Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink!

A few months ago I told you about our water supply on the farm.  Our water comes from the Blyde river pipeline and we store it in this tank

With three of us living here at the moment we refill the tank every second day.  On Wednesday last week I noticed a slightly mouldy smell when I showered in the morning.  After washing myself thoroughly – thinking it was me – I still smelled the smell.  Once I was out of the shower I washed my bath sponge and face cloth properly, thinking that maybe they were a little “off” and then went to work.  Unbeknown to me, Hannah has also noticed a funny smell and mentioned it to the Bean who said she had smelled nothing.

By Thursday morning our showers were unbearable and we all commented round the breakfast table.  We had a problem.  There was nothing I could do right there and then because we had to get to school and work, so once at work I called a farm worker in our area and asked him to go and look at the tank and see if anything was wrong.  He called back in the afternoon to let me know the lid of the tank was off and he thinks either leaves had fallen in and rotted, or maybe some small animal had fallen into the tank. He explained that he could not fix it on his own and would need some help, so he would come over on Saturday to help me fix it.  I was so glad that he knew what to do.

Friday: We were on to bottled water – even for washing ourselves and the dishes were piled in the sink.  Dirty washing piled high.


  • 8.00am – no help had arrived
  • 9.00am – no help – tried to call – no reply
  • 10.00am – I start panicking
  • 11.00am – I attempt to climb the rickety make-shift tank stand and get stuck half way.
  • 12.00am – I wake the girls (who had been walking all night for a charity walk) and ask one of them to attempt to climb the stand. The Bean promptly goes back to sleep and Hannah staggers out to assist.

Hannah managed to get up onto the tank and look inside, only to find lots of floating hair.  Now this lovely girl is a strict vegetarian and, bless her, she started to fish out all sorts of bits and pieces of dead animal.  One needs to also understand the stench she was  dealing with, with her nose peering into the dark depths of the tank.  We worked out a system of using the pool brush and a plastic shopping bag to pass things up and down.  After fishing out quite a lot of loose hair and other flotsam we emptied the tank and then refilled it – hoping to float out any other “bits”.  This did not work well because the bits really just got caught up against the roof of the tank once it was full.  I dropped the level a bit and Hannah continued to fish.

Suddenly with a squeal and a gag – Hannah waves a huge bit of rotting flesh at me with the slotted spoon she was using.  One putrid, hairless squirrel! Bleugh!   My next thought was ” How many bits and bones are left behind in the tank?”  I shouted up to Hannah to check the squirrel to see if it was complete.  The poor child then slowly poked the squirrel a bit with the spoon and counted legs, bones and tail.  It was still whole thank goodness.

Hannah on the tank stand

We then flushed the tank and water pipes a few times – this took till about 5pm, then we filled the tank a quarter full and poured 2 liters of bleach into the tank.  I then ran all taps till I could smell the bleach and we turned everything off to leave it to clean.

On Saturday evening we were having a surprise farewell party for Hannah in town so we had to get washed.  We also had  rotten-squirrel smell up our noses so a bit of bottled water was not going to do it for us this time round.  A friend of mine had asked earlier in the week why we didn’t bath in the pool – so into the pool we all jumped, climbed out and soaped up – including shampoo and then washed off with the hose pipe coming directly off the pipeline.

Bathing in the bush

On Sunday all we needed to do was flush the system a few times and by the afternoon we had fresh water again.  We could finally catch up on our dirty dishes, washing and house cleaning.

Not bad for a bunch of clueless girls in the bush.  Although – I must say, I am still brushing my teeth with bottled water until I can get the memory of that smell out of my nose.

PS: We were wearing our swimming costumes 🙂


4 thoughts on “Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink!

  1. OMG OMG OMG!!! So much for the slo life…LOL! Yikes.

    Your poor house guest! Well she’ll have one very funny, stinky story to tell into her old age with this one!

    “Not bad for a bunch of clueless girls in the bush. Although – I must say, I am still brushing my teeth with bottled water until I can get the memory of that smell out of my nose. ”

    Yeaaaaah! I would think you might do that for a looooooong time to come!! Cheers!


  2. um, wow. I don’t know if i could handle having bathed (and all else) in rotting squirrel water for days. I mean ultimately it is what it is and you can’t change it but…wow, i’m impressed. and glad its you and not me. 😉


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