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Joe Schwartz & Ben Root

©1997 Home Power

he spring was the deciding factor when we bought our homestead on Agate Flat in 1970. A good supply of clean, reliable water is an essential ingredient in any homestead. We hauled water, by hand, over one thousand feet from

the spring to our cabin. A standard load was two, five gallon jerry cans. We had no hot water heater, shower, bath, dish washer, clothes washer, or even a cold water faucet over the kitchen sink. We were happy with the two to four, five gallon jerry cans of water we hauled daily. The water was pure, on site, and ours. Hauling the eighty-plus pounds an 1/8 of a mile was exercise. We were happy to expend the effort if it meant we got to live on Agate Flat instead of in the city.

Over the years our water demands and expectations grew. We added gardens and various animals (cats, dogs, pigs, turkeys, cows, chickens, goats, horses, and mules) to our homestead—all of them wanted watering daily. During that over twenty year period, I calculate we hauled, by hand, over 1,200,000 pounds of water. Eventually, in 1992 we drilled a well, added a 5 gpm solar-powered pumping system, and storage tanks for 2,700 gallons of well water. This well water now gravity flows to our buildings, stock tank, and gardens.

By the fall of 1996, we were ready to tackle obtaining the conveniences most Americans take for granted— hot showers and a clothes washer. We needed a building to house these systems, and the composting toilet to end over twenty-five years of outhouse use. Karen, being Karen, saw no reason not to have a small greenhouse as well. To complicate matters, Agate Flat is not a wimpy environment. We get four distinct seasons, from fry-your-butt in bone dry summers, to freeze-your-butt in four feet of snow winters.

12 Home Power #63 • February / March 1998

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