Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Once In A Lifetime

I tried to find a good song that had "water" in the title but couldn't come up with anything that was appropriate. The most appropriate one was this Talking Heads song that some of you may be familiar with that mentions "water flowing under ground". It uses various metaphors of flowing water to allude to life and death etc. I know I don't understand the whole thing but I love the song. And this house is my once in a lifetime chance to have something that is mine and that is an embodiment of what I believe in; not possessions mind you, but of living simply but fully. Well, enough philosophical crap...........! I'm going to try to answer questions today. The photos posted are a few of the ones I've taken in the course of us trenching and installing water lines from the spring.
A lot of people have been asking here and in person about my water system so I'm going to do a Q&A deal here.
1. Why am I using a spring instead of city water?
Ok, due to just the way the land laid out etc., my house is located about 1,000 feet from the main road with a line of very rocky terrain in between. It would be incredibly expensive and difficult to run water line from this distance and in that dirt. In this municipality, they charge $2,500.00 just to tap the water main at the road and set your meter. I have not spent that amount yet and I almost have complete running water. Secondly, I don't want to drink dirty city water or chlorine or fluoride. Thirdly, I won't have a water bill. This type of setup is what I was looking for. It's not much different than being on a well system.
2. How reliable is the spring? Well, just from the 2 1/2 years that we have observed it, it seems pretty reliable. Also, Fred's family used this spring ( at another outlet) for their water about 70 years ago. It sustained them until the utilities came in. You can actually still find some of the old pipe they used and ran along the creek. Last year when Allen built the syphon, (it's in the archives) we ran a 2" line out of the spring and opened it up all the way. It ran for about 3 days constantly putting out about 5 gallons every 2 minutes, 24 hours a day, before too much air got in the siphon and caused it to stop. This did not cause any appreciable difference in the spring. Right now we are in a level 2 drought here and it is still flowing pretty much like always.
3. Are we going to filter or treat the water? Yes! My first thought was a reverse osmosis system but then I learned that they are very slow, only producing about 50 gallons of usable water a day if you have a high capacity system. Then I learned that you can't use activated charcoal systems unless your water has been chlorinated. Charcoal, being a natural substance and very good filter, can grow little buggies if the water has not been sterilized. Well, I'll be horse whipped if I'm going to chemicalize up my fresh water with chlorine and then remove it again! So, I have decided on a 3-stage micron filter. I will try to put up some specs on it later. Basically, it starts off about a 2 micron that filters dirt, sediment etc, then reduces down to about a .5 micron that gets the little buggies and organisms. I have tested my water several times too. You could add the UV filters too. The one I have picked is fairly reasonably priced too at around $200.00.

4. Have I tested my water or had it tested? Yes! I had the city test it, which was almost not worth it. It cost $5 and all they tested for was bacteria but it came back negative for E.Coli which is nice to know. I ran several test myself with a kit I got from a reputable lab. I tested it for lead (negative), pesticides (negative), nitrates (negative), general bacteria (negative and that is the photo above) they explained this as fecal matter from farms, houses etc. All water, earth, people, animals etc. contain certain amounts of natural bacteria. I tested the pH, which is important for your plumbing. If the pH is low it can damage copper plumbing. Mine was around 8.5, I think, which is good. I tested the hardness of the water and it is a little hard. I may have to do something about this because this can cause some deposits in your plumbing. It tested for chlorine too but, of course, that was negative.
5. Do I have or will have a backup system? No. I'm not sure if that is possible, at least in a way that I could afford. There is another old bluegrass song that I like that says, " I have the faith of a saint but the soul of a gambler and a heart like a rushing wind"...... I guess that's about the way I look at it. I believe, that if you are willing to see, things always work out and I'm willing to take the risk (but studied risk) for what I see as being a once in a lifetime chance and just hang on with all fours!!! Some may see that as pretty stupid or intensely naive but it's gotten me this far and I've had a hell of a good time as yet.
I'll try to have some more stuff up soon showing details on the water lines etc. but my camera screwed up this weekend (wouldn't you know) and it will probably in the shop for awhile. But we have running water at the house!!! No faucets yet but I do have water!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hello Goodbye

Hey! Sorry for such a quickie post but things have been really hectic lately. I've had a lot of people asking me about my water system both here on the blog and at work etc. so I want to do a post just on that and answer everybody's questions at once. We are working a little overtime at my real job and then I'm trying to get ready for this weekend and possible subcontractors being at the house. We also encountered a large boulder in our water line trenching so in my spare time I get to jackhammer this thing out of the way. Also, our refrigerator died with a little help from me (we won't go into that) and we had to procure a new one last night before everything in the old fridge ruined. Plus, I'm trying to do a little more research on water filters before we get everything going. I've got lots of info to post and lots to report on, just bear with me for the next day or two.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


There seem to be an abundance of blooming things right now. I don't know if there wasn't that much last year or that I just didn't notice it. I have no idea what some of these are; I think this is a type of violet but I'm not sure.
There are just tons of these ferns all over the place here. Someone told me this type is a Christmas fern. Some of them get quite large. There is also a really lacy type fern that grows here that I really like.

I am pretty sure this is bee balm. It comes in several colors and I bought some at the garden center once and then discovered later that is grows wild all over down here. I thought this was a really nice specimen and this photos looks great enlarged. I think I will print it on some nice paper when I get some new ink for the machine. I might look nice framed.

This photo did not come out so well; the color seems kinda washed out but these are really pretty irises. I planted these down by the spring creek where it runs alongside the driveway. I don't know the name of these or anything. Allen brought me a clump of them years ago and I have been hauling these things around ever since. The foliage gets very tall (around 5') but the flowers themselves are on the small side. Still really pretty though and they bloom their hearts out.
Hopefully this weekend will be a busy one. The sheetrock finishers are supposed to start Saturday and we will be trenching and installing the water line to the house from the spring. I should be able to buy the pump next week but I need to quickly investigate water filters and install that too.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

It Won't Be Long

The septic system is installed!!! I know this may not be a very glamorous post to many of you but I am ecstatic. They actually came last Friday and put it in but I'm just now getting around to downloading the photos. It doesn't take them very long to get these things in. The man started about 11:00 a.m., I think and set up his inspection for 3:00 p.m. The health department came out and looked it over, OK'd it and signed off and so he started covering it up. I got there about 5:00 maybe and they were to about this point. I have a pretty standard setup; approximately 200' of field lines; standard tank. I wish I had gotten a better close up of the field lines. They are a lot different than they used to be. These about almost 2' wide and the bottom is open. Basically, one half of a 2' corrugated black, plastic, drain pipe. There are 2 separate field lines; they run parallel to each other but one is slightly higher than the other and they are connected by small lines at the end so that when the higher one gets full (if ever) it flows over into the lower one. In this photo, you can see one of the caps on the tank over there in the lower right corner.
This is just the connection between the tank and field lines. That pipe seemed kinda small to me but I guess that's standard. They dug up one enormous rock but was able to move that and now I have a nice yard ornament but did not have any trouble with rocks that could not be moved. I was very glad for this. One thing that I was not aware of with a septic tank is that you need to fill them with water as soon as possible. The installer said that they normally do that for you but seeing as I don't have running water it would be up to me. Allen didn't mention this fact to me and so I asked the man why this was necessary. He said that if it rained very much the tank could float up out of the ground! It needed the water to weigh it down. About that same moment I heard thunder off in the distance and turned to the west to see storm clouds approaching. Oh, crap! It was bad enough to pay for this once but to pay to have it put back in the ground would be too much! In a great stroke of ingenuity, Allen quickly rigged up a little gutter system so that water flowing off the house would run into a trough and down into the septic tank. It worked pretty good and I hauled quite a few 5 gallon buckets of water from the creek and poured in it. Of course, that hardly made a noticeable difference but I had to do something. I paid $2,000.00 to have that thing put in, it's not coming back out.

Here, Allen is smoothing it all out nicely with Oliver and the box blade. He did a great job with that and now it's ready to plant grass and flowers. I'm pretty much just going to have a natural area with wildflowers and fruit trees.
This weekend we got the trail cleared through the woods where we are going to run the water lines from the spring to the house. That is about 290'. Next weekend we should be able to trench the line and install the pipe. I think we are on schedule to have running water by the end of the month. We didn't do much today as it was Mother's Day and went to spend some time with family. We needed some rest anyway.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Next Layer

Ok! here are the Sheetrock photos I've been promising for so long! This was some really tedious work with all of the rafter tails to cut around and the 30 light fixtures. This is the east wall. I would like some really cool sculpture to hand up in the gable part of this wall above the lights (those black dots).
This is mostly the south wall. The far left area will be the dining area. Where the 3 small windows are is the kitchen. The sink will be centered under that middle window. I've always wanted a lot of windows in the kitchen. There will be a short wall between the kitchen and living areas that I have not framed yet. I need to get the scaffolding out (after finishing the clerestory wall and ceiling) before I can put that wall in.

Higher shot of south wall. The sun has stopped coming in at this point and it stays fairly cool in the house. Actually, the sun disappeared at the end of March I think, which is about right I guess. It starts getting warm around here pretty quick.

This is the living room area, northeast corner. That rectangular hole above the window on the right is for my in-wall stereo speakers. Yeah! Going to be cranking.

This is the wall between the living and bedroom/bath etc. This is the wall that will (hopefully) be plywood and really cool. The BFA and I are still wrangling over this one. He is helping me pick out colors too for everything so maybe that can start soon.

Monday, May 07, 2007


Today is my birthday! Just a quick post because Allen and I are actually going out tonight for sushi and sake and who knows what else! As far as how old I am; old enough to know better, still too young to care.
My septic system is installed!! and inspected and everything, yea! More about that later. We have finished hanging all the Sheetrock too and I've got photos of that. Ready to start finishing and painting some areas. I'll try to get back soon.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Little Details

After we finished the roof, Allen made these little copper caps for all the brackets that hold up the verge rafters on the gables. This way water won't sit on top of the wood and soak in. I need to start painting/staining soon but I am still wrestling with colors and just have not had time to start anyway. This wood really needs something on it though. This copper is very old, that is why it doesn't look all shiny. It's actually some scrap copper I had that I salvaged from the Big House when they tore off the roof flashing in the valleys. I hope it does not curse my house! These caps are glued on with some roofing caulk.
I hope to have photos of the sheetrock we hung up soon and some other stuff we have done. It's starting to look different on the inside. I still can't pick out my bathroom tile! I don't know why I am having such trouble with this. Too many options.
I am trying to start something of a garden also but I don't know how that's going to work. If I don't fence it, it will get eaten by the critters again and I don't know when I'll have time to put up a good fence. There are just not enough hours in the day. We are still working some 10's, so I don't have a lot of time in the afternoons to work on the house much.
My septic system installation has been put off until the end of next week, darn it. Got to get water soon. I will try to post again soon.