When you live off grid, you need to learn to color outside the lines. Our water lines, both from our new well at the barn and our house well, froze and we were without water. But hauling water sucks big time. So we set about trying to figure out how to get water from our own sources. Will had built a fire around our barn’s well casing (200 feet from the barn) which melted the soil but also the wires inside the casing. But when he opened the casing to repair the wires, he discovered plenty of water in the well. Ah ha! I suggested pulling the pipe from the pitless adapter and re-doing the plumbing to accept a garden hose. So Will did.

He figured out how to hook a hose from the well to the old frost-free hydrant which is in the front of the barn, where we used to use our house well to water the stock. There is a buried line running from the barn partway up to the house and a lesser-buried line running the rest of the way, which Will drained by using the compressor to drive the water out of the line. So he hooked one hose from the well to the hydrant, then another from the house-end of the water line, down to the basement to connect with our filling hose for our 600 gallons of storage tanks. Ta Da — Water!

He filled the tanks a little more than half full so he could drain everything well before it got dark. The next time he waters the horses and cows, we’ll finish filling the tanks all the way. That was a huge relief, for sure.

Here we are, fencing the north garden. You’ll notice a roll of 6′ high 2″x4″ welded wire fencing in the foreground.
The corners have been built and a string run from one to the next, making pounding in 8′ steel T-posts in a straight line easy.

Meanwhile, while Will was working on the water line, I went to town to buy another 100′ hose as ours are mostly buried in over two feet of snow somewhere in the orchard. I also bought some more 6′ high fencing for our central and new training ring garden. So far, we’ve got enough posts and wire to do two sides of the new garden, which also covers one side of the central garden as they are adjoining. No more deer in the central garden! Will already bought enough big cedar posts to do the corners of the new garden so, hopefully, when spring comes we can quickly pop up some new fence and be ready to haul composted manure and till the new garden and get it ready to plant. (If you’d like more information on fence building, check out my article in the 13th year anthology of BHM or my book, Homesteading Simplified.) Building a strong, permanent fence is a bit complicated if you want it to last. — Jackie


  1. Spring is near for you so hope it comes asap. We are having a hard Autumn here. So dry and water is our problem too. Not freezing of course just not enough. I carry every drop to the garden to water the passion fruit. The rest of the garden is having to cope without much water. We pump from a tiny spring fed dam to water garden and for stock but watering is getting harder as processing our food is taking much of my time. Oh for a good downfall of rain. There is nothing better than a good soaking is there? Thanks once again for the time you take to write your blog. It’s inspiring.

  2. Yep, we do get creative making do at times but one thing is positive; we’ve had lots of practice so if some sort of big time emergency comes, we’re sure more prepared than most folks who don’t have a clue.

  3. We have lettuce and cabbage planted here already in Mississippi. I would LOVE to fence my garden in like that, but my husband is against it. He says it would be too hard to till inside the fence… and mow outside of it. Any suggestions to convince him? He prefers an electric fence to keep the dogs and deer out, but that does nothing for the rabbits that take a toll, and requires me keep my chickens penned year around, as opposed to free range….

    • Our gardens are all large and we don’t have any trouble tilling next to the fence or mowing outside; the livestock mows for us! But for smaller garden, you can lay down good landscape fabric under the fence, before you install it, then mulch over it heavily with wood chips. That way, you have a clean strip both inside and outside the fence. Remember though that rabbits CAN get through a 2″x4″ space so if they are a problem, you can solve it by running a 2′ strip of chicken wire over the welded wire and ta da, no bunnies! As for free ranging chickens, we aren’t fans as predators equate them to free ranging LUNCH and they also dig in all my flower beds and poop on our front porch. So they are confined to our orchard. That way they “free range but are also restricted and protected.

    • Oh I wish it was green. Those photos were taken a few years ago when the North garden was being fenced. Right now I can’t fence because there’s two feet of snow everywhere!

  4. YAY!!! Glad you have water on the homestead now! I know how tough it is to have to haul water to the animals and to the house as we had pipes to freeze this year even with everything insulated well and heat lamps on the well and critical tie in points to the house. Us southern folk are NOT used to single digit/teen temps so we try to figure out what to do the best we can and HOPE FOR THE BEST! I was able to burst the ice in my above ground pool to use 5 gallon buckets of water to flush the toilet. We had stored 60 gallon barrels of drinking water back during our hurricane season (which was WILD & WOOLY this year) in the event we were without power to have water to cook & bathe with. What you do on a homestead to MAKE DO will make some folks CRINGE and the amount of extra labor required just to keep things somewhat functional. We had warmed up to the 80’s daytime and 60’s night time but knew it was way too early for spring and more cold weather would be back. Supposed to be down to freezing tonight & tomorrow and a roller coaster ride of cool to freezing temps for the next 12 days. This has got to be the strangest COLDEST winter we’ve had in a long time. If my pregnant New Zealand rabbits would or COULD hold off having their babies a few more days it would be BEST for the newborns but moms are already pulling fur for their nesting boxes…Ho Hummmm…life on the homestead changes every day but I wouldn’t have it any other way. GOOD LUCK JACKIE! The fence looks great and the extra garden space is going to be another added blessing of a bountiful harvest! HANG ON TIGHT! SPRING IS IN THE AIR!

  5. Although I always aspired to living off the grid I never managed it! But after following your blog for so long I see that I was no where near talented enough and never blessed to have a husband who could accomplish so many varied things such as yours! There seems to be no end to what that fellow of yours can do! Such a blessing he is! It sure is true that the younger people really don’t have any where near enough knowledge to take care of themselves for even a short time if something were to happen in their easy life. While the days may bring some challenges it is always interesting to me how you solve them. I enjoy reading your blog so much!

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