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Sepp's Winter Water systems  RSS feed

 
Posts: 49
Location: union Maine
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From what I can see on video, there is a complex system of drinking troughs and fountains for people/ livestock down the height of the Krameterhof. Sepp has explained his theories of ponds and freezing and keeping water open for waterfowl and fish. But, what happens to the fountains and pipes and pumping systems during winter? Is a program of draining and maintenance undertaken? Or because of gravity flow do the majority of systems....the pipes, overflows and cisterns, simply freeze slow enough to not be damaged and become self draining?

I think the majority of us in zone 5 and above can grasp spring, summer and autumn systems. But when it gets to winter, all bets are off. I've never had a winter yet where there weren't water issues and trouble getting livestock enough to drink. I would love to get to a place where I am not carrying buckets of freezing water up snowy hills and trying to keep watering tubs from icing over solid.

Does anyone have some sound insights on either Sepp's systems or winter water system which work really well? Now is the time to start planning--especially if we get a winter like we had here in New England this past year.... two weeks of ice and power outages and then a month of sub-zero temps, some of which had no snow cover.
 
Posts: 3366
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Sepp keeps the water flowing so it doesn't freeze in the pipes or the trough. All that snow insulates the pipes and ground so his ground temperature is usually not nearly as cold as most of zone 5 US.

It is a challenge, but can be done if your dirt is deep enough. I have the problem I hit bedrock before the frost line in places on my farm.
 
pollinator
Posts: 303
Location: Montana
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Like R Scott said it's all about keeping the water moving. All of Sepp's watering systems are spring fed, providing a constant source of flowing water. All of the troughs are nearly constantly overflowing with water moving through the system. I'm not positive but I imagine that all of the water lines he uses from spring to trough are buried below frost line. The water trough systems are all fed by a hollowed out log which is 24"+ at the base and the spout is a branch. I believe the r-value of most softwoods is around 1.4 per inch, so the water is actually insulated quite a bit while moving through the log. The water is also insulated by the snow and ground all the way from spring to spout. The water in the trough is always moving so a section of it doesn't freeze. Sometimes there was also a plant growing around the spout enhancing the protection even more.





At Sage Mountain Center they also hit bedrock above frost line for running some of their water lines. They have had good success with insulating that section of waterline and building up the soil on top. If you have standing water in the pipes for long periods of time this makes the lines much more susceptible to frost. If you have a long section to go above bedrock there is also insulated waterline, I've seen them for wood furnaces.

For the pigs water it seemed to just run overground into a trough and beyond so that they can also wallow in it.


 
Neal Foley
Posts: 49
Location: union Maine
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Thanks, Zach. That's pretty much what I figured....

Does the water move from the drinking troughs through a mini-monk system underground, or does it just spill over and run via some channel down to the next water body?

 
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Here is a solution for water not freezing - run a water loop in your compost pile using a thermosypon ( hot water rises cold water falls a simple coil of pex or even copper tube and a good compost pile the heater system is sealed, the tube on one end is just laid in the trough throw some rocks/bricks on top for weight and thermo mass. Look up solar water heaters anything form the 80s energy crisis period will show a solar panel. just substitute a compost pile and then put a small hose valve to control the water flow thru the hose. watch the temp it could get to boiling. Could warm the barn with a couple of pipes in the right place with hay on top. The photo industry used to have faucets that had temperature control valves that were adjustable, something must be available over the counter
 
Neal Foley
Posts: 49
Location: union Maine
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Mike mac wrote:Here is a solution for water not freezing - run a water loop in your compost pile using a thermosypon ( hot water rises cold water falls a simple coil of pex or even copper tube and a good compost pile the heater system is sealed, the tube on one end is just laid in the trough throw some rocks/bricks on top for weight and thermo mass. Look up solar water heaters anything form the 80s energy crisis period will show a solar panel. just substitute a compost pile and then put a small hose valve to control the water flow thru the hose. watch the temp it could get to boiling. Could warm the barn with a couple of pipes in the right place with hay on top. The photo industry used to have faucets that had temperature control valves that were adjustable, something must be available over the counter



Mike, That's a great solution if you live somewhere that the frost depth isn't greater than 3ft below surface.....Such a compost pile in Maine would have to be very specially built and all the pipes buried below frost level. That seems like a lot of trouble for something as temporary as compost heat..... Additionally, if there is no snow cover early, or we get a January thaw and melt with rain like this past year, and then three weeks of subzero temps with ice storms and little snow, then compost piles have a habit of slowing down to zero or freezing.... In mid May I was still digging through manure piles and compost with ice in the center.
 
Zach Weiss
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Location: Montana
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Neal Foley wrote:Does the water move from the drinking troughs through a mini-monk system underground, or does it just spill over and run via some channel down to the next water body?



There is an overflow pipe in the trough perpendicular to the water, like a mini monk. The ones I saw spill onto the ground and then flow down to the next body of water. You could certainly have this feed another trough if you have multiple areas that you need to get water to animals and only one spring. After all of the work Sepp has done at the Krameterhof there are so many springs that I don't believe he has to tie them together like this.
 
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I remember long ago way up north in Alaska in the winter the animals did not have water 24/7.
The key was to get them warm water twice a day. If you think about it the volume consumed in a day is what counts.
We found that animals drank more warm water in winter than ice cold water. Also eating snow or drinking ice cold water caused them to burn more calories in winter.
From a cost view it was cheaper to give them warm water than to supply the calories the snow or cold water would require in feed.

So the key became how to get them warm water for a long enough time an in enough volume that they will drink their fill.
We tended to combine water as a thermal sink to keep the animals in the shelter warm at night with the heating of the water.
Any piped water would freeze so we had to transport it in buckets or tubs. So we filled the tank in the shelter.
In the morning it would freeze on top and we would use a stove under it to heat it. We could also add clean snow and melt it.

But you are also taking about a place where temp could reach minus forty without windchill some winters.
 
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