Too much free time

Is there such a thing as too much free time? If you ask Mrs CF, she would say yes. Next, she would look at me. A tale about a too much free time and a watering pond.

The hard way is better than the lazy way

I clearly remember reading various posts at Mr Money Mustache about the hard way being far more rewarding than the easy way out. Pete reasoned that this would apply for almost anything. Like cycling to work/the store for example. It takes effort, it get’s you in shape, it saves money, it’s better for the planet, etc. But you have to work for it. Same obviously applied to becoming FIRE. Put effort in and you win.

Although being far from perfect, I have been trying to implement this attitude for many things. Including commuting to work (when I still did), doing grocery shopping (or any shopping for that matter), even going to family I have done several times my bicycle (~35-40km). But it’s not limited to transportation obviously.

Now mix in “doing it the hard way” with “too much free time”, you get this.

The Rain Barrel

We’d been talking about getting one or more rain barrels to water the plants in the garden (and help manage surface water runoff). This as the last few years have been relatively dry around here in the spring and summer, for months on end. I refuse to use tap water for this purpose, it’s simply wasteful and costs money (little as that might be). So we needed water storage in the yard for longer periods of time to make sure our plants don’t die of drought.

Too much free time - Rain Barrel
Too much free time: The Rain Barrel

We could have just looked for a rain barrel. Those are new around €40 for a 100l one (including free delivery). But new ones are not really sustainable either, as they need to be manufactured. This cost energy and materials to be made and transport. Buying used is obviously the next step. It’s generally cheaper too, but you have to be lucky to find one near you, and that you can actually transport it (or get it transported) to your house. It’s a little bit more work, but rewarding as it’s likely cheaper and better for the environment. But both options have a fairly limited storage capacity.

If you have too much time, and need more storage, you make one yourself. Preferably with leftover materials from the renovations you did on your house. You only buy a pond liner (and a bit of wood), as to keep the water in and you’re done. Simple, but it needs a bit of work and time.

How it started

After locating the perfect spot in the yard, I used old insulation materials to make a box. This to shield the pond liner from sharp edges and wood splinters.

Watering pond: the box

Next I build a wooden frame around the box to make sure it would stay together.

Watering pond: framing

I added some panels to make it look a little bit better (still need to find final trim though!)

Watering pond: finish the box

Added the pond liner and rain water spout (which has been relocated at least 3 more times)

Watering pond: place liner

Because I was a little enthusiastic and I had lots of materials left, the liner (4x3m) was actually a bit too small for the water pond. So before I could finish the pond, I had to fill it with water so that the liner could set properly. That meant it had to be filled with water. I looked at the forecast, and guess what, no rain for at least a week. I’m not that patient…

I didn’t want to fill the pond with tap water, that would have defeated the purpose. What to do, what to do?

How it’s going

Well, we live in the western part of the Netherlands (in the Randstad). There is a lot of water around here. To stay in tune with the “hard work is better than being lazy” and “why take the easy road if you can take the hard one”, I decided to fill the pond with 10l watering cans. All 1350 liters…. People say I’m crazy. Perhaps I am.

Needless to say, this was going to be quit the workout. It took me 3 days, about 35-60m per day to walk back and forth from the waterway to the pond. 100 steps per trip. About 75 trips. With 18-20kg per time. Up and down an embankment… This all in addition to my regular running, 10.000 steps/walking and cycling routines.

Now this does not perfectly line up, but there was some spillage of water here and there. Plus the watering cans where never perfectly full and up to maximum capacity (albeit I tried to get as close as possible). Day one: ~350 liters. Day two: ~650 liters and finally day three with another ~350 liters.

The Result

To finish it off, I found myself a cheap little fountain on Marktplaats for about €5. Add in the costs of liner and some wooden beams that I did have to buy and we we got to around €65.

As noted before, I still have to finish the outside and probably will paint it with linseed oil paint. Which is non-toxic and safe if it get’s into contact with the water. I also have to do a bit of work on the overflow. Have not decided what to do here, but it will still spill over onto the base of the adjacent apple tree.

Still, pretty happy with the result. It’s done in time for the summer season. Had fun making it too. Got a great workout for a few days. Did something good for the environment, and helped with runoff water management in the neighbourhood. The hard way really pays off!

Have you also taken the hard road on projects you do, or things you do in your life?


  1. Love it!

    Well done man 🙂

    Works are at a stand still in my world.

    Daily life is online calls and weekends spent recovering.

    But house prices are up at least so there’s that…

    Take care Cheesy!

  2. Well done! Congratulations!

    I do small maintenance works at home, and I fix the motorbike by myself. It keeps indeed costs down and fun up (when things work afterwards, which is not always the case…).

  3. ziet er heel goed uit! wel zou ik een kleine toevoeging voorstellen: er verdrinken regelmatig dieren in bakken water, omdat ze er niet uit kunnen. denk aan egels en uilen. Die gaan dan wat drinken, vallen er in en kunnen er nergens uit. een plankje schuin in het water, zodat ze er weer uit kunnen zou een mooie toevoeging zijn.

    groetjes Ilse

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