A problem in our gravity feed spring water system

What is a gravity feed water system?

We are fortunate to have our very own spring fed water source that runs all year long. It is a spring that pumps out enough water, without fail, to serve our household with daily water. Even more lucky to have gravity feed.

The spring is located on the mountain behind our house. We have it piped down the hill and to the house and shed. This is the “spring fed” part, and because it’s high enough above the point of use to give us great water pressure at the house, it’s also the “gravity feed” part.

Making Repairs

Sometimes I forget to leave the water dripping in winter time. When the temps are below freezing, if the water isn’t moving, it will freeze in the lines. This is one of the challenges of living out here. I forgot to do this last week and now there’s a break I’ll have to repair. I’ve had to learn how to do a lot of things for myself out here, because you can’t just call a plumber for things like this. I can’t even imagine how much one would charge to hike up the mountain to do a job!

I knew there was a break because the pressure was lower than usual and there was a lot of sediment in the water. I worried that maybe the tank had drained to the bottom and what I was seeing was the dregs. So I gathered some tools.

tools for working on the spring fed water line
Pipe wrenches for taking old couplings off and putting them back on, pipe cutter, screwdriver, pipe saw, bands, inserts for couplers, pipe cutter, 2nd pipe wrench, spare coupler

I figured out a long time ago that for the couplers you need two wrenches. I also figured out a long time ago that to go up there “just to see” what the problem is, is really stupid without bringing the tools. Because then you have to walk all the way back down to the house, gather tools, then walk all the way back to the problem. Better to just bring them the first time. I put all the tools in my backpack and went up the mountain to see what the problem was exactly.

The first section of line didn’t have any leaks. In a gravity feed system, the higher the water storage elevation, the better the effect of gravity on the water pressure. I’m glad we have such a good setup, but that means a lot of hiking uphill when there’s a problem.

first section of the spring fed line
That’s the roof of the house down below. No leaks on this section. Going higher to inspect the next section.

On the next level I found a small leak. But the bigger problem was how the ground had eroded underneath it and caused it to stretch tight.

The water line is stretched tight because of the shifting ground and erosion.
The water line is stretched tight because of the shifting ground and erosion.

If I cut the line to put in the coupler, then I might not be able to pull them together enough to keep it from leaking. What I need to do is change out this entire section because it’s older and brittle now from being exposed to sunlight so much. All of this used to be buried, but we’ve had some really bad floods lately and the logging road (which is the path the water lines also follow) washed out.

leak on the spring fed gravity feed water line

So, I found a leak, but it’s not enough to account for the low pressure and silty water. Next stop, the tank. I need to see if it’s empty or nearly so. I set my bag of tools down here because it was heavy and I didn’t think I’d need it for the tank.

The tank was plumb full. So why the low pressure? I forgot to take a picture here, but the water was as high as it could go and about a foot over the overflow line exit. This shouldn’t be. The excess should be draining from the tank through the overflow line.

That inflow and outflow what keeps it able to go out of the line to the house. I’m not sure why that is, but when the overflow doesn’t “flow”, then neither does it flow properly out of the tank through the feed line.

I followed the overflow line to see why it wasn’t working. On my way there I saw a pretty old log with moss growing in the broken end. I liked the wood grain showing in it. Even when I’m doing “work”, I still take time to notice the pretty things.

old wood grain with moss

The overflow line wasn’t flowing because it had been chewed and twisted. Looked like a bear had been rolling around on the ground with it and mangled it.

Some critters chewed and crimped the overflow line by bending it back on itself. We had it flowing into a bucket for them, but I guess whatever it was thought it would be more efficient to get it from the middle instead.
Some critters chewed and crimped the overflow line by bending it back on itself. We had it flowing into a bucket for them, but I guess whatever it was thought it would be more efficient to get it from the middle instead.

It was a mistake to have set my bag of tools down by the leak. I needed the cutter so I could cut the overflow just before the crimped part. But I didn’t feel like going downhill and then back up again. It was a pretty good hike to where I was at that point. So I did the best I could by pinching it in my hands. It did let a little start flowing through.

Managed to open up the crimp a little and now it's flowing from the chewed spots.
Managed to open up the crimp a little and now it’s flowing from the chewed spots.
And it also flows a little all the way to the end now.
And it also flows a little all the way to the end now.

Tomorrow I’ll have to go to our local hardware store for some replacement line. Just opening the overflow gave me back the water pressure, and the leak is small so it’s not an emergency. But I want to do the repairs as soon as possible so it doesn’t get worse, and the overflow line needs to be cut. So if I’m going to hike back up there to do that part, I might as well also fix the leak.

Not too many people outside of our area use spring fed water anymore because of pollution in the more populated areas, but ours is fairly clean. No coliforms, phosphates or nitrates. Fortunately, there are no poultry houses or livestock fields in the lands where our water enters the ground. I tested it several times myself when I worked in an environmental laboratory, but we still drink filtered water. We use it as is for cooking, bathing, and washing clothes, though. As long as we take care of the lines, and conserve our usage, we always have water when we need it. The flow rate is not great, but it’s enough to fill our 1500 gallon tank in 24 hours. I would not trade it for city water or even a well.

(Click on this link to read the post about my repair of this leak.)

 



About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Exercising in Nature – or – Why it takes me an hour to walk to the mailbox and back

Exercising in nature is as easy as taking a walk to check the mail. It helps if you have a long driveway.

One of my resolutions for the new year and the rest of my life is to get into better shape. So I figured I’d use our natural resources here at Wild Ozark to help me. It’s roughly a mile round trip from the house to the mailbox.  On the way to the mailbox is a lot of downhill. Which of course means on the way back is a lot of uphill.

My original plans for doing this was to get exercise and I intended to walk straight there and back.

But I brought the camera with me. Just in case, you know. And so it became a multi-media expedition.

Down the hill and through the creek

Along the way I have to cross the creek twice.  Twice on the way to the mailbox and twice on the way back. So there’s the exercise of balance so I can get across the stones I put down to step on without getting my feet wet. Oh, I guess, at least on the first crossing, I can count the exercise of picking up and tossing in 10 lb rocks to make a way across.

Observing and learning while exercising in nature

1. chickweed
Chickweed (Stellaria media)

While exercising in nature, there are lots of opportunities to observe and learn about plants. This study is compulsion with me, and I can’t help it.

Foraging for edible and medicinal plants in winter

In the middle of the creek, growing in a small gravel bed was some chickweed. I had to get photos of

these. Chickweed is edible and medicinal. I’ve used it more than once for pink-eye when the kids were young and on the grandkids recently. Use it by making a strong tea for an eyewash and apply it in the eye with an eyedropper several times each day. It works quickly and for us solved the problem without a hitch. It’s anti-inflammatory properties make it good for burns, exzema and skin irritations. This little

2. mouse-eared chickweed
Mouse-eared chickweed (Cerastium vulgatum)

plant is high in many trace minerals and vitamins. The smooth kind, Stellaria media, is good raw on salads and can be cooked, too, though cooking destroys much of the nutrition. The downy ones are not so good raw but can also be cooked.

 

There was a dandelion blooming – in December! These are both edible and medicinal, as well. The greens, roots, and flowers can all be added to salads.  Wildman Steve Brill has a great write-up on his page about them (and many other plants).

Dandelion blooming in December
Dandelion blooming in December

We have a lot of rocks around here, mostly sandstone. Bits and pieces of shale in the creek always shalecatch my eye because their composition is so different than all the surrounding rocks. When I find larger slabs of this, I bring it to the garden for pathways. It always crumbles to tiny pieces but makes a good path (though not for bare feet).

more shale at Wild Ozark

I didn’t have to walk much farther to find another supposedly green edible, a bittercress or rocket of some sort. This plant is

bittercress
A bitter cress – I won’t be adding this one to my salads. It is pretty bitter. It’s a larger plant, about 12″ in diameter.

bitter and I probably wouldn’t opt for this one ever, unless I wanted the bitter principles (to help with cholesterol levels by promoting more bile secretion and bowel movements). Sometimes the flower buds while still tight and unopened are tasty and a bit reminiscent of broccoli, but some of those are vile bitter, too. If I had to survive in winter without access to grocery stores or pantries, I’m hoping I could get by on salads for a while. There seems to be a lot of plants good to eat, but none of them have a whole lot of substance to them.

Watercress
A different bittercress – this one tastes nutty and good. It’s a small plant, about 5″ in diameter.

This smaller cress (Hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta) would be tasty in salads. The name is a bit odd. It’s neither hairy nor bitter. In the photos I’ve seen, the flower stalks look hairy, so I’ll have to check on that next year when it blooms. It has a good flavor, no bitterness with a little nutty flavor similar to arugula.

There are lots of wild onions (Allium canadense) and garlic (Allium sativum) growing wild here. The garlic isn’t easy to find during winter because the leaves die back, but the wild onions are everywhere. The tiny little bulbs and greens will add flavor to salads and other wild meats if we are resorting to home foraged flavors.

Wild onion (Allium canadense)
Wild onion (Allium canadense)

I don’t only stop for the edible or medicinal. The pretty, unusual, or interesting things give me pause, too.

Was it exercise or leisure?

Don’t discount the benefits of this sort of exercise right off the bat. In between the walking, which, admittedly didn’t stretch long before I found a new photo subject I just couldn’t pass up, there occurred a lot of stooping and bending and even getting downright onto the ground. So I think that counts. I definitely feel as if I’ve had a workout.

However, when Rob comes home from his contract we’ll be doing “real” exercise. He defines that as by at least 30 minutes of elevated heart rate…  so I’ll be working on leaving the camera at home and working up to a fast-paced mile so I can be ready to join him when he gets here. Just the thought of “real” exercise is causing my heart rate to elevate already, ha. I have a lot of work to do to prepare for that.

  • Update:  I wrote this post on Christmas Eve. Today is Christmas day. So in light of that more strenuous workout on the horizon, I began taking the walk without the camera today. It took me 20 minutes to make the same mile and I guarantee my heart rate was elevated the entire time. I even tried jogging a little from the mailbox to the gate, which is an embarrassingly short distance. I have a lot of work to do. And I don’t even want to think at this point about the fact that to get the “30 minutes” means I’ll either have to turn around at the house and go back down the hills or go past the mailboxes on the first lap. I’ll update you with my progress in a few weeks. Hopefully you’ll be working on your exercise resolutions too and will keep me posted on your progress. Let’s motivate each other.

At any rate, we’ll still be exercising in nature, whether it’s down the driveway jogging (him) or gasping for breath (me).

If you liked this post, you might like the one about how long it takes me to go the twelve miles to the post office and back 🙂

  • Update: On Jan 2 I made the walk in less than 20 minutes and I even jogged for some of it. I wrote a post about it, too – check out Exercising Outside on a Crisp Ozark Morning.


About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Why it Takes me an Hour to Drive 12 Miles to the Post Office

Today I went to the post office.

It’s only 12 miles to the post office in our little town.

6 of those miles are by dirt road. My average speed on the dirt stretch is 10 mph, but I slow down for the rough spots. So for just that portion of the trip, it already makes up for more than 30 minutes. The remaining 6 miles of pavement only takes 10 minutes or less, depending on whether there are cows, tractors, or deer in the road.

On a direct trip with no distractions, it’s about a 90-minute round trip, if you add the time spent getting the mail posted. And that’s if I only go to the post office and back.

But that rarely happens. Continue reading “Why it Takes me an Hour to Drive 12 Miles to the Post Office”



About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

A Review Round Robin

What is a "useful plant"?
What is a “useful plant”?

*** Sorry, but this event has ended ***

Join me in a “Review Round Robin”

I’ll send you 10 Common Plants in paperback format, and none of this costs anything for you, not even postage (but you don’t get to keep the book, unfortunately – you’ll send it on to the next reviewer).

1. I’ll send you the book with postage-paid envelopes ready for you to send to the next person after you’ve read it.
2. When you’re done reading it, leave your review at Amazon.
3. Put your autograph, and possibly a little note to me, inside the front cover of the book.
4. Use one of the postage-paid envelopes provided and put all of the remaining envelopes in there with the book so the next recipient can send it on, as well.

I’m looking for 10 participants, but will happily sign on more. If you run out of autograph space, just write on it anywhere that will work. The last envelope will send it back to me and I’ll have it as a keepsake, autographed by my first reviewers!

*** Your reviews need to be honest, not necessarily nice, but at least civil if you really hated it  ***

The photos below are chapter images for each of the 10 plants. Message me (click here to go to my contact page) with your mailing address if you’re interested.



About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods