Monthly Archives: June 2015

Showering Outdoors (6/26/15)

Another great weekend on the ranch.  Yes, the temps were definitely up there, hovering around 100, except when massive thunderstorms came rolling through…more on that in a moment.

This weekend was about ‘water’…really finishing up a couple smaller water related things we wanted to get done.  We purchased a 65 gal tank that will stay in the trailer to haul water whenever necessary, a 35 gal tank that will stay under the sink area, and some mobile pumping pieces to put it all together.

On the way to the property, we stopped and filled up 100 gallons (not bad for $1.50) of water to be used around the ranch.  Our first mission was to have a permanent water tank for our kitchen/sink area.  Placing the 35 gal tank there, makes it perfect.  Whenever it gets low, we just pump it full again using the 65 gal water tank and mobile pump.  The same goes for our compost water.  This makes it so much easier than filling 5 gal water jugs each week, at a $1.35 each.  doh!

First, the mobile pumping solution.  I bought a Stanley mobile work center tool box (probably not the best solution looking back), but it holds the 3 gpm water pump and 12v  battery.

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On the 65 gal tank we have a garden hose spigot and put a 25′ hose there to draw the water into the pump.  Then outgoing we have a 100′ hose to put that water anywhere we want.  What we wanted to do with that water first, is make an outdoor shower area, so we did.

We found a great location, in the middle of some junipers and started hacking away with the chainsaw and garden shears.  Once we had the area trimmed out, we mounted a 2×4 to a tree, in order to mount our plumbing.


We threw down a pallet, and covered it with a couple fake grass sections. 

Then we plumbed 1/2″ galvanized pipe, with a valve, and a 1.5 gpm shower head and off we went.  We also brought up some 1/4″ gravel for the surround area because if you have water and dry dirt…then you have mud!



Then we cleared a path, and our zen outdoor shower was complete.
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There you have it…we are showering and man does it feel good!!!!  Love that shower!

That was it for Saturday’s projects, and then Sunday we did some misc. items…getting ready for the upcoming loft floor.  Just like Saturday, another storm rolled in with thunder and lightening, and a little bit of rain.


What did we opt to do to pass this time?  A little B&B, beers and backgammon.


Got beat 3 out of 5, but still much fun!!!!!  Until next time….loft time starts….NOW!


Rainwater Plumbing (6/19/15)

Another weekend, and another list of projects.  This weekend we wanted to complete the rainwater plumbing for the next time it rains.  We took a lot of PVC up with us, and used about half of it.  A lot of planning went into reducing PVC sizes…crazy to go from 3″ first flush to 1″ pex inlet.  Oh well, not my best work, but it is done for now.

Before I get started…it was HOT up there this past weekend.
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We survived…up early working on projects and in the shade in the afternoon between project work.  Not too bad.

Ok, back to the plumbing on the rainwater shed.  Installed vinyl gutters and then a first flush device I ordered off of Amazon.
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Then ended up with the plumbed result to the tank.  You can see the first flush device, and then going down to a 2″ tee and two ball valves.  This will give us the ability to do manual overflow.  Should work just fine for us.

Eventually, I will re-do the run to include a couple 45 degree elbows to gracefully flow downhill.  Right now I am forcing the flow.  Isn’t that what a sawzall is for?  I think so too!

The next day I worked on gutters/plumbing on the Loo-House.
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I did the same vinyl gutters and using this Oatey device to divert the rain water.  I will have a smaller tank mounted to the back of the structure and a handpump small sink in there to wash off your hands.  All good plans, but yet to put in to motion.

Oh…wanted to add a couple pictures of our new path through the property.
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This coming weekend’s project?  We purchased a 65 gal water tank to leave in the trailer and fill our water needs with a mobile 12v pumping solution.  More on that next week.

Composting Adventures (6/12/15)

We headed up to the ranch for another weekend of work.  This time though, we deviated a little to completely re-structure our compost bins.  What we found is that the sheer size of the bin was becoming too wide and very hard to manage.  Also, I think that having the compost in the ground (roughly 8″) with no surrounding walls was not allowing the heating (thermophillic) process from really progressing as it should.  Then to make things even more efficient, we wanted to add some water/pumping to allow for washing down the compost pile and the buckets we use.

Here is a rough sketchup I did before setting out on this adventure:

We arrived Friday evening and settled in for the night.  Rising with the sun on Saturday we started with coffee (the usual) and clearing some trees/limbs from a common trail we started using.  Great to see things come to fruition with hard work.  Then it was time for breakfast before our tough day ahead.

Measured and cut all of the 2×6 and 4×4 posts to start our compost bin build.  We planned to build two side by side and use one with our current pile and one future one.   Here is what our old pile looked like before.
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 What we found right away, is that 9 2×6’s and 2 4×4 posts is pretty damn heavy to move!  So, we built two sides on one and then moved it near the old pile we had going.  Once it was near, we moved the half constructed bin place and finished the build process, minus the lid/roofing.

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After the first was done, we started the second in it’s future home.  What we did different this time was ‘not’ dig a hole in the ground.  My theory, completely unproven, is that having the pile down about 8″ was causing the bottom to keep cool from day to day, prohibiting good thermophillic reaction.

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This was enough for one long day, trust me.  We had rain most of the night Friday, and off and on Saturday…which the clouds were a blessing with the work we had going on.  We would continue on Sunday with the roofing and water setup.

Oh….right after this we had some weekend visitors….not quite hired labor, but man did they really help out.

Sunday morning, we slept in….well until like 6:30am, which is good for us.  The sky was sunny and already creeping near 60.  Felt so good.  After our breakfast, we started up the day with me trying out my lid/roofing ideas and the girls doing all sorts of things to finish the wire mesh for the compost bins, helping me and help our camp.  Big props to Sheralee and Rylee, moving a full 35 gallon water tank about 100 feet….no easy task, but job well done!!!

I got the lids assembled in place and put our clear plastic roofing on.  I think it is going to work really really well.


It just looks awesome, and they are sturdy as can be.  It was a wise move to add this project, it was needed for functionality, but this type of build will last us years and years!!

Next I moved to adding the 12v pump and hosing needed to give us hosed water at the bins.  I used a SEAFlo 12v pump, roughly 1.2 gpm @ 35psi.   I run it off a rechargable deep cycle 12v 7ah battery.


This thing runs like a champ, and just like that…running water.


Best thing to come of this…besides the obvious (pictured above)….we found a source of water in Seligman…get this…$.75 for 50 gallons of potable water.  We were paying $1.25 for 5 gallons before.  woohoo!  We are thinking of all kinds of ways to utilize that in the future.

Now, on to a somber moment with the rainwater collection shed.  The positive is that upon arrival Friday, there was clear evidence of rain dripping off the roof waiting to be captured.
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The negative is that in the left picture, you can see that my back right corner 4×4 post is bowed and cracking in the middle. uuuggghhhh.  Not good.

I spent some time on Sunday to brace this post, and now we have future plans to replace it, drop the back another 6″ and add 3 more posts for support.

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I added 3 2×4’s to add support for that one broken leg.  Another project insertion coming soon I am sure.  This coming weekend is rainwater shed plumbing…time to start collecting that free water!

Rain Water Harvesting Phase 1 Wrap-Up (6/5/15)

Rainwater Phase I is now in the books.  Meaning, the structure is built and the roof is on.  Now comes Phase II, which is adding the plumbing and getting rainwater into the tank.  Phase III comes later, which is how to get the water out of the tank for consumption.

This past weekend we finished the “Loo-House” construction and detailing, which was putting on the roof and decking out the interior.  I didn’t get too many pictures of the roof going on, but basically it follows my theory of collecting rain from every structure, and this one is no different.  Our plan is to capture the rain from the roof into a smaller water tank (15-20 gal) and have it drop by gravity into a small hand sink for your hands after….’the deed’.  That is coming up, but in the mean time Sheralee completely decked out the inside.  I told her the other day it was like a little sanctuary up there.  Once you close the door of the loo, you close the door on dust, wind, and dirt….because everything is so nice and clean in there.

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And don’t go stealing our stolen toilet paper holding idea.  That is pretty cool, just some 1/2″ galvanized pipe fittings and all done, and works great!  All that is left is a little hand washing sink, which is coming soon.

We also put the metal ribbed roofing material on the water shed.  These were 3’x12′ panels we bought from Home Depot.

Metal Sales12 ft. Classic Rib Steel Roof Panel in Charcoal

We did seven panels and it fit really well.  As you can see from the front, we had just under 2ft left over.  Due to that is where I want the solar panels to reside, I am going to cut off about a foot of panel.  Should work fine.



Here is the finished product:

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Working out great so far….now it probably won’t rain for months…..well actually, rain is schedule today and tomorrow up there.  doh!

Next week we are taking a break from that project, and completing a good weekend project.  We are both pretty excited about it.  We are adding some new compost bins, building them from 4×4 posts and 2×6 boards.  One will encompass the current compost pile we have brewing, and the other will start the next one, with one more to follow in the fall.

This is the drawing I came up with, we shall see how the finished product looks:
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Another great part of this project is that we will be using solar power to run a 12 volt water pump to spray down/clean things.  Exciting!!  We bought the following items:

Norwesco 35 gallon water tank

 Seaflow 12 volt water pump

 Microsolar 30watt panel to run the pump


This will all end up in a small garden hose. Very cool.  We shall see how it turns out.  Our first attempt with solar…wish us luck.

We are going back this weekend, Friday night.

First Week @ The Ranch – Rain Water Harvesting Phase 1…continued (5/23/15)

Well, five days after returning home, we finally have internet again and I am able to update this blog, just in time for our next trip to the property.

We finally got an opportunity to spend an entire week on the property and a long list of projects came along with it.  We loaded up the Jeep and trailer, without everything we could find at Home Depot, and headed out early Sunday morning.


Yup, finally got the last piece in our building equation, a generator.  Found a great deal on Craigslist, 2800W running watts for $175, and the best part is the guy lived literally a minute away and I can see his house from my patio.  Insane, especially considering we bought our first brand new generator from HD for something like $399, and less power.  It serves us well and runs that miter saw perfectly!

I digress.  Definitely our heaviest load to date, and plans for many 2×4 projects to help us make our living conditions there this summer much better.  We figure if you can ease cooking, cleaning, and sleeping then you make life easier to work.  We have done just that.  We now use a queen mattress to sleep on and have this great new sink/kitchen area (pictures below) that helps in both cooking and cleaning.  When I mentioned 2×4 projects, we started using these “2×4 Basics” designs for building things like the kitchen/sink area, a cool bench for the shower area, firewood stand, and some saw horses to work on.

The bench we built previously, it just works.  I will go over the other things, starting with the kitchen area.  This is really now the one of the coolest things we have going on.  It just makes life easier.  We bought the 2×4 plan, which requires two sheets of press board (or plywood) and different lengths of 2x4s.  You can customize the size and shelving to fit your needs.  We opted for a 4×6 ft kitchen area.

The best thing is that Sheralee came up with a double sink, using 3 gal buckets, sing strainers, and garden hoses to drain.  We heat up water and dump it in one sink, then the other sink has a foot pump to bring water from a 5 gal water jug.  So, cool.  This week she will be painting the counter top, it is going to be great.

Here is the sink drain we added to each bucket, then it mates with a garden hose to drain.  She trenched in the garden hoses so they won’t be tripped over and then added this drain hole.
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Here is a view of the sink area and the drain hole.


Very cool.  As I said earlier, we also added a firewood holder and some saw horses for a great work bench.
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Both are awesome and work great.

The next big project we had was to finish our outdoor ‘loo-house’.  Sheralee found plans online for a 4×4 gable garden shed, so we used those without the gable roof.  We had started the floor in the prior week, but realized we didn’t have the right length of wood screws, so we picked up where we left off.  What a great starter project for us.

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We also built all four walls prior to cutting the 3/4″ plywood floor.  Once all of that was done, we carried the floor to where it is now residing and then started adding the walls.

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This is the finished product, minus the shed lean-to roof, to collect rain of course.

The roof will either go on this weekend or next weekend, depending on time.  Yes, we will be collecting rain off of this 4×4 roof as well, but it will be held in a smaller tank attached to the back of this structure, and feed to a small hand washing sink inside.  No great filtering necessary, but just a nice way to finish your “experience”!

The next adventure we tackled was going into Chino Valley, AZ and picking up our 1550 gallon water tank.  This will be the first of two for our water collection system.  What a great adventure this was.  All in all, not too bad to haul and worked out pretty well.

This is us picking up from the retailer, A Country Trailer.   They were great to work with and happened to have the tank we were looking for on hand.  Perfect.  We picked up the following day after purchase and hauled it north to the property.

The tank is 1550 gallons, 87″ wide and 64″ tall.  It only weighs about 250lbs, so easy to maneuver.


After placing the tank, we had to continue with the rafter placement and finish off the roof of the rainwater harvesting shed.  It got all taken care of and then we could really get a good idea of what we were looking at.

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I wanted to show off some of our food choices…we started with property pancakes, breakfast of champions, with a little beer pancake.  Then we attempted another run at dutch oven pizza.  This time trying to box in heat for our dutch oven.  It is still a work in progress, but each time the pizza gets eaten…I wonder why? haha

Our last task for the week was to raise our container to a new height to give us some clearance underneath for future plumbing.  We purchased this 4 ton bottle jack from Home Depot.  Perfect.  We were able to raise the container with ease….well I say ease now, but it took us both a lot of head scratching and thinking to get it done.  We prevailed is all I can say!

Big Red4 Ton Bottle Jack


That was pretty much it for the weekend.  Sheralee’s girls came up to visit Friday afternoon and stayed the night.  It was a lot of fun.  We head up again today to put the metal roofing on the rainwater shed, and next weekend gutters and plumbing.  woohoo.  So close.  Ironically, it is going to rain off and on this weekend and yet we aren’t ready to capture that rain.  I hope once we are, it doesn’t stop raining for months.

Until next time.