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Trials And Tribulations Of Catching Rainwater

Updated on December 10, 2011

Rainwater Woes

Having found what I believe to be the good life after I moved in to my cabin, I wondered if I had also found the simple life as I dipped water one milk gallon jug at a time from a 2,500-gallon tank I use to store rainwater, my only source for water. Hour after hour, I stooped over the top of the tank, dropped jug hand in to icy water, and desperately hoped the ladder didn't move tossing me to rocky ground and certain injury.

My back ached as I poured one gallon after another in to a square plastic 5-gallon container called a "cubie" which is often used by campers. Incredibly flexible, the cubie isn't designed for lugging up and down precariously perched ladders. Squishing and squirming is the nature of a cubie. It's collapsible when empty and expandable when full. But, it's the only receptacle for water I have that will successfully transport water from my lower tank to my upper tank as long as it has my legs to do it.

Usually I use a generator-powered pump to move water from the lower tank to the upper tank which makes this process simple. Unfortunately for me, the pump was... to put it nicely, on vacation or to put it bluntly, being stubborn as a mule when I began to run low on water. My dishes were piling up and I needed a shower. It didn't take the buzzing flies to tell me that.

Luckily for me, I have 15 cubies and I knew what I had to do. I lifted 15 full cubies, one at a time of course, at 40 pounds each, hiked them to my upper tank, climbed ladder again, and dumped the contents of the cubie into the tank. Once all 15 were deposited at a total of 600 pounds and 75 gallons, I began round two. Moving a grand total of 150 gallons and 1,200 pounds of water uphill and up and down a ladder in only a couple of hours to me didn't feel like a simpler life. It felt like hell and by day's end I was wondering what the hell I got myself in to.

As unreliable as machines can be, I knew my body would be no match. I would have to make peace with my cantankerous pump or learn to love flies. So I dismantled the mess of metal and plastic moving parts and found myself more confused after looking at a pile of pieces than when it was one cohesive piece. "What am I doing?" I thought, "I'm no mechanic. And what's this thing?" I wondered while holding something that looked like a tiny bicycle sprocket. I was clearly without a clue.

I reassembled the pieces and didn't bother to include them all. I was left with a few extra parts. But hey, they were small so they couldn't have been important. I plugged the pump in to my generator, fired her up, and nothing. OK, maybe those little parts are important. I disassembled and reassembled again. This time there were no extra parts. I tried to start the pump and nothing. At this point I felt blood begin to rush to my face and I almost, almost had a tantrum. But somehow I knew that hurling the little pump in to the forest wouldn't make it work. I realized I was going to have to think about this, use reasoning, and calmly figure this thing out.

I sat on a log and like the famous statue of the "Thinker," rested head on fist and thought. Then it dawned on me. When I plugged the pump in to the generator it made a sound but the fan wasn't turning. Eureka! I quickly grabbed the pump and examined the fan. It wouldn't budge. I didn't want to force it so I found some WD40, squirted the heck out it, let it sit for a few minutes, and tried to move it again. To my delight, it spun. I plugged it in, started the generator, and waited. The pump hummed and the fan slowly but surely turned. I rejoiced in my victory and did a little dance until I realized water was pouring profusely down my driveway. I scrambled to shut the pump down before continuing my dance.

I won the battle of the pump on that day but how many more battles with machinery or other aspects of this lifestyle would I be forced to engage? You know what? It doesn't matter because every battle is an opportunity for learning no matter how chaotic. Never before moving to my cabin would I have attempted to take a water pump apart but I had to and in doing so learned that I can teach myself how to fix things. The other thing I learned is that nothing makes life simpler than a big can of WD40.


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