You Know You’re In The Country When…..

…. when you’re worried if the land rises (even a centimetre) between the outlet of the water tank and half a kilometre away.

Part of living sustainably on the land is about using water optimally. The first point is HAVING water.

On the farm we have to worry about us Princesas and our guests having water for the GO Palace AND for all the animals – currently dogs, chooks (chickens), a horse, a goat, all the wild birds in the garden and all the cows.

Our home needs are fine but the rest of the property has an inadequate water infrastructure system – you inherit what you inherit!!

Time to resolve the watering limitations!!

Recently a 110,000 litre water tank was installed. The run off from all the buildings is not being captured and utilised across the landscape – mainly for providing water for cows. There is also a bore which can fill this tank when rainfall is not sufficient but it has an electric pump $$$$$ so rainfall is the cheapest sourcing water option!!

The all important outlet valve, Doesn't look that amazing does it but hours have been spent agonising over its exact location in the universe!!

The all important outlet valve, Doesn’t look that amazing does it but hours have been spent agonising over its exact location in the universe!!

The biggest issue was “Is the water tank outlet higher than the end of the ridge to the north where another water tank is intended to be installed to fed outlying water troughs to the north?”. I discovered all these water words like head and pressure and water friction and suddenly realised if the land rises in elevation over the distance, gravity won’t be able “push” the water over any rise – gravity only works for free on downhill flows. With a rise there are all sorts of potential airlock issues.  The aim is not having to install a pump to get the water to the end of the ridge – its better to utilise gravity (it’s free and in constant supply!! GST free!! Petrochemical companies free!! Environmentally perfect!.).

Eyeballing the terrain, we sort of thought that maybe the outlet WAS actually close to being the same height as, or maybe slightly lower than, the end point. It needed to be determined as this would determine where the pipe can be run to utilise gravity.

IS the end out there lower than here??

IS the end out there lower than here??

Jude, my house mate, borrowed an altimeter and we tried to work the heights out exactly. We made several recording forays out into the paddocks. We ground truthed the altimeter at the beginning and end. They didn’t agree. It didn’t do centimetres. The instrument just wasn’t accurate enough. What to do??

We needed a surveyor or someone who knew how to measure exactly the heights with a theodolite or a laser level. But without costing a squillion dollars.

~~~ Message sent into the Universe for person – enters the friend of a friend with a laser level, a mathematical mind, experience and a great personality. ~~~ (Thank you universe!!). ~~~

The answer to our plea for help!! A wonderful neighbour and his laser level.

The answer to our plea for help!! A wonderful neighbour and his laser level.

So “we” (The royal we – you know, when one person does it all and could do it all solo but a few extra people tag along for the adventure and then take credit for being included and part of the brains!! I’m the tag along part!!) measured the tank outlet and then right along the ridge.

The tank is behind the woolshed so we had to work out a way to get the level of the outlet relative to the laser level.

The tank is behind the woolshed so we had to work out a way to get the level of the outlet relative to the laser level.

Solution - high tech bricks and planks were used to relate the outlet level to the laser level. It's good to mix more primitive methods with modern technology!!

Solution – high tech bricks and planks were used to relate the outlet level to the laser level. It’s good to mix more primitive methods with modern technology!! The top of the plank was the same height as the outlet valve.

What an interesting experience. I learned so much. Technology is just so great. Sophisticated technology yet simple to use with easy to understand results.

The laser level and looking out towards where we were measuring.

The laser level and looking out towards where we were measuring.

The royal “We” calculated that there is at least a 5m difference from the outlet to the end point. We were amazed at just how inaccurate our eyes’ “guesimates” were. AND NO rises. The tank is elevated on a bed of sand and Emoto style inserts. The highest point to the outlet is  15cm below the outlet. HEAPS of room especially if you say there is 150mm to spare – seems more than 15cm!! The Brains of the royal “we” worked in mms!!

Measuring in amongst the Coolatai Grass.

Measuring in amongst the Coolatai Grass.

Trying to pick up the laser beam.

Trying to pick up the laser beam.

Tracking the beam. By this stage with the level waving in the sky we knew there was plenty of height to play with - plenty of pressure.

Tracking the beam. By this stage with the level waving in the sky we knew there was plenty of height to play with – plenty of pressure.

So now “all” that needs to be done is buy a tank and some pipe and connectors and get someone to connect it all. The getting the someone is the hard part out here. Skilled someones are a rare commodity. We treat them with great respect when we get them onto The GO.

Our friend of a friend is a permaculturalist so believes in sharing. So do we. He shared his laser level and skills. We shared home made/grown cake and soup and spinach and left over soup (take away) and lemons and parsley.

We seemed to have neatly applied the three basic ethics of permaculture in one activity: Care of earth (checking we would utilise the water), care of people (our neighbour was caring for us) and fair share (we all shared our skills and resources). I love this about the country – people help each other out all the time. When big corporate ventures take over the land, all this magic which is created by the people of the local community vanishes. I’m so glad I am surrounded by the magic of my Coolatai community.

Here’s to abundant water and community!!!

Distracted by the simple beauty of this seedpod bursting!!

Distracted by the simple beauty of this seedpod bursting which was on the intended water pipe route!!

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3 responses to “You Know You’re In The Country When…..

  1. Pingback: You Know You’re In The Country When….. | Fiona On The GO·

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