“Every Last Drop”: Trying Not to Waste Water

By , November 17, 2010

One would think that the homesteading life is one of hard-headed pragmatism, but ours seems to include more than its share of tilting at windmills (ah . . . as it were!). All too easily, I “get a notion,” and end up carrying it to extremes.

For instance, we’re headed into a fairly serious cold snap, which means it’s time to manage the water system: turn off the summer water, drain the holding tank, and switch over to the winter water.

I’ve never liked that, after carefully collecting about 1500 gallons of fresh water over the past months, we’re going to open up the hoses and let it all drain out onto the beach. I know it’s not really going to waste—we diverted the water from a small creek that runs to the beach naturally, so we’ve basically banked it against possible need for a time—but making full use of what we’ve collected appeals to my frugal nature.

With that in mind, I “scheduled” the switch carefully. I went up to the creek a few days ago and removed the inflow pipe from the collecting bucket, returning the water to the stream bed, and stopping the flow to the tank. I timed this to allow us one more round of showers before we switched over to the winter water. We don’t use much, but I liked the idea of drawing from this reservoir one more time before beginning to tap the winter supply.

My heart was in the right place, but my timing was off. Michelle’s in town care taking for friends. Aly and I needed to go into town, but discovered it made more sense to hike out “dirty” and shower at the friends’ house. Then, Aly stayed in town with Michelle for an event the following day. I returned to the homestead alone, faced with a full water tank and a coming freeze.

I’m doing my best; I’ve washed a lot of dishes, and, as always, I’m “bailing” the tank one filter pitcher at a time for drinking water. The weather’s cooperating as well: the freeze hasn’t been as hard as predicted, so I’m finding a bit of leeway before draining the tank, but it’s not the same.

Sometimes you beat the windmills, sometimes the windmills beat you.

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