Pipe Flow Test

Water Flowing

This is the access point for our plumbing systems. As I placed the pipes I flowed water through and pressure tests to make sure my joints were tight and the pipes sloped to empty as viewed in all my check points. My plumber’s level said everything was fine but I still liked running some water through the systems to see it all in actions. Besides, it’s fun!

Access Point Before Pipes were Added

The access point is actually a honeycomb of larger sized pipes at the end of the plumbing trench. I then slid the actual water pipes through the larger sized pipes. This made it easier to setup, maintain and modify in the future. Doing it this way was easier than fitting all the pipes in place and then sealing around them and it gives a better trench seal.

In a USDA inspected meat processing facility one is required to separate what is called the welfare waste water system from the process waste water system until the pipes exit the building. This is for sanitation so that the septic can never backup to the process rooms. We take it a step further by completely disconnecting the two systems.

We actually have six ‘waste’ systems. This lets us treat different types of materials appropriately:

Welfare is the floors of the administration section like the hall, inspector’s office and bathroom as well as the toilet, shower and laundry. This all runs to a septic system with a tank and leach field much like many rural homes. This isn’t really ‘wasted’ since the bacteria in the tank and then the leach field break down the organics and return them safely to the earth.

Process water from the abattoir, chiller, cutting room, fermenting cave, refrigeration rooms is very high in organics like protein, fats and such which means a high BOD load. All of these run to a wet compost system so that we can capture the organic nutrients by mixing them with carbon and letting microbes do their magic to produce soil amendments, fertilizer, for our farm.

Blood is handled by it’s own drainage system although that will actually redirect into the compost since blood contains valuable nutrients for soil amendment. By building a separate line though I can control the mixing.

Salt is a preservative, in addition to making things taste good, so the brine system collects salt water that could kill the septic or compost microbes. Salting the earth is generally a bad idea.

Smoke room floor drains collect the water from the smokehouse to a separate system because those fluids are high in smoke particulates and fats. The smoke in particular can kill the microbes we want to nurture in our compost and septic so we need to keep those out as well. Remember that smoke, like salt, is a traditional preservation technique.

Offal such as the inedible guts portions will go via barrels to our on-farm ‘dry’ compost system so that we can recapture those nutrients as well as the wet compost nutrients. I know that the fertilizer I produce with our own compost is not only the highest quality but it is also free of herbicides and pesticides. I can’t buy organic fertilizer this good. Our land is nutrient poor so by returning these as valuable organic fertilizer to our mountain soil we can keep the nutrients on our farm to grow the next pastures, orchards, nuts and other crops that will feed future chickens, ducks, pigs and sheep.

These multiple ‘waste’ systems helps us treat the different streams separately to recapture the nutrients for our farm, returning them to the soil where they can be reused in the cycle of life.

Outdoors: 65°F/39°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/62°F

Daily Spark: Waste is a verb. -Many

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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13 Responses to Pipe Flow Test

  1. Chiral says:

    I love this stuff you are posting about how the USDA certifications work, since I may want to do this myself someday. Have you seen this kickstarter to produce an open source HACCP for a charcuterie? Any thoughts on it?

    • I did see that. The reality is that the information for HACCP is very open source and available out there on the web. The USDA and a number of other organizations provide free model plans to help people get started. It will be great for these people on Kickstarter to create even more free model plans. However, each plan must be customized for the facility. That is not too hard.

  2. bruce king says:

    It seems odd to pressure test the pipes after you’ve poured the concrete. if you find a pressure problem or grading problem it will be very, very difficult to fix at this point.

    • Yes, that is rather the point. The concrete is not poured yet in this section – I’m pressure testing prior to the pouring of these floors. This section is the trench where I just laid the pipe that joins the various other sections of the building which are completed. Other sections of the building such as the reefer are poured but those got tested long ago before they were poured. See these two posts.[1, 2]

  3. Jacob J. J. says:

    I like your sleeve solution to the pipe penetrations. That will prevent damage to the pipe walls from thermal expansion of the concrete and pipes. Well done and well said. I like how you think things through in all that you do up there on sugar mountain! You have a fine family to!

  4. I never thought about all the nutrients you will be returning to your farm. I’ve always felt good about never selling crops, only animals off my farm, thinking of all the nutrients I’m keeping.
    But I’m envious of you taking it one step further. One day hundreds or thousands of years from now, someone will wonder what went on at your farm as the fertility compared to the surrounding land will still be noticeable and remarkable.

    • The nutrient export conundrum is an interesting problem. Depending on the crop, sometimes most of what is exported is water. With livestock the figure is that about 80% of what they eat is returned to the farm as manure – valuable nutrients for traditional farms.

      On a finished animal live weight to hanging weight loss about 28% with pigs – mostly the gut and gut contents. With cattle, sheep and chickens it is closer to 40% to 50% ‘loss’. There is additional yield loss from hanging weight to commercial cuts.

      For pigs using scald and scrape:
      Hot Hanging Weight = 72% Live Weight (guts)
      Cold Hanging Weight = 97% Hot Hanging Weight (blood, drying)
      Commercial Cuts = 67% Hanging Weight (head, feet, organs, trim)
      Most of that last loss is actually good eating for the adventurous. All percentages are approximate in reality rather than the neat averages of theory.

      In the olden days those nutrients were returned to the farm. More recently they went to rendering or worst, to the landfill. One of the big advantages of on-farm slaughter and butchering is that the nutrients stay on the farm, nourishing the land.

      Other imports we have of nutrients are our winter hay, whey, nitrogen captured from the air by legumes such as clover, alfalfa and trefoil and of course the over 1.4 million tons of carbon captured by the plants on our land each year. Some of that gets exported as the meat we sell and some gets stored in the soil.

  5. Someone asked in an email about the regulations of composting and I replied:

    We get to compost all the nutrients because we’re a farm and >50% of the nutrients come from our farm. In fact, it’s 100% in our case since we only do processing of animals from our own farm. If you were slaughtering for other people then there is a level where the agency of nutral resourcs (sic) has permitting involved.

    For more information about composting check out the University of Cornell’s research.[1, 2]

  6. Rick says:

    I think it is fascinating how you brought all you plumbing out and through sleeves. That will protect the pipes. Good solution.

  7. Hugo Melo says:

    Thanks, A very useful.

  8. Farmerbob1 says:


    All of the talk on this page about reclaiming nutrients made me a little curious.

    Have you ever calculated how much caloric energy comes into the farm and how much leaves?

    A bunch of pork leaves every week, but a bunch of whey and sometimes other things come in throughout the year. Presumably you also bring in at least some groceries from outside. This, of course, doesn’t include plants converting sunlight, carbon, and minerals into caloric energy.

    Have you ever done a balance calculation that wasn’t a carbon footprint, but rather a caloric analysys?

    • I did take a stab at this once when I was thinking about how our soil has been improving over the years. It was quite impressive but my number’s weren’t accurate enough to make a blog post. In addition to looking at calories I also was looking at nutrients, elements, etc. I may play with that more someday. There is carbon and nitrogen coming out of the atmosphere plus most of the winter hay we buy gets deposited as well as a significant portion of the whey. Our pastures have greatly improved in soil fertility over the decades.

  9. Henry says:

    That’s a pretty interesting test you set up. I’ve never seen it before, and I think I might give it a try myself

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