Monthly Archives: May 2015

Rain Water Harvesting Phase 1…continued (5/16/15)

We headed up to the ranch to proceed with our rainwater lean-to shed build.  After last week, and forgetting the hardware required, we headed up with all the hardware and what we thought would move us along on the build.  Unfortunately, we hit another snag.   The plans I put together called for six posts, one at each corner, and two in the center approximately 10 feet from each outside post.  Well, my anchor holes were off to one side, so what we ended up with is a distance from one post to the center of 10.5 ft and the other side only 9.5 ft.  Hmnmm…so that means 12′ 2×6’s are need to complete the headers and rafter install.  In hindsight though, that turns out to be a great way to have the size breakout, as the one with a little more width will also house the water pump and solar equipment.

Anwyay, on to the build.  I used the forgotten lag screws to secure each post to the concrete post base.

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This worked great, and on we went to the headers and rafters.

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There will be five rafters on each side, and we got one side completely done.  So far, it looks amazing.  Just seeing that structure sprout up is unreal.  The size gives you a sense of where we are heading and we love it!!

Here are some views from a little bit away and from on top of our container.

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Once we realized we couldn’t move forward without the new headers, we started working on our new loo-house structure.  We decided on a 4×8 loo-house (um outhouse kind of thing) that will replace the tent structure we have been using.  Below are the plans we are using.
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We will work on it much more this weekend, at least all of the framing and floor done.  We are not going with the gable roof, but rather a lean-to roof in order to capture rain-water for hand washing.   Yes, another great use of a free resource!

Well, that job got halted as well.  We needed longer wood screws, which we now have.  We put together a new 2×4 bench, which turned out great.  And enjoyed a nice dinner and fire.

This weekend we are heading up for our first ever ‘week long’ stay.  We are both taking some time off to work on a multitude of projects, but we are both excited of the opportunity and possibilities.  Look for more in a week or so.


Rain Water Harvesting Phase 1 (5/2/15)

2015 Ranch development kicked off this past weekend.  Our first project is rain water harvesting.  With an average rainfall of 22 inches at the property, we hope to capture that rain and turn it into our water source.

(overview of rain water harvesting)

We estimate with our 10×20 rain collection lean-to shed, being started now, and our 10×12 loft roof, we can collect over 4,000 gallons of drinking water per year.  The first step in this process is the 10×20 lean-to shed for rain water collection.

rainwater shed

This is a rough sketchup of what we envision.  it is a simple, open air, shed that will be used for rain water collection, and solar collection (to be started later this year).  We will start with a 1500 gallon tank, and add another 1500 gallon tank next year.  Solar will power our pump, and we will use a two step sediment micron filter system along with a DC UV filter for drinking water.

Now that it is explained, back to the first weekend in this process.  This first phase was to pour the concrete footings for this lean-to shed.  We went in to rent an 8″ auger for the weekend and were presented with an opportunity to purchase a used ‘as is’ auger, which cost us just a bit more than a 2 day rental, so we did it.  All we had to do was rent the auger bit.  Not bad, and gave us a great outlook for different ways we can put this auger to use.

Day 1

Before I unloaded anything, I snapped the final picture of how our ranch looked prior to the project madness beginning.

Then it began, with off loading.

My first task was to fire up the auger and begin the first of six 12″ deep concrete footings.   I guided the bit to where I wanted our hole and fired up the milk “shaker”.  Whew, was it difficult.  First thing I told myself is ‘I am going to be sore tomorrow’.  Now, going back to the night before at Home Depot, the wonderful tool rental manager said to us, “this is an auger and it shakes, so things will ultimately become loose and fall off”.  I really wondered what he meant by this.  Back to Saturday, and me standing there, barely going down in the earth, the fuel pump dislodges itself from the engine and hangs off the auger.  I notice a bolt and nut fall to the ground.  “Oh sh*t”.  Yes, now what?  I couldn’t believe it, not 15 minutes into this rattling and the auger started to fall apart.  I was only about 4″ down into a 12″ hole, and my first one at that.

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I was able to put the bolt back in, and attach the fuel filter to it, but without further dismantling, I couldn’t put the nut on to securely attach the filter, but needed to keep going so decided to risk it and knew I would have to go through this process several times.  –>  Bad news coming….the wonderful ‘as-is’ auger wouldn’t start again.  uuuuggghhhh.  I sat there for about 15 minutes thinking, looks like the project is going to slide 1 week already due to this setback with the auger.  Then I thought, might as well try with the shovel and see how it goes.  Turns out, the shovel, manual labor, process went pretty well.  Better than could have been expected.


With our shovel and a garden hand trowel, I was able to dig all six holes.  I used 8″ tube forms for each hole, leveled them front to back, as there is a 1″ slope from the back side to the front side of the shed.


This was enough for day 1 of the weekend.  With rain coming through over the evening, I took it easy and took shelter, deciding to get started first thing in the morning.

Day 2

On Saturday, when moving our cart out to get rid of the firepit ash, I noticed a little cottontail hanging out in that area.  Funny thing was that it never left that area, just kept running around to the opposite side I was on.  When I got up Bugs Bunny was hanging out again, right where I had left him/her the day before.   So, I thought I would share some of my nectarine…..


Of course he/she wanted nothing to do with my sharing, but rather took more interest in a morning cleaning.  No problem, I had things to do and it was time to get started with the lovely task of pouring concrete.

Now, I will have to explain the mixing and pouring to you as I was covered in concrete and didn’t think grabbing my phone for pictures all the time was all too sensible.  I had purchased 3 90 lbs bags of concrete, which was just enough for six 12″ holes, in 8″ diameter, and boy is moving three of those bags around tiring.  Those things are heavy!!  I purchased a 5 gallon bucket to mix the concrete in, thinking that would be the best option and easy enough.  Again, didn’t really think that through…if I do it again, which I won’t rush into anytime soon, I will definitely have a wheel barrow and hoe for mixing.  Anyways, the mixing was alright, but I started off with the trowel…that didn’t work great, then a wooden stake, and that worked better.  But, what I found worked best?  My hand.  Yes, hand mixing 270 lbs of concrete…oh so fun.  My arm has road-rash all over it as what is concrete?  oh…basically rocks! ha.

I did this for several hours, but eventually was successful in my attempt, and able to put the six post bases in place for leveling front to back.

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Overall, I was pretty please in the finish result and they were setting up very nicely when I double checked the level and plum of each post base.  All good.  As rain and cooler temperatures were forecast for Monday and Tuesday, I had to cover the curing concrete.  Sheralee had a great idea to use our trash bags to cover them, and that is exactly what I did.  Worked great.

With everything clean, and phase 1 of rain water harvesting in the bag, I packed up the property and headed home.  Rain clouds were forming again for afternoon thunderstorms.  Good timing on all of it.  On my way out, I had some close encounters with open range cattle near our property, and then our favorite wild horse herd.


I am not really sure what is up with the nectarines I brought, but I offered my last one to this fella.  He took one look at it and opted for another mouthful of dry grass and dirt.  hmmmmm….that should be a sure sign to ‘stop buying nectarines’. ha!

Until phase 2, placing the 4×4 posts, so long.