Thursday, 6 February 2014

Finding water in a peat bog

Water is not something you would think as being an issue when living on the Wet Coast. It falls in buckets all winter and even the summer is not a stranger to rain clouds. But water is a core issue for some of our farm endeavours.

We are based off of a well. Its not a massive well and it often runs dry in the summer months if we are not careful. It feeds three houses, five horse stalls, and a chicken barn. Thankfully our blueberries do not pull from it as they are nestled nicely in their native environment of a peat bog.

Up until recently, we did not include our chickens in that list. Their water used to come from a gravity feed, meandering its way down from our lake. "Our lake" is not on our property. It straddles the adjacent lot and its neighbour. We have the water rights to it though, so the water it holds is ours to use (reasonably). Well the neighbouring parcel is getting developed and in that process our gravity feed was destroyed by a road. We were a bit disappointed but decided not to recreate the system as we felt it would cause issues with the neighbours and there had to be a better way.

Our cows and pigs are not and have never been on the list of things coming off our well. They have been watered via a combination of a gravity feed off of Mount Work in the winter and our river pump in the summer. The gravity feed is a constant flow, spilling gallons of water every day onto the same soil that these animals let loose their waste on. It all washes right along into our pond. There is nothing terrible unsound about this from an environmental perspective, but it is not ideal. The pump has to be turned on to use and requires a walk half way across the farm to do so. Oh yeah, then it has to be turned off again. Just like the chickens, not very ideal.

Our barn as it is now. Hopefully this will be our water source soon.

I got to thinking one day as I jokingly remarked about slapping some gutters on the barn to keep the water from pummeling the ground into mud...what if I used that rain water? What if? People do it all the time using their houses and a big tank to water their gardens. Why not water our cows and pigs?

So I threw the idea out and set about looking into it. That was in the summer. Nothing came of it. I never looked into it. Now I have. After some research and a hunt for a vendor, I finally found a company that would help me look into the math of it all. I finally received a quote for my never ending and solar powered watering solution for my pigs and cows.

It was quite expensive. We were quoted for all the add-ons, including a solar pump to feed the troughs. They quoted us for a 7800 gallon tank. This, according to their professional calculations was adequate to never need a top up. I trust that they are correct. I have a different idea though. Based on the cost and need, I believe we will cut that down to 2500 gallons and just deal with the fact that every so often we will need to top it up from the pump. Not so terrible if you only have to make that walk back and forth a handful of times per year.

Example of a rainwater harvesting system.

Then I kept thinking and dreaming about this idea. What about our chickens? Summer is coming and we will be put to the test, or at least our well will. I don't think it will pass. So I am now expanding my investigation and will be looking at another quote regarding our chicken barn. It has a huge amount of square footage and should do quite well.

Look forward to more updates on this project as we discuss the ins and outs of the cost versus the reward.

I am excited. Two problems almost solved, a never ending stream to go.

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