Friday, 14 April 2017 00:00

Here are some photos showing the progress of our structure that will hold the rain chains at the ecovillage.

See my previous post on the rain sculpture.

Thursday, 13 April 2017 00:00

Recently moved to a rural country area and intimidated by the adjustment to your home’s septic system and well? Not a problem. There are a few tips that can make your transition smooth and painless.

By becoming more informed about how everything works and how to maintain your system, this change will not have a major impact on your family’s quality of life. Instead of having professionals come to your home anytime something seems wrong, this is definitely an area of your home to learn more about to save time and energy.

Location of Well and Septic
This seems like common knowledge; however, most people from the city do not know where these would be located on their country home’s property. The well is located behind the house, and typically has a well house above it. The well house is easy to identify when you walk into it. It looks like pipes that would normally be in a basement in the city, but they are in a house in your backyard. Septic system openings are in the front of the house, typically near your front door. It is important to know where your opening is when directing the service that pumps the system clean.

Well House Maintenance
Insulating the walls of your well house is extremely important. During the colder months, if the temperature goes below 25 °F, you may also need to put a space heater in the well house overnight to prevent the pipes from freezing. Frozen pipes will prevent water from flowing toward your home. If the pipes happen to freeze, put a space heater in the well house and wait for the pipes to defrost. Once they defrost, water will flow into your home normally.

Changing the Well Filter
To make sure your water continues to be filtered properly throughout your home, you should purchase new filters at your local home improvement store. Every six months, the well filter should be replaced. Here are some steps to use as a guide. Inside the well house:

  1. Turn the breaker off.
  2. Turn the water off using the red knob.
  3. Drain the water out from the side and from well in the back of the well house.
  4. Once the water stops pouring out, close the faucets.
  5. Go back to the well house and hold the top—twist it off gently with a wrench.
  6. Put the new filter in.
  7. Screw on gently, making sure the black ring is secured inside (it just needs to be gently on).
  8. Turn the breaker on.
  9. Turn the water on with the red knob.

Septic Maintenance
Septic systems should be pumped every two to three years. The cost ranges from $175 to $200 depending on your location. Living in a rural area, there should be plenty of local septic pump businesses willing to give you a deal along with more maintenance tips for keeping your system working properly. By keeping up with the septic maintenance schedule, you can avoid the risk of paying thousands for repairs or replacements. A broken septic system can be expensive, but it is completely avoidable.

Septic Safe Products
Surprisingly, there are a lot of products that are marked as "septic safe" in most stores. When selecting products to clean your bathroom and sinks, aim toward more organic products. Reducing chemicals in your system reduces repair risks. Never pour grease or bleach down your drains because it will result in backing up and/or weakening your system.

Do you have a septic system and well? Feel free to share any tips or experiences.

 

Sunday, 22 January 2017 00:00

During the winter months, keeping your body properly hydrated should be high on your checklist of priorities. Winter's parched air not only dries up our skin but also causes a body imbalance or dehydration. Dehydration is as dangerous in the winter months as it is during the summer. Of course, our bodies still need water irrespective of the season. Additionally, if you work out,  be sure to pay special attention to your hydration levels, particularly if you work out outdoors. When dry, cold air is taken in, your lungs add heat and moisture, signaling exhalation of water vapors. This process causes increased water loss. Eleanor Healy, RHN, in her article "5 Fun Ways to Stay Hydrated (Besides Water)," states that "Water regulates body temperature, lubricates your joints, and aids in the digestion process. So, without the essential fluids needed for our body to run smoothly, organs can become damaged, and systems don't function properly." Given these points, some suggestions to stay hydrated during the wintertime include plenty of fresh water, soups, hot or cold herbal teas, fruit- or vegetable-infused water, and coconut water. By and large, adequate hydration keeps our skin supple, our minds sharp, and our bodies functioning properly. Be assured your body gets what it needs this winter.

Resource

Eleanor Healy, RHN. "5 Fun Ways to Stay Hydrated (Besides Water)." Naturally Savvy.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016 00:00

Here at the ecovillage, we capture all the rainwater that falls onto the property including the roof, driveway and garden surfaces through our rainwater collection and swale system. We have a well that pumps the water up to use for growing vegetables, fruit, and the flower gardens. We capture plenty of water for our garden needs.

With our new efforts to be more prepared for emergencies, we decided that storing some water above ground so that we didn't have to count on being able to pump it back up would be a good idea. So a large water cistern was brought in for our emergency water storage tank. The tank holds 1500 gallons of water. For now, we are just filling the tank with a garden hose, but in the future, we may disconnect one of our rainwater collection pipes on the roof to direct feed it. Here are a few pictures of the new tank.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016 00:00

Those of us renters lucky enough to have permission to garden often find ourselves in a conundrum: how can we conserve water when not permitted to make alterations to rain gutters?

top of rain barrelAs you may already know, rain barrels are a great way to collect water that would otherwise become runoff. Homeowners can take advantage of them by connecting their gutters to the barrel’s intake. Unfortunately, most apartments either have no gutters, or the gutters are built to go straight to the ground, without the ability to connect to the barrel.

The eco-conscious (and budget-conscious!) renter will still want to save rainwater as much as possible. Following are ways you can collect rainwater, even if you can’t channel gutters into your barrel.

 

Look around your building after a storm. Do you see any places with large puddles? Find the largest puddle, and put your barrel under this area. If you can, get out while it’s actively raining, and try to position the intake under the largest stream of drips, to maximize rain collection.

rain collection methodsbuckets

If the roof is thoroughly guttered, and has no leaks you can utilize for your barrel, look for a spot under trees with sturdy branches. Buy a weatherproof tarp for less than ten dollars at a local hardware store. Tie each of the four corners to branches with just enough give so the middle droops. Cut a small hole in the exact middle of the droop. Position your barrel under the tarp so the droop is over its intake. I’ve used this method at a community garden, and had great success.

If neither of these methods channel enough water to fill your barrel quickly, you can supplement with buckets. This is likely something your grandparents can recount doing! Simply grab any buckets or large containers before it rains, and put them outside—again, the best places are where you remember the biggest puddles forming from previous storms. Then empty your filled buckets into your rain barrel. Some people will even toss the same buckets into their shower to catch stray “grey water” that misses you while showering.

If you don’t have trees appropriate to the tarp method, and are willing to put a little work into it, you can design your own elevated tarp catch pretty easily. Simply get four large garden poles (garden centers sell them), and insert them into the ground in a square around your barrel. Then tie or duct-tape the corners to the tops of the poles. Make sure you use sturdy poles; on my first try, I used bamboo, and they bent from the weight. If you only have bamboo available, you can try putting three in each corner and tying them together.

Using these methods, you should be able to fill your barrel or barrels quickly, and grow a lush, green garden.

 

 

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Wednesday, 25 May 2016 00:00

“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water.”
—Bruce Lee

 
The use of water fountains began with the ancient Greeks. They built fountains, usually statues of Greek gods or goddesses, above springs thought to have supernatural powers. Over time, we have continued the tradition of adding fountains to gardens and homes in more functional ways, and continue to progress with more creative designs.

I once looked at indoor water elements merely as focal points or interesting conversation pieces for a room. It wasn't until I began researching methods for creating my own fountain that I became aware of their hidden benefits.

1. Fountains purify the air. Moving water attracts negatives ions. Therefore, fountains clean the surrounding air of impurities that may enter the occupants' lungs.

2. Fountains create a restful mindset. The look and sound of running water creates an inner stillness, and helps to divert one's attention away from stressful thought patterns. This type of feeling helps promote better sleep patterns, especially if a fountain is placed in a bedroom.

3. Fountains humidify the air. Air in our homes can become dry, causing a negative effect on our health, such as dry skin. A water element in the home naturally moistens the air in the room. It is beneficial for everyone and everything, including nearby plants.

Many elements can be added to a simple fountain to increase positive energy flow and beauty in the home. These elements can include light, fire, stone, crystal, wood, and metal. Fountains can be purchased or custom-built based on the chosen design and size of the space needed to be filled.

After many hours of research, I decided to design and construct a wall fountain with simple materials. I will post more about my fountain project and, hopefully, pictures of the beautiful results in June.