gathering water

gathering water is a year round and fascinating task. my first two seasons here it only meant the constant instinct to run outside in rainstorms and get the siphon hose running so that i could get all my barrels filled up in spring and hold as much water as possible.

now that i'm staying through my second winter, and keeping animals watered as well, gathering in and storing water becomes a much more interesting proposition. last year i was unprepared, and every morning would wake up, take a hefty stick, and break through several inches of ice that had formed over the water in the 55 gallon barrel that i kept Inside my living quarters. yes, it was inside, and it froze. my living space, last winter, was not normally any warmer than the outside.

breaking ice
THIS winter i was more prepared, with 4 barrels buried underground, so that their bottoms were just at or below the frost level (3 feet) and -hypothetically- the water in them would remain liquid. so far, water in these barrels has At Most only formed 1" of ice on top. great! but i still run through 4 barrels worth of water in just a few weeks with all these animals to provide for, and myself, and water for cooking and washing occasionally...

and so as the water levels in the underground barrels drop, i go out and gather snow in buckets and refill the barrels. sometimes the snow melts, and i get about 1/4 of a barrel worth of water for each filling. sometimes the snow doesn't melt, and i simply bring buckets of snow inside to melt on my woodstove.

breaking ice
today, i'm using my one other method for gathering water - i had left some water standing in various above ground barrels before winter set in, and these have all slowly been moved toward the shed and emptied, whether the water in them had melted or not. today, it was a matter of a barrel 1/3 full of ice being tipped over, shimmying the massive ice cube out onto the ground, and busting it into pieces with an axe. these glorious, huge, oddly shaped ice crystals (for they look like huge quartz) then get tossed into buckets and basins until, one by one, i bring them inside to melt on the stove and go out to water the animals.

i can't say i'm that great at ice sculpture. but this Is pretty fun.