After the Deep Freeze, we Experience the First Twinges of Spring

After a spate of cold days with temps dropping into the teens, we see the first signs of spring and we test our gravity-flow water system.

The first flower of spring

Today was the first day it felt like spring instead of winter. Temps were in the low 50s instead of the low 30s.

It isn’t spring, of course; it’s still February, but the promise of spring is in the air.

Where I grew up, the first flowers we would get were snowdrops and crocuses. None of those here, but I did spot the yellow flower pictured above. I don’t think it’s a dandelion, but if it is, I’ll take it; it’s still our first sign of spring.

So I did what every red-blooded American does on the first day of warm weather and I sighted in my new (to me) .308 rifle. It was only at 25 yards, but it gave me the excuse to break it down, clean it and lube it after the fact. Happily, it functioned fine which is always a bit of a concern when dealing with a used gun.

Now I just have to decide if it makes sense to get an optic for it. I guess I should try shooting at 200 yards to make that decision.

Forgive me for not mentioning the specific type of rifle. I prefer to keep that confidential for operational security purposes. I cannot help but feel I may have already mentioned too many specific guns.

The Water Situation

Late last week and over the weekend, we had a series of nights where it got into the teens every night and only crept above freezing a couple times. We had a good 36 or 40 hours where it was below freezing. I figured our water pipes had probably frozen again. We still had water pressure in the house, but we have a large cistern and it can supply us for five or more days.

So I packed up my tools, my propane torch, my hose cutter, and the repair fittings, grabbed my hiking sticks, and headed up the mountain.

I came to the lid of the storage tank. This is a plastic cover to a man hole. I put one end of my stick on the cover and the other to my ear and I listened.

When water flows into the tank, it splashes and you can hear it. I couldn’t hear anything. I was pretty frustrated. Just two weeks prior, my friend and I had installed three stand pipes which would vent air from any high points in the hose and prevent vapor lock. We hoped that this would keep the water moving and it would not freeze. But since I could not hear water entering the tank, it apparently had not worked.

Stand pipe
This upright piece, or standpipe, allows air to escape the black pipe that carries our water from the spring to the cistern, and prevents an air lock or vapor lock.

Checking the Overflow

I could not see the outlet for the tank overflow because it was behind a tree. But as I changed my position, I could see blocks of Ice that had piled up as water from the overflow froze. Aha! That meant the water had been running this far without freezing at least some of the time. I hiked down there, maybe 40 feet, and darned if the overflow wasn’t running along just fine.

Water flowing from a black polyethylene pipe
water freely flowing out our cistern’s overflow pipe meant that even after multiple days when temperatures dropped into the teens, our water system didn’t freeze.

The water had NOT frozen in the pipes. I could not hear it splashing into the tank because the tank was full. The stand pipes had worked! I hiked up to the first stand pipe, and I put my ear to it. Darned if I couldn’t hear the water gurgling along just like it should.

Maybe they were right and moving water doesn’t freeze.

I marched down the mountain and reported to my wife that we may have solved our frozen water problem. I say “may” because we haven’t tested it at single digits. We haven’t tested it at sub-zero temperatures, either, which we’ve only had once so far this winter.

My wife and I discussed it, and we are going to take the risk of not burying it, at least for another year. We may still run into the situation where an animal bites through the black PE pipe, but we’re willing to test it through another year and see how we fare next winter.

And besides, shooting a coyote is cheaper than burying pipe. More fun, too.

Author: The Pickled Prepper

Pete the Pickled Prepper lives on an isolated homestead on the side of a mountain deep in in rural America. He has been preparing for the end of the world for more than 25 years.