They say the weather is the top British obsesion, seeing as how its so rubbish at the moment I thought a post on it might be appropriate. The rain has been teaming down onto our handmade shingle roof.
No leaks so far (touch wood).
There is though at least one upside, it is filling up our new rainwater harvesting system nicely.
But, of course, water is becoming an increasingly precious commodity. I remember a colleague of mine once told me that you have to be very careful not to mix up climate and weather. Never mind the fact that the weather is not great at the moment, the evidence suggests that our climate is changing, and one of the consequences of this (in this part of the country at least) is going to be that we are going to have to be much more careful of how we use what is probably going to become an increasingly scarce resource. When you think about it that way, the amount of it we flush straight down the loo, after having spent huge amounts of energy on capturing and purifying it just seems plain crazy. Our new building will accomodate 3 people, and the basecamp sleeps up to 19, thats a lot of mains water being flushed away every day. Of course there are lots of things you can do to help, from composting loo’s right down to just putting a brick in the cistern so it uses less water. I think one of the most important things is to try and make best use of the water resource you have available to you. This was the idea behind our rainwater harvesting system, we wanted to recycle the rainwater that fell on the roofs here and use it for flushing the loo’s, watering the vegetable garden and have an outside tap for filling bowsers and washing vehicles etc.
It made quite a mess of the site earlier this year, but the first thing we did was to reroute all of the downpipes off both Speckled Wood and the Basecamp, and bring them underground to a collection point at the front of the buildings.
At this point a large 10 000 litre tank was burined in the ground. The water is filtered and then stored in this tank. From there it is pumped up to a small header tank in the loft of the basecamp. This tank is kept permanently topped up with rainwater, and, should the large tank outside ever run dry there is an automated back up system which will top it up with mains water if neccessary.
From the tank in the loft the water is piped down to the 6 toilets, the outside tap and the water trough in the vegetable garden. In the plant room there is a gauge on the wall showing the level in the main tank. You wont be supprised to see that after the recent weather it is totally full.
We had a very dry early spring here, it didn’t rain for quite some time, but we didn’t run out of rainwater. The only real test will come during a very dry spell in the summer, but so far the mains backup has not been required.
I am chuffed to bits with the system, I’ve always been a keen supporter of taking action on water conservation, and for me its one of the more important parts of the work we have done here. There is only one drawback…and that is caused by…
Our lovely handmade shingle roof. As it is made of green wood the rain water picks up tannins as it flows over it. As any of you who work with wood will know this means the water picks up a sort of black / dark purple staining. This means that when you flush the loo in the building the water comes out looking pretty murky.
Of course we are incredibly proud of our roof as well, and once it has started to season and grey down it will stop leaching tannins and the staining issue will lessen, for now though we just have to point out to people that the water isn’t dirty, its recycled.
Meanwhile the sheep that graze in the Speckled Wood Orchard have finished lambing. The last ewe to pop even managed a bit of a surprise.
Triplets! She managed to deliver them herself, Jacobs are a hardy breed and are very self sufficient. Usually one of the triplets would be fostered off onto a ewe with a single lamb, but there weren’t any singles this year so that wasn’t an option. So far she seems to be coping pretty well, I think it s going to be a case of stepping in with a bottle to help out as the lambs get a bit bigger, depending on how that goes it might be an excuse to get one halter trianed and see about putting it in one of the local shows, maybe…
There are two girls (apple and badger) and one boy (don’t realy believe in giving the boys names bearing in mind that they end up in the freezer). Now the rainwater tank is full I am hoping for a bit of sunshine to help them along a bit.