A resource rich environment is worth its weight in gold. While it is smart to have a supply of materials to sustain you and your family for an extended crisis, its also important to be able to replace those stockpiled goods. Face it. If you have three months of supplies, they’ll only last for three months, and most likely a lot less than that. So a good retreat property has the ability to provide some or all of your basic needs.
The most basic resource need is that of water. Find a property with a good water supply that you can control. A mountain spring is ideal if its located on your property. You can create a storage basin or pond to impound natural spring water for times of heavy use. Or a small to medium sized year round creek or stream running through the property is just as good. (If there is adequate flow and head pressure, you can even generate electricity from a stream using a micro-hydro generator. That’s another article.)
Nearly every rural homestead in western North Carolina features a private well. If the property you’re looking at doesn’t have one, there’s a good chance that the water is down there, you just have to drill to get it. Fortunately, well drilling is very common in our area. Don’t be dismayed if you drill 500 feet and the well produces just 1.5 to 2 gallons per minute (gpm). That’s ample for a family of four, even in good times. During times of crisis, you’ll be conserving water, so this flow rate is more than ample. You must understand that for every foot of depth below the static water level of the well, you are gaining 1.5 gallons of storage. That is, if you drill a 500 foot well and it has a static water level at the 200 foot depth, you have 450 gallons of storage in the well alone.
If you’re running two showers at 2 gpm and a dishwasher at 1 gpm for twenty minutes in the morning, you won’t come close to using the storage in the well. Plus, remember that the well is replinishing itself at 1.5 to 2 gpm. So don’t think that you must have a 10 gpm well for your family. It just isn’t necessary.
But what happens to the well if the power goes out? There is the old fashioned hand pump well. Then there is the well torpedo. The well torpedo is a much slower and laborious method of drawing water, but it works without power.
Finally, a great back up is to have rain barrels and perhaps a cistern at your house to collect rainwater. Rain barrels can be found at most any hardware or farm supply store and they typically hold 50 gallons or so. Purchase more than one and you can often connect them together so that as one fills up, it overflows into the next and the next. That’s what I’ve done.