Perfect Fall Weather

The days in SW Michigan have been outstanding this week. It’s been warm and sunny with low humidity and cool nights for easy sleeping. This has been the “keep the windows open” kind of weather. To me that is the perfect fall week weather-wise. The dogwoods leaves are turning red, the apples are falling and we are rounding the corner on another summer growing season.

Yesterday we finally got the forth, and final, water containment tote connected. The hold-up was a piece of plumbing that was not available in the stores. After weeks of stopping into Menard’s every Monday (our one in-town day), Gene finally found a way to “jury rig” another piece to work. Now when the fall rains begin later on this month all four totes will be collecting rain water. Getting this tote hooked up is a good thing too because we have been doing quite a bit of shrub, vine and perennial transplanting (and watering) of late.

4 275 gallon totes

Less wasted water off of our pole barn roof and more available to use.

Gene made a change in the input downspout on this batch of totes. Instead of using the flexible piece as his did on the first set-up, he choose this time to use a rigid downspout input pipe.

Rigid hose

We are testing the rigid input pipe on the two new 275 water totes.

Gene made this decision because 1) He felt the rigid pipe was easier to install and 2) He hopes it will have less clogging issues.

Flexible input hose

The flexible hose from the first two totes. You can see the difference.

If you follow this blog you know how I feel about animals; chicken, dog, horses…just love them all. And you know about my passion to feed healthy food and herbs to all of my critters. Today I found this wonderful chart created by the


Today I also did a very through clean out/washout of the refrigerator. Chores like that tend to get away from me during the busy summer months and it sure feels good to have that big task complete.

I also baked a wonderful Amish chicken with all the fixin’s; carrots, onions, cabbage, tomatoes and sweet potatoes. We ate this meal for lunch and will enjoy a chicken salad in a homemade pita bread next time followed by homemade chicken, vegetable, brown rice soup. Fall food for sure!

I don’t say this often enough and for that I am remiss. I am so glad you chose to open this email. I hope I tell you enough that it means a lot to me.  I realize that there are so many blog writers offering newsletters each week.  Thank you for joining me here for a few minutes each week.

Small House homesteader, Donna

Preparing for Two More Rainwater Containment Totes

We had an inch of rain on Sunday in our Zone 5b garden. And just in time to capture that rain in our new water totes.

Gene digging and two totes to RHS USE

Our two totes sit on the east side of our pole barn taking advantage of the rain water that runs off of our metal pole barn roof.

We began the process of making the area ready for two more water totes this weekend. This means raking out oak leaves (they went onto the vegetable garden paths), old wood chunks (they went onto the fire) and soil had to be dug out and roots chopped up. As a permaculture homestead we try hard to have nothing go to waste or end up in the landfill.

Stumpand area dug out for wooden base

The leaves have been removed and the soil has been shoveled out.

You may remember reading about our totes system before. You can find that post here.…one-year-later/

Our two water totes have been filling up 2 and ¾ times the past two summers. We have been very happy with how they have performed and have decided to add two more totes to our collection. We have the perfect set-up here on the Small House Homestead; a large pole barn with a metal roof and ample spring and fall rains.

Meaasuring and sassy USE

Gene is measuring the length of the gutter needed. Sassy is his assistant.

Not only does this mean no water is wasted by simply pouring off the pole barn roof and going into the ground, we save electricity and wear and tear on the water pump every time we water using the water from these totes. We raised them several feet off the ground using a roadside rescue wooden beams that we found with a “free” sign on them. Using gravity feed and a simple rubber garden hose we get enough water to trickle out of the totes, go through the hose and onto our shrubs, trees or plants to soak them at the drip line. It’s a low energy use process;  I just set a kitchen timer and move the hose from time to time.

Sassy close USE

Our Lab Sassy enjoys a beef bone while keeping Gene company.

According to an article “12 Tips for a Water Wise Garden” in the Fall 2015 Issue of Herb Quarterly, shares that a 1,000 sq. ft. roof will yield a whopping 625 gallons of water from one inch of rain.

Menards check out station USE

I picked up cement blocks at Menard’s for the totes raised base.

Water is a critical element on your homestead and in your garden. Our set-up costs us less than $200.00 upfront. This is a easy way to save money on your electric bill and in some communities on your water bill as well. My son who lives in Portland, Oregon pays almost $60.00 a month on his water bill! Outrageous!

Low tech, ecological, conservation of water and easy to accomplish with some planning and forethought!

Small House Homesteader, Donna