Homestead Needs Part 1 – Focus on Water

This post will be part of a series where I explore the needs of a homesteader and his homestead.  These are mostly things that I have been thinking about but some topics I may do more research and present other ideas other than my own.

On a basic level the 3 human needs are water, food and shelter.  Without water we will not last more than a few days.  Food we could possibly go a week or a little longer without.  Shelter we could go longer without but as a part of our survival, to cope with the elements, and for protection, it is a necessary item.  

Water is the first item on this list that I will focus on.  If we were still a nomadic people our water would come from natural sources, like lakes and streams.  For a longterm situation, like on a homestead, water can come from a variety of sources.  On the homestead you could potentially dam a stream to create a lake from which you could pull water from.  If there isn’t a stream close by you could dig a pond.  If your homestead is too small for a pond a well would work- hopefully the groundwater or aquifer are not too deep.  For my house I have a cistern that is fed off of the roof by rainfall/snow melt.  Many people use rain barrels to use the water that falls on their roof, either as a way to conserve water from other sources or reduce cost from city water sources.  Whatever the source of the water, quality and quantity are the major concerns.

A high quantity of quality water for use as a drinking source for people and animals is important.  If the water has a lot of foreign matter or is not clear, it is not going to be very appealing to drink when you put it in your glass.  Animals won’t be affected by color or other items as long as the water is free from disease causing organisms.  If your water makes you or your animals sick, you won’t last very long without medical attention.  Filters and chemically treating water are ways we prevent people from getting sick now but since many homesteaders want to be off grid and free of those connections we must make sure our water is healthy enough to drink from the start.  Boiling or distilling water would insure that our water is good but it would take a lot of boiling to keep a cow, horse, pigs and other livestock watered.  I don’t drink the cistern water I collect yet but we use it to bathe, water the dogs and chickens.  After I put on a roof wash system, a pre-filter and clean the cistern inside to make sure it is all in good order I will.  But for now we buy our drinking water.  

Since a cistern is what we have and it is not used as often as wells or ponds, I will focus a little more on it.  A cistern is basically a large collection tank for storing water.  A pump is used to pull the water into the house, keeping the indoor plumbing system pressurized.  Our cistern is concrete but they could be made of metal, plastic or even wood.  Sizing depends on your family size and the amount of rainfall that you get.  Ours is 1000 gallons serving two people, two dogs and the chickens.  We have been low on water but have not run out yet.  The water runs into the gutters, to to the downspout and through pipes into the cistern.  A roof wash is commonly used to divert the first part of water from a rain away from the cistern.  This keeps dirt and debris from getting into the water.  Inside the house I am installing a two filter system to filter the water further.  

For water being such a simple topic this post has ended up being longer than I thought it would be.  The next post will focus more on food.


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