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Our Permaculture projects in the Ozarks  RSS feed

 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5858
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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I have been inspired by so many at this site and I suddenly realized that maybe some group input is just what I need to focus my energies on our land. Sorry I am unable to post pictures.
We have grown food organically in this area for forty years and for the last twelve have slowly worked on this mostly wooded forty acres to provide most of our own fruit and vegetables, share some and market a little. We slipped into permaculture, like so many, before we heard the word. We tend to limit our "growth" by our love of hand tools and a philosophy that limits our off-farm inputs. We are very low income but are really good at living that way. I would just like to get a few more areas thought out and developed that I think would make a big difference in our future.

The big one is water...The house plumbing was hooked up to municiple water when we bought the place. We almost immediately removed the flush toilets and built an outhouse...later added a sawdust toilet indoors so our water use is minimal. Other water sources are a large handdug open cistern at a high point on our land and also a hand dug well and a ninety foot drilled well...all needing some sort of attention to make usable. We use what rainwater we can for watering but have limited storage and have concerns about old asphalt shingles. I guess what I am asking is for ideas that are non- electric or gas, simple inexpensive water moving "devices" other than buckets. We would like to stay on city water for the house (it is the only fire insurance we have...needs no electricity to pump) but use all of the other water sources for plants and trees. I do have kitchen sink water straight to our kitchen garden. Sometimes it just seems like a hodge podge of systems and my Virgo nature feels frustrated. The land seems to be contoured with drainage in mind...maybe even shallow swales all in place when we moved here.

We also have a small pond but it is included in a six acre corner that we are hoping to trade to some young family for work on our land...hopefully to someone looking for a small homestead in a craft community. This feels like the right thing to do and is a permaculture project in the works but we are hesitant to advertise beyond permies. We could use advice on how to make it actually happen.


What I love about this site is the different ideas that flow from a "group think". I let myself get stuck in a box sometimes. Thanks for any input.



 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Build a water tower.
Get one of those 5,000 gallon tank, put it above your roof.
Pump water up when you have extra electricity(wind, solar, generator,etc).
You could also pump the water up to the water tower "battery" using some kind of non-electric windmill or animal power.


Household water use
Toilet: you already got this covered with the composting tiolet and peeing outside.
Shower: limited baths, use shower instead and use low low or just use the wash rag and bath method
Laundry: Only use the roof water.
Dish washing: Eat more raw food. More finger food from the "pot", wash by hand using the 3 bucket method.
Greywater: I think you already use all you non toilet water to water your lawn/garden

Garden:
Lawn: dont water the lawn, you can go with a no water meadow lawn
Vegetables: dont transplant, Get low water vegetable seeds, fall/winter sow, get short day variety.
Trees: If you are only going to water on bareroot transplant its ok, otherwise plant from seed.


 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5858
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Thank you, S. , but conserving water isn't our problem...we are very conservative. We intend to keep city water to our house as I said. What we are looking for are ideas to develop in a very simple way our other water sources in order to use them to water food crops.. I should mention that our house is two story. I love the idea of a windmill but we are looking for very low cost improvements so a 5000 gallon storage tank is out too. No lawn here...it is fruit trees and clovers and dandelions and things.... thank you for taking the time to respond.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3349
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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I am trying to get an answer from these guys: http://www.ecologics.co.nz/step-action-pump.php

This pump sounds too good to be true. Yes it is going to be expensive, but less than a solar setup to do the same job. And any man-powered pump that can run an impact sprinkler is AWESOME, even if that is the worst way to water the fact that you can means you have the power for fire suppression. If anyone has a source for those pumps in the US, let me know.

My friends just put in a new solar pump and it simply won't work through the winter. They can't get enough sun through the low angle and trees to pump so he has been carrying deep cycle batteries down to the well and back to the charger--NOT FUN.

GO NOW and chart the shadow lines around where you may put a solar pump and see if you even can get enough sun to run a pump a few hours a day. Then figure what that will cost.

You can put one (or several) big ag tanks at a high point on the property as mentioned. Or build a bigger cistern, lots of plans on the internet, Vela Creations has one of the best write ups I have seen. They post here as well and could answer questions. If your land is right, you can dig a small DEEP pond and line it as a cistern. You could also buy a used grain bin as a shell and roof. It really depends on what you have to work with.



 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5858
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
346
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Thanks R scott, an old grain bin roofing the cistern...I like that idea and somehow adding gutter. This cistern was dug in the 30's and is lined with laid up rock...about 16 feet deep and six or seven feet across. I've had a syphon to the garden from it that worked OK but we have always needed a roof that would keep small animals out. I looked into solar pumps but decided against one. What we wanted for the drilled well was Lehman's two gallon stroke hand pump. It had a hose hookup also. But again we are working low budget and other things were higher priority. I haven't looked at the link you posted yet...it is a foot powered pump? and expensive you say!
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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what price range are you considering.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5858
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
346
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S Bengi wrote:what price range are you considering.


In the range of a few hundred dollars...definitely not a few thousand. Everything we do is spread out over time...buying bits and pieces over months usually. We don't buy on credit or borrow at the bank so in the end we find out a lot of times we can do without something. I just think making our water sources more available will increase our productivity.
 
J. Cardina
Posts: 19
Location: Zone 7A, Comox Valley, Vancouver Island, Pacific Northwest, Canada
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How is your topsoil? They say it's the best place to store water.
I didn't quite understand what you said about the land and swales but I guess you're not lacking water just a way of moving it from place to place. Have you considered a steam engine or sterling engine connected to a pump?

I grew up with a hand pump for a few years and carrying buckets of water to the house before we put an electric pump in and it was no fun. I can't imagine any human powered pump is going to be a practical solution for more than drinking and washing up water unless you plan to have a lot of children involved.

I don't see any reason though that you can't have some kind of pump that you can either run by hand (turning a wheel or something) or off a steam or sterling engine. Steam engines are a lot more common but they do require water; a Sterling engine only requires fire as it's sealed on the inside and fire is applied to the outside and if you're coppicing willows for fuel I'd power everything I could imagine with such a setup since it's entirely renewable and requires no input other than naturally occuring.

Hodge podge of systems is of course nothing to turn your nose up at, it's perfectly ideal in permaculture circles isn't it? At every turn I see stressed strength through diversity, multiple things filling a role; sounds like you're doing that with your setup.

You might want to challenge your preconcieved notions: about city water for the house there are *always* alternatives if you want to get rid of that and you might find it better to find alternatives that make it far less important to have to move all that water around in the first place. I don't know if that's possible in your case or not, only you can know that but if you were to imagine that you simple can not have city water or can not pump water anywhere what would the alternatives be? Maybe something useful.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3349
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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When I said expensive, supposed to be ~$500, but can't confirm yet. But it is shallow well only, I missed that part of your post.

Lehmans has cheaper options, but this thing is a sweet spot for price/performance/durability for my needs.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5858
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
346
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@R scott, Thanks...I am always relieved when someone else has the same idea of expensive as we do...We are going to start asking around for old grain bins or at least the roof...then there is plastic or galvinized to consider I guess.

@J. Cardina, thank you...I think that is the kind of thinking we need. Our children are grown, we are on to grand children and a great...so a lot of our outlook has to do with how to make life a little easier for the next 20 to 30 years. We always try to break things down to the simple and hopefully efficient options and water has never settled into a clear idea. And having city water has made it easy to neglect our other sources. When we need the water is for the three to four months of summer drought...when we have the water is mostly over the winter into spring and then the ground seems saturated and I don't know how it could hold much more. We've been walking around our land this morning reconsidering things!
 
J D Horn
Posts: 155
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Have you read Salatin's "Salad Bar Beef"? In it he describes their low-tech watering system for paddock shifting. Basically, he has a small bilge pump that is set on the end of some poly pipe. He likes it b/c he can plop it into one of the ponds he has and fill a water trough in areas where the gravity feed is not an option. The bilge pump is portable b/c it can be run on a deep cycle marine battery, which can be charged nowadays with a small solar panel. I bet you could run some poly pipe with a few of valves and some soaker hoses and have a fairly hands off system, since you are likely not looking to water every day.
 
Andy Reed
Posts: 85
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Regarding pumping, the second law of thermodynamics states that changing forms of energy increases entropy. Which means that by starting with solar energy, then converting it to electrical energy in a solar panel, then converting the electrical energy into kinetic energy in a pump, you have already lost a lot just through the inneficiency in the conversion. Which is why you need a ton of solar panels to power a small pump. Windmills were a common feature of rural america in the past, because they are so efficient. They take the winds kinetic energy, and use it as kinetic energy to power a pump. So a windmill is the first choice for a renewable powered pump.

For ways to store water these books are on special, and are possibly the best.

http://www.permaculturenews.org/store/cartview.html?id=111

Rainwater Harvesting 1&2 Brad Lancaster
Water Storage by Art Ludwig
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5858
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
346
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J D Horn wrote:Have you read Salatin's "Salad Bar Beef"? In it he describes their low-tech watering system for paddock shifting. Basically, he has a small bilge pump that is set on the end of some poly pipe. He likes it b/c he can plop it into one of the ponds he has and fill a water trough in areas where the gravity feed is not an option. The bilge pump is portable b/c it can be run on a deep cycle marine battery, which can be charged nowadays with a small solar panel. I bet you could run some poly pipe with a few of valves and some soaker hoses and have a fairly hands off system, since you are likely not looking to water every day.


We actually have a marine battery and small solar panel put back to add a little power to my husbands shop and plenty of odd pieces of black poly pipe and some old soaker hoses. Do you know how deep a bilge pump will pull water? We'll have to do some research. Thanks.
 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 1351
Location: Cascades of Oregon
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I my travels I have seen a treadle pump that has been used in Africa. http://3rdworldtech.org/Irrigation.html
That link doesn't really give you a great overall view of the pump but the are cheap and readily repaired in the field. With a little more effort with a web search I'm sure you could find a better picture/viseo a handy guy/gal could make them in a home shop.
I use both a bilge pump and an air pump to lift water for my aquaponics in my greenhouse. Two solar panels from Harbor Freight power the pumps and lift water about 6 ft. Bilge pumps are cheap under 20.00 and They last a few seasons. The air pump is powered by a live well bait aireator so the diameter of the tube is only 3/8 but you can pump a lot of water with one and that pump has lasted about 5 years now.


Here found a better video
http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=african+treadle+irrigation+pump&view=detail&mid=8321448498DE61A70B338321448498DE61A70B33&first=0

another one with instructions:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkcnSki9unk&feature=player_embedded
 
Glenn Underhill
Posts: 95
Location: NW Montana
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A "Simple Pump" (brand name) would work on your 90 foot well. Basically add a hand pump alongside your existing well pump.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5858
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
346
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Thanks everybody...this range of ideas is exactly what I was hoping for. You got us refocused on an ongoing challenge.
 
J D Horn
Posts: 155
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Judith Browning wrote: Do you know how deep a bilge pump will pull water?


I think the limiting factor would be length of the power cord to the bilge pump, though you can always splice in more electrical. There are multiple strengths (some made for say bass boats, some for larger seafaring boats) so I think you could find one to meet your needs, if you are thinking about the amount of power to pull water from a cistern. The other factor to consider is that bilges have a screen to keep large debris out of the pump. So its not good to lay them on the bottom of a pond where it will pick up more blockage. Salatin says for shallower, sediment heavy ponds he turns the bilge upside down so its not drawing water off the bottom.
 
Trevor Newhart
Posts: 10
Location: Southern California
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Hello Judith.
I feel as though a hydraulic ram pump might be of some use in this situation. It's a pump that uses the force of gravity to move water, it doesn't require any other power source, so that is certainly a pro. I have to confess that I have no experience with them, but I figured I would offer up the idea to see if it is of any benefit to you.
Here is a video explaining how it works:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWqDurunnK8
and a page teaching you how to build one:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Worlds-greenest-water-pump/
It does create a good amount of "waste" water, but you could very easily integrate that water into a swale system or a pond.
I had the idea of building a small water tower near the garden where you could pump up just enough water for a day or two of use and leave the dormant for the rest of the time.
Of course all of this is dependent on you having a pond on higher contour than your garden. So I suppose we will see.
Good luck.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5858
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Trevor Newhart wrote:Hello Judith.
I feel as though a hydraulic ram pump might be of some use in this situation. It's a pump that uses the force of gravity to move water, it doesn't require any other power source, so that is certainly a pro. I have to confess that I have no experience with them, but I figured I would offer up the idea to see if it is of any benefit to you.
Here is a video explaining how it works:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWqDurunnK8
and a page teaching you how to build one:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Worlds-greenest-water-pump/
It does create a good amount of "waste" water, but you could very easily integrate that water into a swale system or a pond.
I had the idea of building a small water tower near the garden where you could pump up just enough water for a day or two of use and leave the dormant for the rest of the time.
Of course all of this is dependent on you having a pond on higher contour than your garden. So I suppose we will see.
Good luck.


Thank you Trevor and welcome to These forums...I will definitely check out the links you posted sometime over the winter. I am not on line at home just every week or so at the library so am limited a bit. I love winter planning though...all things seem possible when snowed in
 
Jacki Perry
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I dont think you are planning on this anymore, but here's my 2 cents anyway. If you have enough for a down payment, get a wind pump-the old fashion wind driven water pumps, along with storage tanks. And as soon as you can, replace the asphalt shingles with a metal roof and rain gutters for your rain cachment system. As you can, increase that to every roof on every structure you have.

Shame you have to sell rather than seek a land partner. I would just about give my eye teeth for that kind of opportunity. While I'm neither young nor a couple, I'm an artist and crafts person, and still capable of putting in hours of work.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5858
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Jacki Perry wrote:I dont think you are planning on this anymore, but here's my 2 cents anyway. If you have enough for a down payment, get a wind pump-the old fashion wind driven water pumps, along with storage tanks. And as soon as you can, replace the asphalt shingles with a metal roof and rain gutters for your rain cachment system. As you can, increase that to every roof on every structure you have.

Shame you have to sell rather than seek a land partner. I would just about give my eye teeth for that kind of opportunity. While I'm neither young nor a couple, I'm an artist and crafts person, and still capable of putting in hours of work.


Jacki, I wish we had started a search for land partners several years ago. We loved the idea of a work trade for our corner six acres but now that we plan to sell, even if it doesn't happen for a couple years, we feel like it would be unfair for someone to own that bit and be uncertain who their next neighbors might be after we sell the rest. We are trying to find the right folks but eventually who knows. If you are interested in living in an area with a lot of craftsmen and women this is a great place. I have always hoped that more folks with a larger chunk of land would be open to the idea of a work trade for someone to end up owning a few acres.
Good luck...I always think the right place to land is out there for us all, perseverance furthers

and thanks for water harvesting advice ....all great ideas.
 
Queenie Hankinson
Posts: 37
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Judith, the best bet is a gravity feed pond and swales which would contour and zigzag across the land progressively going down to your fields or where your crops are. You can hand dig the ponds if you have time OR if the land at the top of the property is cleared, pay a guy to excavate--many will do it for about 75.00 an hour and if you do not have a lot of rock you can get about a 6 foot deep pond with a few swales in a day for about 500.00. It is doable and if that price is too high, then hand dig it.


I just looked at a property with a 2.5 acre lake that was hand dug by a woman and her husband in the 1960s it is over 20 feet deep in the middle

A pond at the top with swales on contour would allow rain to fill up the pond and if you swale to your crops the water would gravity feed underneath to your crops. Such a system would also enhance your property value as many people do not understand the idea of gravity feed systems and so would love to buy land with the hydrology systems already in place.

If you decide to dig out a pond at the highest point of your land--and do it by hand, do just a few feet at a time after mapping out the size then have the swales on contour and connect them to each other by criss crossing the land going through your cropped areas .
 
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