New Well Bucket Slips Past Pitless Adapter, Inside 4″ Casing

Super-Slim WaterBoyWe get many calls here for a well bucket that will slip inside a 4-inch casing with a pitless adapter or inside a 3-inch casing or liner. We have designed such a bucket, made with our same high-quality parts and handy thumb-lever release.

The Super-Slim WaterBoy well bucket measures 46 inches in length, is made of 2-inch PVC pipe and has an overall outside dimension of approximately 2.75 inches. The bucket weighs 3.5 pounds and holds one-half gallon of water.

Check it out on our Products Page.

©2014 Well WaterBoy Products LLC ♦ WaterBuck Pump™ ♦ Pedal Powered PTO™ logo


Busy WaterBuck Weekend at the Mother Earth News Fair

???????????????????????????????Darren and Reba are having an exciting time at the Topeka Mother Earth News Fair weekend, which goes on until 5 p.m. today, by the way. Stop by if you’re in the neighborhood, or Kansas, or the Midwest. The Fair is being held at the Kansas Expocentre in downtown Topeka.

???????????????????????????????They rolled out of here at 7:30 Friday morning with a packed truck and trailer, ready for our first Mother Earth News Fair. It was a beautiful day for a drive to Kansas.

Reba sent these photos of our Well WaterBoy Products booth before the crowds were let in the door. Our booth, No. 3005, is at the main entrance and will be hard to miss. We even included a pressure tank and one of our WaterBuck Pump cylinders in the display.

WaterBuck at Fair

Darren spent all day yesterday talking about the WaterBuck Pump and Pedal-Powered PTO while Reba used the Windlass Hoist and our Tripod to show how to use WaterBoy Well Buckets.WaterBuck Fair Darren

Meanwhile, I am here taking care of animals. The weather is perfect for clearing out the end-of-the-season garden growth to make room for more spinach and lettuce. I got some help and companionship from this cute little kid, Cream.

??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

©2014 Well WaterBoy Products LLC ♦ WaterBuck Pump™ ♦ Pedal Powered PTO™ logo

Well WaterBoy at the Topeka Mother Earth News Fair

We are excited to announce that, for the first time ever, we will be exhibiting Well WaterBoy Products at a Mother Earth News Fair.  If you’ve ever wanted to see a WaterBuck Pump or any of our other products up close, now is your chance. The fair will be at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka. We invite you to join us there Saturday and Sunday, October 25th and 26th.

Topeka Kansas ExpocentreCome say hello at our booth 3005 near the main entrance in the Expo Hall and receive a free packet of our homegrown, organic, heirloom seeds. Also, drop your name in our basket for a chance to win one of three prizes.

WaterBuck Pump 22 GPMYou will be able to see in person many of our top Well WaterBoy Products. Select items will be available for purchase at reduced prices. We are pleased to reveal that a full-scale model of the WaterBuck Pump will be at our booth. The convention center certainly could not allow us to drill a well through the floor, but our replica is just like the real thing – without a gushing water well, of course.

To go along with the mother lode of fascinating programs and exhibits scheduled, we will have ongoing live demonstrations of the WaterBoy Windlass Hoist and Well Buckets throughout the weekend. Fair guests will learn how easy it is to get water from a drilled well without power of any kind (except human muscle). We also will have with us our Pedal-Powered PTO, WaterBoy Tripod Kits, SolarBuck Solar Cart Plans and some of our treadle-sewn products including Granny’s Clothespin Bags.

WaterBuck Pump in actionPrices for many of our products will be reduced during the Fair. Stop by early, as we will have limited supplies on hand. If you do not want to tote a 48-inch WaterBoy Well Bucket around the Fair, we will be happy to hold it for you at our booth. Just let us know. Or, pick up one of our handy Mail Order Forms, mention that you saw us at the Fair, and we will honor our event prices. Then head off to hear the numerous speakers on all aspects of sustainable living, and see more hands-on demonstrations outdoors.

jessi-bloomIf you have been postponing attending a Mother Earth News Fair, do not miss this one. The list of speakers is too numerous to list here, but is available on the Mother Earth News site. We are thrilled to see that some of our personal favorites are on the list, including organic farmer Joel Salatin, actor/activist Ed Begley, Jr. and organic gardener/real food expert Barbara Pleasant. We have followed their blogs and work for years. Jessi Bloom of Timber Press will give two presentations over the weekend: Easy Peasy Edibles and What the Cluck?! Getting Started on Gardening with Chickens.

Kicking off the weekend, Mother Earth News publisher Bryan Welch, author of Beautiful and Abundant: Building the World We Want, will delve into the power of visualization, offering an engaging and practical method for building a collective vision of human sustainability one person – and one endeavor – at a time.

coverLike most fans of Mother Earth News magazine, we have boxes of back issues dating to the 1980s.  I have been a Mother Earth News blogger since early 2013.  The WaterBuck Pump has even been featured in the June/July 2014 issue of the magazine. So, attending our first fair is exhilarating, to put it mildly. To be among a huge crowd of like-minded, positive, forward-thinking environmentalists is simply something we have never experienced. We hope to see you there.

©2014 Well WaterBoy Products LLC ♦ WaterBuck Pump™ ♦ Pedal Powered PTO™ logo

Folk Medicine Book Pushes Honey and Vinegar

D.C. Jarvis, M.D.We rarely encounter health issues on our humble homestead, except those mundane ailments involving chiggers, poison ivy or ticks. Still, I enjoy adding to my library of old-time cures and concoctions ― just in case.

This summer, I was ecstatic to find a charming old book by a country doctor who believed it was imperative he study folk remedies to gain the medical confidence of his patients living close to the soil on back-road farms. Deforrest Clinton Jarvis, M.D., (1881-1966) wrote “Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor’s Guide to Good Health” at age 77 after spending decades gathering home cures that he said were as, or more, effective than those organized medicine taught him to use.

“I believe the doctor of the future will be a teacher as well as a physician,” Jarvis wrote. “His real job will be to teach people how to be healthy.”

list-of-curesI especially love that my copy from a used book store has a penciled list of specific ailments paper-clipped inside, which leads me to envision a three- or four-generation household. The list includes: Honey for bedwetting, Page 105; Treating overweight, Page 68-69; Apple cider vinegar for arthritis, Page 91; and Castor oil for liver spots, Page 147.

Inside, a homemade bookmark made of a torn slip from a medical pad advertising “Polycillin-N” is handwritten with “honeycomb treatment for sinus cold.” Did someone perhaps discard a physician’s prescription and instead found a natural remedy in this old book?polycillin-bookmark

Jarvis is best known for advocating doses of honey and apple cider vinegar three times daily to prevent and/or cure many common illnesses including arthritis, rheumatism, asthma, high blood pressure and colds. The delightful elixir (one teaspoon each of honey and vinegar in a glass of water) also restores energy.

Already in 1958, Jarvis noted that our modern diet of fats, starches and nutrition-depleted processed foods made people sick, weak, overweight and listless. I wonder what he would think today of our synthetic and genetically modified foods laden with chemicals.

When he first began learning folk cures, Jarvis said many old-time treatments did not make medical sense to him, such as chewing the fresh gum of a spruce tree to cure a sore throat in a day. Jarvis’ further studies led to “considerable readjustment of orthodox approaches.”

The fifth-generation Vermonter not only sought the input of country folks for indigenous medicine, but studied insects, birds and animals to learn how they kept healthy. He watched wild and pastured animals to see what they ate and how they cured themselves when ill. Jarvis noted that humans are terrified to miss a meal, but animals know to retreat to a dark, secluded spot without food until they are well again.

“If you care to go to school, go to the honey bees, fowl, cats, dogs, goats, mink, calves, dairy cows, bulls and horses and allow them to teach you their ways,” Jarvis wrote.

goat-soapJarvis believed that everything people and animals need to survive could be found in nature. We hadn’t thought of it that way when we gave up buying commercially produced soaps and such. We simply wanted to avoid as many chemicals as possible. Now we use only all-natural stuff, such as our local Back Forty Soap Company’s goat milk soap.

Jarvis discovered that caged mink eating too much protein develop bladder problems and kidney stones, in many cases dying. But left to their own devices, wild mink supplement their carnivorous diet with berries and leaves. These same ailments plague humans eating a protein-rich diet. Eat more greens.

Farm children fascinated Jarvis, who discerned that children, like animals, have self-protective instincts about food. Studying Vermont children younger than 10, Jarvis discovered that these young children chewed cornstalks and ate potatoes, carrots, peas, string beans and rhubarb – all raw and fresh from the garden.

The youngsters also gobbled “berries, green apples, ripe apples, the grapes that grow wild throughout the state, sorrel, timothy grass heads, and the part of the timothy grass that grows underground. They ate salt from the cattle box, drank water from the cattle trough, chewed hay, ate calf food, and by the handful, a dairy-ration supplement containing seaweed; they even filled their pockets with this, to eat during school.”

folk_medicineJarvis speculates adults have lost much of their natural intuition toward food and health. Probably more so today, we are influenced by such an avalanche of advertisements and advisements that we don’t even know what’s good for us anymore.

“If we were wise enough to carry into adult life the instincts of childhood, we would make a point of eating fruit, berries, edible leaves, and edible roots that would not be cooked,” Jarvis wrote, adding that those who retained their natural impulses are fond of salads and are, consequently, healthier.

“Your body, designed for the living of primitive times, expects to receive a daily intake of leaves,” Jarvis wrote. “In these more civilized times the body still needs these leaves as much as ever, in order to better stand the stress and strain of modern living.”

WaterBoy Well Bucket

Water without Electricity

Interviewing Vermonters who live close to the soil, he found many ate beechnut, maple, willow, apple, chokecherry, poplar and birch tree leaves. Elm tree leaves are said to be the best for quickly relieving hunger. Pages 48-55 list numerous wild edibles and their benefits.

Throughout the book, Jarvis gives examples of how honey and vinegar or a combination of both restored health to humans and animals. Not just any honey and vinegar will do, however. The honey must be raw (not pasteurized) and unfiltered, the darker and cloudier the better. Vinegar, too, should not be filtered or distilled. Processing destroys nutrients and beneficial bacteria.

My husband and I have been enjoying swigs of raw apple cider vinegar before each meal for more than five years. We fill our gallon jug with it at the local feed mill; we also buy local raw honey by the five-gallon pail. And, like I said, it has been years since either of us has had a cold or flu.

honey and vinegarWe’d never mixed honey and vinegar before, so I was eager to try it when I began reading Jarvis’ book. As I was visiting St. Paul, Minn., at the time, I walked 2 miles to the nearest health food store for some raw honey and vinegar and hurried back to my daughter’s apartment with the goods. I was immediately hooked on the delicious sweet and sour concoction, also known as switchel or honegar.

A quick search on Mother Earth News’ site revealed others who have followed Jarvis’ advice. In 1973, reader Sue Gross wrote to Mother Earth News in Feedback on How to Raise and Keep Goats to say how she fed vinegar to her goats, successfully curing mastitis. Also, author Laurie Masterson wrote of her mother serving honey and vinegar water with crushed ginger root to the field hands in this 2014 article, Switchel Recipe.

poison ivyThis handy book is available at ridiculously low prices on eBay, Amazon and other online sites for used books. It is not only fun to read, but could save a trip to the doctor’s office. I haven’t tried it yet, but I may even have found a cure for poison ivy penned in the back of this book.

©2014 Well WaterBoy Products LLC ♦ WaterBuck Pump™ ♦ Pedal Powered PTO™ logo

Why Have A Well Bucket?

high-voltage-and-stormAs if the threats of war, terrorism, economic collapse, natural and man-made catastrophes, plagues, solar flares and EMPs are not enough to consider, we now have a decline in fresh water — another critical thing to prepare for. As the national news continually warns us, water tables are dropping in many parts of the United States, not only seasonally anymore, but for long periods.

Having enough fresh water

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the U.S. population will increase by approximately 29 percent between 2000 and 2030, and the
western and southern regions are projected to experience the greatest growth (more than 40 percent) during this time. With such tremendous population expansion, fresh water becomes increasingly scarce. The bureau predicts water shortages in nearly all states. Below is a 2014 U.S. Government Accountability Office map depicting anticipated water shortages over the next decade:water shortage map

As population grows, droughts continue, fresh water declines and water tables drop, more wells are drilled (the National Groundwater Association reports 800,000 holes bored annually), putting more strain on freshwater supplies.

When the water table drops below the submersible pump in a well, many people face desperate situations without water. Often, a professional pump installer must be contracted to lower the submersible pump to reach water. In some cases, the well must be drilled deeper to access water with an electric pump. Another complication is having to wait for a well professional to remedy the problem. In some areas the waiting list can be as long as 8 months. Meanwhile, no water can be pumped.

Get Water Without Electricity.

On our road to self-sufficiency, twice we learned firsthand the consequences of the water table dropping below the depth of our pump. Even though we had electricity, it was useless. On one occasion, while we repaired our well, we depended on a neighbor for water. What would have helped us — and kept us self-reliant while we fixed the problem — was a simple well bucket.

Our main backup water supply system is now a deep well manual pump. Still, if the water table drops again below our pump, we have our trusty well bucket to get water.

Why have a well bucket?

farm with windmillsPrivate wells supply 13.2 million occupied American households with water, according to a 2010 report by the National Groundwater Association. In most wells, electricity powers a pump submerged in the well to bring water to the surface. Without power, of course, water cannot be pumped. A simple well bucket can sustain a family until the power comes back on.

Even if you’re generating your own power (with solar or wind, for example) to operate a submersible well pump, those systems can fail – temporarily or permanently. Ice, snow, wind and lightning can damage electric components, rendering systems inoperable.

And, although you may have a reliable hand pump, something may happen.

bucket tripodA well bucket, also known as a torpedo or cylinder bucket, is the simplest, least expensive way to get water from a well without power. As the name implies, a well bucket is simply a long, skinny bucket that can be lowered into the narrow confines of a well casing to bring water to the surface.

How Well Buckets Work

bucket well casingWe refer to well buckets as “inexpensive insurance” for water without electricity. There is no limit to the depth a well bucket can be used. However, for greater depths, it is easier to use a tripod or windlass to raise and lower the bucket.

bucket windlassSeveral styles of buckets are available commercially, and homemade versions abound on the Internet. Most include some sort of one-way valve on the bottom that holds the water in the bucket until it is hoisted to the surface. The water enters the bucket through the bottom valve.

bucket thumbThe best bucket design enables users to empty the bucket by pulling a lever at the bucket top.

bucket pourBy comparison, buckets that pour out from the top are difficult to manage. Remember, water is heavy (about 8 pounds per gallon) and liquid. Aiming for a pail to empty the well bucket into usually results in overshooting the pail and wasting much of the water.

bucket discharge

Another common homemade bucket type includes an extension on the bottom of the valve that must be pushed up to discharge the water. This works well if the full bucket is lifted onto a device to push up the valve, draining the water into a pail or irrigation trench. However, if the bucket is simply set down in a pail to discharge the water, the volume in the bucket and pail will equalize, not allowing all of the water to be released. The remainder must be poured out of the top.

bucket hoist

WaterBoy Well Buckets and Related Equipment

For more information about well buckets, tripod kits and windlass-hoist, please see our products page. Have the water you need — without electricity from any depth.

©2014 Well WaterBoy Products LLC ♦ WaterBuck Pump™ ♦ Pedal Powered PTO™ logo

Hooray for St. Paul, Minnesota Boulevard Gardens

St Paul boulevardSometimes we country folks take for granted the right to grow vegetables and having enough space to do so. A recent trip to St. Paul, Minn., reminded me that not everyone can just plop a row of tomato plants in the ground.

Those ingenious Minnesotans, however, found ways to grow their own fresh veggies right smack in the middle of a big, bustling city.

???????????????????????????????At first, as I strolled around the residential neighborhood near St. Catherine University, I didn’t realize what I was seeing. After all, we are so accustomed to only flowers and decorative greenery lining sidewalks that I almost missed noticing the zucchini and raspberries growing there.

On the 10-block walk to a wonderful used book store, I encountered enough incognito front-yard vegetable gardens to warrant going back to my daughter’s apartment for my camera. I saw squash of all sorts, assorted greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, chard, rhubarb (which grows to positively monstrous sizes in the North Country), herbs, onions, peas, beans and beets. I suspect now that some of those sunflowers and nasturtium were doing more than beautifying lawns.

???????????????????????????????Not only were the undercover edibles rooted discreetly in pots and window boxes, they were openly growing in the grassy strip between the sidewalk and street. This is especially pleasing to us who have followed Mother Earth News’ shocking forbidden food-growing stories. Here is a list of “illegal garden” news compiled by Mother Earth News staff.

In 2013, Mother Earth News assistant editor Kale Roberts wrote of two Des Moines, Iowa, residents complaining to the city council about separate front-yard vegetable gardens. Beginning in 2012, Roberts wrote of Jason and Jennifer Helvenston, an Orlando, Fla., couple facing fines of $500 per day for growing vegetables where grass “should have been.” In both instances, thanks in part to heavy public pressure, the issues were eventually dropped.

???????????????????????????????As I wandered about St. Paul taking photos, I encountered one yard completely devoid of lawn. The entire front yard along busy Randolph Avenue is a perennial wildflower garden without a blade of grass to mow or water. Wildflowers are naturally more drought resistant than domesticated grasses.

At another front yard alive with all manner of vegetables, the homeowners were, of course, sitting on their front step. Where else? Before I even had a chance to tell them what I was up to with my camera, they invited me over for a chat. Nearly every square inch was filled with delicious-looking fruit and vegetables. Only one slim grassy path cuts across the front yard ― as a convenience for the mailman, they said.

???????????????????????????????“When you live in Minnesota, you don’t walk, but RUN outside and start planting in spring,” the woman of the house laughed.

When I asked how it all started, the friendly couple said they bought the house 10 years ago and nonchalantly planted a row of red raspberry bushes along one side. When no one complained about that, they kept adding more growing beds each year. Rather than protesting, their neighbors admire and frequently thank them for their lovely gardens.

???????????????????????????????The couple said they are unaware of city ordinances prohibiting front-yard vegetable gardens, but have not asked “just in case.” Based on the number of up-front kitchen gardens I saw on my short walk, I guessed St. Paul encourages residents to plant “patriot gardens.” I was correct, later finding a Twin Cities Boulevard Gardening Guide prepared by Sustainable Resources Center’s Urban Lands Program that addresses how to properly plant along Minneapolis and St. Paul streets.

???????????????????????????????Even businesses got in on the movement. I found herbs growing outside a dentist office, yoga academy and therapeutic massage studio. Beside one apartment building, a resident planted peppers, squash and cucumbers in hay bales. Nearby, Swiss chard and kale grew in flower pots. All the plants were lively and producing fruit.

???????????????????????????????To learn more about growing food in the city, be sure to check out fellow Mother Earth News blogger Mike Lieberman’s article about his patio garden in Los Angeles and how to grow food in your city.

©2014 Well WaterBoy Products LLC ♦ WaterBuck Pump™ ♦ Pedal Powered PTO™ logo


WaterBuck Seeks Deep Well Application

millDo you have a working windmill with a 600′ to 700′ static water level, or know someone who does?  Well WaterBoy Products developed a manual pump jack that operates downhole reciprocating pump systems made for large diameter windmills and now wants to prove its ability at that level. If you have such an application and can allow Well WaterBoy Products to set up the WaterBuck Pump over the wellhead for testing, please contact darren(at)




This is a large, robust antelope.

 Waterbucks have a brownish–grey shaggy coat.

The waterbuck inhabits areas that are close to water in savanna grasslands, gallery forests and riverine woodlands south of the Sahara.

Average body weight: 330 to 500 pounds

The Waterbuck grazes mainly grass near permanent water sources.

The Waterbuck is very dependent on water and will drink daily.  

They are strong swimmers and when seriously threatened, will take refuge in deep water.

Here is the latest update of the capacity of the WaterBuck Pump operating a 4” windmill cylinder from a static water level of 80’. A young man pumped 22 gallons in one minute, which is 8+ more gallons than what a 12′ diameter windmill can pump at peak performance from the same application in one minute

Hand Water Pump Breaks Record — 22 GPM at 80′ Static

Hand Water Pump 22 gpmJust when I think Darren has broken the most impossible record with the WaterBuck Pump, something new happens. Today he enlisted the help of a young neighbor, Tommy, to demonstrate the pump’s capability.

On his first attempt, Tommy filled three 7-gallon pails to the rim and was started on the fourth when I called, “Time!”

In 60 seconds flat, this medical school student pumped 22 gallons of water, one for each year of his age. And even though it was nearly 90 degrees outside, Tommy wasn’t even winded. He says with a little practice, he could probably pump more than 25 gallons in a minute. Ah, the optimism of youth!

We were certainly pleased with his result, which is actually 60 percent more water than a 12-foot-diameter windmill at peak performance can pump in one minute at the same application (80′ static water level with a 4″ cylinder).  According to the performance charts, a 12-foot windmill can pump 13.8 gallons in one minute with continuous winds of 15 to 20 miles per hour. Tommy also beat Darren’s old record of 17.5 gallons per minute.

Afterwards, I happily dispersed the pails of water among my garden plants. Speaking of breaking records, I am confident that my mammoth sunflowers are the tallest in the county this summer.

Darren says these water-pumping results are by no means the mechanical limits of the WaterBuck’s performance. They are just the beginning.

Now I wonder if Tommy’s classmates will ask if anything new and exciting happened over summer break.

©2014 Well WaterBoy Products LLC ♦ WaterBuck Pump™ ♦ Pedal Powered PTO™ logo


Hand Water Pumps Explained

We receive many questions here regarding how to use a hand pump, which is understandable. If you’re less than 80 years old, chances are you have never used one, or, at least, not relied on a hand pump for all of your water.

A prairie home

As recently as 100 years ago, the most important site consideration for homesteaders and villages was whether plenty of good water was within easy reach. When electric power lines and drilled water wells reached rural areas, however, close proximity to clean water became irrelevant – or so we assumed.Water comes first

Our nonchalant attitude regarding water is rapidly changing, according to well pump installers I spoke with recently. Many are seeing an upsurge in interest by homeowners wanting to learn about and fit hand pumps to their water wells. There are now numerous manually-operated water pumps to choose from, depending on factors such as static (resting) water level, well yield, size of casing or bore hole and amount of water needed.

Emergency Backup, General Use and New High-Volume Hand Pumps  

ice stormAn increase in powerful storms with longer power outages is one factor inciting people to think about manual pumps, says Albert Brandt, general manager of Radiant Water Company in Tulsa, Okla. A 2007 ice storm that disrupted electric service for 14 days prompted many to contemplate their water-preparedness, he said.

“A lot of our customers remember using a hand pump on Grandma’s farm, and now want one as a backup,” Brandt told me when I called to ask about hand pump popularity. Radiant Water Company installs Bison, Hitzer and Baker-Monitor hand pumps.

old hand pumpBrandt, who took over Radiant Water in 1998, remembers a swell in hand pump sales as Y2K neared. Now, after a decade-long calm, people are again preparing for potentially troubling times by making sure their families will have fresh, clean drinking water, even if the grid goes down. Recent advances in hand pump design have made them even easier to use and less expensive, he said.

Richard Stothoff, president of Samuel Stothoff Company of Flemington, N.J., said manufacturers, such as Bison Pump Company of Maine, used modern technology to adapt their pumps to function with existing electric submersible pumps. The yield is often less than people expect, however.

Stothoff, whose great-grandfather founded the company in 1885, said the company used to install many hand pumps in the then-rural area. Some households still use hand pumps exclusively for water, he said, although such use is rare. Stothoff said he has seen a slight increase in hand pump interest this year, mostly among the self-reliant.1926 Miami hurricane

Weather disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy that darkened much of the East Coast for extended periods, spurred more sales for fuel-powered electric generators than for hand pumps, Stothoff said.

“We’re too advanced,” Stothoff said. “We’ve got electricity.”

In neighboring New Hampshire, however, a representative of Northeast Water Wells said hand pump interest over the past five years has steadily climbed as more people build off-grid or geothermal homes. Northeast Water installs Simple Pump brand pumps.

Many types of human-powered pumps have been introduced through the years to accommodate the variety of situations and applications encountered when bringing water to the surface. Until now, however, the discharge capacity has been too low for large communities.

hand water pump machineIn January 2013, fellow Mother Earth News blogger Ed Essex introduced our homemade hand pump machine, which was the prototype for the WaterBuck Pump, to readers. Since then, the pump has been greatly improved, presently exceeding the peak capacity of a 12-foot diameter windmill by 25 percent, making it ideal for remote communities that need more water from deeper water tables or need an irrigation pump with shallow wells.

In a recent WaterBuck Pump test, a 50-something man of average fitness pumped 17.5 gallons in 1 minute from a static water level of 80 feet.  These results are minimal compared to what can be done with this machine with one or two stronger men or two to four operators and twin cylinders for irrigation. Now because of the design of this high-volume pump, large communities, small farms and developing countries can have a lot more water for their effort.

Kresten Jensen, III, general manager of Cook Pump Company, who calculated the WaterBuck’s performance recently, told us, “Considering how important the commodity produced by the WaterBuck Pump is to sustaining life on this planet, you have created a very powerful piece of equipment.”

The task of pumping daily water is made much easier with the WaterBuck Pump, freeing up time for other important tasks. Here in the Ozarks, when needed, we now spend more time using the water than pumping it.

Why Hand Pumps Went to Scrapyards

Ancient hand pumpBecause most Americans abandoned hand pumps more than a generation ago, few today understand how they work or what the pump’s limitations are.

The pump principle has changed little since its inception, whether for the piston pump invented in 275 BC by Greek inventor Ctesibius, or the rope pump invented in China during the 1st century BC. Rope pumps, in fact, are still being used today in remote areas with shallow wells.

Rope pumpVillages formed around the water well

Hand pumps were still commonly used in the countryside of the United States and Europe in the early 20th century. One pump was usually sufficient to supply water for a family and its livestock. Communities generally took shape around a central well. The people of tiny La Russell, Mo., were so reluctant to give up their community hand pump when progress arrived that they had the new highway paved around it. Residents continue to adorn the old pump with seasonal decorations.

Although hand pumps were scrapped when mechanization and electrification reached rural America, they are still broadly used in Third World countries. Especially where economic resources and fuel sources are sparse, human-powered pumps can significantly improve a water supply system and, consequently, a community’s livelihood.

Hand pump use in the United States is largely for emergency backup, intentionally going off-grid, or even novelty and nostalgia. Meanwhile, in developing nations, human-or animal-powered pumps are vital to survival. Having a manual pump, for instance, significantly increases agricultural yields, provides fast access to drinking water, improves sanitation and empowers women, children and small farmers.

Types of Pumps and Hand Pump Operation

hand-pump-partsThe majority of hand pumps fall into one of two categories: suction pumps (having a cylinder above ground) and lift pumps (having a cylinder below ground).

A suction pump, or pitcher pump, is the type we envision on an old homestead. Repeated strokes of the pump handle gradually “suck” water up the riser main and into the cylinder and out the spout. A suction pump’s operational depth is limited to about 26 feet, according to “Water Lifting Devices” by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

rope_pumpPiston pumps have their pump cylinder below ground and the water table. Instead of sucking well water out, they lift a column of water upward through the riser main. Each consecutive stroke of the pump handle causes the piston to displace more water up the riser until it flows out the spout.

Theoretically, the depth from which a piston pump can remove water is unlimited. In practice, however, the limit is determined by the power a human can exert on the pump handle and the fabrication and materials of the pump cylinder and rod and piston valves and seals.

There is a hand pump for nearly every need. When selecting a hand pump for your home, consider how much time you have available for pumping, your average daily household use, static (resting) water level, size of well casing (or liner if installed) and whether the pump will be used only in emergencies or every day.

©2014 Well WaterBoy Products LLC ♦ WaterBuck Pump™ ♦ Pedal Powered PTO™ logo

How to Make a Scarecrow that Moves and Chimes

Several years ago when crows kept stealing the vegetable seedlings from our gardens before they even had a chance to grow, I asked my husband for a simple, no-kill solution. His remedy was centuries old, but just as effective as ever – a scarecrow. Woody the Action Scarecrow

When I heard the racket coming from his shop, however, I knew this bird-scarer would not be a couple of 2x4s hammered together. In no time, he came out smiling with a man-sized, lifelike mannequin that would frighten the daylights out of any critter contemplating sprouts for dinner. Now, that is how to make a scarecrow.

Woody the Action ScarecrowClothed and with his pantyhose head in place, our scarecrow took on a personality, which of course, warranted a name. We called him “Woody.” For years he kept the squirrels, rabbits, deer and crows at bay. If you have never built one, you will be surprised at the fun of making a scarecrow and how effective they are at keeping aboveground pests from pilfering your produce.

My inventive husband, always looking for ways to improve perfection, decided to remake Woody recently, adding more motion and sound. We now have “Woody the Action Scarecrow,” who swivels like a weather vane and swings wind chimes to startle the stealthiest crop robbers.

A scarecrow that moves and makes noise

No Critters Beyond this PointNot only does Woody stand guard day and night looking ominous, he turns in the wind with a warning sign as a sail. Since we do actually adore and appreciate the furry and feathered creatures that surround us, the sign instructs them to simply stay outside of our garden area. For the critters that cannot read, owl eyes on the sign backside illustrate the message clearly. Dangling from Woody’s other hand, chimes made of electrical conduit ring like old school bells in the slightest breeze.Owl Eyes on Back of Sign

My husband used scrap PVC pipe and fittings, woven wire, plywood and metal pipe to fashion this new action scarecrow. Meanwhile, I assembled Woody’s head of pantyhose, pillow innards, buttons and three-tone yarn. Of course, a scarecrow can be made of any materials on hand, even something as simple as a plastic bag tied to a stick will work – for a while. My husband’s version, though, has proven to last and be effective for years. It is also lightweight and easy to move around the garden to keep animals on alert. Plus it’s an awfully cute addition to the backyard.

How to make a scarecrow body

Woody the Action Scarecrow SkeletonRoll a piece of 2” x 4” x 3’ woven wire around a 3” piece of PVC pipe to form a leg. Mark and cut the woven wire long enough to leave wire tabs to tie the leg seam. Also cut the leg bottom wire strand off to create tabs. These tabs will be used later for binding the legs and torso together. Tie the edges together with the tabs and wire ties. Slide out the PVC pipe. Make the second leg the same way.

Cut one piece of woven wire to roll for the body. Ours has a 36” waist so the wire was cut about 38”. Tie the edge together in back. Compress the middle to form a body shape.

Set the torso bottom on a piece of 1/2” plywood and trace around it. Cut it out. This forms the bum bottom. Drill four holes in the bum near the edge to later tie the torso to the bum with wire.

Set one leg on the underside of the bum to mark where to drill holes for all the wire tabs Action scarecrow legsexcept two. These two tabs will be bent over the edge of the torso later. Do the same for the other leg. Do not attach yet.

On both sides of the torso top, cut the top strand so the shoulders can be rolled over. Bind with wire ties.

Cut one piece of 2” schedule 80 PVC pipe 17” for the shoulder pipe. Drill a 1” hole into the center (not through both sides) of the shoulder pipe. Place the shoulder pipe through the torso, evenly spaced on both ends and with the drilled hole pointing down.

Measure the distance from drilled hole to the back of the torso. Drill a 2” hole in the bum the same distance as the shoulder pipe hole and evenly spaced from each hip.

Push the plywood bum into the torso bottom and bend over the tabs. Thread tie wire through the four drilled holes to secure it. Turn the torso upside down and insert the leg tabs into the drilled holes in the bum. Bend over the tabs in the drilled holes. Bend over the two remaining tabs on the outside edges by hooking them around the torso wire.

Cut two 20” pieces of 2” PVC pipe for the arms. Attach to the shoulder pipe with 2” (22-degree) PVC elbows. Cut two 6” stubs of 1 1/2” PVC to form wrists to slide into the arms. Drill a hole through the arm bottom and wrist to insert a screw. Slide a 1 1Action Scarecrow Shoulders/2” (22-degree) elbow onto each wrist to form hands (later hidden by gloves).  To attach a sign, cut another short piece of 1 1/2” PVC pipe to slide into the hand joint so the sign can be removed in high wind.

Cut a 40” piece of 12-gauge wire to form the neck and attach it to the back of the torso with tie wire. Attach the head to the neck by tying the pantyhose ends (explained below) to the inverted U-shaped wire. Secure with additional wire ties. Bend over the bottom of the neck wire to attach to the torso.

Scarecrow backboneCut a 4’ piece of 1/2” rigid pipe for the center rod (backbone). Insert a plug of dowel rod into the top of this rod to allow the torso to spin freely. Cut a 4’ piece of 1” rigid pipe to create a telescoping rod. This pipe is pounded into the soil 2’. Attach a U-bolt to adjust the height. Set the body on the rod.

How to make a scarecrow head

Cut off three pantyhose legs. Insert the second and third legs into the first to form a triple thickness. Tie a knot at least 6” from the toe end. Do not cut off the tail. Stuff with polyester or cotton filler material. I used stuffing from an old pillow. Make the head larger and about 6” longer than an actual head. The face will compress when eyes are added and the high forehead holds a hat in place. After filling, tie off the bottom of the head, leaving the long tail for tying onto the body.

Back of Scarecrow HeadWith permanent marker or paint, draw a nose, remembering to keep a high forehead. Attach two 1” shiny buttons for the eyes by sewing all the way through the head with upholstery thread or fishing line and a long needle, pulling tight. At the back of the head, tie off the thread to a large washer or curtain ring. Draw or stitch a mouth. To stitch, pull the thread tightly through the head. Draw on ears. To make 3D ears or a nose, cut out 3” circles of pantyhose. Hand baste around the edge of the circles to form a drawstring. Stuff lightly and pull the thread tight, forming a pouch. Glue or stitch to the head.

Cut yarn hair and attach to the top of the head by using the top pantyhose tail to tie around the bundle of yarn strands. Attach the head to the body as explained above.

Install your scarecrow

Insert the center pipe into the larger pipe driven into the soil. Be sure to allow enough space for your scarecrow to spin without hitting any plants or other obstacles. Dress your scarecrow as desired. To put on a shirt, temporarily remove one arm. A belt or suspenders may be necessary to keep pants up, especially in rain.

Finally, stand back and admire your new friend. Be prepared to laugh yourself silly as you welcome your action scarecrow to the family and occasionally startle yourself in the garden.

Woody the Action Scarecrow Backside

Check back soon (after the first breezy day here) for a video of Woody the Action Scarecrow turning in the wind and rattling his musical chimes!

For more fun scarecrow ideas, check out this Mother Earth News scarecrow contest slideshow from 1989 or this spinning scarecrow from 1980.

If you’d like to learn how to get water from your drilled well without electricity, please see this blog.

©2014 Well WaterBoy Products LLC ♦ WaterBuck Pump™ ♦ Pedal Powered PTO™ logo