It’s raining up here in the northern Rockies this evening. And I like it. We had such little snow over the winter, that it’s nice to finally see some moisture gracing our parched landscape.
The garden report is looking pretty good. All the pepper, tomato, chive, cumin and basil seeds that I planted a week and a half ago are starting to peek out of the soil in their little peat pots. And the radishes, lettuce, spinach and peas are doing the same – but peeking out of the soil in the garden instead. I had been a little concerned because after we planted the seeds in the garden, it turned pretty chilly for a few days – lows in the 20s. But they seem to be enduring. That’s good – fresh salad’s on the way.
We have five 50-gallon rain barrels situated to catch rain off the tin roof on the lean-to… With all this rain, they’re filled to the brim. We used one entire 50-gallon drum two weekends ago washing the clay out of the back of LLM’s truck. (Clay that we were told was fabulous top soil. So now there’s a pile of clay sitting outside the garden fence, mocking us.) And another water barrel was about half-used from watering the chickens. But with this evening’s deluge, they’re filled to overflowing once again.
A water catchment system is a project that needs to be started up at the Sanctuary. We go through quite a bit of well water making sure the garden is wet enough all summer long. Not to mention the rest of the water usage from showers to dish-washing. LLM’s been on the look out for a used cistern to set out by the garden. It can be filled with the water from the barrels, then used as a gravity fed system to water the garden. Plus we can rig something up so it can catch its own water during these thunderous rain storms. That’s a better solution for watering the crops than using generator fuel to pump the well water.
There’s no spring or creek at the sanctuary to help with the watering chores, even though the Clark Fork River runs along the edge of the property. But it’s also a drop of about 200 vertical feet down to the River. So trying to use River water for anything would be more trouble than its worth. I kind of wish there was a creek – I’m really interested in trying to build a water ram. It’s a “technology” that the Amish use to pump water into their houses without the use of fuel or electricity. From what I understand, for every 10 foot drop in elevation from the water source, the ram can propel it up 100 feet. So it appears to be a pretty efficient use of manual energy. In my little mind I have an idea of how it works – but if I tried to explain it, I would probably ramble incoherently for paragraphs… So I’ll leave it to you to look it up if you’re interested.
I’m sure there are some other options out there to help with rain catchment. For instance, there are no gutters on the house, shop, woodshed or lean-to to help direct water flow. But we’ve been thinking of a couple definite strategies to try out one of these days to help with the watering chores around the OM-stead. Strategies that won’t take any energy usage. Unfortunately the water ram probably isn’t something that can be tried any time soon – not on that piece of ground anyway. But the gravity fed cistern to water the garden is something that’s definitely on the to-do list for this summer. It’s hard to watch so much rain fall from the sky knowing that we don’t yet have a fully operational system to take advantage of it all.