O my god, really? Water tips for when you have to haul it by the bucket.

Ok, this is related post to Doomer and Sunshines requests for info on saving water, see the whole post here on Canadian Doomer..


As I can no longer commnet, despite fighting with the comment software a good number of times, and because I will be writing out some easy and some no so easy to live and do tips, I figured it would be a good blog post as well.

Ok, a little background info on the times that I have been without water (as in running water in a house)

1st time, younger child, at first water was hauled in and then a well was drilled, so we had a well in the yard to haul in from.. house had power and propane. I also spent a number of weeks in my teen years at the same place with the same no running water in the house.

2ns time- older- again a house without running water, propane limited, gen -limited, with a creek an a drilled well

3rd time- my current farm, worked off the back well only, which means hand pumping all water and carrying it to the house for use.

Ok, so this is in fact a combo effect, they had a low water in the well, due to a leaking toilet, so clearly, ideally they would have a way to check to listen if their pump is kicking in but I am not sure if they have a pump, I think it was gravity feed, so in that case a once a week check on all area’s that could leak would be well worth that bit of time.

Second, checking the well at different times of the season well worth it, and then as you learn your land, and your well, you can begin to learn “signs” for when the well is going down, also learn the taste of your water, it changes based on the amount of water in your well and if you are good at that, it will help greatly, I can get to within a few feet of us checking based on the taste of my water after this number of years.

I can also look at my slew area and my pond and have a good tell on them on where the well will be at, as I have a large hugelculture near the well, the plants also tell me, my swells tell me information as well.

Ok but getting back to their questions, first off, I am going to straight out say, that a lot of folks will cringe alittle at the idea of this given our modern, but I am going to share anyway.

So for the hand washing water, first where gloves when possible, they will get really dirty but they save your hands a fair amount, second, in the morning, have a wash pan with a bar of good soap, pour your water in the pan, wash hands with soap, rinse in the same water, dry hand on small towel (to remove the soapy water) and in a much smaller bowl have clean rinse water with the typical amount of bleach per the bottles instructions, then dip the hands in the clean and reusable rinse water, air dry them and repeat, that first water can be used all day with bits of fresh added if needed to warm it up but mainly its just reused over and over, as is the rinse water.

Second, forget baths or showers.. if water is truly tight, you go back to sponge bathing, and once a week hair washing, if you are positive you must shower, and you are willing to haul the water to do so and to heat it up etc, stand in a tub so that the water can be reused for flushing a toilet or for wash water etc.

Hand washing will take much, much less water then using a machine, unless you can save the water as it comes out each time.. my currently machine takes eight five gallon buckets twice to do a single load, I can wash and rinse, wring and hang to dry two to four loads by hand with a total of four five gallon buckets..

How much water can you lift, standard is five gallon buckets which is 40 pounds per side, as you should ideally carry a bucket on each side to balance the weights on, I personally never go heavier then that. dumping it out is the same, just different buckets but as I believe they have a system for grey water, you can put it down the sinks or the toilet.

I don’t agree with replacing the toilet as commented on, its already there, its set up etc, what I do recommend is considering adding a working outhouse to the farm, this means that if water is low, everyone goes out, but when water is good, you can have both working systems, also it means that in heavier work times or with busy children, feet and footwear does not need to come off before coming in the house etc.

Where and how can I dump it, I don’t understand this one? its grey water, you can dump it anywhere you want, in the gardens, on the tree’s, in the compost pile to keep it at the right water content.

Now laundry got brought up, so there is a couple things of note, first, there should be outside cloths, be it overall’s or a certain pair of pants and shirt combo or dress, that is considered farm, if you are truly short short on water, this outfit is a over or outside outfit out, and you where it over and over again without washing it.. sorry folks.. it was a running joke that true farm blue jeans could stand up on their own, they go on and then come off, but they don’t go to the laundry any more then barn coverall’s do.

Most of the time, these cloths don’t make it past the mud room or the pegs on the outside porch etc, they stink, and they are dirty, go to town cloths are the opposite, they are clean, press and worn off the farm, and the second you walk back in the door, they are taken off, hung back up and might be hung outside to air out, but are again only washed ever so many times they worn, or if you spill, you would spot wash them, example a spill or example wash out the pits only, rinse and dry.

now the daily wash is simple, its one load, socks and underwear, these need to be washed daily and kept on..

Before bed washing always includes necks, feet so that you are climbing into bed with clean feet, as your sheets are going to be washed typically once a month in this system, again they can be taken off the beds and air dried and blown around on the lines to sweeten them.

Again, I am not talking about typically living, I am talking if you need to really conserve your water for a few weeks to get you though the heat of summer.

Which bring me to the next point if you are going to run low on water, you will need to look to every way possible to get water off the roofs of buildings etc as the amount of water able to be collected off of them is amazing! and each drop you can use from a rain water system for your animals watering needs, your garden watering needs, your household needs is one less bucket coming out of your well for “clean water needs” rain water is perfect for washing floors etc.

Now something that uses more water then most think of is canning, it takes a lot of hauled in water to fill a big pressure canner, ideally you can get a few uses out of it, and a splash of vinager in the water is a great help on this but if you are canning daily, you are filling it daily and it takes an amazing amount of water..

If possible waterbath as much as possible as it takes less water and if you treat the water can be used for longer, then the pressure canner can do so. That water can be used for garden use

Well, I hope that helps a bit.. and hopefully, if you are going to run low, it will only be for a few weeks of the year at a time.

I’m using city water, but monitoring how much I actually use each day, and trying to break down everything into the simplest and most efficient steps: how to wash (& rinse!) your hands without running water. How to best do laundry. How much water can I lift, either to haul water or to dump it out? Where/how can I dump it? (I especially wonder what I’ll do in cold Canadian winters!!)

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8 Responses to O my god, really? Water tips for when you have to haul it by the bucket.

  1. queenofstring says:

    As CD has children, that will be a whole other consideration for her. I wonder if looking to the past, where girls wore pinafores, so only the covering, apron part was washed might help. There’s no reason older children wouldnt have farm clothes and off farm clothes.

    I would prioritise handwashing over person washing. Clean hands save a lot more problems coming up. A spongebath is a tiny bowl of water perperson when you get good at it. I would love an outside composting toilet, that would save so much water here, pee can be directly onto the compost pile or diluted with grey water for plants. I know my boy would have been so thrilled to pee outside all summer!!
    Even with dishes there are economies. Use the same cup all day, use your dinner plate for dessert, wiped with bread first. Cook multiple things in the same pan and in the steam from that pan.

    I am rambling, I hope some of it makes sense. 🙂

    • all makes very good sense and not rambling at all.. yes having small children does make a difference on some things and not on others, other then wee babe, the boys are old enough to understand farm cloths and go to town cloths, certainly the wee ones cloths would need to be done a bit more, but still compared to some of my friends little ones who can change outfits a number of times a day, that is not needed.. and if it is done, it does not need to be washed every single time its worn, that is a modern thing..

      Wear it even once and into the hamper it goes, honestly I had three or four sunday outfits, how many times did I wash, wear them and then hang them back up before they where taken out and washed and ironed and hung back up..

      that is something I didn’t touch on, as I didn’t know if they would have a iron but that was often a way to “reclean” cloths, you would sprinkle them with “flower water” and then iron them for another wear, the sweeting came from the flower oils, the steam was used as cleaning.

      Both hand washing and personal washing are important, but it truly takes very little water if you are spongebathing, there is a system on how you use the water, and you truly are clean afterwards, I use it often on the farm, when we are very hard working and sweating etc. we get low water in the heat of summer and need to find ways to cut back or buy water.. I prefer ideally to cut back as much as possible.

  2. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    When we were just kids; spending time at the Canadian Girl Guide Camp Adelaide, north-east of Hailiburton, Ontario; there was only one tap with potable water per campsite, over at the cookhouse, but we swam and canoed multiple times a day, so “washing” happened automatically. Morning and evening, each individual in our Patrol, (a tent full of girls), carried water in our washbasins for toothbrushing and “official” cleansing (face washing, etc) to our hand-dug spit trench, behind the tent.
    At the Latrine, there was a Guide-built tripod of small saplings, lashed together with butcher cord, where a basin of water, spiked with a capful of Dettol and changed daily, was used for rinsing one’s hands after washroom stops. Damp towels are unsanitary, so hands were left to air dry; as were our dishes, (after being washed, rinsed in clear water and rinsed a second time in water – again spiked, but this time with a squirt of bleach): then hung up to dry in the shade of the mess tent(fly) in our dish bags (made of two dishclothes stitched together and held closed with a butcher cord drawstring).
    By the end of the week, we were in need of a real bath and a hair wash; but we had tanned skin, sun-bleached hair and friendships made to last a lifetime… Ah, those were the days! : )

    • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

      I hope you got my point of this story? That going “pumpless” and virtually hydro-free, was more work, but not so extraordinary. Matter-of-fact, some people actually enjoy it… But then again, maybe I’m just wierd; )

      • I hear you deb, but to be honest, having limited water and dealing with it on a long term, with small children is different then going camping or working on a short term base. I am the first admit that if you can swim daily, it will help a great deal, but if you can’t and you are either hauling water or limited in water, there are tricks that will help a lot..

        Weird.. nah, just walking a path that goes this a way, while most are trundling down the highway.. 🙂

      • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

        Hate the (400 series) Highway… Give me good old #7 any day; )

  3. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Lest you feel my Guide Camp story simply frivolous, there are other important places where hauling water was the norm… The family cottage had no inside plumbing. Period.
    Drinking water was brought from the artesian spring in the village. ALL other water was hauled, up the hill, from the lake. Teeth were brushed in one cup of water. Water for washing up was heated on the stove while you ate. Dishes, etc. were done in the massive dry sink – one wash basin and one rinse – with a pail under the drain to catch the overflow and resulting grey water used to water the always thirsty gardens. There was an outhouse, which you used rain or shine, last thing before going to bed and immediately upon rising in the morning. There was a “thunder mug” upstairs, but only for emergencies: the very young and the very old who were sick or could not last all night…
    My Great Aunt and Uncle had a very similar situation but water was carried by pail from the Spring House on the others side of the (“new”) road with a double yoke. Butter, milk and other perishables were stored down the well just above the water, on a shorter rope than the water pail.
    Before the arrival of electricity, both cottage and Aunt’s house, one in Québec and the other in Ontario, used an icebox for refrigeration and root cellars built into the bedrock of the Canadian Sheild.
    I consider myself very lucky to have had “the old ways” as part of my everyday, when growing up.

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