Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ram pump and rain

Fall Garden

Rain, rain, and a little more

Where was all the rain in August? We try not to complain about much needed water, but boy howdy ten cloudy days with 6 inches of rain-not exactly what we were wishing for. The pastures are now a rich green of a fall growth. The sheep certainly look forward to their munching.

In the garden we could see the vegetables green up as they finally received the water they needed. The cooler weather helps the delicate greens stay tasty and crisp. However, I think they have enough water and could use a little sun for growth. While too little water in the summer is hard on vegetables too much rain can cause problems as well. We can see some fungus and rot problems around the edges of greens. Sun and air flow in the next few days should clear it up.

Sweet potato harvest

Success of the ram pump!

Way back in the spring we received a grant from the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) for sustainable farm development. RAFI distributes funds from the golden leaf fund (money from the tobacco trust fund settlement) to assist farmers to transition away from tobacco and develop alternative enterprises. We received the grant to help us develop our pastured animal operation. We already constructed our walk-in freezer. But the second part of the grant was to build an energy free hydraulic ram pump. The ram pump is a pump that uses falling water to lift water up. There are only two moving parts-just two valves. You can read about hydraulic ram pumps at


Just today I finally succeeded in making the ram pump work! It has been challenging to get the water to flow downhill to the pump. Then I had to fiddle with the pump for much of an afternoon. But now it is lifting water 30 feet! Now it is just a matter of hooking up the rest of the tubing to run the water all the way to the top of our pasture. From there it will collect in a cistern to be gravity fed out to all the animals. Stay tuned for photos and video on our website.

Ram pump detail


The ram pump has officially pumped water to animals! I used it to fill 2 of our water barrels at the top of the property. The pump even seems to work better than anticipated. You can see a video of the pump in action here:

Ram pump inlet pipe

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