Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How We Live: Water

I have to tell you something: Something that makes my heart attempt summersaults. I say "attempt" because since giving up gymnastics in the, what?, second grade(ish), my summersaults make my son's running style look graceful. But back to the thing that makes me really happy. That's the point, after all.

Rain! 3 days of rain! 3 days of receiving the grace and glory and gratitude of rain... .

Could it be? Could those expert opinions be wrong? Could the rains be coming now, drought and famine only a nightmare that lasted for but a night?

Perhaps these are only the "plowing rains." Rains that come in the middle of dry season, fooling some into planting too early. It's possible. Drought and famine might still be inevitable. But that will not will not will not stop me from offering gifts of thanksgiving for these three days of wonderfully wet wonder.

It put water in our cisterns! 
It calmed down the hyperactive dust. 
It gave us opportunity to twirl with tongues stretched, receiving each jewel from the sky.

To continue my own celebration of thanks, today's "How We Live" will be all about water. We do everything we can to conserve it, for it is not an inexhaustible resource. It is a treasure we receive--and use--with thanks.

So. Once again, for the curious:

The vast majority of water we use is rain water. It begins as rain on our roof, trickling down into gutters.

It then flows into our cistern (as you saw in the How We Live: Laundry post) and rain barrels like this one:

The rain barrel water is used for our personal garden and chickens, and the farm's newest addition,  a dairy cow (more on her another time)!

The cistern water is used for laundry, and when electric power is on, we can pump cistern water up into a holding tank.

This holding tank allows water, via gravity (forget about good water pressure!), to flow into the kitchen and bathroom taps, the shower, and the toilet. If it's a hot day, that black tank can heat up the water quite well! But on a cloudy day, well, it's gonna be an ice-cold shower. Thus, when you are hot and would welcome a cold shower, you get a warm one. And when it's wet and "cold" (it's all relative and what you're used to!), the shower seems almost cruel. 

What do we do when electric power doesn't come on for days on end (like right now)? Recently we purchased a small generator solely for the purpose of pumping water. But prior to that, we'd climb up the water tower with jerry cans, one at a time, to slowly, laboriously, fill the tank. Or we'd just go without running water for a couple days. It's not the end of the world! :)

And what about during seasons like this when we must take conserving water to an entirely different  level? Well, all year round--regardless of the season--the kids take basin baths, not showers. 

photo taken during rainy season (hence the green grass!)

I heat up water on the stove top, so they don't freeze their petuties off. To be honest with you, unless it's 100 degrees out (which is most days right now), I heat up water for a bath myself. I'm a wuss. Anyway, we use bath water to flush the toilet. 

So what if no one has taken a bath yet that day, you ask? Well, let's just say if you were a guest in my home, I'd advise you to avoid that bathroom until after bath water is available. I know, gross. But you get tough quickly here. During times like this, we also only wash clothes and mop twice a week. Children are watched closely when they wash their hands to make sure the tap doesn't run endlessly (you know how that goes), water play is severely limited, and the flowers die. 

Our drinking water comes from a borehole. It is pumped to a main tower that provides drinking water to the entire secondary school and all of us who live on "this side" (the farm side) of New Hope. We collect the water in jerry cans, which is then put in our water filter (it's a serious one! As in, we paid seriously to have clean water!).  

So, here's to water! And here's to the Giver of water, the only true Living Water! I thirst for Him as a deer pants for... the water brooks.

Wow, this has been a long post. If you're still reading, I consider you one of the very few who are seriously curious :) So, thanks! Feel free to let me know who you are... I'm curious :)


Matt & Wanda said...

It is just so awesome to see answers to prayer! We will keep praying that the "water" doesn't stop flowing from the sky!

Allison La Bianca said...

I loved reading this because I had been praying along with you all for it!

edsauder said...

I love reading your posts and seeing all the pictures. Your family is in our prayers.

//nancy said...

oh, friend, i am one of the few who is seriously curious. all the way to the dang end, loved every word. :) xoxo!

Cove Red said...

moi! yay to rain!!! :D yay to the Giver of rain!!!
- Rachael (big smile back! xx)

thezsfamily said...

Wow, responses! :) Yay...

Your curiosity has quickened my heart this lovely evening. And for your prayers, we thank you.


Anonymous said...


I follow your blog every week. I am so amazed at what you do, how you work, how you give and sacrafice, etc. I work in a fast paced working world, and so once a week I take the time to "slow" down my life by reading your blog. Courtney you don't know me, but I feel like I know you. Your pictures and your words amaze me. I went to high school with Shawn and happend to see your blog web site on his facebook page one day...probably over a year ago. I can't beleive Shawn the once "Yoder's produce guy" is now growing his own produce, and feeding the mouths of so many others. Keep up the good work you two, you're absolutely amazing! May God bless you and the work you are doing!

Beth Hoffman

Mindi said...

Courtney, I have so enjoyed your blogs and the pics! We had rain on Sunday here and my daughters were so disappointed because it messed up their plans. It was fun to show them your blog and pics and explain how blessed we are here in Lancaster to have rain. Thanks again for taking the time to show us how life is for your family! We love you, Mindi Hoover

Ryan and Denise said...

ahhh, that is so awesome!! love when "the experts" are wrong. God is so good! and i too love reading about your life and all the daily life things you have to do differently. going to still be praying for more rain to come!

Monica said...

I am also one of the curious:) I love reading your posts and remembering what life is like in Africa! I have been praying for you and your family. Thanks for the reminder that we need to be thankful for the little things that we often take for granted here in the states!

Melissa said...

I'm definitely a curious one. I love reading your posts. :)

Janelle said...

I read the whole thing and loved it! =) The lifestyle there is fascinating, and it inspires me to be so much more conservative and resourceful with all we have been blessed with. Thanks for posting!
Janelle Bixler

thezsfamily said...

to each of you who took the time to comment, thank you! i feel surrounded (in a good way :) ).

Mindi, awesome! tell those girls to grab their rain boots and get some serious splash time in! :)

Beth, a special thanks to you! though i don't write this blog for "pats on the back," words like yours definitely warm my heart and give me renewed energy for this space.

Janelle, YES. we can ALL conserve. these resources are a gift, not a right. we are called to be stewards, not thoughtless conquerors. some people call me "granola." i call it biblical!

to you "curious ones": i love you :)

Dave & Ruth Ann said...

We love you blog. It makes us feel like we are in Uganda with you. We read it once, twice and sometimes three time. Miss you all!

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