September 2, 2018

Progress on the Barn: The Home Stretch

Even though we've moved the girls into their new home, work on the barn has continued. Dan took a brief break to move his workshop; then he started working on windows, trims, and rainwater catchment.

We now have two small tanks to catch rain from the milking room roof,

Milking room with new windows, battens, and rainwater tanks.

and a large one for the hayloft and loafing area roofs.

Larger tank for larger roof area.

I have to say that we've learned a lot since we put in our first catchment system in 2013. For that one we didn't install a filter, just an extended PVC pipe with a clean-out plug.

Clean-out for each roof surface.

The PVC clean-out pipe catches initial runoff from the gutter. It fills with water plus any dirt and leaves washed off the roof. Once it fills, the rest of the rain goes into the tank. Theoretically that should keep the water in the tanks clean, but it didn't always work out that way. It requires cleaning out after each rainfall, which isn't always practical. From that we learned we needed a filter.

When he installed our second large house tank, Dan made a filter from half of a 55-gallon barrel filled with several sizes of gravel. That worked well, but it had to be positioned above the tank, making it difficult to clean out due to its weight.

When we researched filters for the barn tanks, we found instructions for making a PVC pipe filter. (That link will take you there.) It's placed horizontally and filled with layers of rocks and gravel. Periodically it can be removed and cleaned out. This is our experimental model, and we're curious as to how well it will work.

One of two horizontal pipe filters going into the big tank.

All tanks still need valves. Dan's plan is to run a pipe from the big tank directly into the barn to water the goats. The water from the smaller tanks will be for the ducks and chickens. That will still require carrying buckets, but he is very happy about the prospect of not having to haul all the water from the house any more!

Clean-out plug (vertical) and pipe filter (horizontal).

There are a few more windows to put in and more trimming and painting to do, but the goat barn is almost officially done! We're both looking forward to that.

24 comments:

Gorges Smythe said...

Glad to see you're wrapping that project up. It's been enjoyable watching the progress.

Goatldi said...

Nice finish almost! I am very interested in your rain water catch system.I will check out the link on the post but is there a link to construction methods that we can check out. I assume you got your information from multiple sources? Lastly what are the laws in your state considering "ownership" of rain water? It seems to vary widely state to state.

Leigh said...

Gorges, thanks! This has been the biggest project we've done since we moved here. Everything else will seem like a cakewalk in comparison!

Goatldi, thanks! We actually had a hard time finding information and resources for our rainwater catchment, so most of our learning has been trial and error. Fortunately we don't have restrictions in regards to rainwater ownership here, but that is something folks need to be aware of when they start to research.

Susan said...

Love the water tanks, but alas, it is illegal here in Oregon. I cheat a bit when it is raining, and put 5-gallon buckets at the corners of my house to take advantage. Rain is scarce here in the high desert, so I treasure every drop.

Woolly Bits said...

it's hard to believe for us over here that some people are not allowed to save their own water! luckily for us we can! even though we had over 40 days without any rain, we had enough water in the tanks and could have gone on for at least that long again. we changed our tank system a bit over the years - to make it easier to maintain, like you. we all get older and have to think about a time, where we cannot physically do what we do now! but it's a relief to know that as soon as rain falls, our tanks fill up again. there was a huge debate this summer about falling reservoirs and the problems people face because of climate change - and how long it takes for the reservoirs to fill up again, for groundwater to be replenished etc. all the while every drop that came went into our immediate system! it's a lot more work than just opening a valve, but I don't mind because it has superb quality and we are independent from contractors etc... water and our need for it is so undervalued - until it becomes scarce!

Mike said...

Now that looks like a well thought-out system. It should save a lot of hours of run time on your well pump.

Kev Alviti said...

Great stuff! After our really dry summer here water storage is something I need to think a little more about. I have no filters on any of my water storage tanks so maybe it's something I should look into!

1st Man said...

The progress is amazing!!! You're almost there. Love it. And the rainwater catchment system is very inspiring. We're considering some big changes at the farm and I'd like to incorporate something like this. I have your first book with all of it's valuable info, I'll have to cross reference for updates. Hmm, have you ever thought about putting out just a small book of rainwater systems like this? Just a thought. Nice job!!!

Leigh said...

Susan, it's hard to believe that a state as progressive as Oregon would be so backward in such an important water conservation strategy. I agree, every drop is important! We do things like catch the cold water coming out of the hot faucet before it warms up. That either goes in the washing machine or to water plants. (Plus the cats think the water in that bucket tastes the best!)

Bettina, it's true, some places don't allow it, but I don't think those are in the majority. With the world water crises, rainwater usage seems like a no brainer. I'd be interested in how you filter your water!

Mike, I hope so! It's based on trial and error and we're still tweaking. We don't have a well, though, we have city water, so all of this helps with our water bill, not to mention carrying buckets. When we have a long dry spell, we help out by not using city resources. Every little bit helps.

Kev, nothing like a hot dry summer to get a project like this in motion! The filters help us by keeping leaf litter, etc out of the tanks. Depending on how yours are set up, you may not have a bad problem with that. Might be worth an experiment to see if you can tell a difference.

!st Man, thank you! I always hope that our experiments help others not have to go through such a steep learning curve. I hadn't thought about a rainwater catchment book; maybe after we're sure we have all the kinks worked out!

Su Ba said...

We have numerous simple catchment systems on our farm, much like yours but a tad simpler. I too found that the first-water vertical pcv pipe didn't work all that well, especially for floatable debris. So we discarded the idea. For our wwoofer's system we made a simple "filter" using a five gallon bucket. The roof downspout flows into an open five gallon bucket which has 1/8" hardware cloth over the top. That catches all the big debris and is very easy to brush off if the wind doesn't blow it away first. In the bottom of the bucket we drilled a hole large enough to slip the downspout pipe through (sealed it with silicone caulk), but instead of the downspout pipe sitting flush with the bottom of the bucket, it sticks 2 inches up into the bucket interior. This provides a lip to prevent small sediment from flowing into the catchment tank. It's not perfect, but it does catch most. I guess we could cap the pipe with a nylon stocking, but it works ok for what we want. The five gallon bucket needs to be emptied once a week to control mosquitoes, so we have a rubber stopper plugging a drain hole in the bottom. We tried having a tiny hole so that the bucket would naturally drip itself dry, but debris kept plugging it up. So we ended up putting in a plug.

Unknown said...

Was just wondering what kind of winter weather you get. Would love to set up a system similar to yours. Trying to figure out if it would just be a spring, summer, and fall system for us up north.

Leigh said...

Su Ba, thank you for that! Very clever idea; we may have to give that a try as an experiment. The horizontal pipe filters are under evaluation, so we're still open to other ideas. Part of the problem is how low the roof-line is at the bottom of the slope. Originally we were going to channel runoff from all roofs into the big tank, but couldn't get the right slope from the milking room roof into that tank, the roof is too low there. There has to be enough room for the filter and still manage a good slope into the tank.

Unknown, our winters can get cold enough that we've had freezing and cracking of the valves, or rather the valve boot which fits over the tank's drain spout. Also the hoses going to the garden if water is left in them. The thermal mass in the tanks themselves keeps them from freezing and cracking. I'm sure some plumbing company sells insulation to fit the valves and hoses, which is something I should probably look into with winter approaching.

Mark said...

Love all the water catchment!! That is quite the extensive project and looks great. Nicely done!

We've thought about doing some sort of simple catchment, but the winters here are, most years, cold enough to freeze all of it and we'd have to be able to drain it dry in late November, then route snow run-off directly to the ground out away from the house. I'm sure someone has figured that one out, but I haven't seen it yet.

A question, do you ever get any algae growth in the tanks? It looks like not, but I would think as the sun warms them up that would start happening. Are the filters fine enough to prevent that?

Mama Pea said...

There is absolutely nothing like having first-hand, hands-on experience to find what works in your own personal situation, is there! We can seek out all the written (or spoken) information we can, but it all needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Our own personal experience lately has been that some information is put out by people who have never, ever actually experienced or put into practice that in which they claim to be self-proclaimed experts. Sooooo frustrating!

But you two have done whatever you share with the rest of us and although it might not work in our particular circumstance, it gives us a starting point from which we could proceed.

It's going to be almost like running water in the barn!

Leigh said...

Mark thanks! Winters are a challenge with rain catchment, for sure, but I agree that others will have experience that will be useful for that. Algae needs sunshine for photosynthesis, so the trick to keeping algae from growing is to either use opaque tanks or keep them out of sunlight (shade or paint). We find that periodically we need to drain and clean out the tanks anyway, (not an easy job!)

Do try a small rain catchment system. You'll learn more from experimenting than reading what others have done.

Mama Pea, we've found the same as you, that so much of the "expertise" out there is theory without backbone. A lot of it just sounds good, but doesn't work in practice. It is indeed frustrating. I'm at a point now, where when I read about something, the next thing I do is try to find people who have tried it or are using it. If I can't find that I'm doubtful that the idea is of much use. I reckon we have to help one another out here, with our experiments and experience. So often when I blog about a problem or challenge, I get a lot of good ideas to try. It helps figure something out for a successful outcome.

The Wykeham Observer said...

I'm glad you're making use of the water in different ways. It also sounds like a good investment. Phil

Ed said...

I'm taking notes for when we move our garden from the farm to behind our house. I like the idea of using catch tanks and like you, I'm mystified on why that is illegal in Oregon.

Leigh said...

Ed, it's a wonderful resource and has been a life saver when we've had extremely hot dry summers. I believe Colorado is another state that forbids rainwater collection, but like Oregon, I'm not sure why.

Leigh said...

Phil, it registered when I read your comment but I have rudely not replied! Yes, we fell like this is a good investment. We have city water, so we have a source and don't have to worry about wells drying up, but being able to use rainwater like this is a good feeling.

Susan said...

I have a much more primitive water system - two rain barrels with spouts! and it was the best thing I've done for myself. I have one for the chicken/duck yard and one for the garden. I have saved my well during this (yearly) drought and saved my aching back, not having to lug two five-gallon buckets of water a day. Everything looks terrific - your girls must love their new home!

Leigh said...

Susan, every little bit helps! And usually, smaller doesn't need to be as complicated. :)

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Leigh, I will be super interested to hear what the yield on your rainwater is.

I had not thought about filtration...but yes, pretty important.

Leigh said...

TB, after our rainy season starts I'll have to measure. Obviously it has to do with roof size. Our first set-up caught about 50 gallons per inch of rain, a second one caught about 250 gallons per inch.

Chris said...

Rainwater catchment is just the icing on the cake! I'm working on mine for the chicken coop, at the moment. Although I have much less roof space, and a simple skillion roof. It's nice to see your sweet set-up though (should I be so excited about water tanks?) and I'm sure all that collected water, will be put to good use. :)