The Creek Goes Dry — Well, One of Them

The creek water flows, gravity-fed, through an old sugaring line into a food-grade seven-gallon jug.

Mark the day! On Monday the creek went dry — the seasonal one, that is, that we’ve been using for collecting creek water. The second small seasonal creek, which meets up with the now-dry one just below where we’ve been filling our buckets, is still flowing (“trickling” is maybe more accurate), but there isn’t a convenient drop-off under which to set the buckets.

The Problem: Collecting Creek Water from a Low Flowing Creek

The problem, then, was how to collect water from the little flow remaining in the second creek. The first thought was to dig a two-foot hole into the bed — in effect, to create a drop-off over which water could fall into the hauling bucket, like we’d done in the other creek. The creek bed is mostly gravel and mid-sized rocks, though, so this would be quite labor intensive; and the flow isn’t really enough to warrant the effort.

The second thought was that we could develop a spring and increase the flow. The source of this second creek is indefinite, coming ultimately from a mucky seep area about the size of half a basketball court. (Or, in other terms, about the size of two yurts…) This option seemed initially promising, as there appeared to be a not insignificant trickle coming from under a big rock.

The big rock in the seep, from which a trickle seemed to spring forth. Collecting creek water.
The big rock in the seep, from which a trickle seemed to spring forth

So we started to dig around underneath the rock, in the hole pictured above, where water was pooling and trickling. No luck. To better apprise the size of the rock, we peeled back the carpet of moss and ferns and dirt that covered it.

The rock — more accurately a boulder — with the moss and ferns peeled off. Collecting creek water.
The rock — more accurately a boulder — with the moss and ferns peeled off.

It’s a darn heavy rock. In addition to its weight, it’s also mired in the muck — muck of the boot-sucking variety — and not going anywhere. In the process of attempting to un-mire said boulder, the shovel handle snapped. Go figure. We abandoned this option for now.

We then took to digging — with just the shovel blade now — a couple holes elsewhere in the seep, with no luck. Likely we didn’t dig deep enough, especially working with only a shovel blade, so we may return to this seep once we’ve done some research on developing springs or developing seeps.

And then, an idea!

The Solution: Using a Maple Sugaring Line for Collecting Creek Water

Littered around the woods, often along the stone walls lined with old maple trees, are sections of maple sugaring tubing. Green and thin and often buried beneath layers of leaves, we come across them from time to time and have a small pile going for god-knows-what. Well, now god does know what, and we do too.

To take advantage of the gradual grade of the creek, we took a five-foot section of sugaring line and put one end in a flowing pool in the creek. We then laid the tube along the grade of the creek, weighing it down with rocks along the way (to keep it continuously moving down slope). And, behold, at the other end the water flowed, a total height difference of about a foot between start of tube and water jug on the other end.

The creek water flows, gravity-fed, through an old sugaring line into a food-grade seven-gallon jug. Collecting creek water.
The creek water flows, gravity-fed, through an old sugaring line into a food-grade seven-gallon jug.

Problem solved! For now, at least, as this creek is likely to dry up soon, too.

And hey, check out that cool new food-grade water jug that Annie got us!