A reliable water source will be vital for your homestead’s success. Not only will your survival depend on a safe, adequate supply of water, but if you are considering animals, they too will rely on their daily drink. Let’s discuss the homestead water supply.
Because this topic is so important and has so many facets, I will break it into four installments. In this post I’ll discuss our water system we had for our Maine homestead.
Homestead Water Options
There are any number of water sources a homestead could utilize. Your water source could be a spring, drilled or dug well, river, lake or stream. It could be a cistern system where rain water is captured or it could be a holding tank system where water is delivered to you by truck.
In my mind, having a water source that is not reliant on others is much preferred, so I would think long and hard about having a homestead that relies on a water delivery. Personally, I have experience with drilled wells, hand dug wells as well as sucking water out of a lake. Each has advantages and disadvantages.
A drilled well usually relies on a heavy piece of equipment to bore a hole in the ground. There are different methods of drilling and since I’m no expert, relying on the local well drilling company who has the expertise is best. They will likely have the best drill for your particular area. The important thing is that they drill deep enough so you have adequate water even in the driest season. Also important is that the well have a casing to prevent surface contamination if need be.
Drilled Wells and Hand Pumps
Back in my early homesteading years in Maine, I had a drilled well. I suspect it didn’t need to go down several hundred feet deep since the water table was only 5-7 feet down. Nevertheless, I had a deep, drilled well. To pump out water, I chose the old standby, a new hand pump to install over the well casing; the same type of pump often seen on old farmsteads. It’s a reliable method of pumping water which worked perfect right up to our move 20 years later.
A hand pump requires no power other than person power to pump the handle. The flow our hand pump produced was surprising. It didn’t take long to fill a bucket. The great thing about this hand pump was it could pump water from significant depths if need be. In other words, if our water table had been deep, it was capable of pushing water up to the surface. What a treat it was on a hot summer’s day to pump ice cold water to drink from the depths of our well.
A quick word about pumps. A myriad of different pumps, are available for water systems. No point bogging down in the minutia, but understand that a pump can either push water or lift water. We’ve had both types and each type has its application and use.
Because the hand pump was installed over the well casing, it meant the pump was outside the house. For many years, I hand pumped and then lugged buckets of water into the house as needed. Not that big a deal unless it was pouring rain or there was a raging snowstorm and -20F temperatures.
When the pump was initially installed, a small hole was drilled in the suction line to allow water to drain out of the pump and back into the well. If that hole wasn’t there, the water line would have remained filled with water right up to and including the pump head. That water would have easily frozen in the sub zero temperatures of a Maine winter. Winter temperatures of -20 to -30 were common and -40 wasn’t unheard of so this feature was critical to keep my pump from freezing. Even with that hole, if I got too aggressive in my pumping and wasn’t careful, water would slop out the top of the pump and freeze. Then I’d have to take a pot of hot water and pour it over the top of my pump to thaw it out so I could pump again.
Ahhh, the good ol days back in Maine. This setup was a simple, reliable way to get water to a homestead. In my next post, we’ll get “running” water into the house. Sort of.
Until next time, keep the dream alive! We wish you a great day!
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