Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Saving Water

By Linda Benson

I'd like to share an easy way to save rainwater dripping off the roof of your barn, spilling out into your paddocks and making - yep - MUD.

(And in the interest of full disclosure *grin* let me just state that I love this method not so much because it's environmentally sound, but because it saves me from the task of filling water troughs with hoses.)

All you do, is extend the gutter on your roof -

so that it drips directly into your water trough. Presto - it fills itself.

This method works well if you live in a temperate climate that gets frequent rain showers at certain times of the year. Here in the Pacific Northwest, it works from October through May.

And it works well if you have one or several horses in a paddock sharing the water trough.

You might need to add elbows, or make some other small changes in your rain gutters to get this to work for you.

In my case, we move the water trough to this location when our rainy season starts (around October) and my animals have plenty of fresh water (and I never have to fill it) for 9-10 months of the year. In the summer months, we move the trough over near the fence with ready access to a hose.

Does it rain a lot where you live?

Anyone else have tips to share about saving water, or other time and chore saving tips with your horses?

Let us know!!


sarah said...

I don't know about saving water, but here in England you can get pig oil (it's petroleum based; I think it's pretty similar to baby oil) which you rub into your horses legs about every other week and it means the mud just falls off as it dries. It's great as it means you can go turn your horses out in the morning and they have nice clean legs to start the day. You can also mix in some sulphur and it prevents mud fever/scratches (a life saver here!).

Linda Benson said...

That's great to know, harperitis. I haven't heard of pig oil, and I wonder what similar product we have here in the U.S. that might work like that. I imagine with your rain, that you do have mud problems similar to ours. Ugg.

Anonymous said...

Hey Linda: I need to build a tack shed some day and I was thinking that I would love to have some sort of rain barrel or trough type situation in order to water horses and gardens. Do you have to do anything special to your rain gutters in order to maintain water quality? We are on a well and I would love to help conserve our water by using rain water.

Harperitis: I loved the tip about keeping legs clean and mud free. I can't use one of my paddocks in the spring because it floods so badly and then it becomes just a mud bath. UG. I'll definitely try your tip :D

Linda Benson said...

mommyrides - that's a good question. We have a tin roof on our barn, which is quite common. The rain pours off the roof so fast that there's a constant flow of fresh water into the trough, and I'm sure it's about as clean as you'd want (but not for humans to drink of course.) If you had a treated roof of some kind, you might think twice before using this method.

Yes, catching rainwater into a barrel for further use on gardens and such is a great idea, and so simple to set up. Especially if you have a marginal well. I think that the bigger of an area you can catch the water from, the better you will do. Good luck!

Dreaming said...

Love the 'rain barrel' idea. Hmmm, maybe that would be OK with the law! We wanted to collect water from the roof to use on our gardens. We found out that in Colorado it was illegal! All water 'belongs' to the person downhill from you, and even delaying its travel was against the law!
They've changed the law and now you can collect water if you have a certain type of well, which I think depends on your acreage and usage of your land. Sadly, we are still not permitted to collect it.

Linda Benson said...

Dreaming - It's illegal in Colorado to catch rainwater off your roof? Gosh - what will they make a law against next? Well, maybe they won't care about a barn roof draining just into a horse trough, do you think?

Alison said...

Linda, what a simple yet terrific idea. I'm going to make my husband read your blog so we can set one up by our barn. Unfortunately, VA summers are hot and dry so we probably won't get the rain you do, but it will help conserve.

Dreaming, my brother lives in CO and talks alot about the water problem. He believes that one day, all of the US will need to conserve like they do in CO. Kind of scary.

Linda Benson said...

Alison - I don't know how much rain you get in the winter in Virginia, but it might work for you during those months. We had quite a bit of snow this year, and I have a water heater in the trough, and plug it in when needed. On days when the temperature rose above freezing, the snow and ice on the barn roof melted enough to fill the trough, also. Pretty slick.

Let me know if you use this method, and how it works!

And for everyone - (as demonstrated in the pictures) make sure your gutter is plenty high above the trough so that your horses don't run into the edges, which might be sharp. But then that's just good horse sense ;)

Funder said...

That's a great idea, and I'll totally do it if I ever move out of the desert. ;)

re: rainwater in CO - it makes some sense. Most of the western states have strange water laws (at least compared to the eastern stuff I learned in law school). Laws like that were designed to prevent a situation like this:

I run cattle at the top of the hill. I just need more water to run more cattle, so I set up a big rainwater catchment or run a bigger pipe into "my" stream. But my neighbor down the hill gets less water and he has to sell off his cattle - I am effectively stealing from him. In a place where there's limited seasonal water, the state assumes control of it to prevent unrest.