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Water is an absolute need in life and in homesteading, whether you pay for your water or have a well you need it somehow. For more of an off-the-grid or free idea for use of water other than inside your house have you considered rain water?
Especially if you are a person that has to pay for their water usage this may be a great idea if your area allows it.
When it comes to watering your crops or animals the water usage can get expensive.
Building a rain collection barrel can save you tons of money every year.
There are different ways to go about it.
For instance, there is a natural spring/creek that runs through my property. It continues down into my neighbors property as well.. He has collection barrels in the ground near it to collect water for his horses. Free and all natural.
Some places though it is against the law to use a rain collection barrel. Personally it makes no sense to me as to why you cannot collect natural resources but laws are laws. Check your local laws before deciding to build one.
Hopefully you are able to build one and can save yourself a lot of money.
Another good thing about having a rain collection barrel is if you have a well, you need electricity to run the pump, if the electric goes out you cannot use your water.
Deciding What Type of Rain Collection to Use
First things first, you want to make sure you get a rain barrel that holds at least 50 gallons.
There are barrels that are specifically made for water collection.
Some types of collection barrels have a flat back to be able to sit right against your home and already have a filter screen and faucet built into it.
Also, there are barrel types you can buy that easily allow you to connect more than one barrel for more collection and also help with overflow issues.
**These barrels are pet and child safe. They have lids to cover them so they cannot get into them.
If you do not want to buy a specifically made barrel for water collection, no problem! There are many different things you can use as a rain barrel.
When deciding to use other forms of water barrels you will just need to purchase a Guttering Diverter Kit.
Types of rain collection barrels to use could be:
Whatever you choose to use just make sure it has a lid. You want to make it child and pet safe so they cannot get into it and drown.
Prepping Your Barrel Space
For any type of barrel collection system you use, you need to have a level surface for it to sit on.
Once you have selected the specific gutter for it to sit under, or multiple gutter areas, you will want to work on leveling the ground there.
Elevating your barrel is also a good option since it can make using your water easier.
After everything is level and if you’ve chosen to elevate your barrel the platform is built you then need to cut your gutter.
Gutter downspouts should be cut around 4-6″ above your collection barrel.
Rain collection barrels are placed directly below your gutter spout.
Every time it rains your barrel can catch the rain coming through the gutters.
It’s such a simple and ingenious idea!
Free water that you can easily use to water your crops, livestock, etc..
Livestock can be a great income or food need for you and your homestead even a small one, so it is important to make sure they have enough water.
Many areas have extreme drought and just water crisis issues.
You’re able to help your homestead keep going with water collection and help keep contaminates out of your water unlike city water.
Rain Barrel Specifics
If you have not decided to go with a prefab water collection barrel that already has an overflow system in place you will want to make sure you address this issue in your DIY system.
Barrels can and will overflow. You want to make sure if it does overflow the water is set to go away from the foundation of your home. Puddle water around your foundation is not a good thing and needs to be avoided. Overflow kits are easy to add into your set up.
**Overflow kits are also great to be able to connect multiple barrels for water collection.
Always place your spigot towards the bottom of your barrel.
Hose quick connects are also a great idea to have handy to make the use of your water easier.
If you do not decide to have a cover for your rain barrel you will want to make sure to get mosquito dunks.
Mosquitos breed in stagnant and still water.
Portable Water Collection
An idea that my husband had since our garden is far way from our house was a Portable Water Collection Barrel.
We are unable to use normal garden hoses, sprinklers, etc. to water our garden since it’s a ways away from the house.
Also, we unfortunately have a very short well so we aren’t able to use the water from it to water the large garden.
He of course seems to be able to make anything out of leftover materials which helps us a lot.
There were multiple water collection barrels laying around the property so he grabbed one.
We bought a simple spigot for the barrel.
Another thing we had on hand was a transfer pump. Our old house used to flood underneath the crawl space so it’s what we used to remove the water.
It’s able to pump 340-410 gallons of water per hour.
Since we have a natural spring/creek that runs through the property we would set the water drum on the back of our Polaris and put the hose into the barrel then turn on the transfer pump.
Once it was filled up enough we would drive out to the garden and then you could easily fill a watering can or attach a hose to water the garden.
It was an ingenious idea and fixed the solution of not having to walk back and forth to the creek for water.
For other DIY ideas to help your homestead you can read about Composting 101.
Farm Fresh Tuesdays also has many Outdoors Articles.