for category "Water Source"

Keeping the Home Fire Burning

Our caretaking duties officially began just after 10AM on Thursday morning. Rob and Diana started off a bit later than they’d planned, but were so very happy to be on their way to a long weekend in Pembrokeshire, as were Kai and Nieve (although Kai knew why and Nieve was just thrilled with the new, happy Kai). The cats were also quite happy for the change. With the house puppy free, they were able to place themselves wherever their heart desired, including perched or napping in front of the Rayburn 🙂 .

The Rayburn was a new task for our days. We still cared for the birds morning and at dusk, but now there was also the need to keep the fire in the Rayburn going at all times, tending it regularly, but mainly at breakfast, 5 PM and just before bed. This entails cleaning out the ash and loading it up with wood and coal. A different type of coal is burned during the day than at night, Anthracite is used during the day and Molacite (a manufactured briquette made from anthracite by the company Rob and Diana purchase from, Mole Valley Farmers) at night for a smokeless and slower burn. There’s also the need to make sure the fire doesn’t grow too large for the chamber and that the air doesn’t draw too deeply.

The Rayburn provides not only warmth for the kitchen area and the animals that frequent it’s presence, it also provides heat to the fermentation jugs sitting in front of it since juicing weekend, speeding fermentation for the cider and cider vinegar that will be produced from the raw apple juice in time. It also contributes a hot surface for cooking and extra heat for drying things, like laundry, wet gloves and even harvested beans. More officially, although all of the benefits are quite important, it heats the tap water for all of the faucets in the house, kitchen and both bathrooms, the only backup for which are a few solar panels that don’t yield much return in energy in winter or in North Devon, in general!

In fact, we awoke Friday morning to the first frost of the season, which returned Saturday morning, as well. This wasn’t too much of an issue once the sun came out, but the morning care for the birds couldn’t include fresh water until the hose pipe thawed out! Poor things. The water comes from a catchment system Rob built that collects the plethora of rainfall that falls here. He even collects from his neighbor’s shed roof. Large barrels are visible outside each polytunnel, but there’s also a very large basin buried under the ground just outside the caravan. When it rains, we can hear the water drip-dripping into it.

The waste water from the washing machine also feeds down into the system, which we contributed to with our opportunity during housesitting time to catch up on our laundry. The sun and breeze of the days helped to almost completely dry our things outside, as well. It’s such a nice effect that the fresh air and the sun have on drying clothes. It can’t be recreated by a conventional dryer.

We also had time in our caretaking days for a walk to Holsworthy to pick up some essentials, including a gift for our hosts. We had decided to make them a lovely batch of homemade brownies, since they seem to love chocolate almost as much as we do. (OK, it’s really not even close…we love it way, way more). We are looking forward to their return on Sunday evening and hope that they appreciate and enjoy the gift as much as we’ve enjoyed our time here in their home and on their land, Sunday marking our last day at Ceridwen, at least for now.

The Great Water Shortage of Strawberry Hill …day 2

After a hot days work yesterday we were able to shower and rest peacefully in our cosy caravan, today however was quite a different story. Greeted by a grey muggy conditions we began our day.

One of the most important aspects for any small-holding is it’s water supply, as water is obviously integral to life. In more isolated areas relying on mains water is unrealistic,anyhow, and if we want  to fulfill our dream of being self sufficient then we will also need to make other arrangements too. I don’t necessarily think mains water is a bad thing. It is wonderful to have flowing water whenever one wants it! However it also seems dangerous that we are so far removed from the system and have no understanding or control at what arrives through our tap.

During our stay at Strawberry Hill we’ve had the opportunity to see one alternative to the the regular water supply that we have all become so dependent on. There are a number of ways to collecting water including: Making intelligent use of rain water, using a water source that flows through your property, digging a well, or making a bore hole. It is the latter which has been employed here, and at the top of the property a 60 foot hole has been dug into the ground to tap the groundwater.

A solar panel supplies power to a pump which then draws the water out of the ground and into a huge storage tank. Pipes were then inserted under the ground to the main house and caravan allowing water, free from chlorine, fluoride and many of the other chemicals that seem to find their way into our drinking water, to flow from the taps. This water is filtered before being drunk using a ceramic filter.

This system does rely on someone being aware of how much water is left in the tank so as to switch on the solar panel, which in turn relies on there being sunlight to pump the water out of the ground, and of course reliant on the mechanism of the pump working. Unfortunately on this occasion, the pump had been off on previous days and now we need water the sunlight wasn’t strong enough to work the pump.  So bottled water was brought in and we spent a night less comfortably than the previous ones, dreaming mostly of mountain springs and hot baths.

Perhaps if we were to implement such a system we would allow some way of bringing the water to the ground manually, such as a well, as being so reliant on the sun, solar panel or pump mechanism does seem to bring with it it’s own set of issues.

Loving Simplicity